While on the whirlwind, action packed adventure that is online dating in my thirties, I’m finding that it’s is quite a cold and methodical world, much more than I remember it being in the real world of my twenties. Granted, it’s been a while but have we really changed all that much? I honestly don’t believe we should ever settle for less than we deserve online or in the real world but we seem to have somehow made dating and potential matches completely disposable. Surely this can’t be a good thing?
I’ll swipe left or right and immediately there’s another one for me to decide on again. We’re searching for our predefined set of criteria. He must be tall, broad, blonde or all three. We’ve destroyed the thrill of the chase, those wonderful butterflies and with it, all the fun of dating. It’s an analytical process which may never reach a satisfactory end if we continue to swipe with such ease through the menu. Will we ever be satisfied with what we’ve got right in front of us when there’s always another choice coming up next?
Another consequence of disposable dating is ghosting. When you do start chatting to a guy on a dating app, sometimes it goes to text message or phone calls. You’re just not feeling it so you stop answering. You’ve never met, so it certainly doesn’t require explanation. It happens. But by ghosting, what we’ve effectively done is removed the need for that uncomfortable but kind excuse in the pub such as ‘Sorry, I have a boyfriend’ or ‘I’ve got to get back to my friends’. It’s as if mid conversation, we’ve just turned on our heels and walked away. There’s no compassion for the potential dater, they’re just a profile or a character in your phone, not a real person at all.
And similarly it happens to you. Sometimes it’s disappointing, mostly it’s fine. What makes it challenging is the frequency with which it happens in the online dating world. It’s hard to not take a small dent to your ego when it happens. Back when we met our men in the real world, there was a spark, a rapport: there was that tiny but infinitely significant moment where you got to decide if he was possibly worth the effort before you put yourself out there and risked rejection.
Was it something I said, was it something I revealed about myself they didn’t like? Overthinking is a curse but we all do it occasionally. What I do is once I realise I’ve been ghosted is I’ll immediately delete them from my phone and move on to the next. Why wouldn’t I? What am I hanging on to? We haven’t even met, they’re just a profile after all. Sure they’re not even real.
I’ve heard guys suffer ghosting much worse than ladies. How do they do it? How do they pick themselves back up every single time and get back out there again and again? I’m well aware that my self-esteem is more fragile than most and I shouldn’t be bothered by the opinions of men I’ve never met. If I’m to continue this adventure, then I’d better develop a much thicker skin, but more importantly, be less likely to disregard someone simply because there’s another guy behind the next swipe.