How do you feel about dating right now?
I know that this whole pandemic business has made it pretty difficult, but even before that, it felt like people were pretty done with dating culture.
Around two thirds of American daters say their dating lives aren’t going well, and 75% reckon it’s difficult to find someone to date. I don’t imagine Aussies are too far behind.
Furthermore, dating apps cause some of the most unhappiness of any apps. Research by the Center for Humane Technology found Grindr had the most unhappy users with 77% of users unhappy while on the app, while more than half of Tinder users were unhappy on the app.
triple j Hack’s Dating app investigation found that apps like Tinder are doing little to curb increasing harassment and predatory behaviour on their platforms, and acting as a “playground” for a whole lot of bad shit.
With all that being said, it seems like a lot needs to change. So, we put the question out to The Hook Up listeners:
“What would you change about dating in 2020?”
Dating apps suck, and it sucks that they’re the only option
“Online dating, I hate it but it’s the only option right now” – @vintage_wannabe
“I think good communication is lost in society these apps provide walls that people hide behind nothing feels real anymore 2020 is a mess” – Anon
“I hate that you have no choice but to go on the apps if you want to meet someone. And while apps can be a stepping level stone to meeting someone in person, it’s not the same thing. You can’t get a vibe or assess of attraction online.” – Mel
“Stop the reliance on online dating. Can someone ask me out in the spice aisle pls??” – @sweetemilyjanee
“More irl pickups!!!! I hate dating apps!” – @yeahtheclare
“People being open to approaching others in the wild. Less reliance on online dating” – @ellykatemc
“I miss meeting people face to face. I find dating apps so hard to connect with anyone” – @spicytacoshell
“Bring back slow dancing in relationships like that shit is way too good” – anon
“Dating apps have made me feel SO burntout, and not meeting people organically when out” – @x.georgia
Enough with ghosting and flaking
“Dating for me in 2020 has been terrible I live in Sydney and organise a date and every time they cancel the night before and blame the excuse on COVID, I just wish they would tell me they weren’t interested to begin with.” Britt from north Sydney
“GHOSTING!! Honestly why and how?? Ugh people suck!” – @jadenedney
“God damn ghosting. so immature” – @becsampsonn
“Ghosting [no emoji] a horrible way to break up with someone or leave them hanging. Needs to stop” – @ashleigh_nw
“People need to ghost less and communicate more” – @emlyaggy
Dating coach Sharam Namdarian says apps make it easier for people to ghost because there’s a degree of anonymity.
“Apps make it easier [to ghost] because that level of investment is significantly lower. You’re behind a million walls and your personality is filtered through an app, that tends to be the reason people ghost,” Sharam says.
Ditch treating people like they’re disposable
“Be rid of the disposable culture app dating has created” – @thekatielees
“Commitment. People throw things away quickly and easily now for perceived better option” – @georgialucy___
“Stop treating people like they are disposable. It’s also okay to say “I’m not into you/that/this” – @thismisskate
“How disposable you feel 🙁 they are always looking/waiting for something better” – @jmmbrwn
“Showing interest until bam you can actually do something physical. Then they say See ya.” – @mecca.galam
Certified sex and intimacy coach Georgia Grace agrees that the reliance on apps has made changed the way we relate to each other.
“I think that the way that we engage with people is kind of transactional,” Georgia says.
When dating apps have no real distinction in design to food delivery, shopping, and other markets on your phone, and are designed to keep you on and swiping, it becomes easy to see people as products.
“It’s like shopping, there could be more and more, and rather than mindfully paying attention to what you’re experiencing and who you’re looking at it tends to be this constant number of faces just going past and it’s terribly impersonal,” sex therapist Jacqueline Hellyer tells The Hook Up.
Basic respect, communication and empathy would be nice
“Literally treating someone with basic dignity is seen as only for ‘serious relationships’” – @radioshoes
“Normalise communication and emotional intelligence/respect over expectation & made up rules” – @savvyvonblanc
“More honesty about what we’re looking for. Dating overseas has shown me how clear it could be” – @andearhofp
“I wish people were honest with each other & didn’t try to hide how much they care omg” – @gigi_hayes
“What needs to change: 1. Everyone is terrible at communicating their expectations 2. Everyone is terrible at putting themselves in one another’s shoes” – Anon
“Been using dating apps since tinder came out and been on a off different apps and yea get a wide range of responses some my fault and some others but I feel mostly I get ghosted and people just can’t commit to continuing the conversation and I’m guilty of doing the same” – James
“People learning to reject and to be able to take rejection better/in a more healthy manner.” – @krugerr
Alita Brydon chronicles people’s shitty (often literally) dating stories on Bad Dates of Melbourne and Bad Dates of Australia on Facebook and Instagram.
She sees crappy date stories all the time, and says respect is the big thing that needs to change when it comes to dating.
“There is a lack of respect in dating, and I don’t think it’s just in dating apps, I think it’s been happening for a long time, people are quite disrespectful and dismissive on the apps, people flake, people ghost, people are abusive, it’s a big problem,” Alita tells The Hook Up.
“I think the reality is we’re dating more people than ever with dating apps so if someone’s going on 10 dates as opposed to one date, that’s 10 more opportunities for someone to act poorly so I think it’s just a problem that’s been bubbling along for a long time and now we’ve got this opportunity to go on a million times more dates, it just comes out in the open.”
Apps themselves could use some tweaks
“Those prompt questions that are on dating apps. Get rid of them. So staged” – @fsawesome_caitlin
“I think dating apps should display how many people you’re ACTIVELY talking to” – @just_missy_jane
You want to be able to move slower and actually have relationships before sex
“I’d love more people to be open to a friendship before a romantic relationship” – @krugerr
“Less pressure to know what you want” – @not_even_ebony
“The ability to b straight up to [sic] people and WANT a relationship” – @esmir.hargraves
“Omg stop this exclusive-but-not-in-a-relationship stage. So dumb” – @sophieyeahwoo
Flip the script and be the change you want to see
Sharam says while we can’t personally change everyone’s behaviour, we can be the change we want to see.
“We can try and change the world, but when it comes to individual people, one thing that can help them gain a lot of momentum quickly in this area is to flip the experiences. Say you’ve been ghosted, that’s bad, but you have an opportunity to meet someone good. Count all the positive experiences you have,” he says.
“If people are looking for bad experiences in dating often what they’ll do is they’ll find more. So we flip that around.”
Georgia also says you can set a better example for people as well as setting a baseline level of how you want to be treated.
“If you come to any sort of dating scenario with openness, vulnerability, great communication skills, that will really help. There is of course a risk involved that if you are coming with all that vulnerability, all that openness, it may not be met with the same skills and the same openness and that is the risk, but I guess that’s the risk of dating,” she says.
She says while dating can be a pain, it can also be thrilling.
“We do hear about many bad dates and awful experiences and I guess if we’re looking at the risk that’s involved in our heart being broken or it being a flop, or awkward or liking them and them not liking us and vice versa, that risk involved in connecting with new people is one of the things that makes dating so exciting, it’s one of the things that makes the start of a relationship so memorable, it makes sex really great, so yes, you could flip it and change the way you’re seeing it, and working on the way you want to approach the situation.”
And at the very least, if people aren’t into mutual respect and strong communication, you’ve dodged a bullet.
“Hopefully you’ll be at least able to weed out the people who don’t want to engage with you in that way.”
Want more dating chat? Subscribe to The Hook Up podcast on the triple j app, or wherever you get your pods.