It took a month to find my first date of 2018. On the face of it that sounds somewhat pathetic and embarrassing, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. The whole dating scene has changed with the addition of Tinder, Bumble and other dating apps in recent years and the growth in popularity of shows like Love Island, Ex on the Beach and Geordie Shore which glorify casual sex and I don’t think it’s for the better.
Last week, I found myself in Sligo sitting down for a meal with Rebecca. We had decided on getting a bite to eat and I suggested Knox, a lovely tapa’s restaurant on O’Connell Street in the town. After settling on a choice of dishes, we ordered from the very friendly and helpful staff.
I’m not usually one to share food. I’ve always, half jokingly, said that I’d rather buy the other person their own food rather than have them eat any of mine during a meal. I say ‘half jokingly’ as there is a real undercurrent of truth to that. To quote Joey from Friends “JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD” so the concept of tapas is one that I struggle with on a whole range of levels.
All that aside, it was great, we had the same taste in food selecting chicken wings, pork and potato dishes for eats. Both of us sharing the food it couldn’t have been better. Conversation flowed for hours and it felt great to be out of the house, in the company of someone I’d only just met that evening, laughing and joking around like old friends.
The date was so pleasant it almost made me forget about what had come before hand. This was the fifth date I’d actually set up, each of the others had been almost identical. We met, mostly online, spent some time talking, organised a day, time, location to actually meet up and have the date before literally two or three hours before hand getting a text message cancelling our arrangements. One didn’t even contact me at all, just left me sitting, waiting.
Obviously everyone has the right to say no, change their mind or sometimes life just gets in the way but after the fourth consecutive time I’m pretty sure it’s got little to nothing to do with me. People just are prepared to make, and break, dates without actually thinking about it. People seem to be seeking the little ego boost of getting each match and eventually getting asked out, but aren’t actually that interested in following through on the date.
Apps such as the ones mentioned above have taken over the entire dating scene. I say dating, but in reality people don’t date anymore. They scroll through the apps swiping left or right, most of the time without even absorbing anything more than a superficial glance at a photo, their name, age and how far away they might be from you at that particular moment.
Casual hook ups with random strangers has become an almost normal occurance, almost expected of both parties before a ‘date’ even happens. The idea of spending a few hours in someone’s company and see if there is any spark is reduced to a fleeting swipe on a phone after a split second decision based solely on whether he’s in a picture with a girl, you can see her cleavage or whether there is a drugged tiger in the picture with your potential love match.
Even when the words ‘It’s a Match’ pop up on the screen, there’s a second stage of potential rejection. A large portion of matches never actually get past a single unanswered message, just sitting there staring back at you from the phone. A constant reminder that although they liked you superficially originally, on second reading of your profile you’re actually not worth responding to and acknowledging.
Fast forward from my previous dating experience back in 2010/2011 and I’ve found the world is totally changed in this regard. Simple manners has gone out the window, people are happy to make plans and even more happy to break plans, cancelling at the last minute or even worse, just not showing up at all or simply not returning messages.
As someone who values personal relationships above all else it’s so sad to see our individual interactions reduced to swiping right and left on a phone. At least for a few hours last week that seemed totally irrelevant.