In a world of tinder, ghosting, almost-relationships and harmless flirting. Genuine human decency is rare to come by. The majority of people I know, are in almost-relationships. AR is a relationship that is kind of like a relationship but not quite. It’s doing everything you would in a normal relationship without actually committing. It’s the on again, off again, it’s the hooking up every few weeks or months, it’s the innocent flirting. Or maybe you only hook up when you’re drunk, but sooner or later one of you will fall for the other, and it will stop being a harmless ‘game.’
Being in an AR is not being in a relationship but it’s not exactly being single either. It’s complicated, but apparently it’s the new normal. You’re sort of stuck in the grey area where all the lines are blurred, you talk, you flirt, sometimes hook up, but if someone asks, you’re just friends. And every ‘what are we’ question is answered with ‘I don’t know, let’s just hook up instead of talk about it.’ It can become a never-ending cycle and I believe some people can definitely get stuck in AR’s. Why? I don’t know, maybe it’s the lack of commitment, no one wants to commit anymore. We live in a world where we think everyone and everything is disposable. Get in a fight in your current AR? No problem, get on an app or Facebook and you got yourself a whole roll of options.
We fucking love playing mind games, little psychological games like the classic ‘intentionally taking hours or even days to reply’ or the ‘what are we’ game. No one wants to get hurt, so we all just walk around pretending we don’t care. We don’t even care wether or not we care. And we don’t want to seem too interested or too available. Because the person who cares less has all the power. And we would rather ghost or straight up cut someone out of our lives than confront them and actually talk instead of texting for once.
My friend Jay tells me about his recent experience of being ghosted. ‘I went out on a few dates with this girl and then she suddenly just stopped replying to my messages. And I found it so weird, because I thought it was going well and we were actually getting somewhere. My first thought was maybe I had said something, but then I was still confused, like why would you just ghost.’ I believe people who ghost are just insecure and don’t want to face someone and be real with them. They assume it’s easier to ignore the problem until it disappears, aka ghost the other person until they take the hint. Or maybe some people do it to be mean, or just because they can. Since they have so many other options already lined up.
Flirting has become sending half naked snapchats, tagging each other in mindless memes or just writing obscure passive aggressive tweets about the person. Hoping she’ll take the hint. Or in hindsight sending each other songs, using someone else’s words to get our own feelings across. Which is somewhat cute and all but still extremely confusing, unclear and messy.
I recently (lol 6-moths ago or so) came out of a serious 2-year relationship and for the first time in my adult life I’m alone. No, I’m not bitter and no I’m not desperately trying to find another relationship to drown myself in. But I am lonely and meeting new people can be fun, so for the first time ever I downloaded Tinder and Bumble. And after carefully crafting my profile and writing a ‘witty’ bio I was ready to swipe. The first few weeks I only visited the apps in shame, as well as treated it as a game, I called it the swiping game. The yes or no, the attractive or not game. I did a lot of swiping, not a lot of talking.
Because obviously, I so badly want to be one of those people who meets someone organically and sparks fly and all that bullshit. I’ll imagine running into her in the library and spilling all my papers. We’ll both drop to the floor trying to scramble the evidence of our awkward encounter. Which will ideally result in one of us asking the other out for coffee. Or some other encounter as cheesy and gross as that. But that doesn’t happen anymore, we’re all too busy swiping and floating around in our own impenetrable bubbles. Drowning each other out via headphones and avoiding eye contact like fire or plague, or whatever illness is relevant today.
So, after a few weeks I finally tried my best to fire up some conversations. While also realising I don’t actually know how to flirt, I just know how to be a mean and sarcastic asshole, but I tried my best. From around 25 matches, I exchanged a few insignificant messages, there was a lot of dull “hey, how are you’s?” and “what are you up to’s?” Nothing incredibly exciting or stimulating. Each conversation fizzling out pretty quick. But maybe it’s just my lack of creativity in the dating department or general awkwardness around other humans.
I met Jenny on tinder, cute brunette with big brown eyes. My type I suppose, we also had some mutual friends, which gave us something to talk about. We exchanged some messages and after a few days she asked if she could add me on Facebook, we also swapped phone numbers. And started texting, almost daily until meeting up for late lunch one afternoon. We had pancakes, and picked a stupid board game from the windowsill at the café we were at. I let her win, no I didn’t. She won fair and square, I’m just a low key sore loser. We shared cups of tea, she told me about her two jobs and I ranted about being stressed over assignments.
After a few hours of pondering over pancakes, board games and tea, I paid the bill. Walked the empty high street side by side, hugged goodbye and promised to have another date soon, preferably over wine. It went well, I suppose. Maybe she talked too much about her ex-boyfriend and maybe I was a bit sickly, snotty and emotionally unavailable. But overall I think it was good, decent the least.
I don’t actually know what I expected, since the last date I had ended in a 2-year relationship. As well as us kissing down by the river and walking hand in hand. Maybe that’s what I expected? Or maybe kissing on the first date is not normal, I don’t know. After all, I spent most of my adolescent years in relationships or toying with drunk hook ups. So, I really haven’t had much schooling in the dating department. I guess I would love to be one of those people who indulges in one night stands, so I could go into some juicy details about how I met Lucy, made out over gin and tonics, and had mind-blowing sex in her car afterwards. But I just can’t. I’m not that kind a girl, no matter how badly I wish I was.
Or maybe everyone I’ve met is just so incredibly average. And not worth my time. One thing I learnt from this ‘experiment’ is – don’t settle! Never settle! And I think what I’ve decided, is that I need to be enough for myself first, before dragging someone else into the mess that I call my life. Even though I so desperately don’t want to need or depend on anyone. We as humans are social beings, and even misery loves company.
*All the names are changed, in order to protect their true identities and stuff.*