First thing this morning, before I’d even had my coffee, I heard someone talk about how they’d stopped going on dating sites as a means of being more productive and getting more done in life. It was actually quite an interesting concept for me, not only because of who it was coming from (a very interesting and, in my opinion, very attractive man in his late 20s); but because I’d been made to believe that my problems with dating sites were fairly isolated. I’ve been told when talking about current or past experiences with all the different dating apps and sites that exist, that I’m too negative or that I’m complaining too much about what I’ve experienced. Today I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my own experience with them over the years, which to me is just analogous with the rest of my life.
I’ve been on and off dating sites for just over six years, if memory serves correctly. So I was 24 back then, as it was before my birthday; and living in a large European city – namely Milan. Population, about one and a half million. Since then I’ve tried pretty much everything out there, the big names such as OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and Tinder – because which self-respecting single isn’t on Tinder? I’ve had accounts on Match.com, and Meetic. I’ve tried Zoosk, Lovoo, Bumble, Happn, and even Badoo for my sins back in the day (shudder). And probably more that (For my own sanity, I deleted any emails I got from those sites once I deleted my account). And I’ve never got a date (or anything else, for that matter!) from any of them. Ever. Not even met anyone who I got talking to, because I’ve never ‘got talking to’ anyone. I’ve received very few messages, mostly from men who I deemed unsuitable due to their age (I’ve had both far too young and far too old, especially since hitting my 30s), or lived too far away – like 100s of miles away. And you might call me fussy, but aren’t women supposed to be bombarded with messages on those things?
Since moving back to Wales, I’ve tried various different sites over three different periods. The memory that most stands out from these experiments is the two separate times I tried Tinder again, when it got to a point where I got the message – both times – saying that there were no more people in my area. Of course, at that point I hadn’t had any matches. Just last month I went back on OkCupid, which had been my favourite dating site – as much of an oxymoron as that sounds. The feature that made me like it the most was the test it has in your profile, a series of questions to suss out your personality. It is then able to compare you to other people; so when viewing the profile of someone you think is interesting, you’re able to see whether they’re more or less adventurous, or outgoing, or creative, or countless other personality traits. It was an easy thing to get through when I just wanted to kill some time. I only deleted my profile this past Sunday. I’d initially deleted the app and kept my profile, because I thought, what harm would it do to use it as a passive thing? Something running in the background whilst I got on with my life. Something to maybe give me a slight glimmer of hope that one day, my single status would change. But the emails I got about new ‘matches’ (what they call people with an apparently similar personality to mine, from the results of that test) annoyed me. I know there was probably a way of unsubscribing, but at that point I’d had enough. It was like that old school game show where, on losing out on winning the main prize, the contestant was shown ‘what they could’ve won’. In the month and a half I spent registered on that site since the beginning of last month, I didn’t get a single message. So these emails where somewhat like rubbing salt in the wound.
My complete lack of luck on dating sites is also a sign of a wider – well, it’s not really a problem. But I basically don’t get any attention from men on any kind of social media. I don’t have random men sliding into my DMs on anywhere, and I have never – shock horror – received a dick pick (TMI, I know). Not even one. According to something I read on Twitter not so long ago, that saying this apparently makes me ‘fake’. Well, sorry to disappoint the girls who said and agreed with this, I’m most certainly not fake. Just unattractive.
So, basically I’ve got bored with sitting around for a fish to take the bait. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, why don’t I initialise? Why don’t I send the first message? Because I know I’ll get rejected. Because it’s happened every single time I’ve tried to ask someone out in person. Because my self-esteem and self-confidence are so low, that I’d rather sit around and wait, and not put myself in a position where it’s highly likely I’ll get hurt again. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching and reflection on my status as a 30-something woman who’s been single for nearly all of her life; and I’ve – hopefully – realised for the last time that dating sites just don’t work for me. As far as I see it, they’re a complete waste of time unless you fall into a very strict series of criteria. And that might sound bitter, but honestly, it isn’t – or mostly. It’s a point of realising that something just doesn’t work for you, and moving on from that. It isn’t something accessible like society likes to think it is, it requires hours of work – it needs to be treated like a job hunt. And seeing as I’m actually looking for a job at the moment, I have no desire to spend hours on dating sites too – especially when I’d more than likely not get anywhere with it. I really do have better things to do with my time. Things that will be productive, things that will make me happy. Hell, at this point, even staring at paint drying is more constructive.
So, for people in relationships saying, ‘Just go on a dating app!’, it isn’t that easy. Success means having to put in a lot of hard work, and even with that, a simple date still isn’t achievable for some of us. And it’s not necessarily our problem, due to the superficial nature of these apps. I mean, Tinder is its own beast, but many many apps and sites now incorporate swiping as a feature. A quick way of establishing who you’re interested in. As someone who spent all of their teens, and nearly all of their twenties, and yes all of their thirties so far, single; dating hasn’t become more accessible thanks to these apps – it’s become more superficial. Where a swipe is enough to decide whether that person is worth getting to know or having sex with. Yes, of course, afterwards you message or whatever, but that person’s looks alone are purely enough to initiate communication. It’s taken me a long time to realise that I shouldn’t be forced to comply with what society thinks is acceptable, and to do what is more beneficial for me. People think that singles shouldn’t not try, they have to put themselves out there somehow, and dating apps are by far the easiest way to do that. But I know I’m not going to get anything out of those apps, I know that all too well now, so it’s actually better for my well-being to not try. These apps can get so addictive, if you have the right mindset they’re almost like a game. Or like shopping, seeing what’s on offer. But when you’re unable to get what’s on offer, it can be very detrimental. Very often you can just be left feeling that there’s something fundamentally wrong with you.
I suppose that’s my two cents on dating apps and how they’ve influenced modern-day society. Again, it’s been more personal than what my blog had initially set out to be; but I hope it goes some way to piecing together who I am, and where I am in life right now.