The January Editor's Letter: On the State of Dating
At the start of a new year, humankind often finds itself in a hopeful position of self-betterment.
Gym memberships skyrocket and those that scorned love in the year prior, make yet another valiant effort to be worthy of it, and find someone who may be worthy of theirs. January and February see a lot of moving and shaking; be better, be better! In a busy time such as 2019, however, one may not have the time to find The One between sweating it out at the gym and making the cash money during the workweek. We’re all too wild on the weekends to put forth any semblance of impressive human thought or emotion, so where does that leave us?
The onslaught of online dating sites in the mid-nineties started an evolution which we urban youth now find ourselves swimming in. (Swimming, drowning, whatever.) And while I’m sure Match.com and eHarmony were wild and crazy in their own right back in the day, never before have humans had dating apps —full access to an encyclopedia of people on the outward facing end of your thumb. Never before have we been able to judge potential partners with such speed, agility, dexterity. And, arguably, never before has it been so much fun.
In my opinion—and granted, I’d never feign to be the voice of reason in any regard, particularly in relationships—there is just something fundamentally insane about the entire process. It’s something I simply cannot be chill about; no way, no how. These are strangers. And you want them to get to know me? We’re supposed to meet? Or is that part optional? Can’t I just make fun of everyone from the comfort of my bathrobe and then delete the app three days later only to repeat this entire process the following month?
Three glasses of wine deep on a Friday night, I tried my hand at my friend’s Hinge profile. The prompt? “Together we could:” My answer? “Destroy the universe.” (I think all of this is hilarious when it’s anyone else’s emotional life on the roasting spit.) Another friend scored big by making every answer on Hinge “chicken nuggets.” I tell you, men love those dollar menu thrills.
I complained to a male coworker of mine that the guys are all the same. I took tally one night of how many subtly bearded men (always shirtless, always with a dog), claimed the following: Favorite karaoke song? Africa by Toto. Biggest regret? Frosted tips in middle school. Most spontaneous thing I ever did? Booked a one way ticket to [Bali/Argentina/Thailand] and backpacked my way into self actualization.
My coworker had a wonderful counterargument prepared. The girls are all the same. Where can you find them at a party? Petting the dog. Dream dinner guest? Shania Twain.
Are we all so unoriginal? How will we ever prove ourselves fit for love and attention when we are completely and apparently lacking authenticity. And does any of it actually matter?
I’d wager this is not the BC and AD of dating. We are still fumbling through the plays and missing the connections, and the swiping and liking has both bettered and worsened the process similar to the way automobiles both quickened travel and ironically slowed it down (fact: it takes longer to cross Manhattan in a taxi now than it would to cross it in a horse and carriage). That thing called love. It still blows. We still feen for it. It still feels spectacular to be strung out and believing, all at once.
I’ve condescendingly told myself a human being cannot be ascertained in a few photos, three questions, a well-posed DM slide. How shallow. Yet I have written dreams about guys across the bar, that dude on the treadmill, the back of someone’s head at a music festival. What is less shallow? What is more honorable? Neither and both. But my advice for February is look up and around as frequently as you’re looking down with a fatefully posed thumb. Who knows who you could meet.
// Photography by Raw Pixel.