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Dating in the 21st Century

It’s a Friday night, I’m in Greece enjoying the last rays of summer while my phone incessantly pings beside me. I’m getting notifications from Hinge – an online dating app that I recently subscribed to, whose USP I am yet to understand.

Having been in a long term relationship for most of my twenties, these apps weren’t a thing the last time I was on-the-market. As a recent singleton, the gamification of dating is a brand new concept for me.

There are so many apps claiming to help you meet ‘the one’ nowadays. I had been advised by experienced single millenials to use Bumble - the ‘feminist’ take on online dating. “Tinder is dead” - they say with certainty, “only used for hookups”. My generation, it seems, is :Looking for Love, with such desperation that we will sign up to anything just to find it.

We are a generation of contradictions: we share our lives with the universe online; we post pictures of our ‘hipstery’ food, our minimally clad bodies, our vacations, our homes, our current locations; yet we are not worried about where our data is going and won’t approach one another in real life lest our feelings get hurt or we ‘lose face’.

Anway - Fridays, apparently, are the perfect time to find love. They always have been, but now it’s easier than ever – swipe left, swipe right and you have reached your destination. It’s as simple as shopping for shoes online - and I don’t even have to pay for delivery!

I’ve swiped on the couch, in the comfort of my bed, with friends in pubs and even in spare moments between tube journeys. It’s always the same, swiping through what seems like an endless menu of men, in any direction I pleased.

My experiences with these apps have ranged from dealing with ghosting, receiving unsolicited photos of men’s genitalia, having a great connection online but no chemistry in real life, right through to actually going on some fun dates. The world of online dating is complex, and I’m still trying to figure things out.

It still shocks me a little, that people can’t and don’t approach those they are attracted to in real life anymore. In some ways, these virtual realities are a blessing - none of us ever have to feel the embarrassment of approaching a person and blurting out an awkward “Heeeeeeeey” or deal with face to face rejection by a prospect.

These days, the thought of sending a drink over with your phone number is deemed as ‘too risky’, or ‘too embarrassing’ and so on. Full disclosure: I tried it once, but I almost chickened out; I was worried that he would think I was being too pushy and then wouldn’t like me. After some serious convincing from my friends, and repeating the mantra ‘what have I got to lose’- I finally did it…only for the waitress to come back and tell me that the guy was gay.

JUST.MY.LUCK.

Regardless of the outcome, it was fun, and I’ve decided to do it more often.

As someone who has been called “too intimidating” by acquaintances, exes and possibly even future boyfriends (yes, I’m using the right terminology),I sometimes wonder if my potential online suitors will be put off by the idea of loving a strong and capable woman. Perhaps they will,so perhaps they won’t be who I am looking for after all.

I have spent years analysing what made me come across that way. By the time I had manage to stop analysing this, my ex had left as he couldn’t ‘handle my personal or professional successes’; turns out he was never the right guy for me. My personality is not the problem: my personality is my strength.

While these experiences have been, well, experiences - the reality is that love grows from a connection in friendship. To make that connection with an extremely curated online representation of oneself is not sustainable. I’m not convinced that I’ll find ‘the one’ through this medium. Call me a hopeless romantic but I’ll keep hanging on to the ‘old-fashioned’ ways for now.

Editor’s Note: Did you hear about the Tinder Trap? BLISS, the viral video marketing agency behind the famous 10 hrs of walking in NYC as a woman, created a social experiment that they recorded on video, where hundreds of men turned up to Union Square in New York with the hopes of dating a ‘match’ made through Tinder, only to find out they were going to have to participate in a real live action Tinder game show! Lucky men, yes? In this Hunger-games-esque dating situation, the actress they had matched with “swiped left”, that is, dismissed men with various characteristics noted in person; and further had the remaining participants perform physical feats like push-ups and racing each other.The intended aim of the video BLISS produced was to highlight the increasing dehumanisation within millennial dating culture. In this week’s blog post, Nina Kerkez - one of our Too Much of a Person participants - discusses her experiences with app dating culture.