On the dating game

I have always been bewildered by the intricacies of dating. While in my early twenties, I found this Pandora’s box to be novel and electrifying, as I age (ever so gracefully), the process has become cumbersome, fully pushing my boundaries of sanity and patience.

In my mind, dating in your 20s should be simple: the equivalent of a confetti party - thriving, vibrant and all around fun. The reality is that romantic pursuits all too often bring out both the best, and worst in us. While the movie industry has led us to believe otherwise, dating, as with most things in life, is a game, resting on the fine balance of probabilities.

The golden rule, of course, is to never be too eager. As a heterosexual woman, I feel a certain social pressure, to often appear seemingly disinterested when first meeting someone. Being too forward, too friendly, too confident is off-putting, as the underlying implication is that you are more invested in the situation than your counterpart. And therein lies the problem. If keenness is viewed as pitifully uncool, then indifference becomes an attractive quality. This game of cat and mouse becomes amusing, because there is a level of risk involved, that the other person may not reciprocate. And thus, we thrive in this tension-filled atmosphere, because it’s exciting not being able to predict its outcome.

In a world of contrasts, I find I am prone to hypocrisy, on all accounts. I complain to my friends about the unwillingness of a guy to be forward. However, in the same regard, if a random stranger approached me on the street inquiring for my number, I would most likely run the other way, if not call the guards.

There is no winning, it seems. Thus, in order, to avoid the awkwardness and confrontation of these encounters, social apps like Tinder or Bumble are allowing strangers to connect through the means of a screen. Much like one-hit wonder Natalie Imbruglia, I am torn because in spite of my dislike of social media, these tools have the power to potentially connect strangers, who may have not had the opportunity to meet otherwise. On the other hand, these sites serve as a sort of a crutch for us.

It is easy to ask someone out through an instant message, because the fear of rejection isn’t as glaringly awkward. We don’t feel as inhibited, because we don’t need to vocalize these seemingly intimidating questions to someone’s face. Thus, while dating websites allow us to soothe our egos, through the validation of a like, they may nullify the need to sharpen our social skills in real life.

There is something to be said about meeting someone, in the flesh. The experience feels altogether, more organic. You can read someone’s body language, their facial expression, which speaks a whole lot more to their character than a digital profile. The intimate nature of dating means that, on the whole, we feel a lot more vulnerable because we have a lot more to lose. Maybe sometimes though, it’s worth taking the risk to break out of our shell, to throw ourselves into this unknown abyss. The result may be surprising, as on the road to getting to know others, we get know a bit more of ourselves.