The first time I saw this meme, I thought it was hilarious. Firstly, because I didn’t know that anyone other than my Dad said the word ‘shithouse’; secondly because of its accuracy. That’s not to say that I go to the extent of some of my peers, who set timers (!!!) for when to reply to guys, and who stalk everyone they speak to just to find a glimmer on information about who he was at the pub with. However, I admit, ashamedly, to have checked boys’ ‘Last seen’ to see if they’re blanking me, and embarrassingly, I have had a row about liking a selfie. How can squiggles on a screen spark feelings of jealousy? And surely constantly checking your read receipts can’t be good for you – or your relationship? After much consideration, I’ve realised that dating in the digital age is screwed. Here’s why.
Ignorance is Bliss
I’ve lost track of the number of times my friends have come to me telling me their boyfriend is ignoring them, to discover he’s only opened their message and then not replied for 6 hours. When I’m not involved with someone, it’s easy to consider that they’ve become slightly obsessed. Until I’m in the same situation. For some reason, seeing that my boyfriend has been active on Facebook despite not replying to my message brings out a annoying feeling and follows me round all day. And I hate that I can be as petty as to care – until I discover that pretty much everyone, boys included, get irritated by it. “What could they possibly be doing?” I ask myself repeatedly, upon seeing he’s online liking photos of Nike trainers but not replying to my message. The honest answer: he’s liking photos of Nike trainers and has forgotten to reply. When my mum was in her 20s, she’d speak to her boyfriend on the phone after work or when they met up. There was no question of “oh no what if he’s ignoring me/has gone off me” unless a man fully blanked you. Constantly checking read receipts and ‘Last seen’ is an addictive plague which will slowly consume you until you’re convinced your other half is cheating/hates you/has fled to Uruguay. Do yourself a favour and switch them off.
Taking a break
20 years ago, if you had a row with your love, you’d slam out the house and wouldn’t speak until one of you called/visited the other. Nowadays, after a row with your partner, you can sit miserably at home and watch your Facebook news feed become riddled with photos of them out having a great time and RSVP’ing to club events you hate. And I bet hundreds of couples have had arguments about being tagged in club photos with ex’s/randoms/people-you-just-don’t-like when things are on rocky ground. It causes jealousy, and above all, creates the illusion that they’re having a great time without you when really they’re going home and watching your snapchat story on a loop. The inability to actually be separate when on a break or in the middle of an argument is toxic to relationships, and creates the false impression that to be sad is unacceptable and you must fake happiness.
The green filtered monster
In the animal kingdom, you can see examples of jealousy. It’s an innate, biological process to do with making sure our offspring are 100% our own. So how did we end up evolving to having arguments over our other half liking photos on a digital app designed to bring us closer together? It sounds ridiculous, and when I hear people mouthing off about how they had a row with their partner for liking someone’s selfie I shudder a little. Until I saw my ex had liked a photo of a girl with her tits fully out. Or the time another ex commented on a photo of a girl I hated. It sounds petty – and it is. But in typical millennial style I’m going to blame it on the conditioning of the digital age and claim it’s technologies fault that I’m so jealous. Again thinking back to the 80s, people used to fight over checking out other people, it’s inevitable. Jealousy will always act as a catalyst for disaster in relationships, but social media rubs it so obviously in our faces. The days of checking someone out in private and rowing about it in the pub later are over. RIP.
Another reason dating in the digital age sucks is when you’re dating someone, you are effectively dating their entire friends list, snapchat contacts and swathe of followers. In the 80s, you’d be the envy of your friends if your partner surprised you with flowers or a dinner – but you’d only be the envy if you told them. Nowadays, not a day goes past that I don’t see a couple selfie, a photo of a home-cooked meal with the caption “cooked for by bae”, or someone’s status declaring how “lucky they are to be in love”. Showing off your relationship creates the false impression that you are the perfect couple, and sets a standard for other couples to compare – or compete – with. The problem with this is it makes people feel like their relationship isn’t good enough because their girlfriend didn’t cook them steak, or their boyfriend didn’t buy them a Michael Kors bag. Remember to take every #relationshipgoals post with a pinch of salt – what they’re leaving out is that he only bought her flowers because he spent all weekend down the boozer and she only cooked him dinner because she shouted at him for leaving the toilet seat up.
Less Shagging, More Scrolling
Recent studies have shown that 18-25s are having less sex than ever before – well, since sexual liberation and the 70s. Despite dating apps like Happn and Tinder claiming to promote romantic activity, people are still having less sex. Why is this? A good answer is that we are all too obsessed with our phones. What’s the first thing you look at when you wake up? Is it your partner? Honestly, the first thing I look at is my phone, because it’s the alarm which wakes me up. And despite turning my phone to airplane mode before I go to sleep, I am partial to sitting next to my partner scrolling aimlessly through my news feed. Take phones out of the equation – or out of the bedroom – and the likelihood is we’d all be getting laid a lot more.