Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Dating in the 21st century

2001 bought us into the 21st century and dating has had its ups and downs since the millennium, certainly in my life. In the beginning of 2001, I was a 22 year old living with my boyfriend. It never crossed my mind as the clock struck midnight that we were heading into a new century and oh how the dating scene would change so dramatically. I was in a long term relationship and the thought never crossed my mind that I might at some point be single and have to date. 

Through out the last decade I have found myself in and out of relationships and periods of dating and being single. It wasn't until I split with my long term partner at the end of 2016/early part of 2017 that suddenly I was faced with a dating epidemic....the worlds dating sites. I had previously had a little look at them in single periods of my life but they weren't overly popular then. Over the past 5 years dating sites have grown and grown and now it seems that everyone is on them, whether actively wanting to date, are married, divorced, there for an ego boost, to pass the time or for sex. It is like all of a sudden people have anonymous access to delve into the lives of others. This probably stems from the rise in social media...don't get me started on that subject!

At the end of 2017 I started to date again. I looked into setting accounts up on dating sites. So many to choose from, Plenty of Fish, Tinder, Match, Eharmony to name but a few and more recently Bumble. You can choose from free sites and paying sites but from my experience the same people seem to be on them all whether paying or not. I have never paid for a dating site and have only ever subscribed to the free ones. For one they are quite expensive and two, like I said the same faces pop up regardless. I think people who pay are hoping to find some kind of "fresh meat" for their trouble of the financial burden, only find out that actually everyone is the same.

People have also said that they go on paid dating sites to cut out the emotionally unavailable class of people and only wish to invest in people who generally want a loving, committed relationship. Sorry to say folks this does not happen.

I can honestly say I have been, at times, a serial dater. I have had over 50 first dates and several 2nd and 3rd dates.. in fact I have dated so much anyone would think I would be a good judge of character and be able to avoid the emotionally unavailable. But sadly, these emotionally unavailable men are the ones that seem to dominate the dating sites and they come in all disguises so it is getting harder to spot them. I have spoken to single men, unhappily married men, happily married men, women who want to be men, handsome men, ugly men, fake men (probably teenage boys), kind men and invisible men (men with no pictures) and it is fair to say the majority of them all fit into one category. Attention seeking egotistic arseholes! Ok, that isn't fair, I have also met reputable gentlemen but they are few and far between. It literally is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. 

The sites are very superficial and most of them now have a swiping tool allowing you to swipe left if undesirable or swipe right if desirable to you, if both parties swipe right it is called a match and that is when you can start to chat over the screen of your phone or computer. So you never really quite know who you are indeed chatting to. This actually is quite a scary concept and that is when you get bombarded by these potential dates for social media access and phone numbers so they can suss you out in what seems your "real" life, but we all know social media lives aren't always speaking the truth.

I have been asked over and over again for my phone number so people can "WhatsApp"  instead of using the dating app. I have tried to be as sensible as possible when handing over my number to these potential dates. Sometimes I have been lucky and they have been considered fairly normal blokes other times I have had to block people from entering my world. I think my block rate on WhatsApp has already reached between 70 -80 men!

The swiping game is ruthless, in fact the entire concept of internet dating is. It is based primarily on the way you look in a picture or two. The access to the number of so called singletons out there is ridiculous. People no longer want to invest their time into getting to know one person and soley dating them, it is the paradox of choice where no body is good enough and people assume and want and desire someone better. We all know there isn't such a thing as a perfect person but because of the availability to thousands of singletons people are setting there expectations too high and always striving for the better person. Its a game show that you rarely win on, and when you do win, more often than not the prize rarely amounts to much, a bit like that game show my parents watch on BBC 1 "pointless" and pointless is exactly what dating sites are!

They are competitive and effect self esteem. Questioning why someone you thought you were getting along with just randomly disappears never to be heard of again. You question your sanity and how you look. You begin to doubt yourself. Are you saying to much, not enough? It is quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever encountered. Far harder than some of the worst relationships I've been in.

I am sure some people aren't bothered by the knocks from dating sites but you've got to have tough boots not too. I have been called names, disrespected, stood up, ignored and been given access to bodily parts that I didn't request, yes you got it, the odd "dick pic" has fallen into my vision on occasions. Now I'm certainly no prude but If I want to see your dick boys I would ask. 

I don't know what it is like for men on dating sites and I am unsure if they have quite the same experience as women do but all I know is that it is a dog eat dog world. There is always going to be some one prettier, more interesting, slimmer, younger than me, purely based on limited pictures and a 50 character written bio. But still the investment isn't there. Multiple dating is the way of the 21st century. I know people have always had affairs and had their head turned by a beautiful face but back then when dating sites didn't exist it was more difficult to do those things. You met someone at a local bar, club, disco, college, work but most of all in real life! You know flesh and blood! You waited for them to approach you at the end of the night where they stumbled across a darkened room with sticky floors for a dance or a kiss or to ask for your phone number and that meant calling you at a certain time on your landline not this easy access, readily available text nonsense we now all fall into. Now people are available 24/7, 365 days a year just at the click of a button or swipe of a phone screen.

So when you do get a date in real life from a dating site its a celebratory moment. At that point you might think "I'm home free, at last someone I might connect with" to suddenly have the shock of your life to find someone who looks similar to but isn't quite the person you were chatting to through the security of your screen! 

I have had some fun dates, lovely dates and some horrendous dates but most haven't gone onto a second date. Sometimes they like me, sometimes I like then sometimes its a mutual decision not to pursue it. Then you have the what seems like a dilemma and inconvenience of either having to politely say thanks but no thanks or to do what seems like to be the done thing nowadays "ghosting" This term is used when someone just disappears into thin air like it was a figment of your imagination. This is when people block the other person from ever being able to make any kind of contact with them ever again. Like I mentioned previously I do have a blocked list, although most are ones that there has been a conversation saying we aren't compatible and I see no point of keeping them in my phone, others however, the sociopaths were ghosted!

I could probably write a piece on each and every one of my 50 first dates that I have been on. Ranging from people stealing things, having food in their teeth, puking, pissing, getting drunk, swiping on dating apps whilst in my company. You name it I could actually write a book. 

I have had one official relationship that came from a dating site and I was with him 5 months on and off. It was probably the most turbulent relationship I have ever had in such a short space of time. It was my first relationship after my long term relationship so maybe that had something to do with it, maybe it didn't. My thoughts are that it didn't and actually I met a man from hell. I might write about him one day "being with a functional alcoholic".

The only successful person I "dated" was a man whom I grew to love, whether I actually ever wanted to admit it to him or myself or not, It was over the period of 5 months. It was far from conventional but by far the best connection I have ever had with a man both emotionally, physically, spiritually and intellectually and that includes my long term relationships. He taught me a lot about myself, the world and he made me laugh and he was the best lover I have ever had. I will never really know what we had but I am always trying to remind myself that by spending time with him there are some real gentlemen in this world. He valued me and I valued him. I could write an entire piece on what ever it was we had but perhaps that is for another time. Sadly it came to an end but I know that there will always be a place in both of our hearts for one another. I think we might even be friends which is cool as we were never in a conventional "relationship" to start with.

After this special man, I made the conclusive decision to not go back on dating sites as it is bad for my soul. Some people get off on it and get that boost and yes I am not going to deny it can pick you up when you are feeling down  and drag you out of a semi lonely place temporarily but it is also very capable of bringing you down further. It is a fake world out that, no sincerity, investment or trust just high expectations and striving for the impossible. So I say... "no more". 

I guess the next thought for people is, "so if dating sites are out of the question, how are you going to meet someone?" Well that is a very good question. Especially as in my post "Kids are like farts...I just about tolerate my own" you will know that I have limited means of being able to go out and meet the opposite sex. So I have decided I am no longer actively dating. I am concentrating on me and if that means that I wont have any male companionship and sex so be it. I would rather stay single than go through the entire dating process again. There is not one dating site that will ever convince me otherwise. I had my time and that time has now come to a close. So boys if you really want me, knock on my door for my dating site ship has well and truly sailed.





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