Online Dating In The Age of Instant Gratification
Several years ago, a close friend of mine made a statement that not only shocked me but also proceeded to shake the very foundations of my view on relationships. His statement was as follows;
“In my view mankind has outgrown the institution of marriage. We’ve evolved to such an extent that marriage as we know it is no longer necessary.”
I can’t lie. His statement made me feel somewhat uncomfortable.
But over time I’ve come to realise that he may well have a point.
The pace and momentum with which technology is moving – with literally everything at our fingertips – has created a generation steeped in a mindset of instant gratification – instant romance, instant sex, instant fame, instant riches, instant love, instant families and so many other instants that the mind boggles at how people managed to wait for things in the past!!
I recall someone telling me about how his friend used to make fun of him for going out on Friday nights – “what on earth do you go to bars and clubs for?? There’s no need for it. I just go on tinder every Friday evening and by 10pm I’m sorted for the night.”
I not only found his statement hilarious, even if a little crude, but also decided there and then that tinder was definitely not for me. But isn’t it amazing what a few years of being single can do to man??!! All of a sudden, options one never imagined viable become strangely appealing.
So, after trying a few shall I say more responsible dating sites on which too many people are taking themselves way too seriously, I decided to give Tinder a go – well, what’s the worst that could happen, right?!!
My first few days on Tinder was actually quite exciting. In line with our new-found thirst for instant gratification, I found the swipe left and swipe right thingy pretty cool. Why? Because it means there’s no pretense – you’re either attracted to someone or you’re not. Now, please don’t get me wrong; I’m fully aware of and indeed in full agreement with the notion that what lies within is so much more important than what is on the outside, but come on guys – what makes you want to talk to someone in the first place?? Isn’t it the fact that you’re physically attracted to her/him?? Let’s do away with this hypocritical clap-trap about focusing first on the person within and being friends. Yes, it’s important to be friends and yes, we should focus on the character within, but let’s stop pretending ourselves that it wasn’t the physical attraction that caught our attention in the first place!!
In this light I think the swipe left and swipe right thingy (no idea what it’s called) is a great concept. It does away with all the guessing and anxiety as to whether someone is actually attracted to you or not. If you match, you’re on!
But my goodness have I had some interesting experiences!!
Permit me to relay a couple of them to you.
So there I was chatting away with a thirty-something year old lady who judging from her picture was dead-gorgeous, and to make things so much better we had the same taste in music, a love of music festivals, and even a shared fondness for country-side pubs; and she also had a great sense humour. In a nutshell, everything was going swimmingly well. I enjoyed our chat so much that I actually put Netflix on pause for a whole two and a half hours! Indeed, as we bid each other goodnight I was literally smiling like a Cheshire cat.
Just as I started drifting to sleep (I’m fortunately one of those people that falls asleep within a couple of minutes of closing their eyes), I heard the ping on my phone, which I knew was another message from my new friend. I grabbed my phone and clicked on the message icon with feverish anticipation. The conversation proceeded as follows;
Her: “Quick question – how tall are you?”
Me: “I’m a very tall 5.6”.
Her: “Ahh…I think that’s going to be a problem”
Me: “Really? Why’s that?”
Her: “Well…I’m 5.9″, and I’ve dated two guys that are shorter than me before and in both cases it kind of affected me somehow.”
Me: “Yes, I can fully understand. And I guess 5.6″ to 5.9″ is a fairly big gap. Don’t worry, I totally understand.”
And that was it. We wished each other all the best and moved on. But I was thrilled by the conversation we had none-the-less.
On this particular occasion I chatted with a very pleasant and attractive lady for about 50 minutes. Though interesting, the conversation wasn’t quite as enthralling as the one with the 5.9″ lady, and as such Netflix stayed well and truly pause-free. But what was hilarious was the manner in which she more or less told me to jog-on the following morning;
Her: “Do you want more children?”
Me: “Yes, I do.”
Her: “Unfortunately I don’t. I wish you all the best in your search.”
And that was it. Over!! So brutally precise and to the point. Never heard from her again.
The online dating world is exciting, even if a little scary, fun, and utterly ruthless. And in my view, it sums up the world in which we live – no time for getting involved with things which on face-value may not be worth our while.
We live in a world in which everyone desires possession of whatever it is they want as instantly and as stress-free as possible. In many instances our fickle whims and shallow self-centered desires are nothing to be proud of. But one cannot fault the removal of the political correctness, fluff, and time-wasting.
So, what’s my point?
Very simple – I’m not saying people shouldn’t take their time to get to know one-another. But I do believe it’s good to remove as much fluff and unclarity as possible before diving-in to get to know someone.
However, the thing about online dating is that it’s online. No matter how much information there is about someone, the simple reality is that it’s what the person wants you to see. And to make matters worse we can change the way we look if we believe it will give us a better chance of attracting a particular type of person. Unfortunately, in this age of perception and air-brushing, one is never truly sure that the person one is chatting with is who or what they say they are.
And then there’s the lads and lasses that are only in it for the fun – the sex!! Not judging – everyone has different wants and desires. According to the Guardian UK, a gentleman by the way of Nick stated that he’s slept with 77% of the women he’s met through online dating sites on the first night; and that 55% of his dates were “one-offs’’.
Now here’s the thing – the media has finally managed (slowly but now very surely) to remove the stigma of one-night stands. Think about it – in most tv shows and films we see these days the lead character usually jumps into bed with his or her conquest on the first date. It’s become completely normal. I always tell people that whoever or whatever (keeping God out of this one) created the notion of not having sex with your partner before you marry or make a joint decision to be life partners, wasn’t so much giving us regulation in order to be a party-pooper, but was trying to save us from terrible mistakes, heartache, pain, hurt, and a bucket-load of tears. The simple fact is that not only does sex cloud one’s judgement, but the earlier a chap sleeps with a girl the more likely he’ll will be gone before the one-week anniversary.
And let’s not forget those who utilise online dating sites to massage their ego. For such people, the aim is simply to get others to like them, so that they can feel good about themselves. But in truth, aren’t we all members of this particular group in some shape or form? Could it be the reason I wasn’t at all miffed that gorgeous lady decided I was too short for her?? After-all, she had demonstrated that she was attracted to me, and I’d already proved to myself that I can still whoop-up a mean convo. Maybe for many of us the instant gratification we long for is something akin to this – ‘’Just tell me I’m great and that you’re attracted to me. Tell me now! That’s all I want to know because that’s all that matters!’’.
Online dating is a great invention. Indeed, I think it needs to go even further by coming-up with new ways in which people can get to meet. However, we must try as best we can to resist our urge for instant gratification and make an effort to actually get to know people – not only for the sake of finding out whether or not there’s a basis for genuine friendship, but also in order to avoid the most awful mistakes. Time not only heals, but also reveals important and at times critical details.
Does our new-found nature of instant gratification give us a better chance of finding love and happiness?
Hmmm….instant gratification usually stems from sporadic feelings and moments that are founded on little or next to nothing – no real foundation, no thought, and no desire or inclination to invest the necessary time and effort.
You tell me.