Aziz Ansari offered some of his newly-discovered dating advice while hilariously promoting his upcoming book Modern Romance at BookCon on Saturday at New York City’s Javits Center.
The comedian first had the idea for the book after his own confusing dating experiences in the digital age — a topic he’s explored in his comedy specials. “It’s a medium that makes you nervous!” he said, as people get anxious when they don’t immediately receive a response.
He’s been working on the book since he met his current beau of nearly two years — a relationship period that he admits isn’t that long. “The beginning of a relationship is just f—ing and having fun. … You gotta lay down a strong relationship to maintain the f—ing and having fun,” he said. “I’ve been working on a bit about this: The beginning of a relationship is like the first episode of a new season of The Real World: ‘Look at all these rooms! This used to be a firehouse!’ … Two years in is that episode where the producers go, ‘Yeah we think you should run a juice store as well.”
To write the book, Ansari partnered with New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg for more than a year and a half of international interviews with those of all demographics — including Japan’s changing role of men and how much of the population “despises sexual contact. … They’re worried about people running out!” It’s a stark opposite to the “insanely masculine” and “aggressive” Buenos Aires, which is openly endorsed by its mayor.
Their studies solidified the hypothesis that young people prefer texting over face-to-face interaction, and that people now look for in one person “what a whole village used to provide,” as opposed to previous generations who scouted for “the good enough marriage” as a means to gain independence from their parents and start a new family.
The comedian’s research for the book — which also touches on sexting, password privacy and dealing with digital remnants of a relationship after a breakup, like how “one woman photoshopped Beyonce into all her photos” — had him read through the initial pithy and boring texts women receive from men, filled with emojis and vague intentions (screenshots in the book are included). “If you’re a guy, and you just ask a woman to do a specific thing at a specific time — just that alone makes women’s vaginas go insane! ‘What? Actually inviting me to do something? Oh my god, that’d be the most amazing thing ever!'” he said, to resounding laughter. “And then you add a little bit of humor and throw back to a previous interaction, it’s really a game-changer!”
Though there are more ways to meet people now than ever, “studies show, every time, the more options you have, the harder it is to make a choice, and the less satisfied we are when we make a choice. … You have a 24/7 singles bar in your pocket now.” Still, he defended Tinder against the “cynical” critics: “When you see someone at a bar, you’re swiping right on their face when you go up to them!”
After finishing the book, Ansari’s biggest takeaway is that ultimately, those who were most satisfied with the digital dating space were those who used it as an introduction service, and spent more time meeting prospects in person. And when saying “hey” in a text, “I feel like if you add ten y’s, it’s probably too many y’s.”
Modern Romance hits shelves June 16 via Penguin Press.