The dreaded D word. You rock up to those awkward family affairs and everyone asks who you're dating at the moment, are you seeing anyone? And it's not just family, every time you chat with a friend it all seems to be about who you're seeing and then comes the pitty smile when you say "oh no one".
I know it’s not just me who’s approach to dating has become half-hearted and I also know I’m not the only one who's tired and unenthused about dating in our instant culture. I talk to countless attractive, smart, socially apt friends about the good, the bad and the ugly sides of dating and what I’ve taken away from these conversations is no one has the answer to how to do it successfully. Not those who have been in “the game” for years or those recently out of long term relationships. Really, as women we haven’t progressed far from the days of Sex and The City where they too sat around talking about guys, sex and the problems of dating. The difference between SITC 2000’s era, and now, is we probably have less post-it note break ups and more crappy text messages, or shall I say none at all...just dead silence. No one knows exactly what works, there are no set rules and regulations and however frustrating it can be we will never get a formula to the problem because no two people are alike.
Welcome to singledom 21st century where our lives are ruled by our apps and it seems finding any eligible guy (or girl for some) to date is nearly as impossible as finishing your Instagram feed. Powderfinger were right when they said "these days turned out nothing like I had planned". We were taught that growing up is fun, your single years are the best years and you'll get whisked out on dates and taken to extravagant parties. It seems it was all a lie and Hollywood of course had us tricked from the get go. We supposedly have all the communication tools in the world which could allow us (according to the genius’ who make the apps) to be able to find a soul mate, but forget soul mate, how many of us are actually having any success just dating to begin with? I'm not looking for a soul mate, but someone just to have dinner with would be nice start.
We spend our days controlled by technology from whatsapp to our notes pages to those pesky dating apps. I’ll admit I’ve tried a few (not successfully clearly) and I think my lack of success comes down to the fact I’d like just to meet someone in person, not through my phone. It would be nice to have some human interaction with someone rather than hidden behind some profile picture. I might also add that there is no preference picking on these apps yet, so while I’m spending/wasting time scrolling past local guys here I’m not interested in, I guarantee they are just as frustrated having to scroll past western girls they aren’t interested in either.
On the flip side, there are of course the serial daters out there who have dates lined up night after night. What I've learnt from these daters is that it's just as disappointing and emotionally draining as not dating. You schedule the date, plan activities around it, make sure you've shaved your legs, you methodically apply your make up and put on your best dress all to have mediocre conversation with someone who is clearly not your type. The best part is generally the meal at a restaurant you might have suggested you want to try.
What’s the big issue you may ask? There are plenty of eligible men out there in a city of 8 million people...hmmm I’d like to disagree. There is a scene in the recent movie ‘How To Be Single' that sums up quite well the dating world we live in. Note I am not recommending you take this movie word for word, it's Hollywood after all, but some parts are spot on. In this scene the character played by Alison Brie is sitting in her local bar explaining the troubles of dating in New York. She uses a bowl of peanuts to explain the population breakdown of people in NYC vs eligible guys. Half the bowl are women, half men. Of those men, ⅓ are into other men, ⅓ married or in relationships. This leaves ⅓ of guys who end up being dickheads/ arrogant/ too short/ too tall/ too thin/ too overweight/ too blah blah blah. She basically ends up with a crumb of a peanut describing her chance of meeting a single, eligible guy in NYC and it’s really true for most cities in the world. Living in a city of 8 million people you literally have a one in 8 million chance of finding someone who matches all the qualities and attributes you are looking for, then add in the chances of that person wanting to actually date and it's next to none.
So what about the rules? Some friends of mine swear by the archaic rules of dating like the ones put out by Zoe Foster-Blake and other dating gurus where, as the girl, you should never initiate anything, the man should be the first to make the move, the guy should pay, and so on and so forth. These rules state you should never accept a date for less than a week away, let the guy chase you and yes they may work for some but what about those of us who think that’s a load of bullshit and pushes feminism back hundreds of years? I get where they are coming from in a sense but I can't stand to believe it works for 100% of the male population (or should I say the 1% left to date). I'll admit though I've been in the situation a number of times where I'm going along messaging a guy, he messages back, it's all seeming to go well and then low and behold I suggest a casual drink and the phone goes dead silence... WTF is up with that!!!?!?! I'm not asking them to marry me... I'm initiating a very casual drink, an activity people do on the regular with lots of different people all the time so why does an invite by a girl seem to freak guys out? And what about when you live in a city that runs on speed and adrenalin where everything is heightened and fast forwarded. If I didn’t accept a date here that was less than a week away, the guy would be long gone. A week in Hong Kong is like two weeks anywhere else. People move quickly and emotions come and go as fast as the MTR. These archaic rules conclude that men are just programmed like animals to all react the same way but this is so infuriating to someone who doesn't like games, doesn't like to be coy and would prefer to be honest and upfront without all the bullshit. (on a side note, yes I think I was hard wired without some social girly tenancies and maybe somewhere on the spectrum but it really shouldn’t be this hard).
I think we have been programmed through the media to want this perfect (actually unattainable) life. The perfect body, the perfect house, the perfect job and the perfect partner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m any exception to falling for it. I see it in a lot of things I do and I see it in others too. You’d be lying if you didn’t strive for perfection in some aspect of your life. Everyone seems to be looking for that perfect thing and it seems dating is no exception. Someone can seem keen one minute and unavailable the next and it 99.9% of the time comes down to them not wanting to commit to anything because they are afraid of other potential missed opportunities. Afraid that if they commit they will lose the chance to meet the perfect someone else, so people seem to remain free and never fully attainable.
There is a theory called the Paradox of Choice by American psychologist Barry Shwartz where he compares our decision making in today's society to shopping in a supermarket or shopping for ice cream. The more flavours and choice we have, the harder our decisions become. Just having two ice cream flavours will force you to make a decision faster and you may question it at some point but you will inevitably be happy with whatever you decide. The more flavours you add to the selection, the harder it becomes to choose because you weigh up all your options more. You may pick one but will often deliberate later if it was the right decision. The bigger the city, the more choice, the harder I think it is for people to be happy with their choice which makes it almost impossible for people to commit to one other person.
So what's the best way to approach it? Well I honestly have no answers for you because it all sucks. That's the truth. There are times you get so fed up you just cant be bothered going to the ice cream shop anymore but maybe on the chance you do, try a different approach to whatever you've been doing. Maybe stop being a serial tinder swiper and get out into the real world more often or vice versa if you're not having any luck the other way around. Really, as cliché as it sounds and as much as I hate typing this, I guess we just have to keep trying and who knows, we might meet someone at a coffee shop and it could be someone you really end up liking, but so is the dog you can adopt and having a dog is also a much more viable option - that dog will love you no matter what!
If you have any opinions on the topic let us know. Tell us about your success rates, bad dating stories, what works for you and what hasn't. Join the chat now.