Johnny Bananas on the 'transactional' nature of modern dating
TV personality Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio sits down with Giddy's Trisha Cummings to discuss the perils of modern dating, from the immense pressure put on single adults to the challenges he’s personally faced—and is still making sense of.
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A Conversation with Johnny Bananas
More connection. Less transaction. In this one-on-one conversation with Giddy's Trisha Cummings, reality star Johnny "Bananas" Devenanzio bares his views on modern dating culture.
Devenanzio, known for MTV's "The Real World: Key West" and "The Challenge," says the dating scene has changed drastically over the years, with the modern need to flaunt physical attributes just to get a date and intimacy itself now becoming more of a business transaction.
In a world where dating apps are the epitome of modern dating culture, Devenanzio hopes his advice on reviving traditional ways of dating will help people find that emotional connection they're looking for, rather than a superficial one.
Do you feel like a lot of people think of sex as a business transaction nowadays?
I mean, there's no other—I don't think there's any other way that you can look at it. I mean, just look at how over-sexualized everything is. You see Netflix series where it's like they're over-sexualizing kids at such a young age now, that I feel like kids are just growing up, and going through life feeling like that's what's important: is there their external, and all the superficial qualities about themselves.
I also feel like going back to what we were saying about dating apps. I mean, dating apps have literally taken dating and turned it into a business transaction, right? You were saying, there's a geo-locating device where it's like, "This is how many single people are around you that probably want to have sex, or would have sex right now."
Yeah. Like you said, it dilutes the intimacy and emotional connection.
Just going back to when we were kids, I mean, not just when—and when our parents were kids, especially when our parents were kids, you had one phone in your house, right? You didn't have cell phones. You didn't have social media. The people that you knew, the girls, the boys, whoever you dated were in your hometown, or in your school. You probably didn't even date someone from the next town over, because you'd never even get to know them.
Now, what social media has done, and what these dating apps have done, and what the internet has done is, it's made the entire…not state, not city, not state, not country, but the entire world is now—
Available to you.
A dating pool.
So there's so much more. There's so much more opportunity out there. And there's so much more—it's like, if you were to go into an ice cream shop that was like strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, and then go into Baskin-Robbins, you know what I mean? Like, when we were kids it was strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. Now, it's fucking Baskin-Robbins plus all the—you know what I mean?
Like, there's so many more options now. There's so much more available to you. It's so much more difficult to be like, "This is the choice that I've made. I'm OK with sticking with it." Because that's what always happens. You go to Baskin-Robbins, you get whatever super fudge chunk, and while you're eating it, you're like, "Oh damn, but maybe the bubblegum would have been better," you know what I mean? Or maybe next—you know, you start second guessing the decision that you made. Whereas, when we had less options—when you only have three options to choose from, it's like, you can make a choice, and not feel like you made the wrong decision, you know?
I completely agree.
And they way dating apps are too, it's like, you literally within a fraction of a second are determining whether or not this person is worthy of dating. You know what I mean? Like, you get like one—you're sitting there just like swiping back. Like, you have an infinite supply of people, and you are judging them based solely on an image that you're looking at for like a split second. And what that—
On a highlight reel.
And what must that do to the person too being like, "Alright, well, if I'm going out on a date with this person, or if I start a chat with this person, I need to probably send something really fucking really risque, or like really…whatever," I'd expose whatever I need to expose to separate myself. Dating apps, social media, it doesn't reward the people who respect themselves.
A lot of times, guys will be on a dating app and if it says, "Not here for a hookup," it's like, next. Or "Looking to actually meet someone," or "Looking to find the right person," it's like, dude, it's just crazy. It's taken, it's taking the meaning of connection, and like courting—courting used to be a thing, dude. I remember back in the day, like, you'd have to go on multiple dates with someone before you got intimate.
Now, it's like, dude, if it doesn't happen the first night, you know, girls feel the pressure to make it like happen the first night. And it's like, I don't know, I think a lot of times, people are just selling themselves short in this day and age. And I think it's because of all the social pressure that is being put on them.
Look at the people who have these accounts that have the most followers. It's the people that are like just basically thirst trap central, you know what I mean? Wearing absolutely nothing.
It's not the girl that's like the lawyer dressed in the business suit that actually respects herself, you know, and is like, "Hey, I'm successful." It's like, "Look, my tits for hanging out." It's like, perfect.
But my point is like, then what does that teach the younger generation? And what does—there's so many people out there who it's like, all they care about is a following. All they care about is getting likes on social media.
And if that's what is being rewarded, OK. And if you're seeing that, go to the explore page on Instagram, and that's what's on the explore page. And so if there's kids that are growing up, or if there's even people who want to gain a following, it's like, what's the quickest way to do it? How do you cheat the system? And that's the way that you do it.
So it's really just emphasizing, I feel like, all the wrong aspects of a person. It's really cheapening them, and it's really just breaking them down to like what is going on the outside. And it's all superficial, and doesn't—the chances are, you're never even going to get past that to actually get to know who the person really is.
How do you pursue someone then in modern day times when you have an infinite pool at your fingertips?
Speaking from my personal experience and my self-growth, that has to be something that the individual is ready for. I feel it's going to take when the individual is ready for a real relationship, that's the only time that that can happen. And I guess it all just stems from what they're looking for, and the way that they find it.
It's like, if you are planning on going and finding the love of your life and your significant other at a bar or a nightclub, it's probably not going to happen. So I think a lot of it has to do with just where you're actually trying to make these connections.
Where would that be?
I mean, anywhere but those places, I don't know, a coffee shop, the gym, a bookstore, walking, the grocery store. Hang out in, like, the fruit section. Go up to somebody. Be like, "Hey, how can you tell if these are ripe?" I guess where you want to go, and where you want to—you want to find people that have the same common interests as you. And it's not a bar, and it's not a club.
Because everybody, yeah, might have the same common interest as you, but it ain't something that's going to be meaningful. A lot of great relationships come from friends setting you up, you know? But I think, again, it all comes back to the individual. If they're not ready, and if they're not actively looking for something more than just a casual hookup, then—it's not like all of a sudden, love is just going to fall into your lap. I think you need to be ready for that. You need to set yourself up for that. You need to be open to that.