According to my mother, in the 50’s and 60’s most women’s hairstyles involved what was a type of set perm. This took a lot of effort to achieve and washing your hair would ruin it. So, women would go for a week to ten days between washes and re-sets. (Can you imagine?).
I am betting that this is the root of the well-known knock-back “sorry I can’t come out tonight I am washing my hair”. Yet women still dated, met their husbands got and married. No one was running away vomiting over the smell of ten day old hair (and given most people smoked back then it must have!).
Time moves on, people get TV’s and mass marketing is born. Some genius in the shampoo industry tells us “you’re worth it”. Before you know it, people are washing their hair everyday (and buying a LOT of shampoo…. I'm just saying).
Time moves on again, it’s the 1990’s and homes are starting to get internet and home computers. Along comes another marketing genius who thinks to himself “what if I created a website and promised people that they would find love?” Everyone wants to find love! We could offer to pay for the weddings of people who met through the site and prove it works. Or even better come up with a clever algorithm which “matches” couples.
Boom! Now a lot of lonely people who want a relationship, have access to a bottomless pool of potential partners. They have hope. They have interactions. They don’t feel quite as lonely. But the world is cautious and tales of people getting abducted and such circulate. Thus, people spend a few weeks exchanging messages, building a connection and hoping to make meeting up less awkward. (This was me in the early 00’s). Only then to meet up and be hit by a wave of deflation. They don’t look like their photos. They’re not that funny in real life (because they can’t spend an hour thinking up witty replies) and here is the real clincher you are not attracted to them.
Tens of thousands of years of evolutionary biology are being ignored. The science of attraction is so complex that it is still not fully understood. We can smell compatibility genes. In very simple terms you find someone attractive who has different immune system strengths to your own. This gives your offspring a greater chance of survival. The sound of a woman’s voice is also alleged to give off markers to a potential mate. Face symmetry. Personality. Kindness. Manners. None of these things can be judged over the internet. It's all very contrived, just like most of social media you are only seeing the best bits of someone. The best bits in flattering lighting.
Some sites don’t have that many members (we’re still in the 00’s here) and something even weirder happens. Men who I wouldn’t give a second thought to in real life become... popular? Almost grandiose in their attitude. These have realised this is the best way for them to get some action ever invented. They are the best of the (very small) bunch and now have their pick of dates. Now you find yourself on a date with someone who doesn’t really fit your desires but thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread! This is a fast-track to even lower self-esteem. You've now been rejected by someone you don't even like?! My guess is a lot of those guys are STILL doing it all these years later.
I leave internet dating alone at this point. For me attraction comes from the glint in someone’s eye, their cheeky smile and if they smell good too. A picture does give you a very basic idea of whether you'll find someone attractive. But the reality is that you are more focussed on stereotypes when you look at a photo. I go off and have some relationships started the old-fashioned way (in the pub).
Fast forward to 2011. The sudden death of my father and other life circumstances have worn me out. I’ve gone through a life destroying break up. I’m lonely and turn back to the web. Things have changed again. People don’t want to spend 3 weeks chatting to you. The predators out there have realised that this is a numbers game and they will find someone vulnerable if they power through. Everyone immediately wants your number and then proceeds to harass you with “photos”. EDIT - This isn't only about men, I have heard some unbelievable horror stories from my guy friends. Unbelievable.
Now it becomes addictive. You feel low then someone chats to you and you get a buzz. A burst of hope. Then it doesn’t work out so you look for a new buzz. You start suffering from choice overwhelm. To narrow it you begin to create unrealistic “lists” of desirable qualities. You are rejecting people for the most minor of offences and the most obscure reasons. You’ve now created an unachievable ideal partner. But you keep on searching for them because there are millions more fish in the sea, right?
Over the next couple of years, I meet one good man. It turns out we already knew each other and had met a couple of times in real life. One good one. This one is pitted against hundreds of clicks on the secretly married, clinically diagnosable or down right weird ones. There is enough material to write a whole book.
This is what the marketeers don’t tell you. Of course, there are success stories. Out of all the millions of people doing it some are nice and genuine and not desperate/ unhinged. If they happen to connect then it could work out if they both want the same things. For each happy ever after there are millions of extremely unhappy stories. Low on confidence? you've just found the ideal way to gently dip your toe in the water of dating. You don't have to meet up with people. You can block them in a heartbeat. Rejection is easy and it is abundant. It's easy. Easy and unhealthily addictive.
Fast forward again. Millennials are of dating age and we see the emergence of an app which allows you to “swipe left” if you don’t fancy someone or “swipe right” if you do. This is the birth of people obsessively swiping on the train or on the toilet or whenever they get a spare minute. We’re now posting almost naked photos so you can actually see what you’re going to be getting between the sheets. It’s free and it’s still relying on the hope of millions. Except now it is acceptable to f**k on a first "date".
I applaud those who have made it work. Good for you maybe you took your time getting to know each other maybe it was fate or chance. But for me there is nothing better than the old-fashioned way, an evening class (where you might meet some like-minded friends) or a summer BBQ or who knows. Broaden your horizons. But it will happen if you are open to love. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there as "old fashioned" as I am.
Final words of wisdom, if you are feeling lonely and you want a relationship more than anything, give the swipes a miss and focus on your self-esteem. You must learn to love yourself first as hard that feels.
Love Dav x