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Modern Romance


Edited by Scott Moyers

 

#ModernRomance contest

A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation’s most popular and sharpest comedic voices

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but forModern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

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Praise

“A sprightly, easygoing hybrid of fact, observation, advice and comedy.”—New York Times

“With topics like online dating apps to serious social science research, the book is sure to have you laughing if not taking a few notes.”—USA Today

“Entertaining and illuminating.”—The Guardian

“A hilarious, often unsettling account of what young singles go through as they search for love in the digital age.”—Rolling Stone

“A funny and scholarly examination of the 24-hour romance cycle.”—Boston Globe

“The book is an obsessive exploration of what makes hearts flutter and break across the globe, but most importantly, it dissects those ideas through the lens of a right-and-left swiping society. And as a result, Ansari’s final product doesn’t only feel complete—it’s hilariously executed, even without his unmistakable high-register voice belting the punchlines. At 250 pages, Modern Romance is a lean, pithy read that’s perfect to reach the tech-obsessed generation it explores.”—Paste Magazine

“With his first foray into the literary sphere, Ansari handedly accomplishes what he set out to do. Modern Romance provides insight into what people do to find love. He infuses their stories with his sass and parallels their shame with much of his own. On top of that, Ansari’s advice is easy to follow and backed with science and research. Modern Romance is the pinnacle of romantic guides — at least until a new dating app makes it obsolete.”—VOX

“It’s hard to think of another celebrity book that also feels like breaking news… Aside from the jokes, the science of Modern Romance holds water, and is absolutely fascinating.”—AV Club

“An engaging look at the often head-scratching, frequently infuriating mating behaviors that shape our love lives.”—Refinery 29

“This book is essentially an Aziz Ansari standup routine in print form. His unique voice is present throughout the book. One reason that people love Aziz is his outlook on life. He has a funny way of refocusing seemingly ordinary things and zeroing in on very small details that most would not notice. He brings all of that and more to the table with this book. This book is informative, presents a lot of thought provoking topics and discusses them thoroughly. Paired with Aziz’s distinct voice, this book is even more endearing.”—The  Source

“Funny, informative, and surprisingly earnest.”—The Daily Beast

“Modern Romance reads like a CliffsNotes to relationshipping as it is currently experienced by (mostly middle-class, Ansari admits, and mostly straight) Americans. It’s the familiar stuff of research and sitcomedy, distilled into a funny, and highly readable, summary.”—The Atlantic

“This book is awesome.” —Contexts

 

“You’re not going to find a traditional humor book. And that’s a good thing. Modern Romance is something a bit more unique: a comprehensive, in-depth sociological investigation into the ‘many challenges of looking for love in the digital age.’ Modern Romance gives an impressive overview of how the dating game has changed with the advent of cell phones and the Internet. But there’s also some practical advice peppered in there by Ansari himself.”—Bustle

“Even comedy phenoms get dumped. But when it was this Parks and Recreation star’s turn, he channeled the rejection into an extensive (and riotous) investigation of the current state of dating, going as far as recruiting an NYU sociologist to be his collaborator/wingman.” — O, The Oprah Magazine

“The ever hip and funny comedian and Parks and Recreation star embarks on a surprisingly insightful exploration of the complex realities of dating today…. Ansari’s eminently readable book is successful, in part, because it not only lays out the history, evolution, and pitfalls of dating, it also offers sound advice on how to actually win today’s constantly shifting game of love. Often hilarious, consistently informative, and unusually helpful.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Ansari, a comedian and TV actor, has co-written a book with a legitimate sociologist about what it means to date in the modern era. When technology and instant gratification are changing the landscape of human interactions, dating is weirder than ever, and I’m looking forward to Ansari’s sense of humor and cultural criticism on the topic, which he’s started to address in his stand-up.”–Natasha Gilmore, Publishers Weekly

“Always-hilarious Aziz Ansari proves you can be smart and funny at the same time. Not only did I laugh my ass off, I really learned stuff. Where was this book when I was 22 years old? ”—Steve Levitt, co-author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Freakonomics

“Laughing is my second least-favorite thing in the world after thinking. This book was torture.  Not a page passed without an unwanted eruption of giggles or insight. Aziz is funny as hell, and smart as shit.”—Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals

“Modern Romance is just like Aziz Ansari himself—charming, thoughtful, reasonable, and able to distill the madness of the world into something both sane and wildly funny.”—Dave Eggers, author of Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?

“It’s the voices that will have you reading this remarkable book in one sitting! The voices of old people who married someone who lived in their apartment building or the building next door and the voices of the young people who check out hundreds of romantic possibilities a night, with so much choice that choice becomes impossible. And then there is the voice of Ansari himself, funny, of course, but also deeply compassionate. For after a year of surveying romance across the planet, he finds that all the apps in the world leave us with this human truth: you have to spend time with a person to figure out, face-to-face, if they’re the one. And perhaps, just perhaps, it’s the fact of spending time that makes them the one. We nurture what we love and we love what we nurture! This book defines serious fun.”—Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation

“Ansari and Klinenberg elegantly capture the entirely new ways that singles communicate, court, and find love today. Modern Romance is a captivating read, with deep insight into history, science, and culture, and loads of wit and charm. Along the way, you may even collect some valuable tips for finding a soul mate.”—Helen Fisher, author of Why Him? Why Her?: How to Find and Keep Lasting Love

Author Q&A

Excerpt

At this point, it’s been two days, and she still hasn’t texted me back. It’s Wednesday. The concert is tomorrow. To not even write back and say no, why would she do that? At least say no so I can take someone else, right? Why, Tanya, why? I started going nuts thinking about it. How could this person be rude on so many levels? I wasn’t just some bozo, she’d known me for years.

I kept debating whether I should send anything, but I felt it would just be too desperate and accepted that she wasn’t interested. I told myself that I wouldn’t want to go out with someone who treats people like that, anyway, which was somewhat true. But I was still beyond frustrated and insulted.

Then I realized something interesting.

The madness I was descending into wouldn’t have existed twenty or even ten years ago. There I was, maniacally checking my phone every few minutes, going through this tornado of panic and hurt and anger all because this person hadn’t written me a short, stupid message on a dumb little phone.

I was distraught, but had she really done anything that rude or malicious? No, she just didn’t send a message in order to avoid an awkward situation. I’ve surely done the same thing to someone else and not realized the similar type of grief I had caused them.

I didn’t end up going to that concert that night. Instead I went to a comedy club and started talking about the awful frustration, self-doubt, and rage that this whole “silence” nonsense had provoked in the depths of my being. I got laughs but also something bigger, like the audience and I were connecting on a deeper level.

I could tell that every guy and girl in the audience had their own Tanya in their phone at one point or another, each with their own individual problems and dilemmas. We all sit alone, staring at this black screen with a whole range of emotions. But in a strange way, we are all doing it together, and we should take solace in the fact that, in every facet of modern romance, no one has a fucking clue what’s going on. I tried to find books that shed some light on the pleasures and perils of modern romance and help us understand the challenges of love in the digital age.

That book didn’t exist. So I decided to write it.

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