A look into dating through the eyes of a jaded yet hopeful 25-year-old with limited experience.
Dating is a probability game. It is a game that involves shedding your socially acceptable façade and opening up your heart to a person, and asking 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, it can be challenging to navigate the ebbs and flows of Tinder surfing to the individuals who seek it still for love and a relationship.
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 the o Need No Man to Make Me Happy” paradigm shift, the traditional notion of commitment and relationships is rejected. Being an independent woman has been ingrained within me ever since I was a young child. The sentiment was echoed within my female friendship circles.
Instead of thinking about marriage and relationships in high school, we were encouraged to be career-oriented and make a legacy for ourselves. ( So, I was reverse-engineered socially when I was younger. Very grateful to my mother for instilling these values.)
When prioritising dating and relationships become second place to my career, it has become more of an 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.In addition, tinder took the stress out of dating, being a type of ‘game’ that requires less time and emotional investment to play.“
It is encouraged to play the dating field rather than taking a leap of faith and sticking to that one person for the rest of your life in this day and age. Dating in your twenties is challenging because, as a young adult, you haven’t found your footing yet. I ask myself that question too. How can I 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 career-oriented, I actively avoided pursuing long-term relationships rather than seeking 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 can 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, factor 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 presented to anyone on the online dating apps, the more desensitised they will get.
“One effect paradoxically is very produced 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 we 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 many people simultaneously. Instead, 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 talk to other people to foster ongoing connection, rather than 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 too. 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, explain that having an extensive amount of choice has adverse 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 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 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 complex, 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. When you have your initial meeting, you can find anyone attractive– the way they dress, the scent of the clothes, and their physique. The problem with dating apps is that they reduce a person to merely a picture, a three-line bio, and only take 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 due to our (former) fast-paced lives and constant busyness. However, it makes us cherish relationships and commitment less, trading them out for non-committal casual hookups.
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.