Why am I taking Tinder so personally? I met a guy on Tinder and he ditched me twice in a row, giving me passive excuses. I still took it to heart.
Technology-enabled dating—apps like Tinder being the most immediate and efficient instruments of nu-dating—isn’t inherently good or inherently bad. It’s also not singularly responsible for a generation of twenty-and-thirtysomething single people that more closely resemble sugared-up kindergarteners rushing from play area to play area than adults making rational choices about their lives and futures. What technology-enabled dating does, though, is provide a clickable, swipeable super-structure that makes it easy to date more, buuuut not necessarily date better.
It feels very mom to position it like this, but: everything you do has a consequence, a cause and effect, and while I think we’re mostly comfy with this idea when it comes to work and food and sleep and money and getting groceries on Sunday afternoon versus laying in bed all day, listening to podcasts and eating peanuts (like, par example), we’re less likely to consider the emotional and, I guess, psychic consequences of our actions. When anyone talks about the ways in which dating is “dangerous” they usually mean that you should tell a friend who you’re meeting and where and when, and that you shouldn’t go to a dude’s house or get in his car or whatever until you really know him (and: WORD) but what nobody means by “dangerous” is that the more sensitive among us, or even the mega-super-toughest in more sensitive moments, can be metaphysically bruised by approaching dating, sex, relationships and love too casually and cavalierly, if that’s not the for-real thing you/we need.
Casually is, obvi, how a lot of us (many? most?) are dating and hooking up—which is great if that’s truly and honestly what’s great for you, but if you get hurty feelies from some rando Melvin on Tinder standing you up—because this isn’t a person in your life, this is just an idea of a guy—maybe you shouldn’t be on dating apps at all. However, it seems like you’re not just taking Tinder personally. Anyone you have plans with can cancel on you in a passive, excuse-y way, or leave you circling your melting gin and tonic like a lonesome bird in a dark bar. It seems like you’re taking dating personally, and dating on its own, without the many pre-date rejection-opportunities of tech, should be a lot easier on your feelings.
I mean, that’s fine. It’s really fine. I don’t date online because for me nothing matters—nothing—more than the earth-bound sense-y stuff of chemistry, scent, voice and gesture, and sensualists (gross word; my apologies) are not well-served by online dating; also, after writing about all of this for a long time and hearing from an endless stream of people about their love lives, I keep getting closer to the conclusion that nothing demands a conscious reconfiguration—away from what you’re supposed to do/like/want and toward what is actually cool and right for you individually—more than sex and dating (twist!). Adulthood demands that you are responsible for yourself and your choices, which is très sucky when you just want one side of things (Boys! Sex! Love!) without the other (the feeling you’re feeling right now); but, creating and maintaining happiness is actually a kind of brutal art, or war, or something, with hard, sometimes boring, sometimes scary decisions and strategy made on your own behalf, even/especially when your heart is bleeding.
So: maybe you shouldn’t be dating at all until you make a serious (I mean it) decision about how you’re going to do it to your own, best ends. Plot out how something you’re considering is likely to make you feel, and decide in advance how you’re going to approach a new person or scenario. (Tip: a guy you don’t already like-like, who you’re just making up aspirations for based on some pics and some emails, is not someone to shoot down the feelings-waterslide for.) You have an obligation to yourself to find out how to date in a way that isn’t going to dig into your soft stuff.
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