How often in today's technological world, do people have to really put their feelings on the line like this, where rejection would be so instant?

When I walked up to that date recently, it took courage. An underlying human attribute. Where is that courage when you simply need to swipe right, and what effect is this having on a whole generation of digital residents? After numerous dates with various people I’ve met online or in person, I feel inclined to let them know I’m asexual. I feel inclined when I really shouldn’t have to, but growing up in this wired society of one night stands is easy to come to terms with. Yeah they express they’re fine with it, but the attitudes from them soon after are not. The text messaging become shorter, or they fade to offline grey. Surely this means they were in this for the sex the whole time?

Why are we forming these relationships online? Think about the asynchronous nature of communication. Give most of us ten odd minutes on Google and I’m pretty sure we could pretend to be sufficient on just about anything. Then give us some time to craft a funny and witty message, I’m now certain we’d then all be quite charming. Anyone who reads knows that it is possible to fall in love with someones words, so people messaging back and forth might get real intimate real fast, but why intimacy?

We want to share our lives with others, and we do this all the time online. Think of your news feed, it carries all these little stories of peoples lives. Evidence that it is natural for us as humans to want to build connections with others, and to have attachment in our bonds whether they’re offline or online. Hyper-personal communication occurs on our screens, where we idealise the centre of the message, we take time to craft text that depicts our best selves, and then we interpret messages in a way that serves to magnify intimacy. 

On the surface, getting to know someone this quickly doesn’t sound too bad. The internet allows it easy to lie about who you are, even to the point of “catfishing”. The fantasy doesn’t always match the reality, how often do you misrepresent yourself when posting? Maybe you don’t lie about your age, but you probably won’t post that picture where you’re looking tired and raddled (I don’t). Submitting anything about yourself that’d cast you in an unfavourable light definitely isn’t common.

Every one of us are surrounded by potential mating alternatives, and science says you’re looking right at them. It is basic relativity to continually evaluate the quality of the alternatives around us, but for the first time in human history you now have access to everyone at your fingertips. In other words, the internet is a trouble-free place to find love, with a seemingly endless array of options (or back burners).

Relationship theories say that if you’re highly invested in your relationship and satisfied, you’re supposed to devalue those alternatives? Wouldn’t that make you less likely to keep in contact with them? Not necessarily, today's technological landscape of communication makes it so easy for us to communicate with the people we’re attracted to. Even if we begin that communication innocently with no romantic desires, over the course of getting to know somebody you might begin to think “Maybe I could see myself with this individual some day in the future?”. 

When meeting someone offline straight from the online, the connection could totally blossom from the get go, theres no denying this. Yet the dating app they’ve used must remain installed after numerous dates, it’s all about this constant likeability. I’ve been there too, regardless of whether that date went well or not you start swiping again that same night, out of sheer habit. Who stops to consider what they’re doing in the era of new love, or in the honeymoon period of friendship? Before the world wide web, dealing with an ex meant tossing out the love notes under your bed and looking over your shoulder at parties.

I’ve been on eleven dates through apps this year, and I think I’m doing it all wrong. Thousands of teenagers and young adults, faces warmed by the glow of their iPhones, are surely rolling their eyes with me. I’ve realised the main competition is everybody, and I’m just not sure where I stand at the moment.

Jackson Grant