Whenever I mention my intermittent use of the Tinder app, my married and partnered friends get a bit excited.
“Oooooo,’ they pant, ‘ isn’t that the site for – you know – hooking up?!’
Newsflash partnered people. They all are.
RSVP, the virtually Amish eHarmony, bars, restaurants, supermarkets, laundromats. All hook up sites should you wish to treat them as such. I know married people who have picked up other married people at black tie events when at least one spouse was present (but not as present – or should I say mindful – as perhaps they should have been)*. Sex is everywhere if you care to look for it.
Most of my single friends have experimented with most of the internet dating sites that are out there, including Tinder. When you narrow things down geographically, they all have virtually the same people on them anyway. On eHarmony you see guys who give the impression that only violins, candlelight and marriage will do, but on RSVP the same man might say he is looking for something fun but long term, and on Tinder he’ll just upload a picture of himself holding up a very large fish and message you saying ‘DTF?’**.
A good friend of mine recently published a book about his experiences using Tinder. You can buy it on Amazon but I should first warn you that it’s one of the most explicit books I’ve ever come across (and one that is extremely uncomfortable to read if you know the person involved). I should probably also reassure you all (hello Dad) that I’m not featured in the book as a love interest but my thoughts on internet dating are included.
I told Mike about my theory of dating in the 21st century, where technology has disrupted old rules and despite appearing to be more egalitarian than ever in terms of gender, dating is actually working way better for men than for women.
The thing is that 21st century dating is the least judgemental (amongst single people – I’ve talked about the partnered people view of the world and particularly single women before) it’s ever been. People are out there looking for love, but some of them are just looking to get their sexual needs met for the night, and that’s ok too, so long as everyone is honest about it, and playing safely. Yay for the liberation of women and for being liberal***.
The problem however – in my view – is this. I think men are evolutionarily predisposed to look for multiple sexual partners – so they can spread their seed and keep the place populated – that sort of thing. Women, on the other hand, are evolutionarily predisposed to seek security, safety and protection – despite the fact that the 21st century woman (including myself) generally doesn’t feel they need this. These days, this manifests itself as looking for someone who is willing to make a commitment and not likely to trade you in for the next vaguely attractive looking thing to pass their way.
For men and women in my age range – let’s call that from say…40 to 55 – internet dating, and apps like Tinder, mean that we don’t need to waste precious time hanging out in bars hoping that amongst our co-drinkers there is, miraculously, another single person who, even more miraculously, likes you. We can sit on our sofas browsing available men or women and flirting up a storm, even though we’ve got our pyjamas on and removed our make up and bras many hours ago.
Frankly, this is awesome. At the beginning of the dating journey, hanging out in bars is fun, but it doesn’t last long. The reality is that life is calling – full time work, children, and running a household alone are not compatible with this way of life for any length of time. It doesn’t take long to realize that the main attraction of something like Tinder is its efficiency.
But. And it’s a big but…my experience is that many men – in fact the majority of them, are ill equipped to deal with the sheer variety and apparent availability of women that the internet appears to provide***. There is the constant worry that someone better might be just around the corner. Technology has turned women into commodities, and whereas when they are younger men seem to be prepared to trade variety for family and children, once their marriage is over there is little incentive to do this again. Women, on the other hand, mainly continue to look for that commitment from one special person regardless of where they are in the lifespan.
Once upon a time, the way women wielded power over this tendency in men was to only offer sex after marriage. I’m not suggesting we do this (otherwise there is a good chance I’ll never get jiggy with anyone ever again), but it seems to me that the only way to put this particular Pandora back in the box is to all close our legs once again….
*we shall not say who this was…
**for those who are not familiar (hello again Dad) – “down to fuck?”
***I very much do not mean liberal in the political sense
****I’m talking in generalities here. No need for any of the very lovely men I know to get upset
And now for your viewing pleasure, I have uploaded screenshots of some of my more amusing interactions with men from dating websites/apps:
This one is all me being awesome at internet dating. Literally no idea why I’m single.
Gerry is just a tad needy don’t you think?
Tim isn’t so much into outdoor pursuits. Unless they are of the carnal type I’d imagine.