Hello and welcome to another episode of Why Dating is Trash in 2018.
If you’re a single hetero woman on the dating scene, your Saturday night is likely to go much like this.
After a week of grafting a few guys on Bumble/Hinge/whatever hugely promising but ultimately soul destroying app you’re using, you’ve got a date lined up.
You down a giant glass of wine, put on your tried and tested date outfit and head out.
Jump on the tube, try not to sweat off your contour. Arrive on the date, awkwardly text your housemates absolute nonsense so you don’t look too disappointed that your date is late.
Dating App Man arrives and you’re pleasantly surprised. He looks a lot fitter than his pictures. A couple of pinots in, the conversation is getting decidedly more flirty and you realise there could be *potential*.
There’s definite chemistry, there’s flanter flying all over the place and there’s even talk of future dates.
Either you end the night at one of your places drinking leftover wine and doing ‘bits’, or it’s a quick peck at the bus stop. Either way, you know you’ll see each other again because the chemistry was great, and you’re not a total socially unaware idiot.
Plus, didn’t he mention doing something later that week?
And then it happens. Or rather, it doesn’t happen. He has your number and you await The Text.
It does not arrive.
Sure, you could message first but as any seasoned dater will know, some men scare off easier than a box of feral kittens.
So you wait and tell yourself you’re ‘playing it cool’.
A few days pass and you become acutely aware that Surprisingly Attractive Dating App Man will not be getting back to you.
You bitch about the demise of manners to your housemates over an obscene amount of pizza. You tell them that’s it, you are done with dating.
Don’t get me wrong, every date does not have to be a success and no one is *obligated* to send a follow-up text.
But being polite takes very little effort and, besides, isn’t it just nice to be nice? When did it become acceptable to send zero messages after a date?
‘I think people just can’t be bothered anymore and just take the easy route,’ says Vicky, who shares my disdain with modern dating. ‘In certain situations it’s far easier to ghost someone than come up with the reason as to why you don’t want to go on another date.
For Vicky, a noticeable trend is her dates not even bothering to take her number, let alone anything else, without explanation.
‘I think when you go on a date with someone/meet on a night out and they come back to yours for the night it’s common decency for them to take your number and at least say “had a fun night, nice to meet you” even if they then say they’re not interested.
‘But I’ve started to notice guys just don’t even bother to take your number.’
Elle echoes this depressing viewpoint.
‘Because of dating apps we treat dating like we are playing a video game,’ she tells us.
‘It’s really easy to swipe through and match with people and then talk to them and because you’re never actually meeting a person face to face (or at least at first), you don’t feel consciously obligated to give them the nicety of saying “no thank you” or “I don’t think this is going to work” so you just leave.
‘And for most people that’s fine when you just talk and you’ve never met but the attitude is also beginning to seep into our face to face behaviours as well.
‘If a date or the beginning of a relationship doesn’t go well you are always in the knowledge that another date, f*** or human connection is literally a swipe away so there is no real sense of wanting to make things work.’
When did we stop caring about other people’s feelings?
Psychologist Marc Hekster tells Metro.co.uk: ‘We’re living in the age of instance access, initial impressions, speed dating, superficial communications.
‘I think that perhaps this smart phone/internet inspired attitude is converting into human relationships now.’
‘We could think of this as a form of throwaway relationships, as if the intimacy has no meaning, and that there are no feelings involved.
‘Young people are growing up with smartphones in their hands, and this IS the new intimacy; it falls short though.’
So does this mean we’re essentially becoming less polite as a generation?
‘It would not surprise me to see that people struggle to know how to interact in an intimate setting and so may remain remote or detached and this may be construed as “less polite”.’
Hmmm. This doesn’t fill me with much hope. Here’s what real life men had to say on the matter.
‘I think men that do this are broadly divided in two camps’ says Freddie.
‘There’s those men with no regard for anyone’s feelings other than their own, seeing dating and sex as just another thing to have. They see sex as something they’re entitled to. For these men, not taking a number or not replying to a text comes as second nature.
‘The world outside their own narrow worldview may as well not exist; other people’s feelings live in a different universe.’
Yes, I’ve met a few of these. Please continue, Freddie.
‘Then there are the men who aren’t emotionless husks, devoid of all empathy. If, for whatever reason, they’re not into someone, they might think that texting to cut things off before it’s a thing is being too forward and unnecessary.
‘For these men, being ‘cool’ about things (i.e. not communicating) is so normalised that they can’t see the harm in it.
‘Not returning a text or taking a number might be, in their minds, just not prolonging a situation that’s going south anyway.
‘It’s probably best to be up front about these things though and be honest.’
Yes Freddie, that would be lovely.
And this is the main point of contention. If you’re not into it, why not just text and say something like ‘Hey, was really nice meeting you but I’m not sure I see us being a long-term thing’?
This happened to me fairly recently and although I was disappointed, ultimately I appreciated his honesty.
Getting straight to the point, George says: ‘Blokes will go on and date and not text after because they are simply not fussed about doing it again. They will know that it is the right thing to do to text and explain, but it’s the much easier option just to do nothing.’
Don’t hold back, George.
‘You never have to see them again, and everyone knows that if you don’t text for a few days then it means you’re not keen anyway. It’s cowardice really, just avoiding an awkward situation.’
But what if you have genuine chemistry on the date? That can’t all be in our heads, right?
‘Maybe they seemed keen on the date because they were a bit pissed and they actually were less bothered’ says George.
So what is the answer? Should us women throw away the (extremely outdated) notion that it should always be the men who text first? Should women step up and make the first move (assuming they actually gave you their number)?
Lily seems to think so.
‘Absolutely, if I liked them,’ says Lily. ‘I wouldn’t always expect to hear from them first and if me getting in contact before them freaked them out, then it’s no skin off my nose cos they obviously have issues.
‘It’s about a 75/25 success rate in my experience – most men seem to appreciate the confidence it implies, so I’ll often get a second date/shag.’
‘It mostly works. Doesn’t need to be something devastatingly funny or contrived, just along the lines of “Thanks for a lovely date/I had fun last night/Everything hurts and I blame you.”‘
Side note: I decided to try this tactic myself just the other day. Following (what I thought was a successful date) I left it a couple of days and sent a similarly breezy text. He left me on grey – I repeat, grey, meaning he hadn’t even opened the messages – ticks for six days.
But wherever you sit on the woke scale, you can always be a victim of cesspit dating.
As Lily notes: ‘I do think there is less decency in dating, yeah. But I’m probably bad for it too sometimes. But I do have one basic rule that I’ll always tell someone if I want to stop seeing them because I hate it when someone isn’t that interested but just wants to let it fizzle out.
‘This has happened to me recently and it’s maddening. So I met a guy on a dating app, he was super keen, texting me all the time being like “oh you’re so great blah blah”, we met for a date, still seemed keen for a few days and now he only resurfaces every few days and it’s infuriating.’
An important point is that women ghost too. Jess is one such female casper.
She tells us: ‘I ghosted a guy I’d been on one date with, and it’s something I’m really not proud of. I was new to dating and he was really sweet but we just didn’t gel at all.
‘He texted to ask me out again afterwards and I said maybe but ended up ignoring his future messages. It was selfish on my part as I didn’t want to knock his confidence and have to say there was no spark.
‘I got ghosted after two dates with a guy not long after that, and that was certainly a taste of my own medicine. It’s something I’d never do again and feel so guilty about.’
Not everyone shares the view that dating is a burning pile of trash.
Harry (who is now happily engaged and therefore an actual fountain of knowledge) says: ‘I think it’s reasonable not to text someone if you don’t fancy them, or vice versa. Maybe it’s different for women though because guys can be dicks, but I can’t remember feeling disrespected while dating.
‘I have ghosted someone and I’ve been a ghost. I felt like she was more way into it than I was, and I didn’t want to dump someone I barely knew – ghosting was basically the coward’s way out.
‘Plus I have a super hot fiancée now so I’m not too hung up about it.’
So friends, this is my pitch to you. You don’t have to like the person you’ve been on a date with and you definitely do not have to see a future with them. But you absolutely do need to treat them like a human.
Pay them the basic respect of being honest. Be brave and say how you feel instead of taking the easy route of pretending they don’t exist.
In short, just try your very best to not be a dick.