Solitude is an art you need to master. Some convince themselves life is more colourful if in companionship, others learn to enjoy life’s colours alone. However, there is always the illusion, and perhaps hope, we can find a partner’s love to push our spirit to another level of connection and complicity.
In a city of multitude of strangers and habits that don’t engage with possibilities of meeting new people, I decided starting 2019 with the determination of finding a ‘boyfriend’. After almost four years living in London I was reluctant to follow one of the first advises I got: download a dating app. It seems it became a common practice and all type of people use them for different purposes. From casual sex to try to get married, and all in between.
I always thought that I trust the universe and the people that life sends on my way – I still do-. I believe more in my guts and catching the gaze from someone and the serendipity of randomness than in algorithms or catalogues of dubious pictures. But it seemed that I had to give a try to tool of the contemporary digital world and explore how to grasp the the logic of the ‘matching game’. After all, if I wanted to find new people to talk to and expand the repertoire of options of encounter I had no other feasible quick option.
I opened a Bumble account, after asking and reading blogs about it, as an option where girls start conversations when the matches occur. I took it also as an experiment. The first decisions you need to make is how are you going to present yourself in terms of image and also the amount of information you want to tell about yourself. I didn’t provide mi work information but I tick all the info possible of the app, not a long narrative about what I look for or who am I. Short and simple bio. Of course, man mainly watch the pictures. But beyond that, define what are minimum features you are not willing to negotiate. I selected basic aspects such as a range of age between 36 to 46, with graduate education and non smokers. Not that picky I guess.
During the week I realised several things mostly obvious for everyone I guess. I was surprised about how men – it applies for women too I imagine- display and present themselves, an excess of toxic masculinity or a marketing based on the assets the man has, the building body of endless hours at gyms, the party animals and the coolness of the adventurous outdoors live. I have to confess that I disliked the majority and it was a rarity finding interesting profiles and also attractive guys that meet the ‘minimum’ requirements. Despite I didn’t find many potential guys I would be interested in exchanging initial messages I also found a ghoulish fascination in the swiping practice even to find out how I dislike the many.
The catalog logic, as the market proves it, also give us an illusion of choice. While you think every one in the ‘matching business’ is willing to start conversation and see where these leed that was not the case. It took me several views on the few profiles I found with ‘potential’. I found non respondents, the short respondents, the withdrawals and the responsive. The first category were the ones you would consider the ‘catch’ that I contacted and never replied, these were like 4. The second, two were slow in reply and gentle in their response but the conversation never progressed. The third, were quick in responding but when I was asked about my job and replied what I do, the conversation stop. The fourth group was myriad, I kept conversation with three different characters that moved to WhatsApp. Two were somehow linked to academia -one British and one Greek- and one to the postproduction world – Italian-.
In a week, I had two ‘dates’ with the Italian – not sure we meet again-, and one long one with the greek – I hope to repeat-, the British failed to text the day we were supposed to have a coffee. As the week closes so I did with my account. I got tired and overwhelmed because it drags you to see it all the time and galvanises the idea that more options can be there waiting to be discovered. As the week closes so I did with my account. You need to invest time and energy in the name of finding someone to share experiences with. For now I will see how it goes with those three or if none of them evolves. I am still thinking how my feminist perspective interpret this strategies of courtship in a digital age and perhaps later I open again this pandora box dating apps are.