In a world that is ruled by the internet, it’s difficult to think of meeting anyone in an average social interaction. Personally, I have never been approached by someone in a bar, and I doubt I would approach someone.
So, is online dating the new norm, and if it is, has dating lost the spark it once had?
Admittedly, I am a victim of the online dating phenomenon. Online dating seems to have taken over our lives. Every time I talk to someone single, they are asking me about Tinder, Bumble… the list goes on. Online dating isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it gives you the chance to meet people you could never meet at your local pub. I know I’ve met people from all over the place on dating apps. However, it means that average social interaction seems to have vanished from every day life. I’ve always had this idea that dating apps are full of people who are desperate for sex, serial killers (cue my ridiculous worry I had about my first Tinder date), and spinsters who are coming to the realisation they will be alone forever. Mark me down in the spinsters section, I’ll be forever alone. So, my idea to download Tinder wasn’t exactly reached lightly.
As someone who is still, relatively, new to the dating scene… online dating apps have given me a gentle push into this strange new world. At first, I was extremely hesitant to give it a go, but a few drinks and I found myself on Tinder. Tinder is a… bizarre experience. How do you judge if you want to date someone by how they look from, possibly, one photo? I found it full of all kinds of people. Dave from Southampton wants to find a ‘friend’, Scottish Leon just wants a one night stand and Kieran in Ireland is desperate to settle down with something, anything. I also couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the amount of choice you could have. Did you want someone tall? Did you want someone thin? Someone muscly? What profession do you prefer? What kind of person are you?
How do you want people to see you? How do you want people to judge you? What exactly are you LOOKING FOR? I could be rich if I had £1 for the amount of times people asked me what I was looking for. It felt so stiff, so forced. What happened to just saying you liked someone and going on a date? When did people get to become so picky?
The thing with online dating is you can create the list of the perfect man/woman, and you can tick it off gradually. You can be precisely picky on whether you want an workaholic or a stay at home partner. Decide if they have brown, blonde, grey, even green hair. You can list hobbies, age ranges, dislikes, bad habits, and match yourself with someone similar… and you haven’t even met them. You no longer have the moment you lock eyes in a bar and decide that person has something special. Let’s call me a cliché right now after that. Blergh, who has time for fairytales?
I have a real problem with Tinder, and it, evidently, kind of puts me off using that app. There is a real heightened sense of sexism all over the place. Maybe it’s a case of toxic masculinity, or just that people feel they can say things online that they wouldn’t dare say in person. The usual ‘hey, how are you?’ line seems to have disappeared from the online world. Now, it’s usually some crude or vulgar line that is used, mainly by the men. And I can say this, because I tried it with both women and men, and I never received one sexual message from a woman.
Sure, Tinder allows people to have sex whenever they want it, basically. And, I have no problem with that, have as much sex as you want, but somethings are genuinely inappropriate. I can’t imagine approaching a guy and discussing my vagina. I mean, let’s all take a moment to imagine the shock horror of a mans face when I asked why he wasn’t near my vagina… no, we can’t, because I can’t imagine myself doing that! Online dating has made it easy to say sexual/inappropriate things and get away with it. I mean, don’t even get me started on my social experiment of putting ‘feminist’ in my Tinder bio… that’s a totally different story. My story of people being inappropriate online isn’t uncommon, every woman/man has a story of their nightmares with online dating. Are these horror stories the reason for a dip in people even attempting online dating? Running an insta poll, I discovered that 63% of my followers had tried online dating, whilst 37% of them hadn’t dared to jump on the bandwagon.
Laura says that she ‘had 2 relationships from online dating, both each lasting around 2 years, but although [she] learnt a lot and you never really know who the person is until they show their true colours… [she] is still signed up to two [dating apps etc]’, she also mentioned how ‘both turned out to be very controlling, wanting to be in charge and very jealous’.
I’ve recently tried the new app of Bumble, and even attempted JigTalk (an app where you can’t base on looks- a decent idea I think). JigTalk is a lost idea that you judge someone on their personality, rather than how they look. You have to message each for a short time before the jigsaw slowly is removed from their face, to reveal how they look. I’m still attempting to battle with this idea, and decide whether it’s really for me. I think the concept of judging by personality has always been for me. I’m relatively tall for a woman, at around 4 inches above the average height, so it’s always been thought I’d want someone much taller than me. However, I’ve never dated someone that much taller than me, like I said, I am far more attracted to a personality than I am the way they look. Additionally, JigTalk actually gets people talking. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve matched with someone and genuinely thought ‘I cba’.
However, as much as I seem to have a dislike for dating apps, although, they have given me some success in the past couple of months, there are always some positives to be had.
Online dating has opened a whole new world for everyone to explore. It no longer seems something I’d do if I was 60, still alone and had 100 cats. Everyone is doing it. It had a moment of being what everyone could talk about, but it’s still fairly relevant today.
Cait, 21, is about to move in with her boyfriend, who she met on Tinder, and had their first date 11 months ago, and says ‘online dating is great and it can really help if you’re feeling that you’re out of the dating game’.
As mentioned earlier, online dating absolutely breaks down the dating barriers. I had my ‘first’ proper kind of date a couple of months back. I felt like a 14 year old girl again getting ready for it. I can’t even explain how nervous I was as I attempted to dress myself in the uni toilets whilst stressing at my friend. The amount of times I said to her that I just couldn’t do it, and was ready to stand him up was ridiculous… all because I was terrified of how I’d come across. Thankfully, I turned up to the date, and the first few minutes were nerve wracking, as any new encounter is, but the fact we’d met on Tinder and be talking for a few weeks really helped the situation. I already knew things about him, I already knew what he was like, I already felt comfortable with this person.
We didn’t have to do the awkward introducing ourselves and then wondering what to say next. We already had plenty to say to each other and learn about each other. In that sense, the experience of online dating definitely gave me an amazing ‘first’ date, and my confidence has stepped up since then.
Tayla, 21, described to me how something unexpected happened to blossom from Tinder. She talks of how ‘within 2 weeks of having the app, I started talking to a guy and we just clicked instantly… we have now been dating for like 3 months, but everything is just perfect honestly. We instantly just got each other and it’s been like that since; we get on really well, he is a really great guy and he treats me so well… I just feel so lucky to have met him through Tinder’.
Online dating does tend to have many positives and equally negatives; I feel like you either love it or hate it. It’s one of those things that not everyone will love.
This new series will attempt to navigate the new age of online dating, my experiences and wonder if online dating really is the new, fresh and loved phenomenon. Online dating is such a big part of our lives, that is has to be discussed.
Let me know your thoughts, and your experiences of online dating.