Dating apps are ruining everything about romance
I’m really bad at dating apps. I’m so bad at dating apps that every good bookstore currently has a book I wrote about how bad I am at them. Today I decided to go one step further and write about it in a magazine. What’s the next? Maybe I’ll do a series of t-shirts and hats. Maybe I’ll charter a plane to write ‘Marie Le Conte is really bad at dating apps’ over London.
Why am I writing about it now? Well, every columnist has their biases, and sometimes it’s better to be honest with them. Maybe I’m really bad at dating apps and that might color my views on the subject, but I want you to listen. I think we as a society, the masses of single people attached to their smartphones, should consider moving away from Tinder, Bumble, Thursday and whatever else people swipe on these days. I think they make our lives worse.
I’m not the first to make this case. Dating apps are often poorly designed, and endless mindless swiping doesn’t make anyone happy. They push people to be their blandest selves to maximize the number of matches they get. They encourage bitterness by showing you endlessly beautiful and successful people who will probably never agree with you. Many women who date men feel depressed and at risk of receiving constant rude messages and pictures. Many men who date women are made to feel invisible.
[See also: Big Dating: apps need to stop pretending men and women want the same thing]
We know all this. Everything has been discussed before. My complaints are generally more esoteric.
The first is the chicken and egg problem. I worry that dating apps force you to spend too much time thinking about what kind of partner you want. Teenagers and young adults often start out believing they have a rigid “type”—tall, dark, and handsome; slim, blonde and smiling – then they usually grow out of it. The same goes for other attributes: education, interests, profession, political views, heaven knows what else. At some point, we all thought these things really mattered, until someone found out and realized they didn’t.
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Attraction is not a strict formula. That’s the whole fun: the unpredictability. You meet someone and your expectations change, they meet you and their expectations change, and you work together to build something that suits you both.
By making you think about exactly what someone is like, dating apps encourage you to construct an ideal person in your head and then work backwards to find a real, live person who meets those criteria. Is this really the recipe for long-term, healthy success?
This might be the point where you start to frown, remember what you read in the introduction, and gently remind me that if I hate dating apps, I can just choose not to use them. You would be right – but only temporarily. Let me finish my case first.
My second point is that dating apps have changed dating for everyone. Dating is now work. It’s not something that can happen to you, it’s something that you do. “Looking for someone” action; We assume that if you’re single and don’t want to be anymore, make a profile and swipe and keep going on date after date until you’re no longer single.
[See also: How dating apps are reshaping our desires for the worse]
Like the CEO of your own life or the bouncer of your own bedroom, you meet and interview people, talk to candidates, assess their qualities and flaws, and keep going until you find the right fit. It’s work!
Obviously, some people enjoy it, and that’s fine, but if you give it up, it’s easy to feel guilty, like you’re giving up. Why don’t you try? Your friend has three dates in the next two weeks. What do you do to keep cats from devouring the carcass within a few lonely decades?
A friend of mine recently asked me with hilarious bluntness how I find dates since I’m not “on the apps”. The answer wasn’t really helpful because I have no idea where to meet people. I just go through life and sometimes things happen and sometimes they don’t, for a while and then they happen again. It’s often frustrating and sometimes infuriating, but I think that’s normal when you can’t really control the situation.
This is why I hate dating apps. They offer the illusion of control in exchange for something unexpected and fun becoming constant administration and effort. It’s not even foolproof: I can’t count the number of people I know who have been using the apps for years, yet are decidedly single. Whose idea was it to recreate the online job search experience?
I’m really bad at dating apps because I’ve tried using them and then realized that everyone who made me really happy at some point wasn’t someone I was attracted to. This made me panic – so I went through phases of swiping everyone, then no one, and it got me nowhere.
However, the world we live in now constantly questions my decision not to use them because mirages always look attractive from afar. That’s what’s so insidious about them. Meeting someone with whom you can form a deep, joyful bond has never been easy, and apps keep tricking us into thinking that if we spend enough screen time, we’ll find our own shortcuts. How could it not be tempting to be parched, but surely only a few steps further towards the horizon?
Persisting faith is one of the most human feelings, but it can fall on the promise of easy solutions. In love, as in war, there is seldom such a thing. Dating apps mostly offer comforting lies—empty productivity that makes loneliness feel less permanent. Perhaps they should be seen as such: a hobby for people who can deal with a dose of faint hope.
I find that depressing, but to each their own, right? That’s the whole point.
[See also: The one thing dating apps will give you for sure? Addiction]