Recently, Tatler ran an article about online dating with the horrifying strap line “POSH dating sites. Because millionaires and horse-lovers need love too”. I succumbed to the clickbait, and instantly regretted it.
Among the recommended sites, one suggested was Grey and Farrar. For a mere £15,000 (or ‘more’ for the Bespoke service), they allege to be able to pin down your soulmate without you having to so much as lift a finger; except to enter your PIN code.
After seeing this, I found myself thanking the internet gods for the likes of uncomplicated free downloads like Tinder, Happn et. al. Then I checked myself. Should we really be thanking anyone for these apps?
I have used both the aforementioned apps. Back at Leeds University, Tinder was a bit of a laugh. I didn’t go on a single date, but I did get a pleasant ego massage when I received the affirmation of a match screen, even if it was from my housemate. But on moving to London, something in my attitude towards these apps imperceptibly changed. I found myself actually going on dates –with strangers too. And what’s more, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed meeting people with question marks hovering over their heads rather than exclamation marks (translated as ‘THAT GIRL ON YOUR HOCKEY TEAM HAS SLEPT WITH HIM, HE’S OUT OF BOUNDS!’). People who were concerned with what I was doing, my family, my hobbies and interests too.
However, I have since fallen back out of love with Tinder and its ilk. In my opinion, the millennial attitude towards dating is down to online dating: that is, relationships as being disposable, replaceable, a temporary distraction. I’ve heard a number of troubling stories. One of a man who discovered his live-in girlfriend of three years was active on Tinder, exposed when she was seen straying into the postcode of the boyfriend’s single mate. Worse still; two individuals arranged to meet, only for the bloke to bolt whilst the girl was buying a round at the bar. Or the most humiliating of all, the pair who went on a number of dates, including the obligatory ‘meet the family’ date (her meeting his), only for the man to sever communication completely once she had stayed the night.
This last story is what I find most disturbing about these apps – that there can be a played-out agenda, a deception that ends with one of the pair disappearing into the vortex of the internet without so much as a ‘thanks for the memories’. It is very difficult to gauge in the preliminary few dates whether both parties are there for the same reason. It is also worryingly easy to be duped.
Due to their ease of use, Tinder and Happn have paradoxically made it more difficult than ever to enter into a committed relationship. If on first meeting there is just one element of the person that is not to their fancy, the other will likely jump straight back on Tinder to search for the next candidate. Similarly, if a couple have been together for a short while but have yet to define the terms of the relationship, one small bump in the road could result in the immediate breakdown. It is simply too easy to get back on your phone and meet someone with a different opinion on politics, religion, or TOWIE.
My mother spoke to me about my grandparents’ marriage of 50+ years. She made the point that when my grandparents married in 1954, [ulplocker id=vCA7IBQixkFiVnMb] there were far lower expectations of what a marriage should be. Now, with higher expectations, marriage is harder to live up to.
She also suggested we’ve lost the art of patience. Both my grandparents lived through the war, and in the early days of their marriage some post-war austerity measures were still in place. Couples went through hardships aplenty – both together and apart -and thus developed a lenience with and tolerance for one another that ensured the longevity of their relationships.
Today, everything happens in micro-seconds; few phone contracts come without 4G, Oyster cards have helped to ease the rush-hour crush with their one-touch-tech, money can be transferred across continents in a blink. It stands to reason that this need for speed should bleed into our personal lives. First came speed-dating, then came the apps. So if we are rarely required to exercise patience in day-to-day life, how can we be expected to abide the foibles and failings of a partner, especially when there is a veritable ocean of possibility waiting in our back pockets?
The few Tinder success stories I have come across have tended to be couples based in smaller towns, indicative of the differing pace of life in suburbs. The frenetic hustle of London coupled with the cost of living means that people, particularly those under the age of 35, are always casting their eyes around for the next opportunity for personal betterment – often at the expense of relationships.
But does all of this mean that long-term relationships are doomed? In a word: no. There comes a point in everyone’s life where they crave companionship, and familiarity. It may be that the Victorian ideal of the nuclear family ordained by God, is one to soon be consigned to the scrapheap, but relationships can surely still persist in the face of fearful odds.
It wasn’t long ago that TV dinners and convenience foods were all the rage, despite their obvious health detriments. Similarly, disposable fashion had a moment, and we all spent ridiculous money on poorly made designer knock-offs in flammable fabrics. Now, we are seeing the rise of cleaner living and sensible spending. All and sundry are empowering their future health via wildly painful spinning classes, gallons of disgusting green juice, and an eye-watering weekly shop in Cali-girl favourite Whole Foods.
Surely it won’t be long until we begin applying this formula to our relationships, seeing them as an investment worth the effort rather than a flash in the pan. We will eventually realise, as we have done with our aching limbs and disgusting kale smoothies, that the temporary discomfort of working on a relationship is preferable to the lonely, cat-ridden, carcinogenic microwave-meal alternative.