Love in the Time of Drama

ROMANCE IS DEAD, LONG LIVE ROMANCE

I don’t know where in life you are. Perhaps you’re married with kids, perhaps you’re cohabiting with a significant other, perhaps you’re not interested in that, perhaps you like your darkened rooms and clown porn, I don’t judge!

Personally, I’m navigating this minefield we call dating in the information age. It’s a subject I’ve avoided talking about on this platform until this juncture because I have so many conflicting feelings about the whole deal, but i’m going to do my best to put across my points without going full rant – in support of that I’ve actually written and edited this in advance. Let’s set the scene:

I’m your bog-standard, average, twenty-something heterosexual male. I’m of average height, with a caucasian (currently bronzed from sun) complexion, a couple of wonky bottom teeth and a deviated septum in my nose (often makes it a problem to breathe through). I’m no Adonis, nor do I try to be, but what muscle I lack physically, I more than make up for mentally.

That’s your average online dating bio, right? About a paragraph’s worth of explanation and a helluva lot more truthful than any other profile I’ve seen. Certainly better than those with nothing between their ears whose best effort for the ‘Bio’ section is; “I didn’t know what to write here.”

As you may have inferred, I’ve joined the ranks of millennials who subscribe to dating apps such as Bumble or Tinder. I have friends who praise Plenty of Fish, and others who dabble in Happn, so I like to think I’m relatively informed on the things. I tend to set my distance preferences low and swipe around to waste tine when I’m bored, but I’m old-fashioned enough to much prefer meeting people out there in the real world. I get a few matches every now and then which have stacked up over the last couple of years. A couple of hundred of twenty-something women have decided that they like my face enough to ‘swipe right’ in that time. Out of those couple of hundred conversations, I am in conversation with: One. Out of those couple of hundred conversations, I have had One date (her name was Sarah, she was pretty awesome: shout-out to Sarah!). In every single one of those conversations, the final message has come from my side of the conversation. Not because I’m confrontational, off-putting, or anything (I hope) but I’ve been ghosted on every single occasion. Obviously, the nature of my job makes it difficult to hold down a relationship anyway and although I’ve tried the long distance thing a few times, it has never been good for either parties.

So, permit me to think out-loud about things for a while:

Millennial Attention Deficit / Better Things Out There
My biggest issue with dating apps is that they’re always on, and as taken as you might be by the ‘Worldie’ you’ve just started chatting to, you know that when she/he/it/they look at their phone when you reply, there’s a chance that something nicer will come along. What card-carrying fuck-toy has your potential mate just matched with? We all get stuck with wandering eyes from time to time, everyone; in my experience, the people who say they don’t are just hiding it better than the rest of us, and that’s fine, but folks: you’ve GOTTA think about the person you’re with too. From my humble point of view, it’s somewhere between courtesy, kindness and altruism. I’m never the one to just cut off conversation (even if they have some drastically different opinions) and I’d appreciate more if girls came out with some courage or whatever and just said, “sorry mate, but I think you’re a cock and I won’t be talking to you because there’s a chisel-bodied footballer who’s just asked me if I fell from heaven.”

Multiple Occupancy – Playing Around
I dated a wonderful girl last year. She was sweet and bubbly, curvaceous and beautiful. She had a cheeky smile and a tinkling giggle and we dated for a couple of months (at least, I thought we did). It began with her missing a date. Then another. Then another. No word of explanation nor offer of rescheduling. I fell into a deep, damaging, introspective funk as I tried to discover what exactly was wrong with me that she wouldn’t stay. I avoided being clingy and needy and I rose above that but, in the quiet of my mind, I tore myself up inside. It turns out she simply had an offer she was more interested in! I knew nothing: in my head, if I’m seeing/sleeping with someone for any length of time then I’m not going to start looking at other people. There’s some moral high ground in that decision, but it has never done me any good. I think if that’s your game then fair enough, crack on, but be up front with the people you’re with. Easy to say, harder to do, I know, but have some respect for the feelings of the people around you. It’s not exactly rocket science but I know that many people don’t think like I do. Hopefully, one day I can change that.

Being Stood-up
It’s happened to me more than it should to anyone. I think every girl I’ve ever been with (or at least organised to be with) has stood me up at one point or another. Naturally, some of those are for legitimate reasons and if so: fair enough! But when it’s just they couldn’t be bothered or organised to plan their journey or some pathetic excuse like that, I lose my shit. Seriously, how little respect for my time do you have? If you’re cancelling half an hour before we were supposed to meet, that’s fine, but I reorganised my evening for you and what the fuck do I do with that now? If I say I’m meeting someone (particularly someone I’ve some degree of feelings for) I make sure that I’m there on the dot of when I say I’m meeting them, or often 10-15mins early to counter any time stuck in traffic etc. With fucking bells on. So don’t tell me it’s impossible to organise for, because if I can get my lazy ass out of bed for you then you can manage the same for me. Otherwise, what kind of person are you (and I probably don’t want to bother anyway).

PDA
As a result of being single for so long, I have to admit a bit of a pharyngeal reflex when I see Public Displays of Affection from couples in the street (i.e. gag reflex). In fairness to you guys, that’s no statement on you, but rather a statement about myself. Being honest with you, my adoring public (ironic!), it makes that sense of loneliness rise up and I feel terribly small. Then I remember that I surround myself with good people, close friends, and affectionate pets, and that takes the edge off. A swift pint to follow doesn’t usually hurt either. Perhaps one day I’ll overcome this knee jerk reaction, and even flip over to become part of the problem, but for the moment I’ll just have to look quickly away!

Game Playing
You know who you are. You heinous fuck-toys who like to pull our strings and make us dance. On this subject I have no patience whatsoever. Half-truths and lies are your domain and you are poisonous. I have been unlucky enough to be caught up in your traps before, lured into your spider’s web and believed the promises which came spilling out of your mouth, I danced to your tune for a while and rested my head on your chest and believed the tears you shed when you had to leave for that extended vacation. But it didn’t stop you from entertaining other callers without much thought for me. To then claim ignorance… I had you down for smarter than that.

Ahem, so, that might be more pointed… But yeah, you filthy animals who play with peoples’ feelings, you are the parasites of society. Go die in a hole and save us from your sociopathic bullshit.

To me, it seems like the dating world has become a cut-throat world of shadows and game-playing, for which I have no time. By no means is it true across the board, but I’ve been so hurt before by my misplaced trust and certain individuals who haven’t thought through how their actions affect the others around them. I hope I’ll never be that person. I live to buck the trend. However, very few of my romantic interests have left me with hope for the future, I think I could count them on one hand. I should swiftly mention that at no point do i believe that each of my issues with dating in the 21st Century are true across the board. Men are just as bad (or good) as women, I just don’t have experience in that side of things. Quite often, those of us who think we’re innocent are (in fact) just as guilty. I hope you all have had more luck than I have with romance, but I think it rests in state in this corner of the world. Perhaps I’ll see it rise again one day, but until then: fuck it, I’m concentrating on my career and taking life as it comes to me.

(I went full rant, didn’t I? Fuck’s sake, Guy.)

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