In the digital age, it seems online dating is more popular than ever, with 30% of American adults having used an online dating site or app. And today, we have a plethora of options at our fingertips. Tinder. Bumble. Grindr. Her. A multitude of options, unlimited possibilities, and increased connectivity. Order intimacy on tap every night of the week. Have it tailored, packaged, and delivered right to our doorstep, with the click of a button. And who wouldn’t want that?
We can build a relationship with someone through just about every platform there is, and believe we know them. Or, we think we do. But what is it to know someone through a screen? This ‘them’ feels personalised and almost more intimate. We know their successes. We know their filtered features. We know their calculated performance. Their contrived messages. It is not social media, so much as a social mask. But, looking at this from an objective perspective, this knowledge remains elusive, speculative, out of reach. We only know what they choose to show. And on the flip side, we only know what we choose to acknowledge.
With this contrived persona in mind, is it any wonder having a relationship seems like a far off reality, sought after in movies and romance era novels. A mid-work musing. A daydream. However, when we start off our initial contact through this idealised projection of self, is it any wonder that the connections we do forge (see, attempt to forge) are so vapid, disingenuous, and often fleeting? Why they normally consist of a swipe right, a talking stage, a hook-up, and a ghost, before becoming someone we just used to know?
Prominently, a study found that Gen Z and millennials are the loneliest generation ever. So at once we are confronted with these two warring ideals. On one hand, we have a never ending supply of intimacy with this constant connectivity. And on the other, we’ve never been more alone. But we are lonely not because there is something irrevocably wrong with us. We are lonely because the modes of intimate connection we make are not genuine.
And dating apps both foster and profit off this loneliness. After all, how can we condense our-selves to Tinder’s 500 word character limit? We are living in a world of calculated intimacy, and wondering why we are unfulfilled and unsatisfied. It’s like we are eating fake food and wondering why it doesn’t taste real. Because, there is nothing that can substitute the real thing.
Thus begs the question, how can we – as daunting as the thought may be – put our I-Phones down, and engage with others in an authentic and genuine manner? In an era of calculated intimacy, here are NBGA’s tips on genuinely engaging with a romantic interest IRL.
1. Pick up IRL.
That’s right. Instead of swiping on every guy with a glass of wine in your lounge-room, why don’t you try going straight to the source? Not only is it fun to get together with your girls, you can gauge who you actually like and dislike. Assess the chemistry in the room. And importantly, make an informed decision from there.
2. Converse IRL.
It can be daunting. You see a cute guy at the bar and nervously assume eye-contact. How can I make the first move, you think? What do I even do?! But nothing says confidents like being able to strike up a conversation. Think that you own the room, and then act like you do. The rest will follow.
3. Call, don’t text.
I used to hate calling, I really did. But, when you call someone you can build a sense of intimacy and connection that just doesn’t occur via text. As opposed to sitting around waiting for a message that might not ever come. Oh, and if they don’t answer or call you back, leave that dead weight exactly where it belongs – behind you.
4. Put your phone away.
I know it can be tempting to answer a text or check the time when on a date. But instead of being glued to the hip with your phone make an effort to actually converse with the person you’re on a date with. Not only do you forge a sense of intimacy and connection, but you get to know them.
This can be applied to both step 2 and 4 respectively but when utilised subtly, this step is great for both getting to know someone, and forging genuine intimacy. When we’re not attached to our phones, we can notice, interpret, and utilise both their and our body language to our advantage. Plus, with the right person, on the right night, it’s hot AF.
This can be terrifying, I know. Because it’s more vulnerable. But because of this vulnerability, it’s also more genuine. Messiness and imperfection are all a part of the package. You can’t be your best angle–contoured-self. But what if we didn’t have to anymore? What if we could envision and create a new dating world in a Post-Covid era, that forsakes ego and vapidity, for authenticity. That changes us for the better. It’s within our grasp. All we need to do now, is reach out and touch it (literally).