Who are these “starter girlfriends” mentioned on TikTok at the moment? These “first girlfriends” would serve as “training” for young people who are inexperienced in romantic relationships. Once they gain enough confidence, these men are ready to move on to another story, this time with the perfect girl.
A TikTok hashtag that calls out
Since last August, numerous videos on the Chinese social network have advised users to find a “starter girlfriend” for the sole purpose of gaining relationship experience. According to this famous advice, there is no point in aiming for the dream girl for a first relationship, but, on the contrary, in lowering your requirements to find a less beautiful, less brilliant girlfriend with whom to practice. The partner does not necessarily have to be romantically attracted to the girlfriend, or even really want to be with her. Only experience counts because it proves useful for the next partner, who will really please him. This so-called method has attracted some success on TikTok where the hashtag “starter gf” has 47 million views.
If the term starter girlfriend is relatively recent, its concept is not that much. Already in the 1990s, there was talk of a “starter wedding”. This term refers to marriages that last a short time, generally less than five years, and which do not produce any children. However, if these marriages ended in failure, it was not on purpose. Whereas relationships with “starter girlfriends” are doomed from the start to failure.
Gen Z’s throwaway culture?
For experts, this type of relationship contributes to a throwaway culture, aided by online dating and various dating apps, which have become the norm for members of Gen Z.”Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble offer seemingly endless choices, leading some to view relationships as temporary things that can easily be replaced., says relationship advice expert Amanda Major to Dazed. According to her, this way of meeting people would influence the way in which Generation Z values romantic relationships. The possibility of commitment, as well as the fear of being vulnerable, are also reasons that justify the devaluation of romantic relationships.
Hence the proliferation of equally toxic trends in the world of dating, such as ghosting, ghostlighting – which consists of being ghosted and manipulated – or even “gophering” (ghosting and canceling your date at the last minute), which reflect the ease of certain individuals in ending relationships overnight. By meeting potential partners, people tend to be dehumanized.
What about the sincerity of relationships?
Amanda Major also points to the confinement of 2020, of which traces would remain among the Zs. Some might have the impression of making up for lost time during these months spent locked up at home, without any possible new relationship. “First relationships could be a quick way to gain the experience of romantic relationships that was lacking during the years of confinement”she explains.
“It is essential to remember the importance of respect and sincerity in all relationships, and not to view partners as mere stepping stones“, she adds. “Every relationship, whether short or long term, has emotional significance. Ensuring that there is a mutual understanding of what the relationship is for all partners increases the chance that everyone will enjoy it and remember it positively.”.