Modern dating – so disorientating that the nearest point of comparison is the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan – can be difficult, and disheartening, and sometimes quite hurtful. Olde-timey dating was all of that, too, but technology has made it so much easier for us to be awful to one another.
To date is to display your tenderloin at the meat market: it means putting yourself out there, which means any slight during the dating process feels deeply personal. Of course, you're also a buyer, looking for a juicy rump steak to hold onto at night – and being the buyer can make us callous and thoughtless, particularly with the veil of technology to hide behind.
Whether you're straight (one to two dates at a Spoons, followed by A-B-C cunnilingus) or queer (let's reply to each other's Insta-stories with emojis until we die or get married!), dating, currently, feels not that great? Simultaneously easier to meet people and simpler to sack them off.
We’d like to suggest that none of us have to be that way anymore. We've had the internet for long enough now; the lessons have been learned. Ethical dating in 2018 is possible. Here's how.
Stop Fucking Ghosting People
First things first: the big fella. The worst thing technology has enabled when it comes to dating is the ability to completely sever contact with someone without explaining why. Most people who use the internet to date are probably guilty of it, and most have probably been victim to it too, but if you're still ghosting in the year of our Lord 2018: wyd?
Obviously you don't have to give everyone you've taken on a stilted "two-Peronis-and-off-home-for-a-wank date a whole break-up speech. But reminder: you are an adult who is fully capable of sending a text along the lines of, "Hey! Not sure I'm feeling this anymore, really sorry and hope you're all good" to someone you've hung out with a few times. Especially if you've slept with them.
"A Bit Awkward For Like Five Minutes" is not the worst emotion you can feel. Grow up.
A familiar scene: you’ve posted an Instagram story of a sausage dog you saw on the Overground (w/ glittery "I love you" .gif), and you idly check who has #engaged with your #content-cum-wholesome thirst trap. Up top are your four actual friends, followed by a smattering of people who were just flicking through – and then there, floating somewhere in the middle, is an old hook-up who stopped speaking to you months ago, but who watches your stories and likes your tweets religiously.
You've done it, we've done it, they've done it. But it doesn't mean it's good. Even if it’s not as consciously manipulative and pernicious as juggling people, this whole charade – keeping communication open, at a distance, every so often – is what makes dating these days feel so meh.
Mute and Move On
So instead of breadcrumbing old flames and leaving a ridiculous trail of 1AM Insta likes and Facebook heart reacts in your idiotic wake, you can either make a genuine attempt at forming a friendship with a former flame, or just fucking mute and/or unfollow/de-friend the object of your constant ogling and move on. If you stop engaging, you stop being confusing (and creepily voyeuristic), and that’s best for everyone involved.
Get an STD Check for the Love of All That Is Good
This summer could be a big gorgeous sex buffet, but before you dig into the sausage rolls and ham sandwiches, maybe just give your paws a little wipe, know what I mean? Keeping on top of your sexual health (and disclosing any long-term issues to new partners) is pretty key if you’re dating/fucking casually, and not enough people – particularly cisgender, straight men – do it.
It's so easy, though! Order a testing kit online – or, better still, get yourself to the clinic for a full MOT – and then: go forth and shag into the night.
Don't Creepily Like and Fav a Stranger's Every Post
Me: *posts a tweet about a song I like*
Some Fucking Guy: "haha, love that one."
Me: *posts a selfie*
Some Fucking Guy: *favs within ten seconds*
Me: *asks for recommendations for things to do in a new city*
Some Fucking Guy: "never been but heard it's so nice, have a great time :)"
This Fucking Guy. He's being nice! He's not doing anything wrong! I'm just a cow! Except, I'm not.
Chances are, if you're an ~online~ type of person (and especially if you’re an ~online~ type of woman) you’ve experienced someone you don’t know liking literally everything you ever post, and offering pointless responses to even your most inane tweets, despite your lack of reciprocation. Of course it’s great to be friendly, and the world could do with more of that, but it’s pretty clear when that friendliness is something more, and constantly talking at someone who isn’t interested is bad, entitled behaviour. Take the hint and move on.
Shit Or Get Off the Pot
The golden age of Tinder (et al.) is no more. Here are some reasons why:
– People feel crap so stop messaging.
– People feel crap so don’t reply to messages, even when they receive them.
– People have profiles when they’re seriously dating people, so aren’t actually "there".
– People, often LGBTQ people, sometimes use dating apps to meet friends/dates for brief holidays, then forget to delete their profile afterwards.
I can't make you feel better – I just can't! sorry! – so answers on a postcard for those first two. But for the second two, the solution is simple: just deactivate your dating accounts when you don’t need them anymore, i.e. when you're seriously dating someone, or not in the city you have your city set as, or just generally CBA with dating.
And actually deactivate, don't just delete the app. Dating apps are bad enough without having to work out if people are even there.
Make It Clear What You Want
Turn up to a first date as a queer person, and you're inevitably turning up to meet a friend's ex. Generally, the dating pool is smaller, so whenever you spot someone new you like the look of, on whatever app it is you use, you'll near-enough break your finger swiping right.
Annoyingly, though, every 20 to 30 seconds of scrolling through Tinder, this will happen:
* scroll, scroll, scroll *
Amy, 28 – Beautiful woman holding pup! Beautiful woman on the beach! Flushed beautiful woman with fruity cocktail! Beautiful woman in bar with pasty man (friend?)!
* immediately swipe right *
Amy messages you, propositioning you for a threesome, and you realise you missed the unicorn emoji – a signal that she's a bisexual woman seeking a threesome – among the myriad emojis at the bottom of her bio. Which: sure, there's space for everyone to do their own thing. But we're busy people – please make it a little clearer, if you're only on there to find a threesome, that you're only on there to find a threesome. Better yet, use an app specifically for threesomes.
Bonus point: Don’t approach bi/fluid people who have been upfront about their orientation on their social media platform straight up assuming that they're into threesomes or polyamory.
Since the dawn of time, (predominantly) straight men have used negging to bring exquisite mythical creatures (women) down to their level.
Of course, negging has adapted and become more subtle now that we're all acutely aware of how amazing women are – but it still exists. Left-wing men, feminist "allies" and irony bros are just as good at this as anyone else. It's mock-sneering at your favourite pop-stars. It's hearing someone make a slightly-rude comment about you, and then passing it on with the caveat of, "Not me, I stuck up for you!" It's slyly complimenting you on the most basic aspects of yourself, like you are a child learning to spell four-letter words.
Smother us in playful teasing, but don't neg us. Don't tease us about sore points, or stuff you know is important to us. Flirting without being a cunt? Actually quite easy when you try.
Bonus point: If your bio reads: "Is it really that hard to find a woman who doesn't take selfies, can actually hold a conversation, isn't scared of a proper meal and isn't totally self-absorbed?" you, my friend, have fallen at the first hurdle.
Two dates in and they're joking about the middle names of your three hypothetical kids, wistfully planning the ethically-sound business you'll run together by the sea and sharing cute pics of Chow Chows (your joint favourite breed?! Weird!!) while you're apart.
Sadly, the people pumping you full of throwaway dreams are often the same people who are terrified of real romantic commitment. A few weeks after they've texted you at 6AM to tell you they've settled on a name for your vegan shoe shop – "Planted", or "To My Toes", or some bollocks – they'll stop calling when they said they would. The confusion will disarm you and you'll end up wondering if you're the one who misread it all. Very unnecessary. See also: ghosting, breadcrumbing.
Make Your Bedroom Basically Habitable
It's fine to live in relative filth when you're in your own delightful company, chaining episodes of Queer Eye and unhinging your jaw to fit an entire pizza inside it at once, but if you've made it past the date stage with another IRL human and you'd now quite like them to get naked in your room, you could at least pick up your pants off the floor and change the bedsheets to some that are less visibly crispy?
Don't Search and Add By Any Means Necessary
Not saying everyone has to go around asking for explicit consent to add someone on a social platform, but, like, use your head. We have matched on Tinder! Maybe we are speaking! You are blessed! This is all you require at present! Don't follow me on Twitter or add me on Facebook.
Similar rules apply for Tindstagramming – messaging someone on Instagram when they’ve rejected you on Tinder. Similar rules apply for weirdly following someone half a year after shagging them on a first date once and never speaking again.
Dating After #MeToo, or: "Please Still Talk to Women In Real Life"
You could circumvent most of the above by flirting IRL. You're allowed to. Not like we aren't all just husks of animals surviving near-exclusively on outside attention. Life is so dry. Come say hi ;-)
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.