The Perils of Modern Dating

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It’s safe to say that the dating world in 2016 is a hard one to navigate. It’s a perfect art, a culture of hook-ups, and deciding whether you like someone based on a single swipe of a button. The perils of modern dating are many, and being genuine is no longer the way to play the game.

In a recent article, 22 year old Melissa Moeller admitted that she hated the modern dating scene. Quite frankly, I can see why. It’s no longer a question of genuineness, openness and that taking-the-plunge, butterfly-in-your-stomach-feeling. Dating is now a matter of ‘do I reply now or wait a day or two?’ and ‘take it casual, see where it goes’. It seems to be a case of meeting the right guy at the bar on a night out, or judging whether you like someone based on a Tinder profile. Dating is now a culture of hook-ups, not of romance, and when you think about it, it’s kind of sad.

An article in 2014 discussed the ‘technosexual’ era of dating that we are currently entering. The point is made that a lot of the appeal in dating apps like Tinder derives from the actual process of swiping and chatting and judging people, and not always from the hook-up that could come from it. It is half game, half dating, and has changed the way we view meeting new people.

The revitalisation of dating within the technological world has changed and raised the standards for what we consider to be attractive. The process of cultivating the perfect profile, of choosing just the right filters and emojis, has taken away any sense of reality from the dating world. We now have the ability to create a perfect version of ourselves, so when we meet those we believe are best suited to us, we risk being fooled by the false appearance a profile can create. The ability we now have to choose what we want other people to see when they look at our profile means that we are able to hide those things we don’t like about ourselves. But does that mean it’s taking longer to get to know people? The good bits and the bad bits about ourselves make us who we are. Hiding parts of ourselves on social media mean that no one is able to understand who we actually are. It’s becoming a culture of striving for perfection, not honesty.

There are certain perils in today’s dating culture. How are we supposed to understand all the signals? The complications of the single life include trivia, such as guessing the appropriate amount of time to reply to a text. If I’m holding my phone and receive a message, I’m not supposed to reply the second I get it, apparently. We don’t want to appear too keen or too aggressive or too forward. As Moeller points out in her article, we are afraid of being genuine. Instead, we play the game. The first stages of dating are a bit of a nightmare. Everything is done by text or online messaging, and it’s virtually impossible to truly know someone through words on a screen. This in itself creates a culture of anxiety as we watch the three dots appear as someone types, or wait to see if they’ve read the Facebook message.

If you’re not online savvy, you’re basically doomed. In this world of superficiality, you have to be able to navigate yourself online or through your phone effectively. The right emoji, the right phrasing of a sentence, the correct number of x’s, these are key elements of creating the right persona. In turn, this pushes us further away from being honest, not only to others, but also ourselves. It means that it takes longer to decide if you actually like the other person or not, because we’re not being genuine and we’re not being ourselves.

The dating world is changing, and not necessarily for the better. We need to push through this and return to our genuine and honest selves, because how else are we supposed to find the right person for us? Social media allows us to erase the parts of ourselves we don’t want other people to see, but those are the parts that make us who we are. As Moeller says, ‘respect other people enough to tell them the truth’. Stop playing around with casual messages while you secretly anxiously wait for the reply; be honest about how you feel, and if someone doesn’t like that then they don’t deserve a date anyway.

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Sub-Editor for the Wessex Scene 2016/17. English and History student

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