Paul Ewart has a warning for all the Tinder users out there.Source:SuppliedGRAPHIC images, one word replies, constant rejection and extreme indifference and flakiness. Im living in what feels like dating Armageddon.
And unfortunately for you, my dating reality could soon become your dating future and its far from pretty.Weve all read and for the singles reading this have likely had firsthand experience of modern day hook-up, I mean dating, culture. Long gone are the Hollywood-esque romances, extended candlelit dinners and gentle wooing.
Instead, its anonymous sex, ghosting, bad behaviour and dick pics.Ever-increasing sordid accounts from Tinder are making headlines the world over and if you think its bad now, well, Im predicting its going to get a hell of a lot worse.You see, as a gay man Ive got a good 3-4 years of dating app experience on you straights (the prolific gay dating app, Grindr, was launched back in 2009, versus Tinder in 2012).
And if the evolution of Grindr that Ive seen is anything to go by, then brace yourselves for extremely bad behaviour, a lack of humanity and blatant objectification.Ill talk you through my own light bulb moment. I split up from my partner last year.
Back in Grindr land after an absence of three years, I noticed that things had become even more base, more graphic and much more hostile.Profile headlines and descriptions were hyper-sexual or all-out prejudiced: No pecs = no sex, Blow me now!, No Asians, No fems, No fatties and No oldies.
It was like the sum of my parts was reduced to a few ticked boxes about my physical attributes and sexual preferences.Paul Ewart has learnt the hard way that it doesnt matter how well travelled you are when it comes to dating apps.Source:SuppliedScrew my education, the amount of travel Ive done, the books Ive read, how nice I am, or my ability to tell a funny story.
Nope, unless I have abs of steel and am willing to shag within 30 minutes of chatting, then forget about it.Now, I know Ill get flack from some gay men for this story. Theyll say that Grindr and the like are hook-up platforms, so I shouldnt be complaining.
Yes, I know this. Theres nothing wrong with a bit of fun and Im far from saintly but what comes after hooking-up? Or is that it?
And, when it comes to gay dating in the virtual world, where else do you go?The dates I do go on are, by and large, not great. Ive been stood up twice, conversation is often one-sided and theres a lacklustre amount of effort.
I theorise that its like a twisted Pavlovs dogs scenario. Exposed to this bad behaviour again and again, its only a matter of time before users start to normalise it and start to dish it out themselves in a vicious cycle.Despite an increasing feeling of disappointment, Id use the app compulsively, clocking up hours of mindless scrolling.
I started to identify that I was feeling anxious and lonely at the same time. Why didnt he reply? Whats wrong with me?
Id ask myself. I knew it was time to stop, so I did. Going cold turkey, I pressed delete, but then had to ask myself: What next?
IS TINDER THE NEW GRINDR? Karina Pamamull, a dating consultant and founder of believes that the precedent set by Grindr is being adopted in the heterosexual world.Straight dating has started to mimic dating in the gay community, she says.
We have moved to a culture of hook ups. Forget the date, say what you want and within a few hours you could be having sex.The parallels between these two dating app big guns (Grindr and Tinder) are starting to look uncanny.
And given the increasing reputation of Tinder as a hook-up app, straight users could soon experience the downsides of sex-focused dating.Seeing a greater uptake of apps in the straight world that satisfy users based on solely on sex or their specific sexual preferences could lead to some of the pitfalls that many users of gay hook-up apps report, says Dan Auerbach, relationship counsellor & psychotherapist at Associated Counsellors & Psychologist Sydney.Long term users of gay dating apps who engage in instant hook-ups based solely on proximity and a snapshot image can, over time, experience severe burnout.
It can lead to a vicious cycle of loneliness and dissatisfaction.LONG TERM DAMAGE A recent study, presented at the American Psychological Association, suggested that dating apps (specifically Tinder) can reduce self-esteem and creating a negative perception of body image. Interestingly, the results showed that men were just as affected by women, if not more.
While this study was Tinder-specific, the disturbing impact of its long-term use is similar to what Dan has already seen in the gay world.Humans are wired for intimate connection, not just sex or pleasure, explains Dan. For wellbeing, we need others who we can rely on to offer us emotional connection, emotional safety and support.
People are marketed the fantasy of quickly finding a relationship. After significant effort if thats not delivered, they may feel that there is no one out there for them, or that they themselves are not attractive to others.BUT ITS NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM While theres no obvious solution, particularly with the addictive nature of these apps, the experts I chatted with believe theres still hope.
People will always having a longing for the human element, says Karina. Though dating apps are now the norm, for singles that seek real love, I would like to think that they continue to push themselves to step outside and join social groups and encourage friends and family to set them up.Whereas Karina sees the solution in diversifying with non app-based activities, Dan thinks that the onus is on the app creators themselves.
To overcome these greater numbers of lonely people struggling to find a connection, the online dating market will need to incorporate more features of real life engagement, he says.Trends in dating apps to connect profiles to other social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook are a start, but eventually app developers may find that those looking for love need a more immersive experience of the other person.As for me, Im up for staging a rebellion before its too late, or at least going back to basics to some degree.
Though they are (almost) irresistible, Id encourage anyone feeling frustrated with whatever dating app theyre on gay or straight to ditch em for a month or two.If thats too hard, then at least try to adjust your behaviour online to match your behaviour offline.If youre a caring, decent soul in person, then make sure your app self isnt morally bankrupt.
Think before you swipe, skip the exhausting game playing and drop the indifferent attitude. Meeting a fellow human being should be exciting just like you, they have a sack full of beautiful experiences and life stories to tell.Finally, get out.
Talk to the guy or gal next to you at yoga practice, in the gym, or at the bar. Pay strangers compliments, regardless of their age, their sex or whether you find them attractive. And smile!
As tawdry as it sounds, it really is infectious.Be kind and youll feel it back in return. I promise.
Matt's top 5 Tinder tips