Lockdown happened. I don’t really know how to talk about it anymore- I initially kept track of what was happening but the novelty of watching Netflix and organising quizzes ended fast along with my desire to wear makeup and anything that didn’t have an elasticated waistband.
There were two things I became reacquainted with during this particularly bizarre stretch of time one was Tinder and the other was its slightly classier relative Hinge. Dating apps became some sort of weirdly comforting Pen Pal service for horny people that like myself felt stifled by being stuck at home. Ah, the joy of internet dating, best avoided but a source of entertainment if bored- a haven for snapchat filter photos, corny bios and odd humour. Like many I have a love/hate relationship with dating apps. Validation is nice in small doses, but do I really want to throw myself into the head spin of “do I message first”/ “how long do I wait to reply”/ “is that a hot photo of me” etc. etc. Countless screenshots shared between my girlfriends – lockdown had thrown a whole new spanner in the works: “is he messaging out of interest or boredom”, “is he normally this horny or has cabin fever taken over?” The virtual world of dating definitely intensified between my four walls and highlighted the importance of actual decent chat- global pandemic or not “Hey x” or “Add me on snap b” will never be an acceptable opening line. I like to think even during a time of crisis my basic standards of speaking to men that don’t feel the need to exclusively have topless photos as their profile remained.
Hinge has been and will always be the preferred choice- with question prompts to choose and answer there’s more room to gage a personality i.e. whether someone is original or not* (*lack of originality indicated by answering “I am overly competitive about…” with “everything”). I became somewhat of a virtual jetsetter on Hinge, with borders closed I decided to visit Paris (having never been before other than to Disneyland which is definitely not authentic enough to count). I actually spoke to a really interesting graphic design student- classically named Jean Baptiste. With the emphasis being taken away from meeting in person there was more focus on getting to know a person more which can be lost in more normal circumstances.
Despite the humour of dating apps- seeing people you knew from secondary school or like me matching with someone who lied about their age and had two young children- there are always some more problematic elements. For me, whilst the attention that dating apps generate by virtue of them being fuelled by mutual attraction, issues with the need for validation can surface sometimes. Attention is nice but ‘I’ll know I need to delete Hinge when …’ I care too much about what men think of me. There’s a very fine balance between
feeling hot and empowered and this manifesting into feeling dependent on validation. This feeling isn’t just personal to me and people can experience the desire to be validated in lots of different ways. I find dating apps can trigger this need to be seen as attractive which is only natural when people swipe on you based on a select number of chosen photos. When I notice how self-conscious I become- I know it’s time to reconsider whether sending ironic super likes out is worth the effect it can have on mental health especially in a world that emphasises certain restrictive beauty standards so much. Though lockdown did become a time for greater self-care and kindness with more time to focus on the things I don’t like about myself and more time on my phone, it was and still is important to take time out and find some perspective even though this is way easier said than done.
Dating apps should never be a supplement for self-esteem. Sometimes I do find myself getting more joy out of laughing at what I see on dating apps than actually interacting with the people on there. Above everything, I think lockdown taught the importance of finding humour in the simpler things and trying to understand people on a more human and less superficial level. Whether this is something you take into general life or on a dating app- a swipe is just a swipe and attention though a nice boost means little if you don’t reaffirm that within yourself.