I’m taking a sabbatical from online dating. No more swiping, charming or super-liking. It’s now just me and the dark art of face-to-face communication.
As a 28-year-old singleton living in London, meeting anyone – let alone someone to have relationship with – is actually pretty difficult. We all seem to be rushing around without looking up and don’t have any time for conversation.
We’ve become lazy, resting on the hope that the attractive stranger we just passed on Old Street will pop up on our happn app, rather than stopping and saying, “Hi, I’m Robin, can I buy you a coffee?”
I’ve tried Tinder, happn, Grindr (no, no, no!) and even MySingleFriend. Sure, there have been dates and even some second dates, but I’ve just had enough. It takes time and so much effort for so little in return. I want an instant spark and I want the attraction.
The final straw came last week. I had been chatting (‘corresponding’) with a guy on happn for over a week and we’d taken it to the next step – aka WhatsApp. From there, we’d decided to meet.
He was lovely, but there was absolutely no attraction. I found myself entering what I like to call ‘interview mode’. A perma-smile, with the odd hair touch, nodding head and punctuated by some well-placed laughter. Then came the awful realisation: I’d become a dating robot.
Addicted to swiping
Checking my Tinder and happn had pretty much become part of my morning routine – just before I would get out of bed and brush my teeth.
New matches? Any conversation? Any leads? It was a new day with new hope.
I’d become mildly obsessed with the people that would appear on the top of the Tinder pile. Did this mean they had liked me and were they waiting for me to reciprocate? Or had I just created some sort of formula in the hope that Mr Right was number 10 (or 20 if I was really pushing it) in my mountain of hopefuls.
Chances are, they were all thinking the same.
The instant attraction
One of my first ever dates in London came as the result of meeting a guy in a bar. I was on dry January (yes, I did that) and was out with one of my best mates.
We were drinking some virigin cocktails (such a waste of time), when two guys approached us and offered to buy us more drinks. As I was off the sauce, I opted for a lemonade and lime.
From across the bar, I didn’t think much of these guys, but chatting to them face-to-face was a totally different story. They were intelligent, engaging, funny and successful – ticking all my dating boxes.
Two lemonade and limes later and after swapping numbers, I was ready to call it a night. The next day I met one of them for brunch and ended up dating him for around four months.
Although it didn’t work out in the long run, 4 years on, we’re still great friends. If I had seen him on Tinder (based purely on his profile), I probably would have swiped left (Nope), missing out on some really great time together and passing on someone who is now a really close friend.
You just don’t get the same interaction with online dating.
Fit but thick
Online dating is much like Instagram. Take a look at some of the people with the most followers – they’re hot, aren’t they!?
Perfect hair, great teeth and an amazing sense of style. But for that one shot, they’ve probably taken about 50 others that just didn’t make the cut.
And what’s behind it all? I’ve met so many people who are so attractive in pictures and online, but when you meet them, they have nothing to say for themselves. They’re fit, but they’re thick.
Online dating is the same. We choose the identity that we want to share with the world, at the the expense of the things that other people actually like in us.
A still image doesn’t capture our personality, our believes, the way we move and the way we talk. This can only be done in person. And these are the very things that attract us to others, and others to us.
Time is precious
Think back the last time you met someone new. Chances are, you instantly decided if you liked them or not.
Online dating is the same. After two weeks of monotonous chatter, you meet your date. It goes one of three ways – instant attraction, a total turn off, or someone that you’re prepared to get to know.
When meeting someone in person, you don’t need to worry about this. You’ve not had to spend weeks chatting virtually and you can decide – then and there – if you want to spend anymore time with them.
I had a friend who before meeting someone in person, would have a phone call with their match. Although I laughed at the time, it’s actually a pretty good idea. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to get know them a little more before committing to meeting.
Time is precious and we shouldn’t waste it living in a virtual world.
Embracing the opportunity
Like any self-imposed ban, I’m sure I’ll have my wobbles. There will be alcohol induced moments when I’m two taps away from re-downloading Tinder. But in order to make this work I need to embrace the opportunity.
It’s time to get back to basics. There’s a huge world out there with loads of people who are all ready for conversation.