Remember the days when you met someone when you least expected it and you were immediately drawn to them? A person whose presence made your heart beat rapidly and your body feel electrified? When the conversation flowed as the people around you became a blur and the only thing you noticed was the sound of their voice, their smell, the color of their eyes? Hours would pass as if minutes, every touch sending a current through your body and a longing that the moment never ended.
Can you remember it vaguely or not at all? If so, you wouldn’t be alone — this kind of romantic encounter has become old school. Welcome to dating in the 21st century.
I quizzed my 20-something Pilates instructor recently, curious to know how the younger generation feels about online dating and what he told me opened my mind to a whole other agenda that I had not considered.
“Most of my mates who are on Tinder have girlfriends. They are not interested in finding a girlfriend, but are looking to have their looks validated. It actually becomes addictive”. This made me wonder, have dating websites become a playground for narcissists looking for their egos to be stroked by unsuspecting people who are genuinely looking for love?
Online dating is a multi billion dollar industry with over 40 million Americans reported as using it — that’s a hell of a lot of swiping.
I fear that technology and social media are killing our interpersonal relationships. The perception of online dating has changed from a deviant and stigmatised social practice to one of the most normative forms of meeting potential romantic partners. The spontaneous connections of yesteryear are becoming a distant memory as people are now drawn to a manufactured profile. And the impersonal connection doesn’t stop here. According to my friend, once the connection is made, the couple often engage in weeks or months of text messaging to “get to know each other”. Romance really is dead.
People are now discouraged to socialise in the real world, preferring to stay indoors waiting for an algorithm to match them with the person of their dreams. Why go out to a bar to meet people when you can do it from the comfort of your home, in your flannel pajamas whilst watching ‘The Real Housewives’?
Now perhaps I am just old school. I have friends, not many, that have told me how they met their current partners through a dating website and I am truly happy for them. I believe in love and wish it for everyone that seeks it. However, I also believe that love is something that fate will take care of when the time is right. The thought of putting my profile online for the world to see and scrutinise makes me feel like a commodity rather than a person.
Since my marriage ended, apart from some minor distractions, I haven’t dated. My goal has been to work hard to become the best version of myself without seeking external validation. I believe that only when this has been achieved will I be attracting the right person to me organically and not because of a photo-shopped image and highly exaggerated bio. But not all people are content to wait. Today’s dating landscape creates a desire for instant gratification, instant results, instant love. Call me cynical, but that just isn’t sustainable.
People using dating technology seem to make up their minds within minutes whether they see a future with a person and if not, they move on fast with one click of the mouse. What happened to the days of getting to know a person before deciding if there was chemistry or not? Since when did we become so time poor that the journey of getting to know someone became tedious?
It cannot be denied that online dating addresses a societal problem, that there are many people looking for a partner and are having problems finding that special person. However, let us not rely on it to the point where we forget to live, forget to engage and forget to connect to people in person. Romantic love, whilst the ultimate goal for many, should not replace our desire for well-being and happiness.