A look into dating through the eyes of a jaded yet hopeful 25 year old with limited experience.
Dating is a probability game. A game that involves shedding your socially acceptable façade and opening up your heart to a person and asking that them to love you with warts and all. However, in the modern era of digital inter-webs, there is an abundance of potential mates waiting for you at your fingertips through apps such as Bumble, Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagels and Hinge. All at your disposal.
However to the individuals who seek is still for a love and a relationship, it can be challenging to navigate in the ebbs and flows of Tinder surfing.
A Paradigm Shift: From Being Family & Marriage oriented to An “I Don’t Need Nobody” Focus
I would say that the majority of the relationships that exist in your social circles are narrowed down to two things; being at the right place at the right time. If you dated early in your teens or met your significant others at university, then you are probably the lucky ones. But for the rest of us, online dating is our best bet.
According to Jean M. Twenge, an American Psychologist who researches the dating patterns of Gen X (1995-2012) in her book, iGen, she stated that there is an abrupt change in teen’s behavioural and emotional states around 2012, where smartphones reign supreme. According to Twenge, there is an upward trend towards individualism, instead of starting a family.
“In general, relationships conflict with the individualistic notion that “you don’t need someone else to make you happy — you should make yourself happy. That is the message iGen grew up hearing.”Jean M. Twenge, American Psychologist and Author of iGen
As a result of “I Do Not Need No Man to Make Me Happy” paradigm shift, there is a rejection towards the traditional notion of commitment and relationships. The emphasis of being independent woman was ingrained within me ever since I was a young child. The sentiment was echoed within my female friendship circles.
We were encouraged to be career – oriented and make a legacy for ourselves, instead of thinking about marriage and relationships in high school. ( So, I was reverse-engineered socially when I was younger. Very grateful for my mother for instilling these values.)
When prioritising dating and relationships becomes second place to my career, it has became more of add-on, instead of a soul-search. According to two of the founders of Tinder, Sean Rad and Justin Ma-teen, “the app was designed to challenge and supplant online dating websites by offering a more fluid experience. Tinder was designed to ‘take the stress out of dating’, being a type of ‘game’ that requires less time and emotional investment to play.“
It is encouraged in this day and age, to explore your options, rather just find someone and stick with them for the rest of your life. Dating in your twenties is especially hard because, as a young adult, you haven’t find your footing yet. I ask myself that question too. How am I able keep a relationship if I’m not stable myself? Therefore, I needed to work on myself a lot. With the excuse of being busy and being career oriented, I actively avoided pursuing long-term relationships, rather seek for casual relationships. (Not anymore, because I realised how sad and unfulfilling they are in the end.)
“Plenty of Fish In the Sea”, an illusion.
Barry Schwartz, author of “The paradox of choice: Why less is more?“, what’s modern about modern society is that we have the ability to exercise one’s freedom and to do so, we have to maximise choice.
The reason for this both that freedom is, in and of itself, good, valuable, worthwhile, essential to being an human, and because if people have freedom, then each of us can act on our own to do things that will maximise our welfare, and not one has to decide on our behalf. The way to maximise freedom is to maximise choice.Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice
Now, how does Barry Schwartz’s concept, Paradox of Choice factors into mobile online dating, you may ask? Isn’t it good to have an abundance of candidates at your disposal?
Well apparently, it creates the opposite effect. The more candidates that was presented anyone on the online dating apps, the more desensitised they will get.
“One effect paradoxically, is very produces a paralysis rather than liberation. With so many options to choose from, people find it very hard to choose at all. The second is that if you manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice, we end up second guessing ourselves and wonder if we can find something better.”
Although with me, I never had the nerve to date a lot of people simultaneously. Rather, I pick one person that I have a great conversation with and see what happen from there until the relationship runs its course. Apparently I was doing dating wrong. I suppose to keep my options open and talking to other people to foster ongoing connection, rather focusing on one. Sometimes, I was naïve enough to believe that the other person was only talking to me, but in actual fact, they are also keeping their options open. It left me cynical in the end as I realised dating has always been a number’s game, rather than an avenue to meeting people and cultivating relationships.
Pronk and Desnissen, who are Dutch psychologists explains that having extensive amount of choice has adverse of effects is actually detrimental and causes “Tinder fatigue.”
“There is some indirect evidence that having more choice in the domain of dating also has negative consequences. For example, when asked to pick the best partner, access to more partner profiles resulted in more searching, more time spent on evaluating bad choice options, and a lower likelihood of selecting the option with the best personal fit. Likewise, when a choice set increases, people end up being less satisfied with their ultimate partner choice and more prone to reverse their decision.”
Although, to the folks who are looking for something serious, finding a partner with high compatibility is low, which unintentionally creates an illusion of ‘abundance.’
Dating sucks, but that’s okay.
Generally, romantic relationships are hard, no matter what avenue you decide to take. Dating apps just makes it easier to meet someone. Finding someone who has the right intention and compatibility as you, can seem improbable. You can find anyone attractive– when you have your initial meeting– the way they dress, the scent of the clothes and their physique. The problem with dating apps that they reduces a person to just merely a picture and three-line bio and only takes a swipe to message and meet a person. It’s low effort and efficient.
When in actuality, it requires time and commitment to get to really know someone’s heart and soul of person. Due to our (former) fast-pace lives and constant busy-ness, dating apps maybe a good avenue to meet people, however it makes us cherish relationship and commitment less, trading them out for non-committal causal hook ups.
Although, my days of swiping may be over for now, it won’t be long until I download the app.
Alas, I will hibernate throughout the winter ’til I’ll spark my Tinder in the spring.