So here I am, here on Bumble, swiping left and right…For one, there is the uncanny feeling that reverting to online dating is a sign I have been defeated in the real world….

Sign up to get monthly stories round-up.

You can unsubscribe in one click, and I will never share your email address.

I just turned 33 and I am single.

And so I did what every grown single man in his thirties would do. I denied the (possible) fact that my being single was as a result of my not being intentional in dating.

I rather blamed it on my busy life that included a PhD, freelancing and poetry.

After the extended period of denial, I did the second thing that any 33-year-old single man would do.

I succumbed to the suggestion of some of my friends who had persisted that I should join a dating site.

I downloaded Bumble and Salt. Two dating apps.

What is Bumble?

Bumble is this dating site that is based on looking at the picture and brief profile of people, swiping right to accept and left to reject.

If she also sees your picture (and maybe profile) and swipes right, then the lady is expected to start the conversation in 24 hours or else the match expires.

Salt is similar. But is designed for Christians and does not expire after 24 hours. It’s eternal. LIKE YOUR SOUL. Lol.

So here I am, here on Bumble, swiping left and right. And I must admit, joining a dating site, you come in with a dichotomous emotional stance.

For one, there is the uncanny feeling that reverting to online dating is a sign I have been defeated in the real world. On the other hand, here are these ladies who like me, have (possibly) been defeated (or unlucky) in the real world.

Hence I went in still with a certain selective sense that quickly adjusted itself to reality based on the silence in response to my swipes.

The thought of online dating really scared me.

I have, at numerous times, had to discuss the normalcy of the idea. I have had to rationalise that that it is not an anomaly, but rather bears semblance to “offline” dating in many ways.

Still, I found myself having to periodically justify my actions to myself.

Why does this feel different?

Is it possibly the fact that I have a number of people presented to me by an algorithm and I can choose whichever one I want? And then hope they choose me back? And hope their choice of me stays the same for an extended period of time?

Is this not similar to meeting someone offline?

You walk into a room, peruse the people there, make a selection (mental left and right swipes) and then attempt to engage them in a conversation, hoping they will be interested long enough for a meaningful relation to be formed.

Why then does this feel different?

I got a match!

I still get this weird feeling when I see a picture and read a profile that I like and who seems to be describing someone like me.

I ask myself repeatedly, “why haven’t I met you before?”. Why haven’t we bumped into each other, started a conversation and kept it going?

This is quickly followed by the fear of “will she see me and swipe right?”.

I wish I could wave long and hard enough that my swipe will be noticed above all the potential swipes I assume she will be getting. (for a price of £1.99 you can get a SuperSwipe).

This thought brings me back to my reality where I search for some sort of confirmation that she knows and acknowledges my existence before I approach to start a conversation.

I want one smile, one double-glance, maybe a question or even a linger. Something to show me that you will not shrivel in disgust and ostentatiously blow me off.

Typing this out, I cannot help but say “this is why you are single”.

The delayed conversation.

I had to be explicitly told that conversations must to be delayed.

You get a reply, and you ghost for about 12 to 24 hours before replying.

And then she does the same thing.

And then you gradually edge your way into a dialogue. Why?

I looked my friend straight in the eyes and said, if I wanted to exchange monologues, I would literally write a letter and post it. With a stamp. At the post office. And chances are it will get there before a reply. Shout out to Royal Mail 1st class delivery.

On one hand, I do understand the desire for dating to show a little sign of disinterest. To create the semblance of chase.

But somewhere in my thoughts, I am continually reminded that we are all literally on this app for (mainly) one thing.

To go on a date and possibly a relationship. The elusive, disinterested, unavailable impression seems quite ironic.

The after-date discussion is a very distinctive type of conversation, especially when you both know this is not about to go any further, but you have to be civil.

Getting the “you are great but I don’t think our plans align” when you were planning to deliver the same speech at a later date partially hurts.

I think we all have that primal desire to be the one who ends it and then walks away in slow motion as one drop of tear slides down the eyes of the potential “could-have-been”.

Reading the message, I went from the “oh no you didn’t to” through the “well …  that was close” to the “let get back on the search”.

It felt inhumane.

It felt like she was just a variable (x) and that since she didn’t fit the parameters, I can continue the search till someone fits the parameters.

It felt like I almost did not see her. . . them as a person. It felt different. It felt wrong. It felt objective and logical.

I feel apps like Bumble and Tinder have looked at the primal nature of dating and placed them before us.

All the visual assessment, the way we evaluate conversations, the way we choose people, the way we view ourselves in light of other choosing us, the way we continue or end a relationship, the way we respond and address each other when we know there exists a potential for a romantic or sexual relationship.

They have only stripped back all the facade of culture we had them clothed in over time and presented us with its core.

And we liked it.

We like it. Very much.

We just shouldn’t think too much about it.

Sign up to get monthly stories round-up.

You can unsubscribe in one click, and I will never share your email address.

Do you want to write for Stylish Academic as Anonymous Academic? Please drop me a message here, and I will get in touch with you (Tee, Editor).