Thoughts on the dating apocalypse.

In Vanity Fair September 2015, Nancy Jo Sales wrote an article titled “Tinder is the Night.”

When I finished reading it my overall feeling was, ‘Thank GOD I am not single anymore.’ It made me cringe, it made me feeling disgusted, it made me vow to never download that app ever again, no matter what.

With pull quotes like “Hit it and quit it” and, “It’s like ordering Seamless but you’re ordering a person,” as a woman, it’s hard not to feel like a commodity.

Yet, she didn’t write anything that I didn’t already know through my own experiences. Rather, it just proved my own personal findings to be true. It wasn’t just me. Yet after every failed date, fling, or almost-relationship, I continued to fully participate in the whole thing – dating via Tinder.

The article interviews groups of twenty-something girls and guys living in New York City. The stage is set: “It’s a balmy night in Manhattan’s financial district, and at a sports bar called Stout everyone is Tindering … Everyone is drinking, peering into their screens and swiping on the faces of strangers they may have sex with later that evening … ‘Tinder sucks,’ they say. But they don’t stop swiping.”

After reading the section where she chats with a group of girls post-Saturday night hookups, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of what they were saying was a facade.

They talk about being on the app nonstop, the disgusting messages they receive, but also admit that it’s a confidence booster. (Even though some of the guys that Nancy interviewed admitted to swiping right (yes) on every picture in order to increase their chances of getting laid.) The girls also laugh about how so many of the guys they hook up with are terrible in bed. They make fun of their hookups who can’t get hard, or who finish in two minutes. They laugh it all off with this breezy I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude.

It reads almost as callous as the guys’ interviews.

Do these girls really feel that way? Or are they just trying to impress each other and fit into what they think they’re supposed to be?

I know far too well how it feels to go back and forth between “Fuck it – whatever” and, “I know in my heart this isn’t fulfilling me.”

The article definitely gets this point across: It’s a competition to see who cares less.

And I’m calling bullshit.

“I slept my way across Europe,” said with pride by a girl I met through friends one night out. Soon after meeting her I found out what the catalyst for this was: Some guy had told her she was bad in bed when she was 16. I don’t have to have a degree in psychology to know that she most definitely cares.

It happens all of the time – Choosing sex over our self worth. Choosing the instant gratification of feeling wanted over taking a stand for what we really want.

Matthew Hussey, NY Times best selling author and columnist for Cosmopolitan, wrote an interesting response to this Vanity Fair article on his blog, Get The Guy

His message to all of us: We need to take responsibility for our love lives. “When did we get so awful at reading early signals in an age where everyone is so blatantly obvious with them?” asks Matthew.

Perhaps we are addicted to the challenge.

From my experience, we are not often honest about our real intentions. A frustrated twenty-five-year-old guy in the Vanity Fair article talks about the girls he’s been meeting. “They act like all they want is to have sex with you and then they yell at you for not wanting to have a relationship. How are you gonna feel romantic about a girl like that? I met you on Tinder,” he emphasizes.

I can understand his frustration about getting mixed messages. But, “A girl like that.” That pisses me off. Like what exactly? Is it that she gave it up too quickly, or is it that she’s using the app. There are double standards everywhere you look. 

But Matthew also points out, “It’s unacceptable for men to shrug off responsibility by saying ‘the app made me do it’ – If you’re a shitty guy on Tinder, you’re a shitty person. Period.”

AMEN.

“Human beings were this way before apps came along,” says Matthew. “They’ve just found the technological liquor cabinet, that’s all.”

But were we always this bad? To everyone’s horror, Calgary got second place on Ashley Madison, a dating site for married people. Not a silver medal that we should be proud of. Does having choice at our fingertips make us more likely to behave like these men and women in New York City that Nancy interviewed, or more likely to cheat when we do find someone we want to commit to? Or, were we always this way and just got caught less?

It’s a question I’m not sure I want the answer to.

At least Matthew has some kind of solution for us: “As always, the way to stand out is not to play the same game everyone is playing, and right now the most valuable commodities in the dating marketplace are authenticity and a backbone.”

His advice is that social skills are where it’s at.

Again, I can’t help but feel like our dating success or failure is being directly related to ‘self improvement’, and that feels icky in and of itself. 

In short, dating can be a minefield. But as with a lot of things, the solution is usually simple.

I remember grappling with the questions, “Is it me? Am I single because I’m choosing not to settle? Or am I single because I’m incapable of attracting the right person? What am I doing wrong?”

And then a particularly sickening conversation with the last guy I “dated” before my current relationship. He voiced every self-doubt I had ever had. “Poor you, you want it all, the relationship, true love … and you can’t find it.”

Needless to say, I never saw him again after that. The funny thing about life is that usually when you feel like you’ve hit a wall and you want to give up, that’s when there’s some kind of breakthrough. 

I met someone awesome a couple of weeks after that horrifying conversation. Falling into a relationship with him was a breeze. I didn’t have to pretend like I didn’t care. I didn’t have to perfect my social skills. And I didn’t have to be anything other than myself. It was simple, as it should be.

The solution to the ‘dating apocalypse’ might require something radical. Perhaps what we should do is put our phones away, be our imperfect honest selves, and call bullshit when we see it.

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