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Tam Hunt on The Future Of Dating

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Today I’m talking with my good friend Tam Hunt. He is a lawyer by day and writer and scholar by night. He trained in evolutionary biology, attended law school and then became an environmental lawyer. He’s written three books. His first Eco, Ego, Eros is a collection of essays in philosophy, spirituality and science, his second book is called Solar: Why Our Energy Future Is So Bright, and his most recent book Mind, World, God discusses science and spirit in the 21st century. Today we are tackling a different kind of topic; the future of love and dating. I really enjoyed this conversation and I’m pretty sure you will too. We dive pretty deep into speculations focused around technology, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence, longevity science, fertility technology, genetic dating, self-love practices, and much more. Also I just wanted to apologize if the sound quality isn’t at its best, I’m currently traveling and couldn’t fit my microphones into my suitcase.

Topics discussed:

  • Virtual reality
  • Augmented reality
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Longevity science
  • Fertility technology
  • Genetic dating
  • Behavior-based matching
  • Self-love practices
  • Psychedelics + plant medicine
  • Trends in marriage and family

So, without further ado, my conversation with Tam Hunt.

Virtual Reality

Taylor: 01:27 I’m really I'm curious what peaked your interest with this topic on the future of love, because I mean, you've written books on philosophy and spirituality and science and solar energy, but I'm curious what peaked your interest in this topic specifically on the future of dating or the future of love?

Tam: 01:42 Yeah. Yeah. It's a good question. I'm basically interested in technology in general and where the future is going. It's kind of fun to think about, and I've been a big fan of science fiction since I was a kid. And so it's kind of just, you know, fun to be part of that dialogue. And it's pretty clear when we look to things already here now in terms of VR and augmented reality and the growth of online dating and apps that we are becoming more and more virtualized. That's no big insight of course, but what does it mean in terms of, you know, where we go for love, kind of the general trend, it seems we're going toward more and more dematerialization in terms of looking for connection in a way that doesn't rely on us being physically next to each other or even touching, and that has both advantages and disadvantages, and certainly it makes it easier to meet people if you're okay with being, you know, only virtually connected whether it's in cyberspace or on the phone, you know, or whether you're having virtual dates, what have you.

But of course the concern there for me and a lot of people other than me is that is that kind of connection satisfying, right? Does it really meet your needs? And that goes to your question about expectations, you know, do we need physical companionship? Do we need physical sex? Do we need touch? Most of us do to be happy, but I definitely see trends already with people feeling that staring at their screen, their tiny screen, their phone, which is their main screen nowadays for a lot of, especially younger people seems to give us a lot of satisfaction, whether it's just texting someone or chatting on Facebook or whatever it is or having FaceTime, you know, video chat. It seems that a lot of us are getting our needs met from that kind of very strange and diminished electronic connection. I think a lot of us kind of accept it as a second best. But it seems like more and more of us are saying, “Well, you know what, this is just so convenient.” It might become the first choice more and more, but I kind of worry about that.

Taylor: 03:57 I worry about that as well. Yeah. I think to understand where we're headed, we have to understand how we have evolved in our dating culture. I mean, we've grown accustomed to online dating of the last 20 years and became even more accustomed to dating apps in the last five years. And this is the first time in history where we're walking around with a singles catalog in our pocket. Singles have acquired this need to meet like-minded people in the most efficient way possible, and that need isn't that need isn't going anywhere. I think it will only grow stronger, but the way people define efficiency will evolve as science and technology advances. I mean, we've always heavily relied on photos to decide if we want to pursue a match or not. And now with COVID taking over 2020, we turned to video to fuel our need for connection. You know, in fact, many dating apps began implementing video directly into their apps. So in other words, 2D images (photo and video) drive our dating experience. But supposedly by 2040, we'll be able to transfer data so fast that 2D turns into 3D. So I do see some of these technologies that you're talking about becoming common, such as augmented reality and virtual reality. However, virtual reality as it relates to dating is still rather remote and kind of scary from, from my understanding, no?

Tam: 05:35 Yeah. I just got the Oculus Quest 2, which is the latest wireless VR rig. You don't need a wire to use it. It's a self-contained gaming/virtual reality platform. It's actually owned by Facebook. So you have to log in with Facebook, which is kind of annoying, but it's a pretty impressive piece of hardware. And it costs like 300 bucks. It's not even that expensive and you're getting a whole gaming platform, but you can also do like things like VR chat, which is, you know, as the name suggests the VR chat platform where you go with these little rooms and you can just approach people and engage in conversation. In theory, I guess, you could meet someone in your VR space and charm them and find out where they live and meet up in real life.

I'm not sure if it will happen, but I think more and more as we get better VR and better avatars and more people get comfortable with the idea of VR, we'll have probably more and more first dates in VR and that there's actually a certain art to it where, you know, just as in real life, we'll use our tastes to dress in a way we want to, you know, basically to feel attractive, but also to be attracted to others. The avatar art form is basically using those same ideas, but obviously at a much more dramatic fashion to create a whole different persona that you present to the world, your personality is still the same sort of, but you can hide behind the avatar a bit more to actually play different roles if that's your thing.

So I think, you know, along with this theme of dematerialization, the positive flip side is choice. You have basically an infinity of choices nowadays as to what you want to be, what you want to pursue, how you present yourself to the world. If you are part of the demographic that has an income where you can afford a VR rig and a wifi connection and electricity, and have a decent roof over your head, which is a larger number of people today, more than ever before in history. So I think even though there are many downsides to this trend toward virtualization and dematerialization, we certainly have a lot more choices and that can be pretty empowering in many ways.

Taylor: 07:49 Wow. So do you see that turning into an issue though? I mean, in theory daters in virtual reality environments would have no obligation to assume any likeness of their bodies in their avatars. So do you see people taking advantage of that? Like what you see now with fake profiles and scammers in the online dating space?

Tam: 08:14 I mean, this has been a problem in chat rooms earlier in the very low tech version of these VR chat rooms where you can just pretend to be whatever you want to be. And there has been certainly some issues with sexual predators seeking underage people. But then, you know, less legally concerning would be just someone who is presenting themselves as something they're not and fooling people and leaning into disappointment, but it's also part of the play of that medium. And as long as you are upfront with your playfulness and taking on these different roles, I see no downside to that, but integrity is pretty key to this kind of thing.

And I guess it's another kind of a double-edged sword where again, you have these choices you can make, but you need to also have kind of community standards as to what kind of integrity you do pursue and how do you present yourself, what kind of community ethics are there in those particular chat rooms? And I think this is all being created right before our eyes. These are very new things. Chat rooms aren't new and it's certainly been an issue with policing them for years. But I think in terms of the future of love, it does open up more options.

And if you are someone who never felt like you really fit in, in a certain community, you now have a world at your fingertips to join and find other people who are like you. And soon there will be many, many worlds that you can join. Have you seen the movie Ready Player One? So without spending too much time today on VR, it's kind of an interesting topic for many reasons, but Ready Player One is set maybe 20 or 30 years in the future when VR is super pervasive and they wear these haptic feedback suits, where it's basically like you are in that world. And they have this massive gaming hub that is eccentric billionaire created called the Oasis. And the Oasis is basically a center where you can go into any world you want. And this has been 30 years of creation of these worlds. So they are very detailed worlds that can join and venture and games and people you can meet, things you can do, you know, like the real world, but it's infinitely more varied and free. So I think we are going down that road for sure.

But, you know, I always come back to this concern. Well, yeah, it's fun, but like a good video game is fun, but then you are left feeling dissatisfied ultimately because it's not real. And we know it's not real and we'll always know it's not real. And I worry that, you know, without being too negative here, we might end up with a lot of people basically lying on their couches or their beds in this VR space just searching for real human connection, but kind of making do with this very thin gruel of electronic connection.

Augmented Reality

Taylor: 11:07 That would be my first worry as well. People are already feeling more connected than they should through a screen without meeting them first and creating that connection in real life. So I can definitely see that becoming worrisome. OK moving away from virtual reality, I wanted to touch on augmented reality. Correct me if I'm wrong, augmented reality would be like a 3D full-sensory date, meaning it would essentially be like a real date. You could hold someone's hand, even smell their cologne, all from the comfort of your home. Right? So this would mean you could fully meet someone online before you actually meet him or her in the real world. From my understanding, it seems more real. So it's not like virtual reality where it eclipses the user's entire world to present an entirely new reality, you know?

Tam: 12:02 Yeah. Generally speaking, there's a big distinction between VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) where AR is an overlay of digital life on real life, a visual overlay, and maybe even an audio overlay. Whereas VR is a purely digital landscape you've been presented with through a screen and headphones, et cetera. So AR has a lot more practical purposes, whether it's work or dating or just regular life. You probably remember the Google glass debacle that happened a few years ago, where they released glasses that had a little camera built-in and a little display that showed you information about your world as you move through it. And people got freaked out by it because of the camera. And so Google discontinued that pretty rapidly, but clearly the idea is going to come back before very long. People are working on different versions of that technology now that will be less obtrusive, but it might be more limited. Maybe don't wear it on a subway, you know. But in terms of dating you certainly could do like a video, like right now we're doing a video chat, and in AR you could basically be using a program and I'm using a program and we could look however we want through AR, even though you have still a real background and we're interacting in the real world more generally. Or you could even have a real date where you meet physically, but still be using kind of augmentation, whether it's because you want your lips to look bigger or your breasts to look bigger, or your muscles to look bigger, whatever it is, you can do this kind of thing in AR. And it's kind of like adding a more pleasing overlay if you're not happy with how things really are. So I think it's going to be probably moving forward a mix of AR and VR with people kind of joining camps as to what they find more pleasing personally. So there's going to be a lot of options coming down for sure. But AR thing is going to be probably, it's hard to say, but I think it's probably going to be more socially acceptable because it is less of a dramatic shift from the real-world.

Taylor: 14:06 Yeah I agree. I know of one app which is the first augmented reality dating app called FlirtAR, and it’s been compared to ‘Pokemon Go for dating.’ And how it works is it enables its users to scan their surroundings and use AR to pinpoint people who are single and on the app. So you could be be walking around your city, or be at a party, and you could just point your phone at a crowd or at one person you think is attractive to see if he or she is single, and if they are, their profile appears, and you can essentially match in real time. I was reading this and picturing how now everyone is walking around with their heads down in their phone, can you just imagine everyone walking around with their phone held out in front of them. Oh gosh…

Tam: 14:49 Yeah there’s some weird things coming down. I think we'll also have a growing number of people who really reject it all before very long, you know, kind of a Neo Luddite movement where, you know, it doesn't have to be Amish going back to the 19th century, but certainly people kind of saying, you know what, no more phones at dinner, no more phones in meetings, just face to face kind of thing, you know? And once the pandemic passes, I think we'll all kind of have a re-evaluation but for now we’re all accepting the pandemic and put real life on hold, but this'll pass and be behind us before too long. And I think we'll reassess and hopefully find a better balance.

Taylor: 15:23 I hope so too. Balance is key. Maybe it’s just me because I’m doing so much research on this topic right now but all of this new technology is really making me yearn for the old-fashion days. But I think you’re right. I think they’ll always be a population that rejects it and tries to date organically or use a matchmaking service.

Longevity Science

Tam: 15:48 Well, you know, another technology area I wanted to chat about is similar but different in key ways. So I'm sure you've heard there are more and more scientists working now in longevity science and there’s actually more breakthroughs in real human longevity. And so now the trend toward AR and VR over time will be driven not only by physical distance, but also increasingly by people getting older and frankly not liking how they're aging. So you can use AR and VR to look how you want. And that's empowering, but it's also kind of scary if you're actually with someone who’s 85 and they look like they're 85 in real life, but you're with them, and they're awesome. So again, it's like that double-edged sword. It's both cool. You could date an 85 year old if you're 35 and in VR and AR you get along well, you have great relations, whether it’s virtual sex or just hanging out, whatever it is. But most of us would prefer to have someone who is quote unquote in real life, compatible. And so the promise of longevity therapy in the next 10, 20 years is actually truly turning back the clock. And we're now looking at an era where it's not just about Botox or removing some wrinkles, or, you know, dermabrasion to make the skin look younger, but truly turning back the clock biologically.

There is a great book by David Sinclair, a scientist at Harvard, called Lifespan where he actually makes some pretty remarkable predictions. He says that within, you know, 20 years or so, we're probably have a big increase in life expectancy, 120, 130, 140, and that implies, of course that we stay young longer, not that we're in a wheelchair for 40 years being held alive by life support. But he looks at things like reprogramming, which is a way to use these particular chemicals, basically mixtures — Yamanaka factors is the term they use — which actually turn back the clock on genetic expression to an earlier point. So it's literally making yourselves younger and as your cells become younger, you become younger. And so, you know, these things are very much still in the lab only. They're not being trialed yet in humans, but they are being trialed in animals like mice, et cetera, and they're showing remarkable results. And so these kinds of things promise in 10 to 20 years, we may be able to be 25 or 30 forever. And that's definitely a whole new ball game.

Taylor: 18:28 Gosh. Now that makes me wonder, you know, people now I feel like are questioning whether there's one person for the rest of your life. And then when you up the age expectancy, what does that do? You know?

Tam: 18:41 Right? It’s a whole new world of choices. It's kind of confusing, right? Because if you think, you know, to be a little controversial here, I wonder how many people stay with their partner because they are worried they can't find someone if they were to separate. But of course, if you can be 25 forever, then you probably have less fear of that kind of thing. Is that good or bad? I can’t say, you know.

Fertility Technology

Taylor: 19:04 Yeah. Well, I wonder how many women jump into relationships when they reach a certain age, say, you know, 34 to 35 years old because they worry that they won't be able to have children or a family. So this brings up another topic of advances in fertility technology which is supposed to delay childbearing and alleviate the stress to have children by a certain age. Currently, I think it's like 4% of mothers giving birth are 40 years and over. So this figure is expected to reach 13% by 2050 just through advances in fertility technology. So, throw this into the mix and I think we'll see some very new trends taking place such as women waiting to marry and to have children.

Tam: 19:51 Yeah. Sinclair talks about this in his book too. And again, this is not peer review science yet in terms of the effects of these therapeutics, but he talks anecdotally about women who he's talked with, who've taken the various therapies that he personally takes, including Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) and NR, a related chemical. And these have actually been found in both lab animals and in humans, again anecdotally, to actually return the ability to have children and women who are quite a bit older and this is a pretty readily available therapeutic. So I'm not saying rush out now if you're a 45 and start taking this, but you know, it's this kind of thing promises that we are going to have a lot more choices. So if you could, in theory, have kids at 85, your whole life plans and your whole life schedule, your whole anxiety level diminishes pretty rapidly, right? And so this is definitely one of these generally pretty good things in technology where I think if we were a bit less rushed and a bit less kind of feeling the pressure of having kids at a certain age, and what have you, then I think we can just calm down a bit and hopefully find better partners in general.

Taylor: 21:06 I think so too. Because especially now I'm 34 years old and a lot of my friends are coming up on 34 and that's supposedly the cutoff age for having children or when it starts to get more difficult and you should just see it. It takes a toll on their psyche. It's so stressful. And a lot of them do jump into relationships that they shouldn't be in because family and children is something they want and they don't want to risk it. I'm not in that camp. I'm kind in the camp where I'm not ready for it right now, and if it happens, then it happens later on and I'll take my chances. But I can totally understand where they're coming from.

Tam: 21:49 I, as a guy, of course have more of an interval to have kids, but at the same time men sperm does age. And you know, I'm not getting younger. So certainly I kind of feel the pressure too, as a guy. And I like the idea, even though it’s theoretical, that maybe I could push that back a few years potentially. I do want kids before too long myself. It would certainly be nice to have the notion that if I don't have kids in the next 5, 10 years, it's not like my window is closed forever, you know, it could reopen.

Genetic Dating

Taylor: 22:27 Right. Yeah. And speaking on science, I read a bunch of articles on genetic dating and a lot of dating apps and matchmakers using genetics in their matching parameters, for example, there’s a new app called Pheramor, and it's kind of like a 23andMe meets Tinder. They send you a kit to swab your cheek. You send it back to them. And then supposedly they have 11 attraction genes that they utilize in completing your profile and matching you with potential matches on their app.

Tam: 23:11 That's crazy. I’ve never heard of that. Interesting.

Taylor: 23:14 I also read something about a Harvard scientist who is developing the DNA based app where he was trying to reduce genetic disease. Is that what he was trying to prevent two carriers at the same gene for rare genetic disease. I forget which one, but trying to keep them from meeting in the first place by just making sure that they can't view each other's profiles. And I remember there was such an outlash on Twitter calling it eugenics and accusing him of trying to wipe out genetic diversity and people with disabilities. And then there was the other half of people that were saying ‘Hey, that’s actually a really genius idea.’

Tam: 23:53 Yeah, definitely the growth of genetic screening with 23andMe, ancestry.com, ancestry DNA. I've gotten those tests done and I don't mind sharing a little personal anecdote. I have been talking with a friend of mine about being a sperm donor for her to have her child. And I as volunteered my genetic profile because 23andMe does a very detailed health DNA profile. And I'm rather proud of my genes right now. They've been giving me some nice little confirmation. Each week I get like a new test back, like you passed this. And she thought it was kind of funny. She's like, ‘Well, I already know you have good genes. You're good enough for what I need right now.’ But it's kind of an interesting dimension where some really strange things like, you know, tongue curling, there's some very strange ones they include, which apparently are strongly based in genetics. So I think they're just kind of doing what they can to this point, but I think as people get more and more data like that, it'll become this kind of strange game of kinda matching up with people and like figuring out why do they have really good genes or am I shortchanging myself? If it's a question of, you know, having a life partner and having kids with that person. And I guess the debate then is, you know, is it ethical to ask someone for their genetic profile before you go down that road with them? And I think that's gonna come more and more common too, and personally, I'm not sure it is ethical, but I guess it’s up to each person to decide.

Artificial Intelligence

Tam: 25:28 So did you see the movie, Her? So, you know, beyond VR and AR and longevity science, we're of course seeing a rapid improvement in AI. So, Her is a movie with Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlet Johannsen playing his AI voice, where he falls in love with this AI creature. And he's like, truly in love, she's his perfect soulmate, but she happens to reside in the cloud and interacts with her through his phone basically, and his computer. And I see that becoming pretty real, particularly with AI becoming so good in terms of learning about each of our preferences. And did you see the movie The Social Dilemma? The documentary?

Taylor: 26:12 Yes. Yes.

Tam: 26:13 This is about AI algorithms in social media, but of course, an AI that talks at you is a natural extension of that process of finding out what you personally like, what you personally find funny, what things you want to learn about, you know, what things you want to hear when you go to bed or wake up. And I think the AI is going to start doing that more and more for those of us who let it take on that role and whether you actually fall in love with your AI or not is a different question entirely. That would probably be a pretty, I think, unusual thing at least at first, but it might be the case where you really are competing with your partner’s AI. You're like, ‘What the f***, leave her alone, focus on me for awhile,’ you know? I think it could be really a pretty serious source of friction.

Taylor: 26:58 I’m glad you brought that up. I completely forgot to touch on AI because I think you're right. And especially now with just the amount of people that feel lonely and disconnected, especially now during this pandemic we're all yearning so much for people to understand us, you know, really understand us. And I can see AI filling that gap. And I can see what happens when there's this algorithm that's constantly observing you and knows you and your personality and your likes and your dislikes and your inner most desires, and

Tam: 27:26 Is always there for you whenever you want it.

Taylor: 27:29 Yeah, and I forget where I was listening to this, I think it was on some podcast, but it was talking about this very thing. What happens when you come home and you're grumpy and your husband doesn't notice because he has his own set of issues or problems, but you know, when your computer or an object in your house knows you and its sole purpose is to know you and your personality and to be there for your needs. What kind of world will it be when objects understand you better than the people in your life, or, you know, the moment that a smart refrigerator knows you better than your husband is not very far in the future.

Tam: 28:10 Yup. We don't recognize how fast this kind of thing can change because AI still sucks today for the most part. I mean, there’s like chatbots, et cetera. They're not remotely convincing as humans for most of us, but, you know, give it 5 or 10 years, I think that will change dramatically. And when you start getting sex bots that have nice smooth skin and look beautiful and a great body with a really convincing AI, a lot of guys who are lonely and have some money will be like, ‘Hell yeah, I'll see my robot girlfriend because she's awesome. You know, it makes it more and more difficult for real human interaction.’

Behavior-Based Matching

Taylor: 28:45 Right. That brings up one more thing I wanted to ask you. This whole behavior-based matching methodology. It runs along the same lines as what we were talking about with the documentary the Social Dilemma in that Facebook completely skews your feed based on your likes and your friends, and makes sure you only see those opinions shared by your friends. I’ve heard similar things happening in the dating space, as far as dating apps implementing behavior-based matching instead of user-input matching. So basically instead of a user completing his or her profile, the matching would be based on their browser history, for example.

Tam: 29:32 Oh, wow. So not what you say you want, but what you demonstrate you want by your behavior. That's super interesting.

Taylor: 29:42 Exactly. I’ve heard of it going too far though, such as filters on dating apps making sure you’re not exposed to dates with opinions not shared by your friends, or programs on your phone that decide who you date, when you date, or how you date, and then providing real-time feedback through whatever wearable technology is available. To me, it sounds horrifying.

Tam: 30:19 Yeah it can get weird. It definitely blends into Black Mirror very quickly.

Taylor: 30:29 Did you see the Nose Dive episode? It’s basically a society where you're ranked based on your interactions with people.

Tam: 30:38 Yeah. That was horrifying because it was so real.

Taylor: 30:42 I know! When I saw it 5 years ago, I didn't really think anything of it. And then I saw it again a couple of weeks ago and I was like, ‘Oh shit.’

Tam: 30:47 Yeah. She was so good at her role too, but yeah, Watch out.

Self-Love Practices

Tam: 30:55 Let me add one more positive note here. From my personal experience during the pandemic, my girlfriend urged me to seek therapy. And I won't share the gory details as to why, but just kind of ongoing issues in our relationship and things she noticed in me that made me think of my father, which I was like, ‘Well, I don't want to be like my dad, so sure, I have some time.’ And nowadays you have zoom therapy, which is a very common model. I think most therapists are doing zoom sessions now. So actually I hopped online and found a great Jungian therapist, after Carl Jung. I've been now with her for 6 or 7 months meeting every couple of weeks. And we do like an hour long zoom session. I feel like part of the future of love is certainly working on ourselves around issues and recognizing how we can get past these wounds we have as children and inter-personal problems. And the virtualization of therapy I think will be almost purely a good thing. You know, I think it's still, probably better to meet face-to-face in real life with a therapist for all the same reasons that you want to meet face to face with people in general. But I think the convenience and ease of going online for a zoom therapy session is pretty awesome nowadays, particularly when people are more limited in what they can do because of the pandemic.

Taylor: 32:23 Right. Yeah I love how seeking therapy or having a therapist no longer has a stigma to it. And I love how we're now more open about seeking help or self-awareness or however you want to label it, but also dislike seeking out other alternative methods such as plant medicine and whatnot. I feel like I've walked into a whole new world since being in Puerto Vallarta. Yeah. Yeah. I had a couple of Bufo ceremonies, which Bufo comes from a toad native to the Sonoran Desert, which produces a venom known as 5-MEO-DMT which is a super potent natural psychedelic that has extremely therapeutic and healing properties and can aid not only in becoming more self-aware, but also in being more loving and compassionate. You know, they say it’s like 20 years of therapy in 20 minutes, which I agree with that now after doing it.

Tam: 33:20 Well, that's an interesting topic because it definitely ties into virtual reality, but I think in a way that's more beneficial because it is built in our own innate nervous system interacting with these chemicals. And I've done a number of different kind of plant medicines over the years. And you know, I can certainly agree with your statement that you can get a lot of self-work in a very brief session. And I don't know how it is in Mexico or around the US more generally, but I do feel like on the West Coast, you know, Hawaii, Washington, California, which is where I have a presence, I definitely get the distinct feeling that people are doing these plant medicines much more frequent than in the past, and there is definitely a certain raising of consciousness because of that.

I attribute it to Burning Man partly also. And I think the latest breakthrough came with Michael Pollan's book in terms of openness to psychedelics and more powerful things like 5-MEO-DMT which is the type of Bufo or that's one source of the 5-MEO-DMT. And I think this will become hopefully a positive trend, not just a fad, not something people will do, like the Ayahuasca ceremonies where you'd go to Peru and do a ceremony and come back and say, ‘Wow, that was crazy’ and feel like your cultured now. I'm hoping that the plant medicine trend leads to people to see it as a sacrament and a practice, not a one or two time thing that they actually integrate through that practice and not forget the insights they had.

Taylor: 35:02 I agree. I feel like so many people are searching for a quick fix or a one-time cure-all. And that just doesn’t exist. You know, with the bufo experience, the afterglow lasts for days which is amazing, but it does wear off, and you have to implement what you learned into your daily practice or else, what was it all for, you know? But yeah, I definitely think that there is a resurgence of plant medicine. I first heard about psychedelics and plant medicine being used for mental illness through Tim Ferriss, and he has millions of followers so I think he was definitely a leader in getting the word out, and yeah I agree that Michael Pollan’s book How To Change Your Mind also helped, and I also know of a shaman here in Mexico City who was telling me this last year she’s had way more people come down from the US to do Bufo and Ayuahasca ceremonies, so yeah its definitely exploding. Yeah. Sorry I got off topic.

Tam: 35:51 I think it’s totally on topic and in-line with the future of love and where we're going and self-work. I think to be lovable and to be capable of love, we have to work through the issues we have. We all have issues, you know, and there's no end point to it. It's always a process, but I like to think at least that the more self-work we do, the more ready we are to find a good partner or to be with a partner, you know?

Taylor: 36:14 Right. It's the very first thing everyone should do!

Tam: 36:19 Yeah. And I certainly have been thinking lately about the need for self-love in relation to my own practice and my own history, but I think the cliche is true. You really can't be loved fully until you do love yourself. I wonder also to return to this kind of double edged sword theme that, you know, with the advent of social media and then as that virtualizes more do we get more self-love growth from the interaction or do we get more self-loathing, and certainly for kids now we see pretty good data that show it's more self-loathing because most of these kids aren't going to get all the likes they want, they're not going to get the popularity they want, and they're going to feel diminished because of that. And we're definitely already seeing strong trends toward a new generation coming up where kids aren't dating, they aren't having sex, which may be a good thing (if they were young), they aren't even driving, they aren't moving out of the house, they aren't getting real jobs. And so there's more and more of this delayed adolescence. And I think probably an ongoing infantilization because of this being stuck in this virtual world and being way too much into social media. I'm not sure if people that you're dealing with in terms of matchmaking are in that same boat, but I think in 10 years it will be because you'll be getting people coming up from the first round, the first generation of social media growth kids.

Taylor: 37:56 I think so too. I think it's so interesting to see the differences in each generation, you know, especially in my generation, I feel like so much is changing so rapidly. It's kind of mind blowing and I can see the generation above and below me and the generation below me is just, I don't want to be negative either, but it's just worrisome because, on one hand, there's a lot of great things that can come from being online and being on social media, if you know how to use it correctly, for example, connecting with friends or sharing meaningful content or learning more about the world, or, but I think all of the stats show that for Gen Z, at least, being so connected digitally is doing more harm than good in reference to what happens to their self-esteem if they don't get enough follows or likes or they’re always comparing themselves to other people. And I think all of these reports and stats are showing that all of these factors are really inducing anxiety and depression. I mean, just the act of staring at a screen for too long, I started to feel anxious, you know what I mean?

Tam: 39:08 Yeah, totally. Me too. I’ve gotten into a bad habit in the morning. I'll do about an hour, hour and a half of news reading on my phone. I have a least begun meditating first. I began a meditation practice this year, too, along with my therapy. I've been doing some self-work and I'll do half an hour meditation in the mornings now, usually before I read the news. So I wake up, I'm human, I'm in the real world, meditate, relax, you know, think about where I am, and just try to just be, and then I'm like, okay, now I'm going to my news world. And I really I'm a news junkie, so I really enjoy it, but I fully recognize what it does to me and anyone reading the news like I do is it takes you out of your immediate scenario, your immediate, you know, real-world life and it puts you into this other place which is generally not healthy because most news is by the definition of what we find appealing as humans is negative. You know, if it bleeds, it leads is true, right? Whether it's a metaphorical bleeding or not. And so things like the election or the pandemic or Iran or whatever the latest issue is, it becomes this ongoing, never ending cycle of kind of low-level panic. And I'm definitely thinking hard about doing like a month long news fast and maybe even a social media fast, which a month sounds like a long time. I'll think I’ll start with a week, you know, but I want to at least try for a little bit. And we do occasionally a one day fast, we call it Sunday Sabbath, electronic Sabbath. It’s just a one day no electronics kind of thing. And it feels so nice. It feels so good. You know.

Taylor: 40:51 And even as a couple, just to reconnect because I know there's some days where I'm sitting with my boyfriend, with Diego, and we're both on our screens or on our computers or phones and the amount of quality time that we spend together goes down dramatically. So we've been trying to implement the same thing on Sundays. Nothing to distract us. It's helped so much, like it's unbelievable how much it's helped us just to reconnect once a week without any distractions.

Tam: 41:19 And do you guys find it’s like a bit of a transition to get back into like, ‘Oh wait, what do I do? I can't pick up my phone’?

Taylor: 41:25 Yeah. Yeah. It's kind of alarming, you know. I feel like I lost a limb or something. I have to go hide it in a drawer somewhere so I forget about it.

Tam: 41:35 Yeah. I think we have to be part of our ongoing mental health practice moving forward. It's kind of just to remind ourselves that we are fundamentally still just a body and a mind and as part of that body put all of this aside, all these electronic gadgets for awhile. And there is actually a growing industry of electronic detoxes where you actually go to a center, well, before the pandemic, and you are helped through your electronic detox by professionals who probably charge a lot of money.

Trends in Relationship, Marriage, Family

Taylor: 42:10 So many new industries have popped up. The last thing I wanted to touch on was some of the trends that you think we might see within relationships, marriage and family. For example, people are becoming more polyamorous or this idea that love has no gender. And so there's a lot of different non-traditional relationships coming together. Do you see that increasing in the future?

Tam: 42:40 Yeah. Well, I'm glad you asked that. That was actually on my list of things to bring up too. Yes. I think we've definitely seen, and I guess more urban areas in the country and around the world, a real trend back toward what I guess you'd call kind of monogamish behavior. I think most people still are generally pretty monogamous, but are getting more intrigued by monogamish behavior, which I'm defining as basically they're generally monogamous, but they recognize that relationships, they can get a little sour, sometimes a little stale, a little bit old whether it's being sexually bored or just being bored of that person in general, but recognizing they're a great partner. You feel secure, you have similar values. So I think people are more intrigued by, you know, monogamish behavior. And I think there's an interesting consequence of this increasing trend toward dematerialization is that we will then get an increasing trend toward what some people have called sapiosexual behavior where you really fall in love with the person's mind far less than the body. And of course, if you can be whatever body you want to, because you can choose it over the avatar you want to, then the mind, the person becomes far more important. And so I think whether it's, you know, a sexual relationship or guess a friendship relationship and this increasing world of VR or AR I think again, it opens up more choices and I think there'll be more and more kind of discussions about, well, wait, is that cheating? You're talking to this beautiful woman, but it's actually an 85 year old dude in real life, you know, like, is that cheating? That's really complicated, you know, and like, do you love him/her? You know, what does that mean? But I think it would be kind of fun certainly, and it certainly adds some spice and some conversational spice to your relationship, no matter how far it goes.

Taylor: 44:38 Goodness. I feel like now there's so much freedom to choose who we marry, when we marry, if we want to marry, under what conditions we want to marry, if we want to have children, there's so many options. And I feel like, well, especially with my generation, there’s this whole paradox of choice that everyone keeps talking about and people not being able to choose or not being able to make up their mind because of this whole, ‘I wonder if there's someone better’ in the back of their mind. I wonder if this will even just increase that whole paradox of choice situation.

Tam: 45:13 Yeah, I think it will. Choice paralysis, right. I guess you've got to approach it like a game. And this is where I think maybe the lessons of dematerialization could be positive is that if you recognize that even as real world quote unquote is in large part, a creation of our own minds and our collective creation, you know, not getting too deep philosophical, but I believe there is a real world out there, but of course, what we know of it is entirely determined by our minds. What we do in relation to that world is capable of being reigned in by our own training, through meditation, you can determine how you react to the world around you. But in terms of then recognizing that VR is as an extension of that kind of choice structure can be a good thing as long as you approach it with a light heart. But of course it's always easier said than done. You know, when emotions get involved and love gets involved and kids get involved, then it gets much more complicated. So I guess ultimately we'll see this ongoing discussion about what are the boundaries of this new world, what is real, is choice good? We're definitely gonna have a whole lot more choices. That's clear.

Taylor: 46:35 Goodness. And I feel like, well, maybe not with my generation, but definitely the younger generations, I think, they'll be more open to that, as far as polyamorous dating and redefining relationships and all of that, it'll be so interesting to see what happens. And also what you were talking about in terms of longevity and age extension; just throw all of that into the mix, and there's just an infinite amount of possibilities, you know?

Tam: 47:06 Totally, totally. I wish the podcast could capture your expression.

Taylor: 47:14 I wish we did video. Maybe I’ll start a YouTube channel. Well, is there anything else you'd like to add before wrapping up?

Tam: 47:23 I think that's it. Watch Black Mirror.

Taylor: 47:28 Thank you so much. Yeah. Watch Black Mirror. This was so fun. Thank you.

Tam: 47:31 Awesome. Well, really good to see you. Good to chat with you a bit.

Taylor: 47:34 Good to see you too. Thank you again.

Taylor: 47:35 Thank you so much for tuning in and listening to our thoughts on what the future of love and dating holds. I hope you've enjoyed this conversation just as much as I have. Make sure you hit subscribe to get notified when our next episode is released where I discuss and demystify romantic chemistry. You won't want to miss it. You can subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast. This episode features lawyer and author Tam Hunt. This podcast was hosted by me, Taylor Wade, and is brought to you by Ambiance Matchmaking, an exclusive matchmaking agency for selective singles. Complete an application by clicking the link in the episode show notes or going to ambiancematchmaking.com/apply. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review. It helps others find our show. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at ambiancematch. And we'll see you next time!


Resources

Lifespan by David Sinclair
How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
Ready Player One Film
Her Film
The Social Dilemma Documentary
The Black Mirror “Nosedive”
The Ultimate Guide to 5-MeO-DMT (“Bufo”)
Jungian Therapy

Taylor Wade

Taylor is one of the founders of Ambiance Matchmaking. She now dedicates her time to curating content for our community through her podcast and blog. Writing and podcasting is the art of great story-telling. As a relationship writer and editor, she has always sought to capture the reality of the dating experience, full of drama, friction, and joy. The best mind is an open mind, so she specializes in asking questions and approaching a story without preconceptions.

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