Has anyone else noticed how drastically dating has changed in the past couple of years? The past year, even? I’ve been single for exactly a year now — the longest I’ve been single in at least three years — which probably has you simultaneously thinking, “What in the world are you complaining about? I’ve been single for [insert any amount of time here that is longer than that],” and “Holy serial monogamist.” The first point I’d fight you on. The second one, not so much.
But let me paint a picture for you. I’m an American who has been living in Spain for the past seven years — five of which I was exclusively dating Spanish men. Like a breath of fresh air (until it wasn’t, of course), year six brought about my first native English-speaking boyfriend since I had moved out of the U.S. (Scottish, if you must know.) It wasn’t until after the first serious relationship I had with a Spanish man, however, that I discovered the world of online dating, namely Tinder, where the two boyfriends after him came from.
I had been on a circumstantial Tinder hiatus, though, since the summer of 2016—until last fall, that is. If you stopped relating to what I was saying, tune back in here. With a year back on Tinder under my belt, I’ve only become increasingly more confused by two central conundrums, which I am unequivocally convinced every cisgender heterosexual female on an online dating platform has experienced.
One? An exhausting lack of effort. Imagine how rich I’d be if I had a penny for every time I received nothing but “Hello/Hey/Hi” or the equally as thoughtless “What’s up?” as a first message from someone on a dating app. Due to the sheer number of times this has occurred, I have consciously refused to reply to anyone who attempts to start a conversation with me in that manner. It’s lazy and effortless—and not in the easy, breezy Covergirl kind of way. I want to read something that sparks my interest, that surprises me, that makes me laugh. Heck, even a carefully chosen GIF would be preferable at this point.
Two? Some version of ghosting, to varying degrees of traumatic effect.
Where do I even begin? With the sheer number of ghosting variations in existence at this point, I can hardly keep up. (Samantha Rosenberg’s Instagram account does help, though.) My most recent experience of being ghosted by a Tinder date happened no less than two weeks ago. What was, hands down, the best first date of my life and plans to see each other again turned into a sudden halt in all forms of communication on his behalf, all while he still continued to watch my Instagram story in its entirety. Many call it orbiting—I called it chameleoning, because they’re still around but trying to pretend like they’re not.
Why have half-assed advances and an astounding absence of transparency and honesty become commonplace in the dating world? How does one navigate the space between the excitement of finding a worthwhile initial connection to the opportunity to explore said connection without perpetual fear of that person seemingly disappearing?
When I was younger, I would have expected a certain level of confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to casual dating—but not at 30. In my mind, there is no age where we stop growing and evolving as human beings, but there are certain expectations of maturity levels, respect, and, well, common decency from another person by 30.
In the meantime, I find solace in Instagram and Spotify—scrolling through the countless accounts that post relatable content highlighting the trials and tribulations of dating in the 21st century as I bounce around my house to “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo a la Gina Rodriguez’s kitchen scene from “Someone Great.” It’s just enough to stop me from booking a one-way ticket to anywhere with little-to-no human life and throw my iPhone out the window as I go.