Thursday, 24 June 2021

Romance is dying: The 'dating market' is riddled with sexualisation thanks to swiping right and porn | Opinion

 

Sex and dating have tragically become somewhat fanciful meaning the majority have over-imaginative and unrealistic expectations towards it and are often, therefore, left disappointed or worse, vulnerable.

Romance has had the absolute life and soul sucked out of it due to a generation growing up seeking validation in the form of likes and swipes followed by a swift click onto the ego destroyer that is porn. 

I included have played my part in fuelling this toxic narrative in my past - and will hold my hands up that sometimes insecurities have me slipping back into bad habits (swiping through Tinder merely for that old ego boost, hooking up to fill a lonely void etc). We're only human, after all. 

However, what I did so wrong personally when dating, and what I have come to realise, is that I hyper-sexualised myself to stand out and seem more appealing to potential partners or a cheeky shag when in reality this does nothing but shatter your own ego as living up to the expectations of porn and other women is always a lose/lose situation. And I know I'm not alone, every woman I speak to in regards to this subject has agreed with me.

Hyper-sexualising ourselves is something a lot of us do, especially women, due to the fact a market of competition is just a swipe away and sex workers are available 24/7 to fulfil fantasies you likely can not. (To clarify, I'm not blaming sex workers, you're allowed to do as you please and I respect your confidence and job, I'm referring to corrupt corporations such as PornHub for sexualising rape, the exploitation of children and teenagers, portraying the BDSM community poorly - the list goes on).

It's not only comparing the sex we're having to the porn we're watching on the sly in our rooms that is murdering romance and making us insecure, it's already a well-known fact porn is corrupting our minds but there is also the correlation that thanks to endless options on dating apps people are now seen as more of a commodity opposed to an individual. 

This means for many it's very easy to lose yourself trying to keep up with the dating market and can see you waving your morals and individuality goodbye as you lower boundaries to welcome company during a lonely period but it's never worth it if you have to dangle yourself like a piece of meat in a farmer's market.

As many women have, I've been there in that I've sent a picture I wasn't comfortable sending because I knew other women only a click-away would and so, therefore, I thought that's how you keep a man but fuck that. Let them swipe onto the next if you're not comfortable. Nothing and no one should make you feel like you have to drop or lower your boundaries - a genuine person will get that, someone addicted to Tinder won't.

Nowadays I won't lower my boundaries at all when dating and I've found stepping back from dating apps and porn to be the sole reason for this change. Now I only have myself to compare to and when dating or hooking up I feel no competition or need to be hyper-sexualised. I find dating these days is like trying to stand out at a crowded market so I prefer to take the back door and let people approach me naturally or I approach them. 

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I call modern dating a 'market' because it is. Many are egotistical about it and forget the beauty and delight in getting to know an individual deeply, as it is easier to just go on a quick date with someone, or have sex before returning to your inbox with 20 other girls or guys that look just like them who will also meet up with a click of a button. 

The problem is, for younger generations it's predominantly used as a free hookup site instead of having to pay for the ones on the side of your porn and we're just not that honest about it. Some of us are ashamed of it, the other half are gloating about their crazy stories - I've been both.

Instead of risking getting our hearts broken or time wasted for the chance of real romance, we hop from one to the other once the deed is done - and it's easier than it's ever been in history as our phones are attached to our palms and both of you know you have other options on the likes of Tinder so why bother sticking around? 

Therefore, in my opinion, people have developed shopping addictions for finding the 'perfect' partner on top of commitment issues as they swipe for something better in a market made to destroy their ego and keep them there swiping. (You really think dating apps want you to find romance and stop your subscription? Oh no, they're counting on you getting hooked to their database of your next local shag).

As far back as the 1970s economists and social scientists have been linking what social scientist and Nobel Price winner Gary Becker dubbed 'Shop Around' to the rise of romances failing. 

Shop Around is the social theory that there is a rise of people trying on new partners before making a 'deal' ie settling down, or returning to their shopping frenzy the second someone isn't 'perfect'. 

Now, in my humble opinion, and in contrast, not settling is a good thing and I condemn it heavily. We shouldn't settle and we should strive to fill our lives with people who bring out the best in us and happiness yet the problem is we don't even give people the chance or time of day.

Within a swipe and a few messages we're in bed with them, or off-put over one thing they did so we rush back to the trusty database of options and don't bother making any real connections with folk. 

This has, whilst bringing many perks as people do fall in love on apps too, also resulted in a mass uprise of insecurity as none of us can compete with the expectations we have of ourselves, others and the perspective we all have in common that is: We're damn easy to replace.

If four years of being single and using Tinder has taught me anything it's that I can be replaced within the drop of a hat as I can't recall any messages enquiring into my depth as a person so, of course, I'm easy to replace, they don't know me. Not saying that if people did they'd date me, folk who know me personally are not exactly lining up but you get the point, I'd have a fairer shot of not being ghosted for declining to send a nude if they clocked I actually have a personality as well as the tits on my chest - that they could just wait and see in person...

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While researching I really wanted to discover how Tinder became a cesspit for horny men and women alike and it was speaking to a man I admire very much, who has decades of experience as the leading UK dating expert and coach with an array of celebrity clients, that I found my answer.

Whenever I have a question on dating that Google can't answer The Dating Guru James Preece will have it. With years of experience helping both men and women find love, he's a journalist's dream and a client's ticket to love as there's no question he can't deliver on. 

Speaking exclusively to VavaViolet Magazine, James said he "genuinely agreed" with our argument that swipe right apps have zapped romance out of dating and instead of it creating a "shopping addiction" he says it has caused more of a "gambling addiction" effect. The expert also said the apps are "purposely addictive". 

Preece explained: "The trouble is a lot of these apps, particularly ones like Tinder and Bumble, you have nine men for every woman on there so what happens is the guys go on these apps have a little play and they're not very successful. 

"So they end up using other techniques or making no effort whatsoever to try and engage with the women and women get frustrated with this."

The dating expert explained that this "annoys" women as the majority of guys begin with "dull" conversation starters or try and use sexual innuendos to impress women - and so women in return think this is all men want but that's not always the case - despite common belief, men too long for someone to share their life with and do have emotions, we can't stereotype them all as sex-crazed Tinder addicts and so we won't here at Vava.

Continuing, Preece added: "Dating apps give you a paradox of choice and all this means is the more choice you have the harder it is to actually agree to settle with one person. People go on there for an ego boost because they're a bit bored or lonely that particular day not to find a long-term partner."

Preece advices those more serious about finding romance should use more conversation-led dating apps such as Hinge or trial out video dating which is "vastly on the rise" and thankfully so.

On the debate that Tinder has formed a shopping addiction, Preece disagreed slightly and says he believes it is more of a gambling addiction. 

He said: "I think it's more of gambling addiction. You see, when you get a match on these apps a little bell rings and the notification, much like on a fruit machine, pulls you in. People get an endorphin from this, a really good feeling from getting a match and they want more!"


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And what happens with any addiction? You get hooked on the satisfaction of the wins or endorphins, no matter how small or toxic. 

After we asked VavaViolet Magazine readers on our Instagram to share their views on this debate, one made the very interesting argument that she thinks dating apps "gamify dating".

Explaining her view, she said that using the apps "almost becomes a game to match with lots of people, and to go on dates so you have stories to tell".

The reader said: "Then the 'after' part (relationship) isn't as desirable anymore because you have to stop playing. I'm in a relationship from Tinder (and super happy) but I'm very open about the fact I LOVED dating.

"Gamification is a big tactic in marketing and I think it applies here too. People love games."

A lot of more modern studies shit on my opinion and claim the likes of Tinder are not destroying romance such as a Swiss study, conducted at the University of Geneva (UNIG), and published in the PLOS ONE journal in 2020. 

This study, which used a 2018 family survey by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office to analyse responses from over 3,000 people who were in a relationship and had met their partner in the past decade, found that there is "no evidence" to prove dating apps are "rendering people's capability of investing in an exclusive or long-term relationship".

Report author Gina Potarca, a researcher at UNIG's the Institute of Demography and Socioeconomics, said in a statement: "Large parts of the media claim they have a negative impact on the quality of relationships since they render people incapable of investing in an exclusive or long-term relationship.

"Up to now, though, there has been no evidence to prove this is the case."

The problem however with this study and a lot like it is they have interviewed people who are in a relationship. I'd be a lot more interested if scientists and psychologists reviewed the responses from people who have been single for over a year or over a period of years who actively used swipe right apps during that time. That's where this study, as I predict, will give you an entirely different answer as you need to speak to a different audience. 

It's a flawed argument that there is "no evidence" to suggest Tinder etc have not played at least a part in killing romance. What Tinder has done is take the fun out of it, it's destroyed the chase and replaced it with a quick ticket to a moment of satisfaction rather than anything genuinely romantic.

Instead of going for a romantic dinner and learning about one another and seeing if there is a spark, it's much easier to swipe until you find someone who will give you that quick meal ticket straight to the bedroom.

And therefore, feeding your dependency of the swipe whether it be for gaming satisfaction, or a gambling or shopping addiction.

In conclusion, after much research and listening to countering arguments I think it's unarguable that porn has played a huge part in killing our sex lives and in regards to dating apps, swipe right apps are nothing but free hook-up sites and you're kidding yourself if you think you're going to go on there and not be treated like a sex toy. Sure, the occasional soul will treat you like a person but we're talking one in 5,000 swipes - have you got the time to interview that many people to find out who is there with genuine intentions? No, you use it to get laid and hope Hinge will deliver something worthwhile.

Therefore, if I am to use Tinder in the future it will only be used as such and as Preece advised, video dating sounds more my thing so expect an opinion piece on that sometime...  

Lastly, before you click off whether you agree with me or not, please remember to always put yourself first when dating and to never drop your boundaries to impress another as you don't deserve that.



Written by VavaViolet's Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Sophie Blackman


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