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Modern Romance

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Goodreads Choice Award
Winner for Best Nonfiction (2015)
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 for Modern 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 Andrew Cherlin, 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.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

279 pages, Hardcover

First published June 16, 2015

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About the author

Aziz Ansari

7 books1,285 followers
Aziz Ishmael Ansari is an American actor and comedian. He starred as Tom Haverford on the NBC show Parks and Recreation.

Ansari began his career performing standup comedy in New York City during the summer of 2000 while attending New York University. In 2007, he created and starred in the critically acclaimed MTV sketch comedy show Human Giant, which ran for two seasons. This led to acting roles in feature films, including Funny People, I Love You, Man, Observe and Report, and 30 Minutes or Less.

In addition to his acting work, Ansari has continued to work as a standup comedian. He released his debut CD/DVD, entitled Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, in January 2010 on Comedy Central Records, and still tours nationally between acting commitments. In 2010 and 2011, he performed his Dangerously Delicious tour. This tour was self-released for download on his website in March 2012 and debuted on Comedy Central in May 2012. He completed his third major tour of new material, Buried Alive, in the summer of 2013. His fourth major comedy special, Live at Madison Square Garden, was released on Netflix in 2015.

His first book, Modern Romance: An Investigation, was released in June 2015.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 13,731 reviews
Profile Image for Anne.
3,868 reviews69.2k followers
March 4, 2019
So, this isn't really a humorous book about Aziz Ansari's dating experiences, it's more like a book about dating in the modern world, written by the very humorous Aziz Ansari.


I was introduced to Aziz's stand-up by my oldest son, and I've been hooked on him ever since. He's hilarious, and if you haven't seen him perform you're missing out. Which makes me wish I'd listened to this as an audiobook...


Turns out, Aziz and his partner, Eric Klinenberg, did quite a bit of research for this book. Now, is it the best book out there on this subject? The most detailed investigation with the most clinical data?
Probably not.


But there was waaay more research-y stuff in here than I was expecting from a book written by a stand-up comedian & actor. Between the two of them, they did focus groups, had pie charts, and looked at how people dated in a few different cultures. Not a ton, but a few!
Japan (Tokyo, in particular) was interesting! I'd heard about their lack of interest in sex, but I didn't realize it was now such a big deal that the government was stepping in to help out. You'd think Tokyo would be a hopping place for singles, but evidently...not so much.
Even so, it sounds like a fabulous place to visit!


They looked at Paris to see what a more laid-back culture thought about monogamy, and the results were...less surprising.
More Parisians were cool with (a bit of) cheating than other countries.
That's Hot!


Sorry, wrong Paris.
They also looked at Buenos Aries, which is (supposedly) a more aggressive city for dating. As in, the guys are aggressive and take catcalling to a whole new level. Or maybe it's a game both genders play in that culture?
Either way, catcalling is gross, disrespectful, and not the way to meet your soul mate. <--just my opinion.


Now, if you've ever seen Ansari's stand-up, you've probably seen him get someone out of the audience and scroll through their texts. This is like Aziz scrolling through thousands of personal texts to see what people are saying to each other. What's dating like for singles when there are so many ways to communicate? When everything is instantaneous? When you can swipe a face to connect, or send out mass generic messages on a dating site?
How do you connect without being a needy dork or a creeper?
What is the correct etiquette?


Can you break up via text? Or ask someone to the prom in an IM?
Are those, in fact, preferred methods of communications?!
Oh my God, I'm so old!


Is love in the digital age easier or harder? Are singles making rookie mistakes that knock them out of them out of the game, or is the game itself a tad more full of potential landmines than it was when I was single?
I'm looking at you, dick pics!
As Aziz points out, these stupid blunders just couldn't have happened 20 years ago.


The point he makes is that the landscape for dating has changed...again. And I'm sure it will continue to morph and alter into something unrecognizable in another 20 years. That's not necessarily a bad thing, at all. In fact, there are upsides (searching for someone you connect with on a deep level, instead of settling) and downsides (expecting too much from one person, and not being satisfied) when it comes to Modern Romance.


Admittedly, I had no real reason to want to read a book about dating.
I'm not looking for love because I already had my very Unmodern Romance.
We met at work, and talked on landline phones for hours!
I simply wanted to take a peek at how the other half lives. And it was pretty enlightening! No, I don't feel sorry for the singles out there today. I don't think it's any harder, but it's definitely different for them than it was for me. Every era has its own pitfalls, but in the end, I think we all want the same thing.

Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,415 reviews7,420 followers
July 6, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

3.5 Stars

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Modern Romance went on my TBR as soon as I heard rumors of its existence. We’re talking about waiting months for this damn thing (and also never being able to track down an ARC) . . .

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Quick confession – I never bothered reading the synopsis for this book. I saw Aziz Ansari had a “romance” book coming out and my brain immediately thought it would be something like “Tom Haverford’s Guide to Dating” . . .

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If I would have bothered reading the blurb, I would have realized that:

“Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.”

This book was seriously science-y. And not in a bad way either. It was an exploration of how finding a match has morphed from the 1950s to the present – but with an Ansari twist that brought the LOLz:

“Aron published another study, title “Couples’ Shared Participation in Novel and Arousing Activities and Experienced Relationship Quality” (damn, dude, shorten the names or your studies!)”

Modern Romance begins with Ansari admitting that he’s totally a girl. (HA! Just kidding. Bet that got some of you who have accused Mitchell and I of being women haters here on Goodreads all worked up.) Seriously though, Ansari’s introduction includes him picturing his future with a woman he made out with one night, questioning whether a text message came off too desperate or needy, wondering whether the lack of response to said text message is because of him or because some horrible accident befell his potential soulmate, etc. Basically, he proves in three pages that chicks and dudes are TOTALLY THE SAME when it comes to modern day relationships.

Then there was a brief trip on the waybackmachine a lá When Harry Met Sally which included interviews of nursing home residents regarding how/when/where they met their spouse (there was also a lot of talk about how delicious donuts are in this segment. Mmmmmmm, donuts). I confirmed that I could easily be transplanted to the 1950s since I got married when I was a fetus instead of waiting until I was pushing 30 like modern-day women tend to do. *shrug*

The book then fast-forwards through the ages to today and the land of terrifying technology . . .

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It covered everything from the mind games of not immediately responding to text messages in order to not appear desperate, to how modern romance works in countries other than ‘Murica, to online dating (I’m telling you, if it gets any easier than Tinder y’all single folks might as well just buy sex robots and save yourself the time and effort of leaving the house), to cyberstalking snooping on your significant other . . .

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and reminded readers that you might not always get a boner every time you touch your beloved’s hair, but that doesn’t mean you’re “settling.”

If you’re looking for a laugh a second book of Ansari’s hits and misses when it comes to the romance game, this probably isn’t the choice for you. However, if you’re interested in a sociological study of how dating has evolved over time with some humor added in to the mix, this one’s a winner. And really – who can pass up getting to know a little more about Aziz Ansari’s outlook on love . . .

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Note: I am still holding out hope that Aziz will write a straight-up hilarious autobiography . . .

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^^^crosses fingers^^^^
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,239 reviews2,229 followers
February 7, 2018
I got married in 1989. In India in those days, "love" marriages were still exceptions rather than the norm: when you had to look at the religion, caste, family background, and age of a possible partner who was to share your life (divorces were absolute stigma!) before hitching up, falling in love was like solving a mathematical equation with too many constraints. For a nerdy, uncouth, shy and bookish youngster who got tongue-tied in presence of a halfway-pretty girl, this was even more of a nightmare.

Fortunately, as an educated young man from an aristocratic family, with a good job to boot, my prospects on the marriage market were bright. In the world of arranged marriages, I was “hot property”. Like Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, mothers with daughters of marriageable age who knew my mother or father considered me as the rightful property of their daughters. Discussions of “possible alliances” were rife, and my mother was having to fend off quite a few of her more aggressive friends.

Even though it gave my ego a sort of boost to be so sought after, in my heart of hearts I was intimidated by the thought of marriage. On the one hand, I was an incurable romantic, always falling in love with a pretty girl and writing bad poetry; on the other, my cynical and sarcastic self continuously mocked me. Also, as a rebellious liberal, I was against the whole concept of “arranged” marriages. So I shied away from all the proposals, giving the excuse that I was not ready.

One day in February 1989, I went into my favourite bookshop and came across an unbelievable book sale where I picked up a bunch of absolutely awesome books for a pittance. I came home, drunk on my luck, when my mother told me that a marriage proposal had come from her classmate and close friend, for her daughter. In the euphoria of getting all those cool tomes, I agreed to see the girl’s photo.

I got it a couple of days later, just took one look at it, and fell head over heels in love. A meeting was arranged the coming week; we talked to each other for around 20 minutes and hey presto! I was engaged. We got married that December.

We have been together ever since. So I always wonder: is romance all it’s cracked up to be?


Pardon this lengthy episode about my marital journey. I was continuously reminded of the “good old days” while reading this book, especially when I read this:

People in arranged marriages start off lukewarm, but over time they really invest in each other and in general have more successful relationships. They are more invested in the deep commitment to the relationship, rather than being personally invested in finding a soul mate, which can tend to lead to the “Is there something better out there for me?” mentality.

In the current world of internet dating, I would still probably be “swiping right” on a dating app, looking for that perfect girl waiting out there for me.

Aziz Ansari has done a wonderful job of explaining how the digital world has invaded the romantic arena. In olden days, the only hope of meeting a possible partner was out in the real world. If you were a caveman, you just banged the nearest attractive female on the head and dragged her into your cave: in more modern times, you met her in family gatherings, at the workplace and later on, in singles bars. However, since you were geographically limited, there was a limit to your romantic territory. The upside? People got married with someone they found reasonably attractive and settled down.

Now, with the advent of the internet, the sky is literally the limit. People can visit dating sites; with dating apps like Tinder, just swiping right on an attractive picture is enough. If the other person also swipes right, you are practically hitched.

(This is happening a lot in India too. We have marriage sites where you can filter down the choices caste and state-wise, and pick up a romance which will be easily approved by family. People have started calling them “arranged” love marriages. Talk about oxymorons!)

However, the downside of this infinite choice that one keeps on window-shopping. Less and less people settle down – they remain digital Casanovas throughout their life. The relative anonymity provided by computers have a helped a lot of nerdy types get in on the act: so while romance has flourished, marriage has taken a hit. And it does not help that even adultery has become easier with the advent of sexting!

My main problem with this book is that Ansari continuously tries to do his stand-up comedy act. It is not needed – the subject is fascinating by itself. And the jokes fall rather flat in the print medium, I must say.


Oh, one last thing – if I had started my romantic life after the advent of goodreads, I would hazard a guess and say that I’d still be single. I am so hopelessly in love with most of the wonderful ladies out here, that I’d still be debating on whom to bang on the head and drag into my cave. :D
Profile Image for Clumsy Storyteller .
348 reviews729 followers
March 8, 2017
As a single woman I feel like Aziz Ansari knows my pain. Yes I am single by choice ( not my choice, but still a choice) , He knows how unpleasant it is to stare impotently at a screen waiting for a message that never arrives “we all have Tanya on our phones”
The hours slouched by. “I’m so stupid!” he writes. “I should have typed ‘Hey’ with two y’s, not just one!” Later: “Did Tanya’s phone fall into a river/trash compactor/volcano? Did Tanya fall into a river/trash compactor/volcano?? Oh no, Tanya has died.”

 the author teamed up with sociologist Klinenberg to design and conduct a research project to better understand the dating game as it's played today. Their research program included focus groups and interviews with hundreds of people in big and small cities , They set up a discussion forum on the social networking websites, interviewed experts, consulted books on sociology, psychology and human behavior.

the book deals with online dating
"As a public figure, I have never considered doing any online dating. I always figured there was a chance someone who was a stalker type would use it as an opportunity to kidnap and murder me.I’m not sure how the scenario would go. Maybe my stalker (probably an Indian dude) sees my profile and thinks, Oh, here’s that comedian guy on OkCupid. FINALLY, I have a way to reach out to him and slowly plot his murder. He sends me a message pretending to be a woman. I see the profile. “She” likes tacos and Game of Thrones. I’m very excited."
* LMAO* :D

Also the books deals with the struggle of finding your soul mate ,Asking them out, dumping, sexting cheating and snooping on your partner. And the differences between marriages now and then, Emerging adulthood, and lots interesting things about dating in our technology-saturated age. I loved every second of this audiobook, Aziz is such a funny actor/comedian
Profile Image for Snoon Mcwilliams.
6 reviews4 followers
July 9, 2015
Startlingly inessential.

Early on, Ansari makes a somewhat baffling statement that he felt compelled to write this book because there wasn't any other literature on modern dating culture-- a topic explored ad nauseum in newspaper thinkpieces, podcasts, and other disposable pop science bestsellers (many of which he goes on to reference throughout the book). He also mentions that he rejected the idea of writing a strictly humorous book because he feels like his stand-up is a more comfortable medium for his comedy ideas and only agreed to do the project if he could center it on serious sociological inquiry.

What results is a broad roundup of research studies on shifting attitudes toward marriage and dating, some case studies done through focus groups and Reddit, and a few interviews with social scientists. Unfortunately, the most acute problem with the book is that it's wholly free of any sort of insight or critique. Have you ever thought about the fact that previous generations lived, loved, and died within a narrow geographic and cultural range while today technology allows us to learn about and connect with an almost limitless array of other people and ideas? Would it surprise you to learn that some people in bygone eras felt stifled by limited options while others were content with what was available to them, while some in the current generation feel liberated and others feel paralyzed by choice? It wouldn't?

The flatness of the science could be forgiven if the book was funny, but it isn't. Ansari mostly limits himself to joking asides (and even follows most of those up with qualifying statements that they're not meant to be construed as part of the research, as if he or co-author Eric Klinenberg were deathly afraid of being discredited by satirical factoids like saying 0.8% of all couples met on the set of the Nicolas Cage movie Snake Eyes), which seldom rise above observations at the level of "Have you ever texted someone and then they don't text back right away? What is the deal with that??". On the whole, his efforts to ground the book in sociological exploration torpedo the humor and the book ultimately doesn't succeed as science or satire.

I suppose this would be easy to dismiss as the latest in a long tradition of disposable novelty bathroom reading written by comedians, but knowing that Ansari was given a $3.5 MILLION book deal to produce it can't help but rankle. Save your time-- there's nothing insightful or memorable here at all.
Profile Image for Stephanie *Eff your feelings*.
239 reviews1,183 followers
October 8, 2015
I am a satisfied single.

I did not coin that term, I did hear it from somewhere, but I don’t remember who said it. Sorry person who said it. Anyway.....what this means to me is that I’m fine with being on my own. It’s easy. Would I like to meet ‘the love of my life’ or ‘the man of my dreams’ my 'soul mate' if you will? Sure, I’d be alright with that, in fact it would be great. But I'm not holding my breath.

Am I willing to spend hours and hours poring over profiles, reading messages from guys that put little to no effort into writing them? Nope. I have better things to do. But if I stumble upon my prince charming by chance? Cool.

“The world is available to us, but that may be the problem.” Truth. It’s exhausting.

In Modern Romance, Aziz explorers and compares how people once found one another to how we painstakingly do today and he does a damn fine job of it. And he’s really funny too.

“People who own iPhones are twice as likely to sext as people who use Androids.” Huh…who knew?

“The most popular time to sext is Tuesday between 10:00 A.M. and noon. Yes, we looked this up twice. Strange!” Again……huh.

“We have two selves: a real-world self and a phone self, and the nonsense our phone selves do can make our real-world selves look like idiots. Our real-world selves and our phone selves go hand in hand. Act like a dummy with your phone self and send some thoughtless message full of spelling errors, and the real-world self will pay the price. The person on the other end sees no difference between your two selves. They never think, Oh, I’m sure he’s much more intelligent and thoughtful in person. This is just his “lazy phone persona.”

I have the best example of this from some guy who was trying to ‘git wit me’. Seriously. Trying to impress me and this is what he put forth…..never mind that he never, not once, asked me a question about myself. There was a bunch of attempts before this but this is where I was trying to get him to have a conversation….ask something…anything.

“Guy: Just dont wanna be a pest. Juzy tell me to go away. Hsha

Me: You’re a nice enough guy [name redacted], I’m just confused on why you’re interested in me. I have no idea if we have anything in common….what do you think we might have in common? What are your interests….your views?

Guy: Juzt looking for someone to someone to hang with. Nothing huge. Conversaytion share interest. Love the fsct ur artsy. U seem passionste bout what u do. And easy to look at. Im harmless. I dint bite

I said something, then he sent this gem.

Guy: I work afternoons during thr week. Love to do an art walk in lakrwood or something. Then walk the state park thete. Just a thoygjt”

WHAT THE HELL? Needless to say I did not go out with this guy who ‘dint’ bite and have a ‘conversaytion’ with him…..I wasn’t sure I’d understand him. Look, I suck at spelling, but I know for a fact that devices today help a person out with that problem. In fact you would have to try pretty hard to screw up that bad. AND I hate, hate, hate, the ‘ur’ and ‘u’…..people, you’re phone will helpfully put the word ‘you’ up on the top there for you if typing three letters is too much work for you!

Huff…..huff….huff…. why even try at all sir if that is the best you can do? I’m 99.9% sure this guy will never read this review. At least I hope so.

I’ll end this with one last quote:

“Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life in terms of children and social status and succession and companionship. But now we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot, and we live twice as long. So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide: Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise. And we think it’s a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that. Ideally, though, we’re lucky, and we find our soul mate and enjoy that life-changing mother lode of happiness. But a soul mate is a very hard thing to find.”

That’s a lot to ask. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this book was. Enjoy.

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,921 reviews35.4k followers
December 1, 2015
At the beginning of the audiobook, Aziz joked with 'us listeners', about being
"Lazy People"......too lazy to sit down and read a book. He not only had to write the
book, but now he 'had' to read it us us too!

Aziz is entertaining and hilarious no questions about it. Love the guy!

By the end of my 'lazy- listening'... I came to the conclusion that Aziz brought playfulness and lightness to the game called "Modern Dating".
However ...'everyone' could benefit listening to this audio tape if you plan to continue living in 2016 and years after.

Listening to the different ways people interact through 'texting', opened up my eyes to the generation gap between - me, and my younger generation. I grew up talking on the telephone -- hours a night as a teenager. Every teenage girls dream was to own a princess phone of their own - next to their bed in the mid 60's. I talked with boys, girls, ( one on one), regularly. If a boy had interest in me ...he didn't send a text and say, "hey"
or "hey, what's hanging?" or "you want to hang out." Guys had to speak .. be more direct ...such as, "hi, would you like to go to a movie with me on Friday night?" Point is... Social connecting was either in person or on the phone. We didn't have instant messages- text messages to hide behind.
I was almost 'shocked' ( but not really), that Aziz was actually TEACHING basic
appropriate communication -social skills 101 of how to communicate just sending a text message without sounding like a jerk. (He was doing a great job with many terrific real- examples showing what worked and what didn't work).
It's somewhat mind blowing to me that basic common sense skills need to be taught to young single men and women at all! ( AZIZ's refresher course is needed, no question about it). He also made it fun! Nobody gets called out -- this isn't a live seminar.

When Aziz explored the changes of dating, romance , and marriage with the previous 50 years...a couple of things stood out as interesting to me.
1. There was a high statistic of people marrying a person who lived in their neighborhood. It was common to marry a person less than 5 minutes from where you grew up.
2. When asked "why did you marry your wife?" ...years ago: many of the answers were similar: "She was nice, we liked each other, and had common values".

Today: when asked ...""why did you marry your spouse?"...we hear answers like
1. He's the other half of me.., and,
2. She's my soulmate.

At the start of this book, I said to myself ..."This book is fun, & informative ...I can talk to my daughters about these issues...ask them questions.. etc..,
yet, I'm soooo happy that I AM MARRIED.. ( and happy)

In the middle of the book...still enjoying this clever-wise-comedian, and his heterosexual pairing with graphs to boot...I quietly said to myself ...

At the end of the audiobook...Having enjoyed a discussion about the beginning's attraction of a great relationship with lust and passion...then moving into the
companion phase ----which is next to follow if the couple stays together...
might a person move on to another person? Keep that 'Rush' and 'fire' hot?
Science makes a good argument for the companion phase.
To me, the dating world seems over- stimulating -- too many choices -to the point of maybe not really knowing anyone.
Boy next door doesn't look so bad!
I'M 'still' happy TO BE MARRIED... ( yet, I suppose there would be nothing worse if a person wished they weren't). I'm blessed in the marriage dept. and I'll be the first to say it. We are both independent - individual - complete whole healthy- soulful human beings ... yet we are emotionally connected with each other in the important areas of life.

I enjoyed my lazy time with Aziz. ( THANKS for reading your book to me Aziz).
Aziz is a great walking buddy! You don't even need to text him for a date.

Aziz's TV show "MASTER OF NONE", is funny, truthful as hell, with a great cast!

Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
478 reviews785 followers
February 14, 2019
Like every successful standup comedian today, Aziz Ansari was offered a book deal. Though Patton Oswalt did turn his offer into Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film, Ansari's peers have largely released memoirs or joke books; even George Carlin wasn't above taking money that a publishing house was giving away and adding "New York Times bestselling author" to his accomplishments. Winning the award for original thought, Ansari turned his offer into Modern Romance, a seriously amusing and documented sociological look at why with more options than ever, people feel more frustrated searching for a partner than ever.

In collaboration with sociologist and author Eric Klinenberg as well as a football team of sociologists, research assistants and dating experts who consulted on data or organized focus groups, Ansari--born and raised in Bennettsville, South Carolina and at the time of his book's 2015 publication was 32, single, no children--is of course writing about himself just as much as his peers have in their books, but in analyzing why huge strides in civil rights and technology seem to have made the process of finding a mate more stressful, he's also writing about his audience. Like me!

-- It was remarkable. In total, fourteen of the thirty-six seniors I spoke with had ended up marrying someone who lived within walking distance of their childhood home. People were marrying neighbors who lived on the same street, in the same neighborhood, and even in the same building. It seemed a bit bizarre. "Guys," I said. "You're in New York City. Did you ever think, Oh, maybe there's some people outside of my building? Why limit yourself so much? Why not expand your horizons?"

They just shrugged and said that it wasn't what was done.

-- When I talked to people about dating back in the day, they said they'd go to one bar or a mixer, which was like a community dance, usually put on by a church or college or other local institution, where young people could talk and meet. They'd stay there the whole night and have one or two drinks. That seems more pleasant than what I see out in bars today, which is usually a bunch of people staring at their phones trying to find someone or something more exciting than where they are.

-- The interesting thing about text is that, as a medium, it separates you from the person you are speaking with, so you can act differently from how you would in person or even on the phone. In Alone Together Sherry Turkle tells the story of a young boy who had a standing appointment for a Sunday dinner with his grandparents. Every week, he'd want to cancel and his mom would tell him to call his grandparents and tell them he wasn't coming. However, he never would, because he couldn't bear to hear the disappointment in their voices. If it were text, though, he'd probably wouldn't have thought twice about it. As a medium, it's safe to say, texting facilitates flakiness and rudeness and many other personality traits that would not be expressed in a phone call or an in-person interaction.

--At our focus group on online dating in Manhattan, Derek got on OKCupid and let us watch as he went through his options. These were women whom OKCupid had selected as potential matches for him based on his profile and the site's algorithm. The first woman he clicked on was very beautiful, with a witty profile page, a good job, and lots of shared interests, including a love of sports. After looking it over for a minute or so, Derek said: "Well, she looks okay. I'm just gonna keep looking for a while."

I asked what was wrong, and he replied, "She likes the Red Sox."

I was completely shocked. I couldn't believe how quickly he just moved on. Imagine Derek of twenty years ago, finding out that this beautiful, charming woman wanted to date him. If she was in a bar and smiled at him, Derek of 1993 would have melted. He wouldn't have walked up and said, "Oh, wait, you like the Red Sox? No thank you!" and put his hand in her face and turned away. But Derek of 2013 just clicked an X on a Web browser tab and deleted her without thinking twice, like a J. Crew sweatshirt that didn't live up to his expectations upon seeing a larger picture.

-- On one of our subreddit threads we asked people to tell us about their best first dates, and it was amazing to see how many involved doing things that are easy and accessible but require just a bit more creativity than dinner and a movie.

His parents both work in media, and every year he goes to the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden and finds his way backstage through a combination of walking with a purpose and flashing media credentials his parents help with. Talk about impressing a first date! We then bought wine, which they served out of sippy cups, and made a drinking game out of the dog show. (Take a drink every time a dog jumps when it's not supposed to, and so on).

Dating aside, I'm definitely playing a Westminster dog show drinking game ASAP. That sounds fun!

-- Ending things by changing their status on social media without telling their partner is another way people break up these days. One woman told us: "In college, my boyfriend broke up with me by changing his Facebook status to single. We got back together six years later, and then he broke up with me over text message. I should probably stop dating him." If you start dating him again and he says he needs to stop by the 'blimp place," maybe brace yourself to read bad news in the sky.

Aziz Ansari reminds me of a bright younger brother, or perhaps energetic cousin, who you enjoy having around but at some point--maybe every hour, depending on what he's drinking or ingesting--you feel like telling, "All right, settle down, settle down." Not that I was expecting a dry sociological study of dating trends or even wanted to read one, but Ansari's book concept, his research and his energy are the chief reasons to read Modern Romance, not the jokes he slips in (I'll give him props for dropping a reference to the action movie Speed and what Jack Traven & Annie Porter can tell us about relationships forged from intense circumstances).

In addition to traveling to Tokyo and Buenos Aires for a look at two of the most extreme dating climates in the world--one where men have their libidos set to 1 and another where masculinity is cranked up to 11--I got the most value from the focus groups with senior citizens. I could easily see this book being expanded into a television program, where Ansari meets people of different groups in different cities to talk about romance. It's colorful, analytical and thought provoking, whether you're single like me, or in a committed relationship and curious what's going on out there, the same way I enjoy watching nature programs though I'm uninterested in hunting game on the plains.

My experience with modern romance is we do have so many choices and are in such a hurry to find the One but that the relationships that have been most memorable for me were those where I took the time to get to know someone in spite of ourselves. The Internet can so easily reduce the process of meeting people to ordering patio furniture, but people are not products, and my most meaningful relationships have been with women who weren't my "type" and vice-versa. Somehow we unplugged ourselves from the matrix and made a connection, but it's not easy. It makes me appreciate those relationships I've had so much more. This thoughtful and fun book reinforced that.

Length: 59,712 words
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,633 followers
November 16, 2015
Aziz Ansari is a funny guy. I've enjoyed his work as an actor and a comedian, so I shouldn't have been surprised when I really liked his book.

But I was surprised, especially when I learned that he had teamed up with a sociologist and did actual research on modern romance. Aziz was interested in how technology has changed dating culture, and he opens the book with a funny story about a girl, Tanya, who didn't text him back after he had asked her out. He realizes that texting and social media and dating apps and emojis have become increasingly important in dating and relationships, and he and a sociologist set out to research the subject.

For example, they conducted interviews with people from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, and they even traveled to other countries to get some international data on romance. One aspect of their research I found especially interesting was that online dating sites and apps, such as Match.com and Tinder, have dramatically increased the number of options for people, but having so many choices can be overwhelming. It makes it harder for some people to choose someone, because there are always more profiles to check. One woman told the story of how she would check Tinder before going a date, just in case she saw someone more interesting than the guy she was supposed to meet.

I also liked the perspective of elderly folks who were interviewed. Overwhelmingly, the women who got married young wished they hadn't been pressured to find a husband so quickly. Even in cases where the women had relatively happy marriages, they felt a sense of loss because they didn't get a chance to experience being single in their 20s, or have time to live independently, without relying on a parent or a husband to support them.

I love sociology, and I thought this book was a delightful blend of Aziz's humor and sociological insights. I listened to this on audio, and Aziz was a very funny performer. He had me laughing within the first minute, and this book made a long road trip seem very short. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the sociology of dating, or who also wants a good laugh.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.6k followers
September 18, 2017
i posted, i posted, i posted! plz be proud of me. link here: https://emmareadstoomuch.wordpress.co...

Disclaimer: I have the biggest crush on Aziz Ansari. Can anyone blame me? He’s like a humor magician. Parks & Rec, flawless standup specials, MASTER OF NONE, and this book. What a track record.

Anyway. I could never claim to be unbiased on this subject. It’s now clear that what I thought was a post-season 2 Master of None hangover is just...part of me now. I am destined for an existence of crushin’ on Aziz.

Okay. So now that you know I cannot be trusted, we can get into this. (This is, by the way, contrary to my typical off-the-charts levels of trustworthiness. I am often called Emma “Very Accurate and Fair Reviews” Insertmylastnamehere. That’s the level of dependability I’m rockin’.)


Now, you may be thinking, Emma, despite your claims of general trustworthiness, I do not trust you. I do not listen to audiobooks; I prefer Books with Pages. That is why I am here, on this site, generally dedicated to Books. With Pages.

And I hear ya, voice-of-an-imaginary-reader-that-is-becoming-a-motif-in-my-reviews. Previously, I was just like you. (Insert gasp from the crowd here.)

Recently, you may have seen, I discovered that I had seven (count ’em!) audiobook credits to my name. And that they would be expiring shortly. And so I lived my best extreme-couponer life, and posted a status asking for recommendations.

Sofi came THRU.

She suggested I check out the audiobook version of Modern Romance - that’s this book! - and because a) I am Aziz Ansari trash and b) I had lightly planned on rereading this during my 2017 Reread Extravaganza, I enthusiastically concurred.

WHICH WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE. (Thanks again, Sofi. You’re the goods.)

In my initial review, I gave this book three-ish stars. That’s because, while the book was interesting, it could get very nonfiction-y. (I’m not that big into nonfiction. How’d you guess?) It generally lacked for Aziz’s voice.

Guess what’s not a problem in the audiobook version?

IT’S AZIZ ANSARI’S VOICE. Because he reads it. And riffs. And jokes about the laziness of audiobook listeners. (This is particularly fabulous for me, as someone who read the book first, because I get to laugh pretentiously and condescendingly - which is my favorite kind of laughter.) The whole thing is great and I love it so much. Honestly, it’s like a six-hour podcast about love hosted by Aziz Ansari. And that’s a dream I never knew I had.

This book isn’t perfect, but think about the impossibility of the task. Ansari and his co-author, Eric Klinenberg, set about to write a book that encapsulates and explains ALL OF MODERN ROMANCE, EVERYWHERE. And on TOP of it, discuss the history of romance and the changes that led us here. They had to place some limits on it.

Unfortunately, these limits mean we mostly hear about the Tinder-esque romances formed by straight American twentysomethings. I’d love to hear more about non-straight relationships, or even non-online relationships. But I understand the need to focus on a niche.

One AMAZING thing about this book is that it isn’t entirely American. Klinenberg and Ansari visited several other countries to try to get a more global concept, and IT. IS. FASCINATING. Honestly I want the two of them to write a million books like this. Just explain every aspect of society and culture to me via six-hour audiobook, Aziz.

The only other downside is that this has a loooot of material from Aziz Ansari’s most-recent-and-still-fairly-old standup special, which I had just watched (okay, rewatched) like a week before starting the audiobook. So that was a lil upsetting. Like John Mulaney’s tragically short-lived self-titled TV show - I’d be so much more on board if I hadn’t heard half of it before.

Bottom line: THIS IS SO FUN, but you gotta try the audiobook. 200% more Aziz, and trust me when I say you want as much Aziz as you can get.

----------ORIGINAL REVIEW----------


the topic of this book was so interesting! i don't think i was alone, however, in expecting a little more aziz in it. it was definitely funnier/an easier read than your typical sociological study but it definitely had its dry portions. all in all worth it, though!
Profile Image for Sarah Jane.
15 reviews243 followers
August 8, 2015
I think Aziz Ansari just convinced me to get on Tinder?
Profile Image for Philip.
497 reviews667 followers
April 30, 2018
4ish stars.

Disclaimer: This review contains my life story/abridged relationship history. Do not feel obligated to read it in its entirety, but c'mon it's kind of entertaining.

Surprisingly not as funny, but much more insightful than I expected. I guess I figured this would be Master of None in book form with Ansari chronicling specific experiences he's had that reflect dating culture today. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of humor, and Ansari does throw in a few auto-biographical accounts, but it ends up being more of an impressive examination, complete with sociologists, research studies, etc., of the many ways we begin, build, and maintain relationships today. This is compared with norms of the past, showing the way changes in society and technology have shaped the evolution of modern romance.

It also let me reflect on my own relationships, including my ongoing marriage of almost three years, and compare them to the experiences of those who were interviewed or otherwise participated in studies/conversations for this book, some of which are very foreign to mine. I'll give you a little glimpse into my humdrum relationship history as I detail my exploits as they apply to some of the points made in this book, and you can compare with your own. :) Names have been changed to protect the innocent.


1) Barb - circa 2005 - age 16: During high school (and for long after) there was only one girl who could be considered my "girlfriend" (even if I have always refused to use that term because it feels cheesy and immature and ugly in my mouth, something about all those consonants mushing together - girlfriend). This was at the end of my junior year of high school - we were in volleyball class together, she asked me to the "girls pref" dance, we held hands, and after a few weeks of hanging out, during which time we made it "official," I had my first kiss at 16. It took me 30 minutes of awkwardly lying silently next to her at a park knowing full well she expected me to kiss her, but being too scared to dive in, before I finally bucked up the courage and gave her a fairly chaste kiss. Having gotten the hard part out of the way, I went in for a second, at which point she sucked me in, tongue and all. Her first words afterward were "you should open your mouth more." Not exactly inspiring. When asked how many girls I had kissed, I replied "just a few." 😬 After a month or two I kind of got bored, so I started ghosting her, blowing her off for Harry Potter movie marathons, until she confronted me and I was forced to tell her I wanted to be "free" for the summer and my senior year. After a brief period of bitterness, we remained good friends. A few years later, her boyfriend at the time left the country for a while, and since we were good friends, we would hang out together. Alone. In her bed. Until after watching a particularly emotional episode of One Tree Hill we ended up having a NCMO (non-committal make out) until she started crying. Our tryst ended shortly after.

Relevant points:
- This was 2005. Mobile phones and texting had just started becoming accessible and prevalent among younger common folk like myself. Texting was T9 and I had to monitor my activity because unlimited texting wasn't an option for anyone but the high class. I remember texting being so cool at the time. It hadn't yet taken over lives and transformed communication but it was novel and exciting chatting with friends even if there wasn't much substance beyond "hey wassup" "im good u?" "ugh 3rd period english with petersen life sux" etc. So I never actually experienced dating without cell phones and texting.

- It was all about MSN, AIM, and/or Yahoo messenger, which I used and abused. A couple years earlier, right before starting high school, I moved to a different state and these were the only easy ways to keep in contact with old friends. AIM chat rooms could also be utilized as cesspools for carnal desire, internet sex, and the dawn of catfishing, but that wasn't my style.

- Social media as we now recognize it was fairly new. Myspace was a serious thing and I seem to remember it as being considered kind of edgy at first. My parents refused to let me get a Myspace so I had to keep mine secret. Again, it was fun to connect with friends, post comments, expect replies, and cause scandals based on who was selected as a "top eight friend" or whatever it was. It was also used by some as a way to hook up.

-As is common today, guys were overwhelmingly expected to initiate relationships, but I was awkward and shy and it just wasn't me, so it's a good thing Barb had an excuse to ask me out because I wouldn't have made a move otherwise. Similarly, I eventually didn't want to be with her anymore, but didn't have the guts to say so (and breaking up over text would have been seriously uncool). So I ignored her texts until she forced my hand. I am not proud of myself. I also couldn't decide whether I should have felt guilty about making out with her while her kind-of boyfriend was in another country.

- I was thereafter notorious for my many flirtationships, but nothing serious happened for a long time until...


2) Mildred - circa 2011 - age 22: I ended up meeting Mildred after moving in with a buddy who was very social and outgoing. So the opposite of me. But I kind of became social by association? We had people over all the time and somehow I became kind of cool because my house was the cool place to be. I had a fairly wide circle of friends and Mildred somehow entered that circle despite her being way out of the circle's league. She was not even on my radar until I realized we were flirting a lot and she was giving me a lot of signs and making it really easy for me to ask her out. I was a giant dork, and ridiculously immature, while she had poise and beauty and confidence, so it was inevitable that things wouldn't last long. I tried so hard to be "romantic" and to make things special, so even after we were "official," I didn't even kiss her for a long time because I was waiting for the perfect Hallmark moment. In hindsight this was stupid and naive and I wish I would have moved things a lot faster. After three months (my longest relationship until marriage), she ended things very maturely, in person, while I was completely oblivious to the fact that our relationship had been gradually declining for a while. She gave an excuse that I could never determine the legitimacy of, and let me down gently by suggesting that we "take a break," leaving a hypothetical door open, even though we both knew the door would never be used again. We remained friends and continued to hang out in the same crowd.

Relevant points:
- Of course smartphones were a thing at this point. Social media could be accessed at any second and the obsessiveness with likes and comments began. Texting had become my preferred mode of communication; I had conversations of increasing depth and took my time crafting the perfect messages. I also started playing the game of not texting back for the same amount of time it took to receive my last reply. I never answered calls unless it was family, or I was expecting a call, and even then preferred to ignore calls and text back instead. Basically I became a much better texter/writer than talker. It all went downhill from there.

- Myspace was dead and Facebook was king. Friend invites were sent to even the most distant acquaintances because it didn’t require asking for phone numbers, and it was considered the greatest offense to "unfriend" someone. An acquaintance/emerging friend of mine had previously told me that he had a giant crush on Mildred, and after I broke "bro code" and started dating her he unfriended me. Everyone I told this to was shocked that he had taken things so far. I remember posting things on other people's Facebook walls that I never would have in person, or even through text. Something about it being open and public made it easier, less intimate.

- I opened an Instagram account which, at the time, seemed like a simpler, less social platform than Facebook, not a way to connect or meet people. Snapchat was the newest thing and word on the street was that it was used mainly to send dick pics.

- Dating websites were big, and I tinkered with them a bit. Of course, they all cost money and I was a starving college student, so this never went anywhere. I had a legitimate conversation with maybe one person but it ended quickly. I didn't understand how dating sites could be successful for so many people.

- I went to community college but was too shy to talk to anyone so I came and went without ever making a single friend. I decided that I could probably only ever date someone with whom I was already friends. Blind dates were all duds so I felt like I would need to have some kind of existing relationship in order for things to progress to a relationship. I lucked out by having such a social roommate through whom I became friends with so many people.


3) Betty- circa 2013 - age 24: One word. Tinder. Game changer. I ended up going on a ton of Tinder dates around this time. While simultaneously being embarrassed that I was going on a ton of Tinder dates, and making up creative alternative meet-cutes. I only ended up going on multiple dates with a handful of girls, and only one or two matches in particular turned into relationships but they were fairly solid by my standards. Betty came about during a time when I was trying hard to go on second dates with these Tinder girls. I figured I had to give them second chances because it's hard to get to know a person in an hour or two, especially when the only thing you know you have in common is that you both liked the other person's idealized presentation of themselves. Betty evolved from a typical Tinder girl that I didn't feel much chemistry with, to a full-blown relationship. I'm almost ashamed to admit that one of the biggest factors that led to our breakup was that she lived like 30 minutes away and I didn't want to drive out to see her. We'd switch off driving to see the other person so I only had to drive down once a week or so but I decided it wasn't worth it. Apparently the most attractive quality in a woman for me was close proximity? In other news I finally had the guts to break up with her myself, in person even, at a Cafe Zupas.

Relevant points:
- Up until Tinder, I relied on my friends to set me up on dates or to bring new people into our social circles that I could get to know. I felt like I burned through all of those options pretty quickly and didn't know how to meet new people. Through Tinder I connected with a lot of girls. It was brilliant. Look at someone's picture and a short blurb of how they describe themselves and make a snap judgment about whether you're interested or not. Basically the dating equivalent of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. The beauty was that so many people were using it that I could never run out of people to swipe through. The downside was that all of the girls who I matched with (who I thought were my type) lived in the college town 30 minutes away with Betty.

- Of all the girls I followed up with after a date via text, only a fraction ever responded, the others deciding to pretend I didn't exist. I still felt obligated as the dude to initiate the follow-up, but unless I was feeling it I wouldn't contact the girl again and that was that. On the rare occasion a girl texted me after a date and I wasn't interested, I told them so, but otherwise never talked to the girls I didn't connect with again.

- Betty wasn't pleased with our breakup and told me that I needed to let myself give our relationship a fair chance. That I would never have a healthy relationship until I opened up and allowed a legitimate connection to develop. Wise words. We never talked again but never actually deleted each other from social media, and I occasionally stalked her to see how she was getting on. She's now married with a kid whose face I would occasionally see on Facebook. Weird?


4) Stacia - circa 2014-present - age 26-29: I ended up meeting my wife at church. Isn't that so lame and old-fashioned? My church does this thing where they set up congregations entirely composed of young, single adults, seemingly in an effort to get us to marry each other. I always thought it was ridiculous and incestuous to date people in my surrounding neighborhood, who I would otherwise see on a regular basis. Not to mention how dated and close-minded I thought it was to only go out with people of my own religion. I had a strict policy against dating people from church. I attended for the religious aspect and because my friends went. Also, Stacia and I did not have good first impressions of each other. I was still living with my social friend and we still had regular gatherings that led her to believe that I was a cocky douchebag who had girls fawning over me. For my part, I had a few friends/acquaintances who all claimed to have gone out with Stacia and who were then given the cold shoulder by her because she was stuck up/promiscuous. Eventually our circles of church friends overlapped and we became comfortable with each other. She realized I was a doofus, not a playboy, and in turn assured me that those guys who claimed to have hooked up with her only wished they could have, that she would never have actually given them the time of day. We grew to greet each other, tease each other, give each other dating advice, and set each other up with our friends. Then it was like a switch flipped. All of a sudden I realized I was in love with her, and as luck would have it, she had the same epiphany at the same time. We dated for six months before I proposed and were married six months after that. Almost three years on, I love her now more than ever.

Final thoughts:
- Obviously I ended up marrying someone I met IRL. We would text each other occasionally while we were dating but it was mostly to figure out when we'd see each other next. Maybe phone/internet dating would have worked for me eventually, as it has for many of my friends, but I had a lot more success meeting people organically.

- Not gonna lie, I was always kind of a prude. I never really dated for fun, I dated to get into relationships. I never even kissed girls until I felt like we were sufficiently serious. I'm pretty sure I'm quite anomalous in that regard. Looking back would I have done anything different? Oh yeah. I would have had way many more NCMOs. Seriously. I think I missed out on a lot during my single years by being so rigid. Call it gentlemanly, but I now look back and realize there's nothing wrong with being emotional/passionate/affectionate with a lot of people just for the fun of it. I still can't bring myself to accept the idea of being in serious relationships with multiple people at the same time, but I feel like there's no harm in going on dates with lots of people until someone special emerges.

- I'm also fully aware that I kept my romantic life in a very traditional bubble, even while I was watching all of my friends engage in much more progressive, open experiences consistent with current, common dating culture in the US. I'm fine with it, and luckily, it ended up working for me. It's interesting looking back, pondering these things, and comparing my ideas (then and now) to the ideas expressed by people in this book. If nothing else, it's insightful in that regard and makes me want to force it on my single friends. :)

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,520 followers
May 31, 2016
Bravo to comic and actor Aziz Ansari for not writing just another memoir-by-someone-who’s-sorta-famous-but-hasn’t-lived-long-enough-to-really-warrant-one. I’ve read a number of them (good: Bossypants; okay: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?; abandoned: sorry, Lena Dunham).

Modern Romance is about dating in the digital age. Getting to know people has evolved significantly even over the past few years. Dating sites, swipe apps like Tinder and sexting are a far cry from how people used to meet – you know, through friends and family; answering personal ads; video dating, where you watch potential partners' VHS tapes (!); braving noisy, crowded bars….

Ansari has teamed up with NYU sociology professor Eric Klinenberg for the book, so there are many quotes from experts and plenty of facts, figures and even some graphs. There are also lots of jokey elements, like dorky photos (Ansari imagines what his online stalker looks like) and fake footnotes (okay, I laughed at a silly Betty Friedan footnote).

The two also drew on lots of research from SubReddit, focus groups and Ansari’s stand-up. A few years ago I saw Ansari perform live, during the time he was doing research. One of the highlights was when he asked audience members if they’d recently met someone and, if so, if he could read out recent text exchanges involving that person. He draws on some of those exchanges from that tour in the book.

If, like me, you’re single, you probably already know a lot of what's in this book. The whole project feels a tad lightweight, like an extended magazine article you skim in the waiting room of the doctor’s office.

But there are a few fascinating revelations, like the difference between successful women’s and men’s online dating profile pictures (apparently women should look directly at the camera, while men should look away) and how if someone’s “undecided” about liking your pic and profile you’ll think about them a lot more than if someone downright likes it.

(Note: Aziz admits at the outset that the book is primarily about heterosexual relationships and most of the research was done with middle-class people.)

But by far the most fascinating sections in the book are about dating practices in other countries: Qatar, Japan, France. Aziz jokes that he chose many of these cultures for their culinary offerings, but there are some sharp observations here. People in Japan are so private they often use a pet – or an inanimate object, like their RICE COOKER! – for their profile pics.

And the section on France opens up a big issue about monogamy and open relationships. You know who also weighs in on open relationships? The hip-hop star Pitbull. And he’s pretty articulate.

Ansari also chronicles his own relationship history, which has gone from single to dating to seriously dating. He’s candid about it all, even letting us see actual text exchanges between him and his lady friend to illustrate how some digital communication can be misinterpreted.

And while there are jaw-dropping revelations about the idiots out there in cyberspace's scary single’s world – adolescent males come under fire for their less than original texts – there are lots of success stories, too. So there are plenty of happy endings. (Um, you know what I mean.)
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,050 reviews1,832 followers
March 3, 2019

"A phone call? The WORST."
- Female Focus Group Participant

"If you want to talk to me, you're going to have to call me."
- Another Female Focus Group Participant

- Every Guy in That Focus Group

The issue of calling versus texting generated a wide variety of responses in our focus groups. Generally, younger dudes were FUCKING TERRIFIED of calling someone on a phone. This didn't surprise me that much, but I was surprised that younger women also expressed terror at the thought of a traditional phone call. "Phone calls suck and they give me anxiety," said one twenty-four-year-old woman. "Since texting started, an actual phone call feels like an emergency," said another. Other girls thought it was just too forward for someone to call as the first move and said that a text would be more appropriate in general.

However, other women said receiving a phone call from a guy showed he had confidence and helped separate those men from the pack of generic "Hey wsup" texts that normally flood their messaging programs. To these women, the guys who call seem brave and mature. The phone conversations helped create a rapport that made them feel comfortable and safe enough to go out with a person they didn't know all that well.

A woman who came to one of our focus groups discussed how she got so fed up with text messaging that she cut of her texting service and could only be reached by phone calls. This woman never went on a date with a man again. No, she actually started dating someone soon afterward. She also claimed the guys who did work up the courage to call her were a better caliber of man and that she was, in effect, able to weed out a lot of the bozos.

But with some women who loved phone calls, things weren't that simple. In a rather inconvenient twist for would-be suitors, many said they loved phone calls - but had no interest in answering. "I often don't answer, but I like receiving them," said one woman, who seemed oblivious to how ridiculous this statement sounded.

For this group, voice mails provided a screening system of sorts. When they explained this, it made sense to me. If the message was from someone they'd met briefly at a bar, it let them hear the guy's voice and made it easier to sort out the creeps. One girl raved about a nice voice mail a guy had recently left her. I kindly requested she play it and heard this gem: "Hey, Lydia. It's Sam. Just calling to say what's up. Gimme a ring when you get a chance."


I pleaded to know what was so great about this. She sweetly recalled that "he remembered my name, he said hi, and he told me to call him back."

Never mind the fact that what she described was the content of LITERALLY EVERY VOICE MAIL IN HISTORY. Name, hello, please call back. Not really a boatload of charm on display. To fail this test, a guy would have to leave a message that said: "No greeting. This is a man. I don't remember you. End communication."
pg. 40

Okay, first things first. I'm not here to judge Ansari as a human being, just review his book. It's not my place to judge the living and the dead. That being said, I want to state that I can't think of Ansari without being mildly sick to my stomach. Before I had absolutely zero feelings about Ansari whether positive or negative, and now thinking about him makes me slightly nauseous. I don't want to get in an argument with anyone, but let's just say I believe “Grace” 100%. Whether you think “Grace” was right or wrong to tell babe what happened, whether you think babe was right or wrong in pursuing the story, whether you think what Ansari did was just “a bad date” or “being a cad” and it doesn't bug you that much, or if – like me – it makes you sick – doesn't matter. I simply want to make it clear that although I would love to say I completely was able to separate Ansari's actions from his book, I was not able to do so.

I think especially jarring in the case with Ansari is that he seemed (in the book) to be sympathetic to women and understanding of women and not like someone who would pressure you into giving him a blowjob and shove his fingers in your mouth. I mean, he LITERALLY wrote a book on dating in which he explains to men that they should be kind to women. It's not like he wrote a detective novel, or something.

On to the book.

The book is surprisingly sociological and based on some form of research. I thought it would merely be a comedic observation on modern dating life. But no, Ansari involved scientists and researchers and did some studies. One might have to put the word studies in quotes, but nevertheless.

The book is also beautiful with full color illustrations and great use of charts, graphs, and other fun colorful additions to the book. Very lovely book visually. Stunning.

Ansari was pretty funny. I would say about half of his jokes landed. Since he makes a ton of jokes, that is a pretty good ratio. I laughed out loud a lot. This is a genuinely funny book.

This also made me realize: The only thing sadder than holding the record for longest masturbation is realizing you lost it to someone else.

"Sorry, man, he just jerked off for a few minutes longer. Better luck next year."

None of the news articles that described the lack of interest in sex in Japan really delved into this whole world of strange sexual alternatives, and when you learn about it, it does kind of explain the alleged "lack of interest" in sex. The herbivore sector is interested in sexual pleasure but just not interested in achieving it through traditional routes. In their eyes, it seems, if you're so mortified at the thought of rejection by a woman, why not just jerk off in an egg and call it a day?

At this point you are probably wondering: What was my top meal in Tokyo? Well, it's tough to say. I really enjoyed Sushisho Masa, a high-end sushi restaurant. However, I also really enjoyed the tasty tempura I had from the working-class vendors in Tsukiji Market. And of course there was the ramen.

To be honest, the food scene in Tokyo was way easier to understand than the singles scene. It's hard to figure out why sex and relationships have changed so dramatically, so quickly, and why so many people have turned inward - staying home alone, playing video games, or hanging out in cat cafés - rather than reaching out for one another.

On my last night in Tokyo, I decided to keep an open mind and buy a Tenga. Every stage of it was a bummer. I went into a convenience store and had to say, "Do you guys have Tengas?" The lady gave me a sad look and pointed me in the right direction. As I paid, I smiled and said, "Research for a book project!" It didn't seem to convince her that I was cool. Instead, she's probably convinced I'm doing some very bizarre book called Masturbating Across the Globe: One Man's Journey to Find Himself.

When I got back to my hotel room, I opened the thing up and gave it a go. I was kind of excited to see if it really was masturbation taken to the next level. Masturbation at the current level feels pretty good, so maybe this wouldn't be bad? Again, no. The experience of using an egg-shaped masturbation device was both odd and uncomfortable. The thing you put your thing into was cold and weird. It felt like I was masturbating with a thick, cold condom on, and I didn't understand the appeal.
pg. 170

I've never been on a dating site or had a dating app on my phone, so I can't relate to some of the scenarios Ansari is talking about.

I think Ansari makes some wonderful points. I especially like his examination of dating cultures in different generations in the U.S. and his analysis of dating in different cultures (French, Japanese, etc.). He talks a lot about technology and how it has affected the dating scene.


In any interviews we did, whenever bad grammar or spelling popped up, it was an immediate and major turn-off. Women seemed to view it as a clear indicator that a dude was a bozo. Let's say you are a handsome, charming stud who really made a great first impression. If your first text is "Hey we shud hang out sumtimez," you may just destroy any goodwill you have built up.

On our subreddit we were told a story about a man who was dating a spectacular woman but eventually broke up with her. He said it went downhill once he texted her asking if she had heard about a party at a mutual friend's house. Her response was "Hoo?" Not "Who," but "Hoo." He kept trying to force the word "who" into conversation to make sure this beautiful woman could spell a simple three-letter word. Every time, she spelled it "hoo." He said it ruined everything. (NOTE: We did confirm that this was a woman and not an owl.)
pg. 53

As a book I would rate this as a four or a five. The last half of the book was particularly stellar. I found Ansari to be funny and insightful. The only points I would take off FOR THE BOOK is that it is pretty male-centered and focuses on male thoughts and actions. I understand, Ansari is a male, but as a woman reading it I was wondering where the women fit in as agents and self-realized people. Women are presented as pretty passive. Men are agents. Men perform actions. Women respond to the actions, either negatively or positively. Ansari doesn't seem to understand or account for women who are acting as agents. Men approach women. Men call/text/message women. Men ask women on dates. Women respond favorably or unfavorably. Men try to get women into bed. Men try to get laid. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes they aren't. Women are presented in this book as being recipients. Or objects which forces (men) act upon. While Ansari is presenting men with a positive message of "be kind to women, treat women as human, treat women as humans first and sexual conquests second" - my main point here is that he seems unable to fathom or grasp that women might be the forces acting upon (male) objects. This never comes up because it honestly never occurs to Ansari.

Whether or not you take issue with this is your own concern. I'm merely pointing out that this is how the book is written.

There's also some mild, minor fat-shaming in the book. It's not OVERARCHING, but it's there.

One other thing the book does brilliantly IMO is present men as flawed, real, insecure and anxious people who care about romantic relationships and worry about their interactions with women. The media tries to brainwash you into thinking men are slavering beasts only interested in one thing - sexual satisfaction for themselves. The media allows little room for stuff like "men would like to have a long-term partner they are loyal to" or "men would like to get married and have a wife they are loyal to" or "men would like to raise a family" or "men can be hurt by women in an emotional or psychological way." Instead, men are presented as some sort of unfeeling beasts who seek rutting above all else. Needless to say this is doing neither men nor women any favors. Ansari talks about men as people with feelings and emotions and human desires. It's refreshing.


some of this book is violently jarring. Hearing Ansari spout off against “douche monsters” and talk about how men should act (respectful of women, not like 'bozos,' aware of women's needs, fears, and wants) is wildly ironic when you think about the babe article. I wish I could tell you that I was able to completely divorce what Ansari was writing from revelations of how he acted with “Grace” behind closed doors, but I cannot. Given the subject material it is especially hard. YMMV. I don't know who you are or what you think about the babe article, perhaps it will make no difference to you. To me, it makes a big impact on reading his work and thinking about him as a person.

The book was a great book and made me laugh a lot. I have never seen Ansari on screen, I have never seen his stand-up in any form, this and the babe article (and the dozens of analyses of said article) are my only exposure to this author.

I'm sure a lot of people wish I had reviewed the book with no reference or mention to the babe article, but to me that is just not a possibility. If you know me, you know I can't ignore it. Feel free to hash anything out in the comments. Like I said, it's not my place to judge the living and the dead but I can't pretend I have no idea what's going on. He wrote a non-fiction book about dating, for fuck's sake.

Unrelated to the babe article, Ansari is obviously super-interested in dating, women, and the singles scene. He also has a kind of childish, baby-talk thing going on that I'm sure IRL might annoy some people. He's funny enough that you almost don't notice it, but it's there.

Hesitated to read the book. Hesitated to write a review on it. But here it is. *shrug*

At certain times, though, this "I need the best" mentality can be debilitating. I wish I could just eat somewhere that looks good and be happy with my choice. But I can't. The problem is that I know somewhere there is a perfect meal for me and I have to do however much research I can to find it.

That's the thing about the Internet: It doesn't simply help us find the best thing out there; it has helped to produce the idea that there IS a best thing and, if we search hard enough, we can find it. And in turn there are a whole bunch of inferior things that we'd be foolish to choose.

Here's a quick list of things I can think of that I've spent at least five to ten minutes researching:

- Electric citrus juicer (Waiting on this one to arrive in the mail. Hope I didn't fuck it up. Don't want too much pulp in my juice!)

- Taxidermy (I started off looking for a deer or bear, but I ended up finding a beautiful penguin in Paris. His name is Winston.)

- Which prestigious TV drama to binge-watch next (The Americans, House of Cards, or Orphan Black? The answer: I watched all of them while telling my publisher I was writing this book.)

- Bag for my laptop

- Protective case for my laptop

- Internet-blocking program so I can stop using my laptop so much

- Museums (Gotta peep the exhibits online before I commit to driving all the way out there, right?)

- Coasters (If you dig deep, you can find some dope coasters with dinosaurs on them!)

- Vanilla ice cream (Had to step it up from Breyers, and there's a LOT of debate in the ice cream fan community - there are fierce debates on those message boards.)

It's not just me, though. I may take things to extremes sometimes, but we live in a culture that tells us we want and deserve the overwhelming popularity of websites that are dedicated to our pursuit of the best things available. Yelp for restaurants. TripAdvisor for travel. Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic for movies.

A few decades ago, if I wanted to research vanilla ice cream, what would I have even done? Cold-approach chubby guys and then slowly steer the convo toward ice cream to get their take? No, thanks.

Nowadays the Internet is my chubby friend. It is the whole world's chubby friend.
pg. 126
Profile Image for Katie.
267 reviews3,827 followers
December 15, 2017
I came into this not expecting much, but this was fascinating! I picked it up without reading the description, so I was pleasantly surprised to find the majority of this is based on psych studies. If you're interested in the psychology behind modern dating, I highly recommend. Definitley listen to this as an audiobook.

It also left me more depressed about being single, but heigh-ho!
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,426 reviews8,331 followers
January 31, 2023
I read this book because my Boston Asian book club chose it for our February read. It was cute in a way! I felt like I did learn some interesting tidbits related to romance, like how decades ago people tended to meet their romantic partners through close geographical proximity (e.g., living in the same apartment) which has changed now with online dating. The issue of having “too many” options living in a city made sense to me too (so maybe it’s not just patriarchy’s socialization of men and white supremacy that’s made me romantically single for all of my life, but also living in predominantly urban environments?? intriguing!)

One glaring limitation of this book is the lack of discussion of amatonormativity. I find it almost laughable to write an entire book about romance without discussing heteronormativity and amatonormativity and how they shape the prevalence of romance and the wedding industrial complex in our society. Aziz Ansari kind of almost barely touches on this through mentioning that women’s increased economic power made it so they didn’t have to marry men to access financial security.

I also found a couple of small statements in the book… annoying in a mosquito bite-y sort of way. For example, Ansari makes a joke about having an “Indian stalker” and I was kind of eye-rolling about the stalker being Indian, like why do you have to implicate your own race (and it made me think of this broader criticism of Ansari and his lifting up of white women over women of color). And in another section of the book he implies that a man he meets isn’t a “stud” because he’s on the shorter side. Yawn! Where are our critical thinking hats in regard to desirability and gender norms??

I wouldn’t recommend this book though at least the writing was accessible and easy to read. I’m going to be taking notes *for sure* at my next book club meeting especially if anyone actually liked the book lol o_o If anyone is interested, I also write about amatonormativity on my blog.
Profile Image for Chihoe Ho.
367 reviews85 followers
June 13, 2015
"Modern Romance" straddles the line of being funny and serious. It doesn't commit (get the pun?) one way or the other, and so, falls flat on both fronts. This is especially unsatisfying as I love Aziz and his work. Perhaps it's with this high expectation and skewed notion of what this book could have been that made it all the more disheartening. The quicker you accept the fact that "Modern Romance" isn't what you wished it was, the easier you'll find yourself enjoying it a little more.

It isn't a laugh-out-loud humourous kind of book, even though I did chuckle at bits here and there; it isn't a scholarly body of sociological work that expounds new facts, even though I did relate to the online dating experiences recounted in "Modern Romance". In this itself, I suppose, I found the humour and comfort knowing that this digital age of romance is as wacked up as I find it to be from my own familiarity of it. What further makes "Modern Romance" a passable book for me was Aziz Ansari himself - the narrator was undeniably of the voice of Ansari and the jokes were unmistakably in the tone of his humour. So if you're a fan of him, great, you're likely going to enjoy "Modern Romance". Otherwise, like a text conversation that dies off or a forgettable date, there's nothing you're missing here that you didn't already know about digital dating if you skipped this book.
Profile Image for Nat.
546 reviews3,171 followers
June 5, 2020
In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

“The world is available to us, but that may be the problem.”

Fun fact: I actually started 2017 with this read, but at the time it didn't feel relevant enough for me to get the most out of it, so I put the book down. Fast forward to November, when I discovered the wonder that is the Hidden Brain podcast, where it featured an episode with Aziz Ansari sharing laugh-out-loud funny excerpts from Modern Romance. After having a genuinely good time listening to his voice on the podcast, I was convinced to take another shot with the audiobook.

And having watched and completely loved Ansari's Netflix show Master of None back in  May when the second season was released (check out my May 2017 Reading Wrap Up to read more of my ravings on that), I was more than ready to dive back into his world. Plus, I'm glad I got to read the book a while after having watched the show because the many parallels of my favorite scenes from the show being present in here were beyond gratifying to experience again.


Modern Romance interweaves stream of consciousness storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life through a different lens. Thankfully, though, the book has a generous mix of absurdity and depth. Aziz Ansari tackles head-on the subject of culture and technology and the ways they've shaken romance, and he provides us with “a much richer understanding of the new romantic landscape.” But Ansari never fails to include a much-needed comical anecdote or food reference to lighten up the text. Speaking of which, here's a passage from the first chapter that sealed the deal for me:

“To be honest, I tend to romanticize the past, and though I appreciate all the conveniences of modern life, sometimes I yearn for simpler times. Wouldn’t it be cool to be single in a bygone era? I take a girl to a drive-in movie, we go have a cheeseburger and a malt at the diner, and then we make out under the stars in my old-timey convertible. Granted, this might have been tough in the fifties given my brown skin tone and racial tensions at the time, but in my fantasy, racial harmony is also part of the deal.”

That’s my exact thought process with people who tend to romanticize the past.

The only downfall to this book was that, though it highlights a vast set of issues related to modern romance and emerging adulthood, it does so in a very narrowed down look, specifically centered around American middle-class straight couples. But to give credit where credit is due, there are a couple of chapters dedicated to exploring romance in other parts of the world, such as Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Paris, and Doha.

All in all: I'm just glad I finally got around to reading Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance with the end of the year in sight.


Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying Modern Romance, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!

This review and more can be found on my blog.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,386 reviews11.8k followers
July 13, 2015
The knowledge offered in this book is pretty common and obvious, nothing you haven't read online/heard on a podcast. But some anecdotes, especially about dating in other countries/cultures are funny and interesting.

I am glad I listened to an audio narrated by Ansari himself. I can't imagine reading the book on my own, to be honest.
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,128 followers
June 17, 2017
One firm takeaway from all our interviews with women is that most dudes out there are straight-up bozos.

My introduction to modern romance was abrupt and unexpected. I was back in New York for the holidays, drinking with a few friends, sipping and gulping the wonderful IPAs that I miss when I’m here in Spain.

Sometime deep into the night, one of my friends, who is a gay man—this is relevant to the story; you should also know that I’m a straight guy—asked if anyone wanted to go on his Tinder. “I do!” I said, and soon found myself face to face with the infamous app for the first time in my life.

Now, for the three remaining people who don’t know how Tinder works, it’s very simple: You look at pictures of people, and swipe left if you don’t want to talk to them, right if you do. (In this respect it's like the Last Judgment.) If someone you’ve approved of also approves of you, then you are both given the option to send messages.

My friend was obviously a stud, because I was getting matches left and right (well, only right). One of these matches was a young man who I’ll call Woodrow Wilson. With permission from my friend, I sent Woodrow a message. The conversation went something like this:

Me: What’s your favorite tree?

Woodrow Wilson: Uh, White Pines are pretty cool I guess.

Me: White Pines? So cliché.

Woodrow Wilson: You’re right, I was only testing the waters. I’m really fond of Quaking Aspens. You?

Me: Now we’re talking. I’ve always been fond of the Shagbark Hickory.

The conversation proceeded like this for about four days, by which time it was clear that I had found my soul mate through my gay friend’s Tinder. Unfortunately, many barriers stood in the way—I’m straight, I was going back to Spain, and I was basically deceiving him—so I didn’t meet Woodrow Wilson. (If you ever read this—hello, and sorry!) But the experience was enough to make me curious about the opportunities and hazards of romance in the modern world.

Being a reluctant single, a very reluctant millennial, and a very, very reluctant member of the modern world, you can imagine I was, well, reluctant to tackle this topic. This book enticed me, not because it was written by Aziz Ansari—I didn’t consider myself a fan, and in college I even passed up the opportunity to see him live on campus—but because he teamed up with a sociologist, Eric Klinenberg, to write it. I listened to the audiobook, nasally narrated by Aziz.

The most striking thing about this book is that, despite its lighthearted tone and frequent funny asides, it is basically a serious and even an earnest book. Sociological statistics, psychological studies, and anthropological analyses are mixed with anecdotes and interviews and a bit of humor to give a quick but surprisingly thorough tour of romance in the contemporary world.

Aziz begins by pointing out that dating in today’s world is strikingly different from dating in my grandparents’ or even my parents’ generation. This is not only because of advances in technology but, more importantly, because of shifts in values. We now have developed what you might call a perfectionistic attitude towards finding a partner. We want to find a “soul mate,” “the one,” somebody who fulfills us and thrills us. Aziz contrasts this with what he calls the “good enough” marriages of yesteryears—finding a partner that satisfies some basic criteria, like having a job and a shiny pocket watch

I myself have noticed this shift from studying anthropology and history. In cultures all around the world—and in the West until quite recently—marriages were considered a communal affair. Aziz’s own parents had an arranged marriage, and according to him have had a long, successful relationship. (To be honest the idea of an arranged marriage has always been strangely appealing to me, since I don’t think any decision of such importance should be left in my hands. But the rest of my generation disagrees, apparently, so now I’m left to rummage through apps.)

Connected to this rise in the “soul mate” marriage is a rise in our preoccupation with romantic love. According to the biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher, there are two distinct types of love in the human brain: romantic, and companionate. Romantic love is the kind that writes bad poetry; companionate love is the kind that does the dishes. Romantic love hits early in a relationship and lasts up to a year and a half; companionate love grows slowly over time, perhaps over decades. This division accords well with my own experience.

(Parenthetically, I have long been skeptical, even morbidly suspicious, of romantic love: that kind of idealizing, gushing, delicious, walking on air feeling. To me it seems to be a form of self-deception, convincing yourself that your partner is perfect, even divine, and that nobody else in the world could make you so happy—when the truth is that your partner is a flawed person, only one of many flawed people who could induce the same delirious sensation. Wow, I sound really bitter in this paragraph.)

This cultural shift has been bolstered by our new dating technology. Now we do not only have the expectation that we can find the perfect partner, but we have the tools to do the searching. I can, and sometimes do, scroll through hundreds of faces on my phone per day. All this is very exciting; never before could I have so many romantic options at my fingertips.

But there are some major drawbacks to this. One is what the psychologist Barry Schwartz called the “paradox of choice.” Although you’d think having more options would make people more satisfied, in fact the reverse occurs. I remember watching TV was a lot more fun when I was a kid and I only had a few dozen channels; when we upgraded to hundreds of channels, it became stressful—what if there was something better on? Similarly, after spending three months in a camp in Kenya, eating whatever I was given, I found it overwhelming to go to a pizza place and order. How could I choose from so many toppings?

Along with these broader observations is a treasure trove of statistics and anecdotes that, if you’re like me, you’ll be quoting and misquoting for weeks. I found the little vignettes on the dating cultures in Japan, where there’s a sex crisis, Buenos Aires, where there’s a machismo crisis, and Paris, where there’s lots of infidelity but apparently no crisis, to be particularly memorable.

These anecdotes are not just for mental titillation, but are used to support several tenets of dating advice. Here are just a few takeaways. Check your punctuation before you send a text. When you ask someone out on a date, include a specific time and location, not “wanna hang out some time?” vagueness. Texting people is not a reliable way to gauge if you’ll like them in person; it’s best to ask them out sooner and not prolong a meaningless texting conversation. Take the time to get to know people; seldom do you see the more interesting side of someone’s personality on a first date.

As you can see, this book is quite a rare hybrid: part social science, and part self-help, and part comedy. And yet the book rarely feels disorganized or scatterbrained. Aziz keeps a tight rein on his materials; the writing is compact, clever, and informative. With the notable limitation that this book deals only with heterosexual couples, and covers no topic in serious depth, I can say that it’s hard for me to imagine how any such short book could give so complete a picture of modern romance.

Most impressive is the human touch. What could have potentially been a mere smattering of facts and stories, Aziz makes into a coherent whole by grounding everything in the day-to-day frustrations and realities of the dating world. Aziz knows firsthand how much dating can suck, how tiresome, uncomfortable, and stressful it can be. Yet, for all this, the book is ultimately hopeful.

Behind all these shifts in values and demographics, all the innovations in dating technologies and changes in romantic habits, all the horror stories and the heartbreaks—beyond the lipstick and the cologne, the collared shirts and high heeled shoes, the loud music and the strong liquor—is the universal human itch to connect.

This itch has always been with us and always will be. Each generation just learns to scratch it in new and interesting ways.

(To any interested parties, please direct all inquiries to my mom.)
Profile Image for rachelbianca.
130 reviews1 follower
April 13, 2015
Ok, so I picked this up thinking this was going to be a Aziz Ansari version of a Steve Harvey book. You know the kind with advice like "Ladies, don't call him back right away!" kind of thing.

This is not that kind of book. Ansari worked with a sociologist to look at love in the modern age. He covers everything from texting to sexting to Tinder and how love/romance has changed due to technology.

I really like that the book took a more academic approach. Because it's Aziz, it's also still funny. If you've seen his standup or enjoy him on Parks & Rec, you will enjoy the tone of the writing, it really comes across well in print.

Overall, a great, fun read. And for the single people out there, great fodder for chatter on a first date :D
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,405 followers
May 9, 2016
I've been so behind on my reviewing these days, but I had so much fun with this one I wanted to make sure I didn't let it fall through the dark cracks into the swirling abyss where my non-reviewed books go.

I'm a huge fan of Ansari. I think he's cute as a button and funny as goddamn hell. I watched him in Parks & Rec, his most recent Netflix original Master of None (which I highly recommend), and thoroughly enjoy his stand-up concerts. He's not at the same level as Louis CK or Patton Oswalt, but he's also a lot younger than these gentlemen who have been honing their dark and brilliant comedy for decades now.

Modern Romance is not your typical "comedian writes a book" fare. It's not a memoir, or a book filled with ruminations on the life of a comedian. It's a thinky piece, backed up by real sociological research, with pie charts and everything! Ansari's approach to breaking down the ins and outs of dating and hooking up and settling down in the 21st century is as intriguing and compelling as it is infectious and informative. I loved every minute of it. The layout is light and breezy, and super accessible without distilling and dumbing down the subject matter too much as to be insulting to its audience. Ansari wants to make you laugh, make no mistake, but he's also very earnest in his desire to tell you what he's learned.

And can I just say I find all of it utterly FASCINATING. I'm addicted to "meet cute" stories (even though I would never consider myself a romantic, and have an averse reaction to rom-com movies -- that make me break out in hives). But how people meet and when they decide "to put a ring on it" (or not) can always get my attention. I have to check myself from being perpetually nosy all of the time, getting the "deets" on all this stuff from my friends, both of the online and the in real life variety.

For me, this book is too short. With its laudable success my hope is that Ansari will be compelled to pen a follow-up, because if there's one thesis that comes chiming out loud and clear here, it's that the 21st century dating world is changing fast, at warp speed, impacting how we communicate with one another, form bonds and friendships, and take that scary running leap into "the big commitment". A lot of the current research being done is showing that the bonds we form online, platonic or otherwise, can no longer be dismissed so easily as superficial and suffering by comparison to those we forge "IRL" (in real life). I do believe most of us on this site would concur that social media has opened up a "brave new world" that's not just brighter and more vibrant, but has proven increasingly successful in bringing colorful people into our lives that we otherwise would not have known existed, friendships that we now rely upon and cherish.

And that "modern romance" is blooming out of those virtual connections should really be coming as no surprise to anyone.

Ansari does an excellent job of pointing out the pros and cons of modern romance in the 21st century in all its tech'd out, geeked out splendor. We now have more choice than ever before, all at our fingertips with the click of a button or the swipe of a screen, but that landslide of choices might also be paralyzing some of us into making any choice at all. Our standards and expectations for a lifelong partnership might have been raised to exceptionally high, unreasonable levels too. With all that choice at our fingertips, why would we settle for anything less than AMAZING? That perfect "soul mate" who is going to fulfill every single one of our needs every day for the rest of our days. Pfft, people you know this: that person does not exist.

But it's not all bad news. Technology has not ruined romance for us living in the 21st century. In fact, for many of us, especially women -- things have improved vastly. Not because of the tech component, but because women are no longer expected to settle down as early as possible. We can invest in our careers now, and date more and live life as a single, learning about ourselves and the things that are going to make us happy if we do decide to pair off.

There are many areas (due to space constraints) that this book by necessity leaves unaddressed or goes light on, and Ansari is very good about pointing those out at the beginning. One thing missing for me is a breakdown of dating from an extrovert versus introvert point of view. I think our current technology has been an absolute miracle and marvel to introverts who struggle to put themselves out there in the real world of bars and supermarkets and church basements, but are absolutely charming and brave and socially high functioning on the interwebs. It's been an essential transition for that half of the human population to discover their "tribe" and connect in meaningful ways to people it would have been extremely unlikely they would have ever met IRL.

(and it's here I'm going to put a plug in for Felicia Day's memoir You're Never Weird on the Internet who also describes this "social revolution" for introverts in a way that resonated with me completely).

So in case it isn't obvious by now, I loved this book and I think everyone should read it, young/old, guy/girl, married/single. While it's easy to despair of the human race, and we know there are too many assholes and unforgivable idiots and sneaky jerkfaces running around out there, human behaviour and why we do the shit we do is still endlessly fascinating, isn't it? I think so.

Profile Image for Steph.
504 reviews261 followers
February 26, 2022
i love romance, and i was excited to read a sociocultural analysis of dating culture in the current millennium. it's fascinating subject matter, and the text is very educational, but i can't forgive it for being so aggressively heterosexual!

in his introduction, ansari says that he and co-author klineberg chose to limit their research to heterosexual couples, as including lgbt+ subjects would be too great an undertaking.

um, what?

at this point (3% into the audiobook), i was already tempted to DNF; because excluding lgbt+ relationships is frankly a cop out. our relationships are not that different from hetero relationships! acting as though lgbt+ relationships are wholly separate entities is divisive. it serves to reinforce the gender binary, and reinforce gendered differences that do not necessarily exist in the first place.

within the book there's much discussion of "men like women who x" and "women like when men y and z." must our dating culture really be so rigidly gendered? i think the problem here is not that lgbt+ relationships encompass too much breadth; the problem is that ansari's heteronormative perspective is too narrow.

i would love to read a similar book which takes into account all types of relationships among people of all genders. hopefully such a text would have a less rigid focus on the gender binary.

but anyway. aside from that frustration, modern romance has some interesting points:

‣ today we have the luxury of higher standards, since relationships are no longer primarily about marriage / procreation / survival. we expect more from our relationships than our grandparents did, for example. this in turn puts more pressure on relationships to be awe-inspiring and wholly fulfilling.

‣ remote dating is not as new as some people believe. it began in the 1960s with basic computer matching algorithms via paid dating services. it's also manifested in newspaper personal ads, video dating on vhs tapes in the mail, and primitive dating sites prior to swipe-style dating apps. super interesting to compare all these methods of finding a partner! (and if ansari dared to discuss lgbt+ relationships, it would be interesting to see research on lgbt+ reliance on alternative forms of dating)

‣ there are two types of love within the cycle of a relationship. most begin with early passionate love, which releases dopamine hits to the brain, and which must peak eventually. if the relationship continues, passionate love is replaced with companionate love, which provides safety, security, and comfort. i'd love to read more on the brain chemistry behind all this!

more than anything, reading modern romance made me want to seek out more sophisticated literature on the subject. but it's an entertaining primer, and if you're a fan of ansari's comedy then you might enjoy it more than i did, too!
April 2, 2017

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There are a lot of books that I am interested in reading but don't really get around to unless the book is selected by a book club or for a buddy read. This is because sites like Amazon and Goodreads have made the whole prospect of choosing a book so stressful. Up-and-coming books, out-of-print books, esoteric books from small presses - there are so many options. Before Goodreads, I would select books based on the cover, the synopsis on the back cover, and whether I recognized the author (usually from a magazine or a friend/family member's suggestion). Now? I have books thrown at me from all directions in the form of ebook sales, ARCs, and thrift shops, and it's so overwhelming, because there are so many books I want to read, and I have a finite amount of time to get through them all. It's frustrating, to say the least.

Why is this relevant? Because Aziz Ansari takes this same concept: the infinite permutations of options offered to us in the digital age and the difficulty of prioritizing or selecting between them. Only, instead of books, he applies it to dating and relationships. When we use dating apps, we're exposed to way more people than we would ever encounter in real life (sometimes, in the case of d*ck pics, 'exposed' in the literal sense), in cities that we have never personally been to, with interests way outside of our own social groups.

While this is compelling, and in some cases - especially in the cases of those with specific sexual needs/desires or niche hobbies - extremely beneficial, Ansari argues that this can actually be detrimental for others. He argues that in the old days, people often married someone they knew, and became complacent about their partner, with a sense of compansionship that occurred later on from shared history and interests. In the modern age, people are far less willing to settle down, he argues, constantly wondering what's behind that figurative door number two. Is it someone better? Are we missing out? Digital dating might help us find people, but it also makes us less willing to stay with people, and can enable us to cheat or indulge in flaky behavior like text breakups or flimsy plans.

I was expecting this to be a dating memoir, so you could cover me shocked when I found out that one of my favorite male comedians was writing a semi-scientific book about dating habits in the modern age (hence the title), with a focus group he created, information gleaned from a subreddit set up by him, and many, many studies cited from actual sociologists and psychologists, and literature I'm actually acquainted with, such as Barry Schwartz'z PARADOX OF CHOICE and Sheena Iyengar's THE ART OF CHOOSING (both must-reads, even if you're not a psych major). I studied psychology in college because I love finding out what makes people tick. I knew this was going to be good.

And it was!

Ansari covers a wide variety of topics, starting from how older people in his focus groups met their spouses and what their motiviations for marriage were, and what their courtship rituals looked like. He discusses various dating sites at length, as well as their humble origins in speed dating and video dating, as well as touching upon hookup culture. He also talks about what dating looks like in different parts of the world. He discusses the U.S., but also what dating looks like in Qatar, in Argentina, in Japan, and in France, and how their attitudes are changing in the modern age, as well.

While this book is drier than some would like, I think it's especially relevant to anyone who has dated in the 21st century or anyone who rolls their eyes at people who say, "I just can't find anyone" when they live in a city with several million people for being overdramatic. Finding people is hard. Finding people to settle down with is even harder. Ansari manages to take a very complicated topic and do an admirable job of examining it from multiple perspectives, while also keeping it fresh with light humor that I imagined him delivering in a Tom Haverford sort of tone.

P.S. When Ansari talks about the present his girlfriend his girlfriend got him for their 1 year, I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt.

3.5 stars!
Profile Image for Christina.
261 reviews225 followers
July 30, 2016
3.5 stars, but I rounded up, just because Aziz is hilarious.

This was really a very interesting read. Obviously well researched and very insightful. It was funny, for me, reading about the way romance was done before the technology we have today and in modern times, because I went through my teens in a gap time I guess. I grew up in the 90's and early 00's, so I didn't have my own cell phone until I was closer to an adult and even these days, I'm not big into social media (GR is about it for my social media life). So I guess I kind of got to experience some of both dating times.

This book also made me supremely happy that I'm already in a relationship and not dealing with the single life games. Definitely worth the read, and I think that no matter anyone's relationship status, everyone can find something to take from this.
Profile Image for Jokoloyo.
449 reviews269 followers
December 11, 2017
This book is more insightful than I first anticipated. It is a funny book indeed, but the focus group discussions and other researches that discussed in this book are good for my own thinking and introspection.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
986 reviews1,114 followers
December 12, 2018
This is a more serious book than the cover or author could lead one to believe: I think Ansari is hilarious, and I was pleasantly surprised by the blend of humor and social sciences to be found in this often funny, but sometimes painful, look at modern dating culture. As a student of history, I was well aware that the very idea of romance is fairly modern, marriages having basically been business transactions for thousands of years. But post-Industrial Revolution Western society quickly became pretty obsessed with romance, the idea of true love, the idealization of the nuclear family (though it wasn’t called that at the time) and all that stuff. I have always been skeptical of those ideas, as any properly embittered child of divorce/dysfunctional family would be, I guess.

I grabbed a copy of this book at the used bookstore after Joe’s enthusiastic review, mostly because I was really curious to see if my experience was in any way, shape or form “normal”. I have often wondered what it must have been like dating before all these digital means of communications I take for granted.

Reviewing this book seems to beg for an executive summary of one’s experience with dating in the digital age, so here goes (I put it in spoiler tags in case you just want my review, and not my overshare)!

Back to the book. One of my favorite things about it was that after many a marathon of "Parks and Rec", I could hear Ansari's hysterical nasal voice in my head as I read, and his hilarious phrasing often made me snort in my teacup. Writing entertaining non-fiction is not easy, and he nailed it. It also makes the book extremely readable: I breezed through it in just a couple of days.

I completely agree with Ansari’s thoughts about how texting and other such messaging systems de-humanize some communications, in the sense that they facilitate rudeness and flakiness in a way that voice-on-voice interaction never could. Casual rudeness in emails and text messages is one of my biggest pet peeves, and was often a deal-breaker when it came to messaging potential dates: you can’t be bothered to say “hi, how are you” huh? Deleted. I actually wish I could block co-workers who can’t be bothered to be polite by emails as easily as I did with blokes on OkCupid, but alas... In the context of dating, I always tried to meet people face to face quickly, because let's face it, you are not the same person in written form that you are when you have to actually speak to someone standing in front of you: my reasoning was if I was going to date someone, chance are we'd spend a lot of time hanging out, so it was better to find out quickly how they were in person vs. on messenger. It was interesting to see that online dating expert think people should keep messaging to a minimum and meet up in real life asap. I also completely agree that Women's Liberation was a game-changer when it came to dating and marriage, because that's when the rules of the game (for lack of a better phrasing) really changed: no longer needing marriage to leave the parental home meant women could wait and experience the world in unprecedented ways before settling down.

I was very interested in the chapters about how the online dating experience differs between men and women: I mean, I knew it was basically night and day, but it was nice to explore the hows and whys people's behaviors and responses. The process takes its toll on both genders, but for wildly different reasons. I also find it really interesting that paradoxically, having more options makes things more difficult and less satisfying for people looking for love; it probably doesn't help that there is a trend towards a tendency to compare people we meet with an imaginary ideal partner no one can live up to... Especially when people don't want to invest any time in getting to know other people.

The obsession with “soul mates”, “true love that lasts for ever” and all that stuff is definitely a bi-product of a ton of pop-culture (rom-coms, Disney and radio-friendly adult rock… barf!), but it’s also a reaction to seeing parents and grandparents endure less than perfect marriages with clenched jaws and thinking to ourselves “I will never be in a relationship like that”. It’s an understandable reaction, especially given the fact that getting married was often the only way to respectably leave the parental home for previous generations, but it overshadows the fact that any emotional bond between human beings changes and evolves with time – and keeping a long-term romantic relationship healthy and interesting requires effort, patience and compromise from both partners. What I learned dating in my twenties was that people are, well, kind of lazy!

Now the book is fairly superficial: it doesn’t dig very deep into any of the issues it discusses. For instance, I was already well aware that we live in a society that’s all about instant gratification and that most people now see their relationships with other humans in that light: I would have liked to know how we got here! It also very specifically targets heterosexual singles who are mostly middle class, and it's relatively male-centrist, but I expected that - I would have appreciated more women-specific data. The chapters on how people date in other cultures was also interesting, but I was disappointed that his exploration of French culture was focused pretty much exclusively on cheating; it felt a little one-sided. That being said, I think he is right in concluding that while dating now might be harder in many ways than it was for say, our grandparents, chances of meeting someone who is a better match are higher than it was for them. That is, if we are not total bozos when it comes to sexting...

A fun and surprisingly informative read with a lot of thought-provoking points. Anyone who has experienced online dating would find this interesting. 3 and a half, rounded up.
Profile Image for João Carlos.
646 reviews271 followers
September 14, 2017

”O Amor nos Tempos Modernos” é uma obra literária escrita por Aziz Ansari (n. 1983), um actor e comediante, que começou a sua carreira em stand-up comedy em Nova Iorque, em parceira com Eric Klinenberg (n. 1970), um investigador e professor de Sociologia na Universidade de Nova Iorque.
”Convidar alguém para sair é uma tarefa simples que muitas vezes se transforma numa aterradora incógnita povoada de medo, dúvidas e ansiedade. Está pejada de decisões difíceis: Como é que faço o convite? Pessoalmente? Por telefone? SMS? O que é que digo? Poderá ser esta a pessoa com quem virei a passar o resto da minha vida? E se esta pessoa for a única pessoa certa para mim? E se eu estragar tudo ao passar a mensagem errada?” (Pág. 49) – esta é uma das várias premissas – entre muitas outras - que são discutidas e debatidas em ”O Amor nos Tempos Modernos”.
As novas tecnologias acrescentaram inúmeras subtilezas ao dilema de se convidar uma pessoa que mal se conhece para um encontro romântico. Nesse sentido, estamos a expor a nossa vulnerabilidade, declarando atracção por alguém mas arriscando à cruel possibilidade de rejeição, ou mesmo, a obter um silêncio inexplicado – o que ninguém pretende ou ambiciona.
Entre Encontros ONLINE, Fotografias de Perfil - uma sugestão: ”(…) no universo feminino, a fotografia mais eficaz consiste numa selfie simples, tirada de um ângulo superior, na qual a mulher exibe uma expressão ligeiramente inibida. (Pág. 129) - Estratégia de Troca de Mensagens, Sexting, Infidelidade, Intrusão e Separação, Amor Romântico e Companheirismo Amoroso - ”O senso comum diz-nos que todos os relacionamentos se caracterizam por duas fases. Temos a inicial, onde as pessoas se apaixonam e tudo é novo e mágico, e uma segunda – que acontece a partir de uma determinada altura, talvez poucos anos após o início do relacionamento – que é caracterizada por uma diminuição do grau de entusiasmo e pela rotina.” (Pág. 265) – e muito mais -; ”O Amor nos Tempos Modernos” discorre de uma forma irreverente, descontraída e cheia de humor – com recurso a várias pesquisas e estudos científicos – sobre as relações amorosas na actualidade, num período em que ”O advento dos smartphones e da Internet fez com que as nossas vidas românticas passassem a habitar em dois mundos: o real e o telefónico. O mundo telefónico proporciona-nos um inaudito fórum de comunicação profundamente privado que nos obriga a fazer face a velhos problemas como o ciúme, a infidelidade e a intimidade sexual através de mecanismos que ainda estamos a descortinar. (Pág. 221)
Quase no final de ”O Amor nos Tempos Modernos” há provavelmente a afirmação que considero mais relevante: ”Encontrar alguém nos dias de hoje é provavelmente mais complicado e desgastante do que nas gerações anteriores – mas, paralelamente a essa constatação, a probabilidade de nos juntarmos a alguém que nos faça sentir realizados é maior.” (Pág. 290)
No início de ”O Amor nos Tempos Modernos” Aziz Ansari escreve: "Eh pá, obrigado por ter comprado o meu livro! O dinheiro que nele gastou é agora MEU. Mas a verdade é que investi muito trabalho nisto e estou em crer que irá gostar do resultado." - no final quero referir: "Eh pá obrigado por teres escrito este livro."
”O Amor nos Tempos Modernos” é uma obra divertida e desconcertante, que nos faz rir e pensar sobre o amor, as novas tecnologias e as redes sociais.
Profile Image for B Schrodinger.
305 reviews650 followers
February 21, 2016
Aziz has written a book on romance and dating in the 21st Century and he wants us all to take him seriously.

I know what you're thinking, and so did Aziz, "Another comedian book, another fluffed out 200 page book with anecdotes that probably didn't happen".

This is not that type of book at all.

Aziz was interested in how dating works these days and decided to team up with a proper social scientist to do some research. And it seems like he was heavily invested in it all. The new research that Aziz and Eric Kbinenberg did was mainly anecdotal, consisting of focus groups and online questionnaires, but it still gave fascinating data and resulted in a lot of thought. Interspersed is other research pertaining to aspects that the authors were discussing. It all made for a different mix of anecdotes, researched social science and Aziz being a goofy ding dong through the whole book.

I guess that mix would piss off some readers. It really is intended for a casual audience, but one that still likes data and research. But anyone critical of their methods or the style of the book should not be whingeing at all, it's all spelled out clearly in the introduction.

So it was even a hit with an old guy like me, who has been in a monogamous relationship for just over a decade. My partner laughed that I was looking for tips. But it really had some strong conclusions that would be very helpful to the young's of today. And it's good to know it was balanced in that it admitted that technology has helped dating so much, and has also hindered it in other ways.
Profile Image for Blaine.
728 reviews580 followers
November 23, 2022
Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life in terms of children and social status and succession and companionship. But now we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot, and we live twice as long. So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide: Give me belonging, give me identity, give me continuity, but give me transcendence and mystery and awe all in one. Give me comfort, give me edge. Give me novelty, give me familiarity. Give me predictability, give me surprise. And we think it’s a given, and toys and lingerie are going to save us with that. Ideally, though, we’re lucky, and we find our soul mate and enjoy that life-changing mother lode of happiness. But a soul mate is a very hard thing to find.

Like most fedora wearers, he had a lot of inexplicable confidence.

Modern Romance is a very interesting book. I knew it was not just comedy, and that it contained discussions of research in these areas. But I had no idea how much original research Aziz and his partner performed for this book. The book is well-organized, informative, engaging, and very funny. If the subject interests you, it’s definitely worth reading. Recommended.
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