Dating in the (Con)Temporary World
I have always hated the idea of "dating apps". As someone who grew up on coveted notions of romance and traditional love, the thought of swiping through people like a Deliveroo menu just never struck as appealing. According to a study conducted by the aptly named dontdissapointme.uk, '10.3% of [online] adults between the ages of 16 and 64 use[d] dating and friendship apps' in 2021. I found this statistic to be surprisingly low considering how technologically reliant the modern world has become. However, it was simultaneously comforting to think that there were many others like myself who still remained uninterested in such platforms.
Curiosity (or perhaps momentary delusion, who knows) eventually got the better of me though, which led to the downloading of Bumble. In the past, I had experienced problems in terms of men desiring me for one thing, so when looking to "embrace" modern dating culture Bumble's women-make-the-first-move niche stood out as a potential solution. I thought to myself, "Maybe if I am the one initiating conversations I will have more control in filtering “casual” people out". But the app found its way around my theory.
During my three-day Bumble stint, I ironically seemed to come across three main types of profiles: the upfront give-me-your-body type, the unapologetic creep, and the I-am-as-sick-as-you-are-of-other-people people. I find it personally frustrating that some people are using Bumble and Tinder for casual hook-ups when other apps and websites exist for that sole purpose. Why pollute an app designed for "dating" with something else when you could just get what you want from the appropriate place to begin with? Although I feel this way I do hold an appreciation for the honesty of users who are straightforward about what they are looking for. At least no games are being played.
The already annoyed users, in my experience, made for some of the best company. They understood my discomfort in being on the app and they were generally the most willing to engage in conversation. It was bittersweet to bond with strangers over our dislike of dating culture because as much as it felt good to be understood it only further demonstrated the enormity of a larger problem. Dating in the world today is a minefield of nonchalance and impermanence. When people are given so many options no one person is made to feel special, but rather as though they are in a competition for another individual's attention. What happened to love and dedicating our time to truly getting to know one another past the odd obligatory-feeling question? Where is the genuine passion, and why does it feel like people are failing to spot the inherent lack of care and effort that these apps cultivate?
Yes, of course, there will be people who get lucky and find somebody great through an app such as Bumble. However, for the most part, these apps do not seem to be about romance at all. There is an abundance of people with their guard up against the majority who linger with temporary intention, and many there who are becoming increasingly numb due to the harsh realities of dating. In my experience, I was almost always the person carrying the weight of a conversation, and nobody took the time to really ask anything about what I liked to do or what I would want from a prospective partner. So, in turn, I did not feel special or particularly enjoy myself, which is what dating should be about.
I went into this unintentional experiment without high expectations and left the app feeling the same way towards it as I did when I went in: I hated it. I do not know if and when I will find a special someone but I am certain of one thing: modern dating culture does not align with my idea of love. I understand that finding the “right” person takes time and that apps intend to assist with this through their menu-esque swiping-through style. However, at least in my opinion, something about it will always seem shallow. If there are ways in future that dating apps can incorporate further elements of “depth” then maybe they would be more enticing for “traditional” romantics but for now, at least, I’ll have to pass.
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