Millennials swipe right. That's how we flirt. It's the modern-day version of going to the dance, or fighting a duel in their honor, or whacking them over the head and dragging them back to your cave to hang out. Pretty much the second we crawled out of the ocean and sprouted penises and vaginas, we've been trying to figure out new ways to meet people. And the second a new technology is introduced into the mainstream, someone somewhere is going to figure out a way to use it to get laid.
So, curious about what the rapidly developing future holds, I called a handful of futurists—people who study the future, that is—to predict how we'll all be boning in 10 years. Gird (or don't gird) your loins.
Picture running an app on your watch that sets up impromptu blind dates somewhere nearby or group meetings at a bar downtown. According to Christian Crews, principal of AndSpace Consulting and a founding member of the Association of Professional Futurists, wearable tech that can track your location will make it easier for you to bump into potential matches in real life on the fly.
Social futurist and writer Sara Robinson says it'll be like having your overbearing grandmother over your shoulder at all times. "'See that guy over there?'" she says, spinning a potential example. "'He's single, drinks Scotch, and loves dogs. You should go talk to him.' And, at the same time, his watch is nudging him: 'See that woman? You like redheads, right? And she's a backpacker too. You might like her.'" Crews points out that meeting people will be a lot easier if you know which people are good potential matches for you, "Imagine how the world could change if everybody was wearing their own personal matchmaker, who was constantly searching the crowd on their behalf," he says.
You could walk into a bar and immediately know who's interested in talking to you and what drink you should buy them without wasting two hours on the hot-but-idiotic guy in the first booth.
But it's not just the real-world meeting places that will have more potential for finding love. Online communities that aren't meant for dating will become spots to meet singles. Don't be surprised if you start hearing, "This is my husband. We met on Yelp." And you probably won't even think anything of it. "As more of our lives are spent online and in virtual communities, we will find relationships there just as we have at the gym, the bar, or hobbies where we meet people now," says Crews. "Generations that have grown up online make fewer distinctions between 'real-world' and virtual relationships."
Just like non-dating sites will be used for finding lovers, dating sites will be used for finding friends. "I'm anticipating the Taylor Swift effect on the dating industry," Emily Empel, a futurist for Idea Couture, told me. "Taylor's publicly stated that she's stopped dating to focus on building strong relationships with other kick-ass women. Dating sites will begin offering options to find friends, instead of just lovers." It makes sense. After hours of fruitless swiping, it's tempting to head over to the same-sex section and just look for a fun-looking friend who likes gin and tonics, and wants to see the new Fast and Furious movie with you later so you don't have to sniffle over Paul Walker alone. This is our future.
Social scientist Heather Vescent thinks those friends could even be Internet robots, for those who scored high on the "Are You and Introvert?" BuzzFeed quiz. "I do think that we will have emotional relationships with nonhuman personalities," Vescent says forebodingly. You're not going to be BFFs with something you spend eight minutes yelling, "No, I said where is the closest STARBUCKS!" at, but next-genereation Siri will be a lot more like conversing with a real human being (for people who hate human beings).
One advancement online daters will be jazzed to hear about is the ability to avoid weirdos with greater ease.
"Technology companies might integrate the ability to review/rate rates to take back online dating from the creeps," says Empel. People are already disenchanted with the way matches are selected, and the awkward or gross comments they get from strangers. But it might not have to be that way. New apps could use a more precise screening system that could boot out stalkers and aggressive messengers. Empel even thinks it's possible we'll see sites that can find you a perfect genetic match. (Although that has the dangerous potential to veer into "Master Race" territory.)
There are other tech dating tools that futurists like to talk about but don't really seem like they'd catch on: biometric tattoos that allow us to display and literally share emotions on our skin; drones that can track people based on appearance (or even scent). If either of those become the future of dating, I'm glad I found a partner before a first date could drone-stalk me.
Right now, in 2015, it is insanely easy to meet someone. The problem is that nothing can guarantee they're actually someone worth meeting. By 2025, you'll be able to know more about your blind date before you even step foot in that restaurant, anxiously searching for the guy from the photos (or someone like that guy but several levels homelier). A quick check of your watch could let you know who's a creep and who's looking for a one-night stand, or a serious girlfriend, or a wife and four kids. If this decade is all about dating quantity, the next one will be all about dating quality. See you there.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.