How important is being in a relationship? I guess it really depends on the person, right? Some people have their weddings planned out to the very last little flower petal, some are as free spirited as the reliability of the L train. So, with the promise of an encounter with your “true love” just a swipe away on your phone how ready are we to fully commit? When “how’d you guys meet?” goes from a lengthy tale to one word, what keeps us from going back to swipe again?
At 28 I have been in an average amount of relationships in my life, probably four that really count (to me at least). I remember my first love: I was 13 and he 14, so handsome and witty and we talked on the phone for hours about things we thought were exceptionally important. One night after a football game, in the back of his mom’s car, as she’s driving and while I sat next to his sister, he gave me my first real kiss; romantic I know. And though this relationship lasted only a couple months, as young love often does, it’s stayed with me as a constant reminder that things were once that simple. People met and people talked, in real life.
Fast forward to today, a world where one swipe can exclude you from a potential encounter with… well, who knows? And that’s the point. This person that you swiped left on your device last night could have lead to a connection at a bar six years ago. How far is too far when it comes to our sex lives? Our relationships? With everything so easily available at a touch of a finger is it really as satisfying?
I have been in a relationship for the past six years, so I just missed the boom of Tinder and Bumble which has brought finding your “soulmate” to a whole new level of crazy, and I do mean crazy. I have seen women casually swipe through men as if deciding what pair of shoes she should buy, and I’ve seen men harassing women when what they thought was an easy score doesn’t go quite their way. These reactions that would have normally been held in private have become internet memes and scandals for everyone to see.
On the other hand, some that would have otherwise been too shy or soft-spoken are now given a chance, a platform that they can use to really be themselves without the fear of physical rejection. Emotional rejection is still there, but now it can be done privately in the comfort of your own couch.
I’ve talked to my single friends and have gotten multiple reactions about how these dating apps have changed The Game. My single girl friends have all lamented about how there’s no one “good” on there, “they’re all douchebags”; “all they want is to have sex and then they’re done”. From my guy friends I get something similar, “all they want is a free dinner”; “I start a conversation and then never hear back”, similar, but not the same I guess.
Talking to my friend James* who’s a little older and remembers how dating used to be; “There will be nights when I’m at a bar and I see a cute girl and try to talk to her, but when I come up to her she doesn’t even know how to respond and ignores me. Then she turns her attention back to her phone.” “That’s what it’s like these days,” he tell me, “you’ll see a group of guys at a bar and a group of girls on the other end, and no one will talk to each other, they’re all checking out people on their phones”.
This brings up a quote we hear, and still the advice we give to those who have just ended a relationship – “there are plenty more fish in the sea”. But has the sea gotten too big? Have we become so jaded now by all of the options before us that we see a great fish and still think we can catch better? That seems to be the case with a lot of users. This thrill of swiping right and instantly matching with someone can become addictive. That instant boost of confidence knowing that someone out there, somewhere close, finds you attractive.
So move forward to the date: goes great, you have sex (maybe it’s good, maybe not), but does it matter? You have your next date lined up for the following day,… and the swiping begins again.
* names have been changed for privacy.