Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and having two teenagers gives me great insight into what love looks like in 2020. I’m joking — it’s difficult for me to tell who is dating, what dating means, what is a “streak” versus a relationship, and how to translate what is happening on social media.

I’m sure the feelings are the same — the insecurities, the butterflies, the excitement of someone liking you, the fear of being rejected. But the communication tools and processes have definitely changed.

I recently tried to explain to my kids that they don’t know love until they’ve made a mix tape for someone. I don’t mean a playlist, I mean having a cassette tape in the stereo waiting for a song to come on so you can run over and click on PLAY and RECORD at the same time, taking great care to start the recording after the DJ stops talking and before too much of the song has already played. The same tediousness goes into completing the recording. Often easier to let the recording go into the commercial and then rewind, play, fast forward, rewind again, play until you get to the perfect stopping point to begin the waiting game for the next desired song. And of course there’s the strategy and planning that goes into it — is it a 60-minute or 90-minute tape? How many songs will fit on it, and will you do both sides? And the name — each tape requires a meaningful and catchy name.

My kids also have the luxury of privacy. If I wanted to talk on the phone to a boy, I had to either stand in the kitchen to talk on the landline phone, where anyone in the house could hear me, or I had to stretch that phone cord to its max all the way down the hallway so I could stand just inside my bedroom. Later in my teen years, when we had multiple phones in the house, I had to stress about a snooping sister or protective father picking up another phone in the house and listening in on or interrupting my conversation.

My kids, who just started high school this year, don’t use lockers. I had to ask: Where do you leave notes for people if you don’t have a locker?! They don’t even write notes — there is a whole lost art form to writing a love note, decorating it with colors and characters and cute sayings and then folding it in some origami-like fashion to slip in someone’s locker or exchange while passing in the hallway between classes.

I realize I’m aging myself here. Truth be told I enjoy watching my kids navigate relationships and watching how they maneuver through them with today’s technology and social norms. Maybe one day I’ll show them my box of mix tapes and love notes. I still have them buried away in the basement. And if you want some insights about what dating looks like for adults in Carroll County, check out our article on page 24. Share you experience with how dating has evolved — email me at