Ah, yes, here you are again: Sunday evening, somewhere between upright and prone on the sofa, flicking through Tinder. Look at this pose you’re doing here: your chin is stapled to your chest, and your mouth is pulled open into a sort of formless, shapeless gape.
It’s possible your hand is down your trousers, but not in a fun way. I am going to go out on a limb and guess there are crisp crumbs down the front of your top. Think of all those women, out there, staring up at you from their phone. Think of how clean and fragrant they are, and with good posture. And do they really deserve this squalid little man sliding up to them with another “hey ;-)” Tinder opener? No, no, yes, yes yes yes, dole out today’s precious Super Like. Zero matches. Close the app and think about your life.
Dating in 2017 has been very stressful for all of us, and I think in 2018 we need to stop. Hey: let’s everyone take a year off from it. It’s fine. The world won’t stop. We have enough babies to tide us all over for a bit. We can all do with a summer off from attending weddings. A dating amnesty in 2018 could help us all out: think what we could do with all that time and energy. You could finally learn that guitar chord you told yourself you’d do two years ago. You could finally read House Of Leaves! Get outside! Run!
First up, you need to get rid of the apps.
Dating apps are incredibly fun for anywhere between twelve and sixteen hours and then they instantly become sort of dark and dreadful, every cheery holiday photo smile becoming somehow strained and hollow-seeming after you flick through 100 of them in a single horny twenty-minute bus stop burst, all those simultaneous conversations puttering away – ah, yes, aha, where do you work? What is your favourite type of cheese? Ah so you’re on the Victoria line, it’s a good line.
We were sold a utopia with dating apps, a sea of stress-free, no-mess hook-ups, and instead we have the inverse: here’s you, locked in frantic smalltalk with five other people, two of which have the same basic haircut so you keep getting them confused, all of which you’ve told the same anecdote about your weekend to, and none of which are free this Tuesday, the only day in the next fortnight you have spare. You do not need this stress in your life.
Then there are the dates themselves. Good dates are great – drinking, laughing, hair touching, all of it building to that deep-in-your-stomach jolt of something a little bit in the sound and shape of a feeling, oh God – but bad dates are just agony.
There are the complicated dates where you’ve tried to cram two bars and a restaurant into one single evening. There are the ‘do a cute thing’ dates, which always sound good on paper until you’re wordlessly watching some sort of experiential play in an underground bunker somewhere. There is that date when you lost your entire mind and suggested crazy golf.
There are the dates where you are feeling very casual about the whole thing and they are explaining in detail every way an ex-boyfriend has wronged them, and there are the dates where the roles are reversed and you are the one turning ‘fun drinks’ into ‘intense therapy’. Worst of all, there are the dates where you’re both just sat at the same high table in Wetherspoons, the only sound being the small sucking sounds of a straw in a glass of gin and tonic, and then someone says, “So… good day at work?” When you have somehow ruined the precious atmosphere of the three closest pubs to both your work and your house, you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing.
This is what you’re doing: you’re ending anxiety dating. No more worrying about ghosting, or game-playing, or coming across as too hot or too cold. You can still talk to people – hell, have intercourse! See if I care! – but you need to ditch the stress. Delete the apps that keep running out of matches for you to swipe on so just pulsate there, searching, forever.
Stop losing every Tuesday and most of your Thursdays to going out drinking with someone and, an hour after you get home, getting a page-long text about how it’s not going to work out. We’ve created a dating culture where it’s incredibly easy to meet people but not so easy to connect, and you need to take a step back.
Come, sit down here on the crispy sofa with me, and let’s learn this guitar chord.
(Illustration: Alex Hahn, other images: iStock)