Digital Love and Dating Apps | Dubai Edition

The other day, utterly disappointed in the online dating culture I asked a friend of mine, who’s been on these dating apps as well, what it was that men were looking for on these sites.

He smirked and threw the question back at me, except he asked what I wanted.

Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about it, till then.

What did I really want? Well, to start with, when you are exponentially busy with work, the number of people you meet depletes, add to it the fact that you are far from home and your core-inner circle of friends. So, I suppose ‘variety’ would be a crass but appropriate term, preferably a larger pool of men to choose from. Idk, but he didn’t need to know that.

At this point, I could safely publicly announce I was looking for a connection. Something more than a meet, bang and let’s go bonkers and something way more toned down than ‘hey you, let’s buy that house with the picket fences, get a couple of dogs and of course let’s start thinking of baby-names by Expo 2020!’

Something in between; worth exploring.

My friend, let’s call him Pablo, laughed on hearing my expectations and dismissed me by saying I would never find that on these sites. His take was that everyone on these apps was looking for a quick continental takeaway, preferably blonde with long legs. Unfortunately, I am not blonde nor are my legs as long as I would like them to be. Bummer.

I was obviously disappointed by his candour but more so when I realised the amount of time I had wasted on these platforms and how addicted I had recently grown. A fundamental shift had occurred, and I hadn’t even noticed the tectonic plates of my inner polarity shifting. Just like all other aspects of my life – groceries, fashion, personal pictures and gadgets, my love life had now successfully been digitised. Instead of perfecting love for one person I was prowling on wwws’.

I was swiping left, I was swiping right, centre, up, down and anywhere I was allowed to swipe.

Most of the people who showed any form of interest in me met with the common ‘no’. Reasons included balding, too hairy, too old, not ambitious enough, too young, I don’t like his face, looks like a player, seems too sweet, boring and predictable! Call me shallow, but we are talking about filtering literally hundreds of people who you instinctively know you would never get along with.

The attention was phenomenal. Needless to say, it became addictive. Before I knew it, I was chatting with random strangers with absolutely zero idea or information on whether they were pretending to be something other than themselves or if they were genuine.

I am in no way am I saying that I was my authentic self or my best version for that matter. Heaven knows I was messy, but then again I tend to be messy when I am not ready, quite a bit like the girl from ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’, not because of some silly experiment or game-playing, but because I just wasn’t in the right headspace. It’s as simple as that.

I must have chatted with so many archetypes in the last few months of being on these apps. Some men said they liked being beaten up by their women, some preached the virtues of paleo-living, some were the artsy kind who sporadically messaged about the next art exhibition, then there were the photographers, the wine connoisseurs, the stalkers, the obsessed, the orbiters, the ghosters, the ‘I don’t know your last name but let’s get it on’ ones, the adventure buffs, the beach bums, the beefcakes, the pseudo-intellectuals ranting about Darwinism and the absence of God, the party people and those that were perfect on paper.

Needless to say, it was adios time.

The ones I did like, that was a different story. To be honest, I never really made any real effort though. Don’t get me wrong, the people I did go on dates with, to me, were pretty lit, else I wouldn’t ever meet them. I mean, do you even realise the kind of effort it takes to plaster on make-up, get your hair done right, wear the perfect outfit, find the right perfume which spells sexy but not trampy and put yourself out there with nerves of steel?
In case you don’t, let me enlighten you.
A lot.

But, there was this inherent emotional disconnect. Always.

Side note: If you are new to these apps, a word of caution, these aren’t meant for the faint hearted, give yourself a couple of months and you will see why.

Back to the analysis. The connections – both the ones missed and the ones ignored, were little sparks in a multitude of firecrackers from a night at The Great Gatsby, nothing permanent ever manifested nor was permanence needed. At the back of my head, I always had the comfort of the swipe.

I may have enjoyed this dynamic at another time, but in reality, it is very unsatisfying. In my little misadventure of matching the blueprint of my love-life to my reality, I forgot that I was dealing with people, real people and not commodities and these dating apps take us further away from this intrinsic truth. It has somehow managed to reduce people to pictures and bios, with a promise of a better match the next time. But now that dating apps are a permanent reality – transforming the way we meet and mate – it’s time we acknowledged this paradox: the more convenient finding love becomes, the more difficult it is to sustain.

If you are looking for Prince Charming on a unicorn or a Scarlett Johansson with her wits about her 24/7, then I apologise for bursting your bubble, but the promise of the swipe isn’t real.

If however, you do meet someone who you find attractive, share a similar vibe with and think is worth the effort then perhaps there is hope. A friend of mine, for instance, found the love of her life on Tinder (who knew!). I suppose the problem doesn’t stem as much from the means of how we meet people as it does from what it is that we do with them, once we have met.

The apps are a great way to meet people who you wouldn’t under ordinary circumstances as long as you know what you are looking for and are open to receiving it.

Then again, what’s the hurry?

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