“The image of a meet cute that everybody has is you’re walking past someone and you bump into each other and you drop your stuff on the ground, and then you both lean over and pick up all your stuff off the ground together.”
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Did modernity kill meet cutes? Many online disagree.

A meet cute is the whimsical way a protagonist meets their romantic interest in a romantic comedy — a genre widely discussed as obsolete on the internet. It introduces the characters’ relationship, often revealing a clash of personalities through an awkward initial encounter.


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To quote the modern rom-com classic “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “a meet cute is when a couple meets for the first time, and that is how you know they are going to end up together.”

It’s like when Hollywood actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) enters bumbling William Thacker’s (Hugh Grant) travel bookshop and a shoplifter hides a book down his pants in “Notting Hill.” Later, William accidentally spills orange juice on Anna’s shirt. These physical encounters embody the essence of a meet cute. In today’s virtual age, these scenarios feel more improbable than ever.

“The common image of a meet cute involves walking past someone, bumping into each other, dropping your stuff, and both of you picking up your belongings together,” shared Josie, a 22-year-old student from Portland, Oregon, with Mashable.

In January 2024, novelist Brandon Taylor inquired on Twitter, “What aspects of modern life foster meet cutes?” He suggested that the decline of communal spaces and the growing dependence on apps, reducing spontaneous real-life interactions, contribute to the scarcity of meet-cute moments.

A 2020 Vice article explored how the internet has impacted meet cutes, indicating that online dating shielding individuals from face-to-face rejection and evolving dating norms post-#MeToo have shifted cultural norms away from meet cutes.

“Most of my female friends are hesitant to make a move in person because there’s this understanding that every single person is using apps and talking to potential matches, increasing the fear of rejection if you express interest,” explained Alice*, a 24-year-old graduate student in Boston to Mashable.

Nevertheless, despite these prevailing opinions, the allure of meet cutes perseveres.

Two questions have captivated the internet: Are you a couple? Can you share the story of how you first met? The popular man-on-the-street interview series @nycmeetcutes embraces these questions and boasts over 3 million followers on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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In one video that amassed over 13 million views on TikTok, an older woman recounts how her partner paid the bill for her family at a diner after church and left his number with the waitress. In another TikTok with over 15 million views, a woman narrates and signs how she met her partner in an American Sign Language class. The account implies that serendipitous encounters are still possible, a sentiment so popular that even President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden created a video for the account to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

However, a 2017 study of heterosexual couples by Stanford University and the University of New Mexico revealed that meeting online had become the most common way couples met, surpassing meeting through mutual friends, the dominant method since 2013. A more recent Pew Research Center survey on online dating in 2022 found that slightly over half of adults below 30 use dating apps, and one in five partnered adults under thirty met their significant other on a dating app.

@meetcutesnyc doesn’t solely feature traditional offline meet cutes. In another of their popular videos, a couple shares that they met on Hinge, incorporating the tag “Hinge partner” in collaboration with the app. The appeal of the video lies not only in their meeting story but in how the man evolves from skeptical to affectionate and smiles when discussing his partner. The top comment reads, “Dude went from aggressive to lover boy.”

“The requirements for a meet cute have been minimized by the current dating culture,” remarked Alice. “Nowadays, it’s simply about meeting someone in person.”

The most recent hit romantic comedy, Anyone But You, sustained the meet cute tradition. In one scene, Bea (Sydney Sweeney) is desperate for a bathroom break, and Ben (Glen Powell) pretends to be her husband to gain her access to a restroom in a cafe. The chaos ensues when Bea spills water on herself, appearing as if she has an accident.

Despite the shift towards dating apps, Alice has encountered several meet cutes. The most memorable was at a concert in Boston by the artist Fletcher. “I attended the concert alone and ended up standing next to a group, hitting it off with one girl and spending the entire concert with her. She asked me out on the spot.” They went on a date, but it petered out due to geographical distance and varying life stages.

Like Alice, Jack*, a 27-year-old student in Montreal, redefined a meet cute in a less cinematic manner. “It’s when you meet someone in person in a situation where you desire a romantic, sexual, or even a profound platonic connection, but that’s me broadening the concept, as I have many intense platonic crushes and bonds,” he shared with Mashable. Nonetheless, he acknowledges that his ideal meet cute scenario would be at a farmer’s market or a concert, influenced by years of consuming TV shows, movies, and fan fiction.


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However, Jack experienced a rather cinematic meet cute. At a karaoke event, he met a woman through a mutual acquaintance and joined her in performing ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love On Me,” reenacting a scene from “Mamma Mia.” “Five to ten minutes after meeting, I was crawling on the floor towards her. Shortly after, we exchanged Instagram handles and have kissed on a couple of occasions since then,” he shared.

Josie finds that when she actively uses dating apps, her inclination to encounter new people in real life diminishes. She downloads Tinder and Bumble every six months before feeling overwhelmed and deleting them.

“Young people, like myself, are so used to doing everything on the phone that the muscle of talking to people that we don’t know very well has atrophied.”

“The meet cute is endangered because of dating apps. Young people, like myself, are so used to doing everything on the phone that the muscle of talking to people that we don’t know very well has atrophied,” Josie expressed. “It’s a bit disheartening because I find it much easier to connect with people in real life than online.”

However, Josie did experience a classic meet cute while working in her campus library when she discovered baby photos of an individual with a mutual friend in the lost and found. “I messaged him about it, and it turned out he was in the library at that moment. I handed him the photos, and we had a quintessential, awkward yet chemistry-filled brief conversation,” she shared. Immediately after, both of them messaged their mutual friend inquiring about the other’s relationship status.

As long as the rom-com industry, including @meetcutesnyc, continues to produce meet cutes, hopeless romantics will defy the odds of our increasingly digital world in pursuit of the love stories they believe they deserve.

*The names have been changed to preserve anonymity*


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Elena Cavender

Elena is a tech reporter and the resident Gen Z expert at Mashable. She covers TikTok and digital trends. She recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in American History. Email her at [email protected] or follow her @ecaviar_.


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