M odern love is digitised. Letters and unrequited love have been replaced with modern iterations saucy pictures and ghosting. You do not go on blind dates, you go on dates with people whose best photos you deem, at best, attractive and, at worst, passable. No one asks each other out in person any more, probably. There are merits and disadvantages to Tinder , Happn, Grindr , Bumble and the rest. They dismantle the high stakes normally associated with the terror of asking someone out, but in doing so they also cheapen the act.
Post-Tinder, love feels disposable; people become something to consume. This is what love online looks like. I asked the first guy out after exchanging approximately three sentences on Tinder. He announced he was emigrating the moment we met. I realised we were mismatched after approximately three minutes, anyway. He now lives in New York; I stayed in the country.
One evening I got chatting to someone: I promptly ran across the road and down another entrance, and texted him to say: But I really liked how weird he was and was totally thrilled when he texted me the next morning: The worst part of online dating is the first awkward face-to-face hello. Your preconception of the person you have been speaking to is always very oddly different to whoever it is you meet.
And I also seem to make my mind up very quickly on how the night will go. One evening, I started speaking to a man — really interesting, engaging, all very effortless — and after three hours of constant messaging, we arranged a drink for the next day. He asked for my number — taking messaging off Tinder is a big deal — and then texted at 5pm to ask me where we should go.
I texted back suggesting a bar, washed my hair and never heard back from him. Many, many people agree to a drink and then never reply. One guy asked me which person I was in one of my profile pictures; he said my friend looked like a much hotter version of me. I bet you would slap me during sex.
It provides you with a seemingly endless supply of people who are single and looking to date. Before online dating, this would have been a fruitless quest, but now, at any time of the day, no matter where you are, you are just a few screens away from sending a message to your very specific dream man.
There are downsides with online dating, of course. Throughout all our interviews—and in research on the subject—this is a consistent finding: Even a guy at the highest end of attractiveness barely receives the number of messages almost all women get. On the Internet, there are no lonely corners.
Medium height, thinning brown hair, nicely dressed and personable, but not immediately magnetic or charming.
At our focus group on online dating in Manhattan, Derek got on OkCupid and let us watch as he went through his options. The first woman he clicked on was very beautiful, with a witty profile page, a good job and lots of shared interests, including a love of sports. Imagine the Derek of 20 years ago, finding out that this beautiful, charming woman was a real possibility for a date.
If she were at a bar and smiled at him, Derek of would have melted. But Derek of simply clicked an X on a web-browser tab and deleted her without thinking twice.
Watching him comb through those profiles, it became clear that online, every bozo could now be a stud. But dealing with this new digital romantic world can be a lot of work. Even the technological advances of the past few years are pretty absurd. In the history of our species, no group has ever had as many romantic options as we have now.
In theory, more options are better, right? Psychology professor Barry Schwartz, famous for his book The Paradox of Choice , divided us into two types of people: We have all become maximizers. When I think back to that sad peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich I had in Seattle, this idea resonates with me. If you only knew how good the candles in my house smell. When you watched their actual browsing habits—who they looked at and contacted—they went way outside of what they said they wanted.
When I was writing stand-up about online dating, I filled out the forms for dummy accounts on several dating sites just to get a sense of the questions and what the process was like. The person I described was a little younger than me, small, with dark hair.
My girlfriend now, whom I met through friends, is two years older, about my height—O. A big part of online dating is spent on this process, though—setting your filters, sorting through profiles and going through a mandatory checklist of what you think you are looking for. People take these parameters very seriously. But does all the effort put into sorting profiles help? Despite the nuanced information that people put up on their profiles, the factor that they rely on most when preselecting a date is looks.
Now, of course, we have mobile dating apps like Tinder. As soon as you sign in, Tinder uses your GPS location to find nearby users and starts showing you pictures.
Maybe it sounds shallow. In the case of my girlfriend, I initially saw her face somewhere and approached her. I just had her face, and we started talking and it worked out. Is that experience so different from swiping on Tinder? This paradox of choice is a problem symptomatic of our modern age. Unlike the person who is quite happy to settle for what is available, the maximiser is always on the hunt for the best.
This mentality makes decision-making unbearable, and often leaves us with the nagging feeling that we could have chosen better. As soon as we find a match online, our fantasy of the perfect partner begins; we might start by studying quirks of their text shorthand, fleshing-out their pixelated profile and soon we are convinced that they are the ideal match.
As anyone who has ever suffered the trickery of photoshop will know, the package that arrives at your door rarely meets the expectations of the fantasy you checked out. Sadly, when it comes to dating, there is no easy return-to-sender policy. The fantasy of finding the perfect love and having a sense of belonging is a universal craving that is deeply embedded in the human psyche. Whilst we have always been a culture intoxicated by the idea of romance, the past few years has seen the monetisation of this fantasy.
We want the lip-biting, self-abandoning thrill of romance, and we want it all. The question remains- how do we really find true love? Daniel advises, whilst what initially attracts two people may have more superficial beginnings, a deeper human connection is crucial to finding enduring love. This is the reason that most people are still finding their partners at work, or through friends.