I’m not wholly in the business of doling out relationship advice because … What the hell do I know? But consider these my observations from a month of hitting dating apps hard.
In January, I thought I’d reconvene “The Apps”. I’ve never really had much success with them before because, quite frankly, I consider myself more of a 4D being. It’s not my fault I look like tory-totty and attract Putney bankers with a mummy complex. Only to go and open my mouth and list of a bunch of sexual preferences that make them grimace, or jizz their pants, or both. Let's start by;
Shirking the Blame
Overusing dating apps causes me to spiral into a protozoic life form who can no longer see the wood for the trees. It turns out I’m not alone in this. I’m not sure how other people visualise the pool of people on a dating app but to me, it looks like a vast sea of individuals bobbing about in confusion, indifference and rampant horniness; Hoping to connect with one and answer the the lifelong query; "why doesn't everyone fancy me!" Their faces lit up by the light of their laptop screens; Waving & Drowning. The process is solipsistic. Even though you’re opening new social avenues the feeling that you are on your own is expansive; a from-consumer-to-consumer experience.
That’s the problem though; You are a consumer. As the saying goes… if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. So, you have to contend with the fact that; Either, the free app is mining your sad, lonesome, data. Or, it’s going to play on your needy insecurities to try and get some sweet dollar out of you. That dopamine hit when someone matches or likes you is a measurable thing. The triggers for it are well analysed and manipulated so that you’ll use the app more. Hell, they’d like you to use it all day long! “The dating app that’s designed to be deleted” - My Arse. A successful business model for an app is not that you find what you’re looking for and delete it. It’s that you find short term affirmation, enough to build trust with the format. Enough so that when the passing validation subsides, you go back for more like an animal suckling on the teat of Capitalism. Essentially, your dating app is an abusive boyfriend; Love bombing you, then gaslighting you for eternity.
Social Anxiety and Dating
Apparently there’s pro’s and cons for the anxious amongst us. The pros being that it allows some buffer for those who suffer from social anxiety to socialise from a comfortable base (AKA Bed/Bath/Sofa). You can tailor how you’re seen and compose witty responses without the perils of live conversation throwing you curveballs. However, for people already prone to low self-esteem a rebuff of one’s filter-enhanced, artfully-cropped self is more hurtful than just plain rejection. Also, it plays into propensities that anxiety sufferers have for rumination, decision paralysis and avoidance. As humans, we’re always going to focus on the negative more than the positive even though in reality one can’t conceivably be “everyone’s cup of tea”. Dating apps are brutal huh. (Queue Creep by Radiohead)
- Drinking alone. I noticed that I’d pour a glass of wine and then fire up my inner flirt. By the end of an evening, even though I’d chatted to several strangers from the internet, I was sat by myself on the same sofa next to an empty bottle of wine. Oops.
- Time-wasting. It’s a great form of procrastination and much like Insta or Facebook you can swipe for ages without engaging with what’s in front of you at all. I'm self-employed so that's the kind of distraction I could really do without.
- Becoming Jaded. People are so disrespectful of other people’s time nowadays! I couldn’t help but think we’d behave better if we were held accountable for cancelling, or flakey messaging, or unsolicited dick pics, or hoity use of passy-aggy emojis. If you were dating a friend-of-a-friend, you'd get called up on shit like that. Bring back the mafia.
- Bad Behaviour (on my part) People became very dehumanised to me. They became avatars, who didn’t exist outside the app. I became short tempered and sarcastic, less open-minded than I would be in an ordinary situation> Assuming the worst of everyone. I even ghosted people because I didn’t want to do the emotional labour of explaining myself.
- Set a time limit. Maybe for me that limit is going to be the time it takes to drink 1(and only 1) large glass of wine.
- Turn off notifications. So, that you don’t get tempted when in the middle of another important task. Or your work day - it's unprofessional. Or on the toilet - Its gross.
- Move out of app. Taking chats outside of the app ASAP will hopefully fuck the algorithm right off, removing the “gamification” element. Also, it means not spanning several different apps for conversation threads. Consolidate your communications.
There are Alternatives!
- Salty Sweethearts – Classified Newsletter. There’s no neggy-algorithm driving this lonely hearts’ column. Purely people; wearing their tenders hearts on their sleeves. <3 I’m sure there’s others out there too.
- IRL Dating nights. Speed dating, Singles parties, Take your pick! There are plenty of options including the phenomena of dating events for fitness fans which I've only just found out about. Earnestly, sounds like my idea of hell on earth but each to their own. My all time favourite is; Shhh Dating, the silent speed dating experience.
- Go out on the pull. Try chatting up someone at the bar – I know it takes a leap of faith especially in 2022 but the worst that can happen is they say "no". It’s retro – like Indie Sleaze. P.S. I’m an excellent wing woman, if you’re in need of a little, light encouragement.
Anyway, these are my lay-person’s findings.
Have a great weekend and don't swipe too far <3