This is a guest post from a former online dater who wishes to remain anonymous.
I think it has. You only have to download Tinder, score a match, and it’ll ask you whether you want to send a message or ‘keep playing’. This is a quest for love, app makers, I feel like shouting. It’s hardcore, emotional stuff. A long and often bumpy journey to find The One. Searching among thousands of proverbial fish in the vast proverbial sea.
Don’t get me wrong, I think dating is fun. I love meeting new people, trying new bars, the flutter of nervousness-meets-excitement before the big night. And I’ve had some good dates. Thankfully no horror stories, just lovely gentlemen, some of whom I found chemistry with and the majority of whom I did not.
But a game it ain’t. And that’s why I’ve decided to stop playing.
This year, I’m going to give the old fashioned way of meeting eligible bachelors a go. No more online profiles, skipping through photos, judging people by their face and ability to come across as an outgoing, sporty, kind-hearted lad with a cheeky sense of humour who likes to go out as much as he likes to snuggle up with a glass of wine and a movie… oh, and not forgetting his ability to be more imaginative than this with his words. Of course we all want a chap who’s just as comfortable in the pub among your best group of friends as he is watching a film over a takeaway, but somehow we all breathe a heavy sigh of ‘seen that before in 100 profiles’ and roll our disapproving eyes. How have we become so judgmental?
I’m convinced that the blame lies with the evolution of the ‘game’. We see so many profiles on so many dating sites and apps that it could just as easily be a game of Go Fish or Guess Who (does he have ginger hair? I’m looking for one with a beard). We swipe left or right based on smiley faces, ripped torsos, gurning expressions, drunken selfies, poses with dogs, cats and sedated tigers.
With such a basic level of first impressions, it’s easier to treat internet dating like it’s a game, because we forget that real people live behind these pictures.
My guess is this is the very same reason that we get such strange attempts at messages. Some are just a little bit odd (yes I really did receive “is your surname Gillette, because you have to be the best a man can get” as an opening line once). But some are the unsurprising result of this ‘game’. The number of nice-looking, seemingly jovial suitors looking for casual sex on dating apps really irks me. Would you seriously walk up to a girl in a bar and ask her outright if she wants to be your friend with benefits? And then get shirty when she says no? (Yup, got that too). Of course you wouldn’t! So why do it online? The internet makes it easy to judge on appearances and not pay attention to the fact that a real human with feelings is looking right back at you.
It would be remiss of me to completely berate online matchmaking sites because I know so many people who have successfully found relationships, and even love. To those that have, I salute you – your patience lasted longer than mine. I think I’ve just had my fill for a while. Besides, no matter how the complex algorithms make it easy for you to filter your matches, no matter how handsome or photogenic you are, attraction is something else entirely and impossible to identify from a picture. So for me, 2015 will be about getting out into the world a bit more and trying my hand at dating in real life. First stop: I’m thinking about joining a canoeing club.