Opinion

Dating apps aren’t killing romance – our attitude is

Another day, another person slinging mud at a dating app.

Tinder, giving boring singletons something to wang on about in All Bar One since 2012, has come in for a slating from historian Lucy Worsley, who claims it is removing the romance from our lives.

Citing romantic novels of the past, which as a historian is her right, I guess, she claims true romance lies in the overcoming of obstacles. The “slow exquisite torture” of love and romance in Jane Austen’s novels has been wiped out by Grindr and Tinder, according to Worsley, who has a new series on BBC Four to flog – and yes it’s about romance through the ages.

The torture of romance in Jane Austen’s books may well be slow, but exquisite it was not – I spent one of the most miserable terms of my life picking apart Emma in A-level English literature, praying a character would do something, anything, other than laugh behind their hand or talk like they were reading out a recipe for roasted ptarmigan to a toddler.

It is very easy to blame the progress of technology for all our social ills – TV has been getting in the neck for decades, after all – but the reality is rather different. We may be losing outdated, traditional courting methods, but we are gaining new ones, and it’s bringing people together like never before. 26 million matches a day on Tinder, apparently. Lizzie Bennet wishes, eh?

The funniest part of Lucy Worsley’s dismissal of Tinder and Grindr is her assertion they make it “too easy” to meet people. She has clearly never spent a night on Grindr battling her way through a slew of guys sending unsolicited dick pics or parroting “hey mr x” at anyone who happens to be online.

Easy? She should try wasting hours and hours and hours cultivating a textual romance with the hottie from 0.7km away who, upon turning up to your date, appears to be his own older, uglier, less articulate brother.

No obstacles to overcome? Try spending an entire summer trying to decipher whether NoFunJustLove only being online after 11pm on weeknights means he’s actually married.

We have less time than the moneyed bores of Jane Austen novels who sail in and out of drawing rooms twisting their handkerchieves in their hands, true, so we have to think fast and know what we want. Dating apps let us do that. When looking for the one, isn’t it best to discount those who most certainly are not the one, rather than waste their time, and ours, feigning love and giving false hope? A swipe-left isn’t cruel, it’s a kindness – you’re sending them on their way to something better, someone else.

While these apps might expose us to idiots more easily than we would have before, here’s a hot take: thundering dickheads, sex pests and monosyllabic douches have been around since time immemorial. They didn’t invent them in Grindr HQ.

It’s not just Jane Austen fangirls who blame dating apps for killing romance; you get it from embittered singletons and, bafflingly, from couples who got together with more conventional means.

“Why can’t people meet the old-fashioned way?” they screech. What is the old-fashioned way? A tragic affair with your boss that leads into cohabitation? Strangers staggering out of a bar together and into 18 months of arguments, over-lit selfies and pregnancy scares? Being introduced by friends who want to get you paired up so you don’t embarrass them by drinking too much at their dinner parties?

Traditional means of hooking up are dying out because they are even less of a guarantee things are going to work out. If you’re going to fail, it needs to be fast. Life is short and, my oh  my, look at the time.

We need to call time on blaming tec for our inadequacies and evolve. Grindr can be a threatening, lonely place, yes, but there are so many positives, allowing us to reach out in ways unthinkable even 10 years  ago. A relationship forged on a hookup app has no less legitimacy than eyes meeting across a crowded room.

And, singletons, if you really think the immediacy of a dating app is standing between you and true love, here’s a three-point guide to turning that round:

  1. Get a decent haircut, for crying out loud.
  2. Up your chat game – “hi hows u?” isn’t cutting it anymore. You can do this. Talk like a normal person, show an interest, be kind.
  3. Have a real hard think about whether it’s the app that’s keeping you single, or whether you’re a crybaby with a fuck-awful personality and an inferiority complex. Just a thought.

The online world killing romance? Tell that to the hearts that flutter whenever they get a match from their dream guy. Preach it to the couple who turned a Grindr hookup into a marriage. And last of all, come say it to me – I met my boyfriend on Twitter and I’ve all the hearts and flowers I need for the moment, thank you.

And I didn’t even need to spend an entire novel dreaming of him emerging from a lake in soaking breeches to get them, either.

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Image: Flickr

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  1. If it weren’t for technology I would never have been able to explore my sexuality safely, I would never have gotten in contact with the wider gay community, I would never have met my boyfriend. If it weren’t for technology my life would be very different today, and not for the better.

  2. Being a shy and fairly insecure individual (I call myself ‘socially retarded’), I don’t know what I would have done without online dating and apps like Grindr / Tinder / Scruff. Somehow I find it much easier to strike up a conversation online, and it allows me to tell more about myself than otherwise would be possible (yes, I’m one of those weirdos who has* a full profile on Grindr).

    Apps are what you allow them to be – nobody is forcing you to swipe left or on the opposite, to fuck a first available hole. Some of the best experiences / friendships / relationships in my life started with online chats via apps.

    And yes, the constant stream of messages from creeps and weirdos can be daunting – but how is this any different from clubs or bars? (apart from being safer?)
    And apps can be a great learning opportunity – for example, recently I discovered that a particular hot guy I fancied is a racist junkie with penchant for unwrapped cocks. So thank you Grindr for helping me to avoid trouble!

    * – well, had a profile; being a drama queen, I’m taking a break right now.

    1. Absolutely. Going to bars or saunas simply isn’t an option for masses of people – dating apps help you talk and iron out any ‘incompatibilities’ before you even meet. Although, on the flipside, this does mean you are perhaps missing out on ‘growing’ to like somebody, which can happen with people who don’t seem like matches at first.

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