With one-night stands now a vintage relic of the ‘before times’ and dating app burnout in full-swing, finding love has long been due a do-over. Charlie Duffield charts the new frontier
From social dustancing to sex actually being illegal (remember that?), it’s been a historically challenging couple of years for those looking for love. Yet, as we emerge from what is hopefully the worst of the pandemic, many women are using it as a chance to reconsider how they want to navigate the dating landscape.
The pandemic has meant that dating apps weren’t only the most popular way to meet people, but they were the only way. Unsurprisingly this tunnel-vision approach has led to dating app burnout. By the end of 2021, research from dating app Badoo found that 78 per cent of daters felt “stressed” and “let down” by consistently going on incompatible dates.
For Emma Carney, a 35-year-old from London, the pandemic emphasised just “how bad” women have it when it comes to dating. “To be honest, I think it’s hard to shine through a dating app,” Carney tells The Independent. “The focus is on looks; some of us aren’t photogenic and people can be cruel.”
Carney explains that along with dick pics, men have tried to “neg” her, a way of backhand complimenting someone into believing they are not good enough. “I have also met some lovely men on the apps,” she adds, “but there just wasn’t the right vibe. I guess that’s the issue many people have with dating apps. You get really excited about texting, then you meet and it’s just not there. It can be so disheartening.”
After setting up her own digital agency and moving to a new London flat, Carney’s life has become busier and exciting in other ways, and actively dating has lost any appeal – it’s simply “too much effort”. “Why date when you can have fun with your friends or travel?” she says. “Why worry about mixed messages when you can just go have fun and enjoy life again elsewhere?”
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It can be very easy to minimise, dismiss, or not notice some of the very misogynistic aspects of dating culture
The pitfalls of dating apps are all too familiar for the anonymous sex, dating and relationship educator who goes by the name La, La, La, Let Me Explain. La is the author of the new book Block, Delete, Move On and says she is “inundated” with messages from women trying to navigate the modern dating scene.
“It can be very easy to minimise, dismiss, or even not notice some of the very misogynistic aspects of dating culture,” La says. “For example, being asked for nudes and being belittled or mocked for being a prude if you don’t send them. Many women feel that ‘this is just what men do’ rather than framing it as inappropriate and rooted in misogyny and sexual objectification.”
La adds that it “is possible” to engage with dating apps in a healthy way if you are aware of the “red flags and you feel empowered to block, delete and move on when you spot them”.
Dating coach and matchmaker Laura Buckley has also witnessed a growing disillusionment with dating apps. “Having been unable to meet people organically for so long, I’ve seen a real shift in women being more focused on their strategy for dating,” she says.