Gen Z daters are adopting a new dating philosophy known as ‘NATO,’ which stands for ‘Not Attached to an Outcome.’ This approach is about being open-minded and less fixated on the finality of relationships.
Gone are the days when “just going with the flow” was a casual response to dating queries. Now, it’s a defined strategy, especially among Gen Z, who are redefining dating with the ‘NATO’ mindset. Forget the military association; in the dating world, it’s all about not obsessing over where a relationship is heading.
Some might say it’s just a new twist on Millennials’ laid-back dating style. But today’s young singles, as Tinder’s 2023 ‘Year in Swipe’ report indicates, are less about ticking off a list for a perfect partner and more about discovering themselves through dating. The report shows that a majority of young Indian singles on Tinder are open to exploring, while a significant number are still figuring out what they want.
Take Arnav Alok Goel, the founder of Thirty40 Tennis Academies. He prefers to see where things go naturally, rather than aiming for a specific outcome. This open-mindedness not only enhanced his dating experience but also led him to his girlfriend.
For Ritik Jaiswal, a PR professional, adopting ‘NATO’ was more out of necessity than choice. After repeated disappointments, he realized it’s better to date without expectations. This mindset shift helped him approach dating with a more relaxed perspective.
However, not everyone is on board with ‘NATO.’ Journalist Anjana PV prefers serious relationships. Yet, she acknowledges that ‘NATO’ dating has its perks, like learning new things and making friends, especially helpful when she moved to a new city.
What is ‘NATO’ Dating?
‘NATO’ dating, short for ‘Not Attached to an Outcome,’ represents a more relaxed and open approach to dating. It’s about enjoying the journey of getting to know someone without the pressure of a specific end goal. Dr. Chandni Tugnait, a life coach and Tinder India’s relationship expert, describes it as prioritizing the experience and embracing the unknown future.
This trend aligns with Gen Z’s tendency to defy traditional relationship norms and timelines. Khyati Kanji, a psychologist and art therapist, notes that for Gen Z, it’s all about living in the moment and creating memorable experiences without being weighed down by societal expectations.
Kanji observes that unlike previous generations, Gen Z doesn’t necessarily view marriage or having children as ultimate life goals. They reject the idea of fitting into predefined roles and prefer a more unstructured approach to life.
Sagrikaa Rastogi, a counseling psychologist, echoes this sentiment. She points out that Gen Z, shaped by digital innovation, economic fluctuations, and events like Covid-19, prefers to see the world through their unique perspective, not constrained by traditional standards.
Rastogi believes that while everyone has their personal journey in dating and relationships, Gen Z is particularly ambitious and open to new experiences. NATO dating allows them to explore their feelings without the burden of future expectations. This ‘live in the now’ attitude empowers them to craft their romantic stories freely.
Main Advantages of ‘NATO’ Dating According to Experts
- Less Stress: By not fixating on a specific outcome, individuals may feel less pressured about where the relationship is heading. This can lead to a more relaxed and enjoyable dating experience.
- Easing Rejection Woes: Often, rejection can lead to self-doubt and affect well-being. Since ‘NATO’ doesn’t hinge on a predetermined endgame, it’s easier to handle emotional setbacks.
- Opportunity for Growth: Every date, regardless of its result, is a chance to learn something new, like better communication skills, understanding what you want in a partner, or spotting red flags early on.
- Enhanced Self-Awareness: ‘NATO’ dating means engaging in various interactions, helping people discover what they truly enjoy in relationships. It allows for authentic connections to form without the burden of societal judgment.
However, there are some concerns about this approach. Critics, like Rastogi, point out that ‘NATO’ dating might create confusion due to the lack of clear objectives. She emphasizes the need for open communication to understand what both parties expect from the relationship.
It’s also crucial to introspect why one chooses ‘NATO’ dating. Kumaar warns against using it as a shield against commitment fears or avoiding responsibilities. This approach should stem from self-awareness and self-love to be genuinely beneficial and healthy for one’s mental well-being.