My expectations of dating and relationships stemmed from the hundreds of romantic comedies and teen dramas I immersed myself in during my early adulthood. More often than not, they followed the usual guidelines: Guy meets girl, sparks fly, someone makes a grand romantic gesture, they both profess their mutual love for each other and they live happily ever after.
I think this is where my problems began…
Just like me, I’m sure many others naively went into the real world believing that our romantic lives would play out in the same way our favourite rom-coms did, only to be slapped in the face with reality:
ding dong, you are wrong.
As it turns out, it was actually ridiculously complicated.
I learnt that in the real world, you don’t actually get asked out on dates, instead you’ll get asked to ‘hang out’ with someone so many times that you’ll be left wondering where the hell you stand and what it all means, but be too scared to find out the actual answer. Or even worse, you’ll get inboxes on social media from boys you’ve had little to no prior interaction with, sleazy pick-up lines and invitations to ‘Netflix and chill’ rather than to take you out and actually bother to get to know you.
In fact, thanks to dating apps such as Tinder, you can now remove the whole need for face-to-face interaction if you want to. At first, the thought of meeting people without leaving the house seems like an introvert’s dream (meeting people without having to change out of my pyjamas? Sign me up!). But while dating apps fix one problem, they create many others.
When you match with someone on a dating app, there’s the initial obstacle of keeping the conversation flowing long enough to decide if this person is worth meeting in real life. That’s where 70% of the conversations end. If you’re lucky enough to make it to round two, the next task involves determining the following three things in a prospective partner:
1. Whether your personalities are compatible
2. Whether they actually look like their Tinder picture in real life
3. If they’re looking for the same kind of thing that you are
The odds of ticking all three boxes are incredibly high, and it explains why so many singles complain about the pains of dating in the modern world. It’s because it sucks.
Dating has been turned into a process of mindlessly swiping left and right on people we spend approximately 5 minutes judging based on their looks and whether their Tinder bio was impressive enough to make us laugh.
Although most people will admit that there has to be an element of physical attraction when looking for a potential partner, there’s probably lots of great people you’ll miss out on meeting just because they can’t seem to master the art of taking a good selfie.
Everything that once used to be so simple, suddenly isn’t anymore. We overanalyse every single text message and plan out every reply in a way that makes everything seem super casual. Because that’s all it is right? People would rather be in an awkward stage between dating and messing around, than face rejection, or in some cases, commitment.
You can’t just tell people how you feel anymore either. In fact, that’s probably the last thing you should do incase you end up scaring off your potential partner. It’s almost as if it’s wrong to express any feelings at all. When your friends ask you what’s going on with *insert name of person you’re currently seeing* why is it becoming more and more acceptable to say ‘I don’t know’ rather than just asking them?
Instead of communicating with each other, we’re taught that if we’re upset or angry, the answer is to post a passive aggressive Facebook status or Instagram post and pray that the person it’s directed at will be able to read your mind.
Dating someone shouldn’t be a game you have to play, but that’s what it has become. Whoever made the rules that we had to wait an appropriate amount of time between texts, or that you can’t see someone every day because that makes you look needy is a moron. We’ve turned dating culture into a manipulative and time consuming game that honestly gets very exhausting, very quickly.
Luckily for me, I managed to claw my way out of the modern dating cesspool I’d fallen into and found someone that I’ve been happily dating for just under a year now. No, I didn’t meet him on Tinder, in fact we met at the last place I would’ve thought to look; at work.
When you think about it; the odds of my significant other and I being at the same workplace, at the same time, having very similar personalities, living in the same city and both looking for the exact same thing were incredibly high, but it still worked out better than the four years I’d spent forcing myself to pretend I liked going out clubbing or signing myself up for dating apps like Tinder in the desperate hope of meeting someone.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve heard of plenty of success stories from Tinder and the like, and kudos to those people for managing to wade through all the filth of online dating and find each other, but if I had to do it all over again, I’d give it Tinder a hard pass.
If there’s any sort of lesson to take out of this rant of mine, it’s this: Life’s too short to not tell people how you feel about them. The right person won’t have a problem telling you they think you’re the bee’s knees. Relationships are extremely rewarding with the right person, and you might miss out on something amazing if you waste your time treating the whole thing like it’s a contest to be won.