The 21st Century Dating Dilemma: A Problem of Too Much Choice…

I often find myself questioning what the modern world of dating actually is in the 21st century? Apps such as Tinder, Bumble and Happn have taken over as the modern way to meet people in a busy working lifestyle. The taboo of online dating has been lifted and people like me have become reliant on them and why not? It beats the awkwardness of approaching someone in a bar, and at least this way you can gauge whether that person is someone you have lots in common with before taking the time to go on a date. But perhaps that is killing the idyllic picture of romance? As the old dating profile one-liner goes “We can pretend we met somewhere else”.

Whilst these apps are very convenient, they have created a strange world where we find ourselves in new awkward situations, that as humans we struggle to cope with. I’ve been using these apps on and off for a year or so, where I am constantly learning and adapting to the best ways to use them that keep me happy and healthy. I would summarise app dating as a game of either a lack of choice, or too much choice.

They are also all about making mistakes and learning from them. I like to think that today I learnt something new, and so I thought I would share a situation and unexpected resolution that I experienced.

It all started when was talking with a good friend about how I hated the opaqueness behind rejection, why can’t we all just be honest and upfront about how we feel? Things became clear when he stated the obvious, instead of using different avoidance tactics such as “phasing someone out”, why not just tell that person what’s really going on?

I thought that maybe its because the truth hurts and that we should avoid a difficult conversation, maybe sometimes ignorance is bliss. But it always feels like a lack of honesty just makes the situation worse.

It wasn’t long ago that I found myself experiencing this coldness, left with only the questions of why that date went wrong? One moment you are staring into her dark brown, Hungarian eyes, talking about her recent trip to Cuba. She finds my recent venture into veganism intriguing as she stares at me whilst leaning over the table, her hands resting on her cheeks. But then in the next moment, she looks at her watch and announces she has to go home suddenly “to study”. That’s when I find myself wondering why she only ordered a small glass of wine at the start of the date? Did she plan that escape from the beginning? “Oh well” I think, and go back to swiping left and right.
I like to remember how I felt in those situations and try my best not to re-create them and make terrible contributions to the world of app dating. It needs to be fun and exciting, but in the end we are all human, and put our own emotions on the line. We run the risk of getting hurt and I guess it’s all about taking care of ourselves and much like life, not taking it too seriously.

What prompted me to write this post is a recent experience where I was in a common app dating conundrum, a case of too much choice. You have that great date with someone that has promising potential for romance. “Great” you think! But what about the other potential dates you had lined up, who also seem to be very nice people? Should we focus our attention on that person who seems lovely? Or instead date other people at the same time, to give ourselves more options, but spread our time and efforts trying to please the many?

I have been opting for the former choice, as like a few people I know, I don’t have it in me to date multiple people at once. But I am sure there are those that have no problem with that and enjoy it. There isn’t anything to say that is wrong, as long as you are having fun, and being careful not to hurt anyone. It is likely that the date I value most is making the same decisions.

And so it came to that Thursday night, a date was planned for the evening. Although things were not looking good as she had left a conversation unanswered for 4 days. Surely no matter how busy you are, it’s not hard to take a few minutes to reply or simply say you are really busy? For that reason it felt like this date was not going to happen, it was a clear lack of interest on her part. The end of the work day was fast approaching and she suddenly makes herself apparent.

Her: “Hey! Sorry I am a terrible communicator, I promise my chat’s better in real life… or at least I hope it is! You still free for a drink tonight? X”

The old me would have sucked it up and met up for drinks anyway. But in reality I was clearly more interested in the date from the previous week. It feels unfair to waste her time, so I simply state that I have made new plans due to her supposed lack of interest. And that’s when she is clearly sorry about what happened, and still keen to meet me.

Her: “Ah no sorry, I’m kicking myself now, it’s just been one of those weeks 🙈 but I can see why it came across as lack of interest. It wasn’t though, I was genuinely looking forward to meeting you! X”

I am reluctant to tell her the truth, so I choose to ignore her in the hopes that she will let it go. But half an hour later she follows up, and it feels impossible for me not to say something without being cold and aloof.

Her : “Rain check? Or I have I missed my chance and we’ll just have to continue being passersby on the train 🚂”

Would I act as a living contradiction of my own beliefs, and become the thing I hate? And so I opt to tell her the truth.

Me: I’m going to have to stick with no unfortunately! The honest truth is that I am also seeing someone else and I don’t really have it in me to see multiple people at once. No reflection on you of course, I just have to be firm and not waste both our time!

I hate the feeling of rejecting someone because I know exactly how it feels to be on the other end of it. Thankfully by being honest the conversation went from awkward to one of understanding.

Her: Ah no worries, totally fair! Maybe I accidentally did myself a favour my being a terrible communicator then! Good luck with it all, hope it works out x 

Me: Thanks! That’s kind of you to say. It’s one of these weird situations we find ourselves in with the amount of choice on these apps. Do you stop communicating with all the other nice women, or try and keep your options open? Dating has become a strange world 😂 
I hope you find what you are looking for out there! I don’t need to meet you to know you are a great person. 

Her: I know exactly what you mean, I have the same dilemmas, it’s a very strange process to manage! 
Haha thanks, I can tell you are too, otherwise you probably wouldn’t have been so honest! 
I hope it does work for you, but if not, in a few months, I won’t ignore a text for a drink out of the blue 😉 

Me: Haha, and you have every right to tell me to get lost. I would hope for the reason that have you found someone 😉 But life works in weird ways…I’ll remember this conversation that is certain.

The lesson I learnt from this was that it’s better to open up and be honest with people. App dating is so fast paced, and as we chat from one person to the next, leaving some behind and others ahead, I think we can’t help but continue this behaviour when we start face-to-face interactions. If something isn’t quite right it is tempting to brush someone off and disappear without explanation. Maybe situations like these won’t resolve themselves so neatly next time, but I like to think that app dating is a much better place if we are more honest with each other.

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