I used to leave most Thursday nights open, in case I could plan a date for then (I realise this is the whole premise of the new dating app, Thursday, but I was ahead of my time). Similarly, in the early days of dating, one or more parties (and in heterosexual relationship, it is almost always the woman) will be likely to leave “just in case space” in their weeks or weekend, for the person they’re seeing. In my experience, this has often led to disappointment when that person i) isn’t free (fair enough) or ii) never suggests meeting up so you end up in a strange tug of war where you don’t want to propose it again (fair-ish, some people aren’t planners, but always nice when both parties pull their weight). Anyway – with both of these off the agenda for a while, I plan my weeks with actual, concrete plans, the way I like them. And it is fabulous.
Throughout my years of dating, I think a large part of what I was searching for was the excitement of getting to know a person – first, the romantic hopefulness of an initial meeting, then peeling back the layers of someone and getting to know them intricately
OK – so this one will take a little explanation. Anyway, I wasn’t about to try to outsmart a Silicon Valley software engineer (although side note, turning your phone settings from colour to black and white can reduce the addictive effects). What I did decide to do, however, was replace my dating app tech addiction with one that might better serve me: DuoLingo. For the first month or so of being off dating apps, whenever I reached for my phone and instinctively scrolled to where my dating app used to be, I’d instead be met with my DuoLingo app – and this spurred on a daily Spanish practice. I’ve now learnt just over 2,000 words, meaning I’m well on my way to conversational Spanish (which they say is 3,000) and I’m a tenth of the way to fluency, which is calculated at a minimum of 20,000 words. Will this one day facilitate a meet-cute with a Spanish man? Maybe – watch this space.
Having let go of the (erroneous) notion that a single right swipe could change my life, I’ve let myself travel once again without fearing that it will shut me off from the prospect of meeting someone, or of developing things with someone I’ve only been dating a week or two. As a result, I’ve seriously exercised my travel wings this year, visiting five countries: Spain (Valencia and Barcelona), Italy (Florence), France (Bordeaux, Colombia (everywhere) and Abu Dhabi. Some of these trips are for work, others for pleasure. But one thing’s for sure; I never would have pushed myself to take them if I was on dating apps right now.
I realised that dating app technology, like many apps, is designed around video game technology: with a ‘rewards’ system based around satisfying colours, sounds and notifications which gets you hooked
At times of my life where this hasn’t been possible (namely, as a shy teenager, or during sexless periods like the Christmas holidays or, say, a global pandemic), I’ve turned to books for the same excitement. Because in the same way you invest yourself in getting to know a partner, you do so with a character – it’s no cliche to say you really do fall in love, and so often the best love affairs are written in books too. And while I won’t hide in this escapist world forever, I have enjoyed reading gorgeous novels like Lessons In Chemistry, or Cleopatra Frankenstein – and consider it a way to keep my foot safely in the romantic world.