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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Rakel

Singledom pt. 2: Navigating Modern Day Dating




When I was 28, I wrote a blog post about my 9th year of singledom. Four years later, I’m still single. There’s been the odd person I’ve dated here and there, but nothing that’s accumulated to deserve the title: “serious relationship”. 


In my last post, I seemed somewhat aghast that at 28 I was still single, starting to feel the societal pressures to meet certain milestones at a certain age. At 32, I no longer care. In fact, I feel there’s an immense amount of pressure to be “happily single” and an undertone of being labelled desperate should you desire a relationship.


But I have no qualms admitting to thinking it would be nice to have someone to do life with. I’d be thrilled if it were for once a boyfriend rubbing SPF 50 onto my back as we bask in the Mediterranean sun, instead of it being my mother or my best friend (though I really appreciate the help avoiding sunburn). 


A lot has happened over the last four years. I’d argue I am no longer the same person. Despite character change though, one thing seems to remain steadfast: using dating apps to pursue romance. 



The Dating Scene AKA Hell on Earth 


Dating is hard. And dating apps have fundamentally changed the game, and I’m not sure it’s for the better. 


Never, have I ever heard someone say they love using dating apps, yet many of us are relying on them as our main way of finding romantic interaction.


I’m on and off the apps. At the time of writing, I’ve been back on them since November 2023, cycling through Tinder, Hinge and Bumble. I deleted Tinder last week, Hinge about a month ago, and I’m at the cusp of deleting Bumble. 


I usually go through a 3 month on, 2 month off cycle, so I’m actually hanging on a little longer this time. But eventually I delete the apps because I get swipe fatigue, I don’t feel they’re working and they’re making me feel worse about myself. 


Here’s an example: In the summer of 2022, I had a date lined up. The day before our date, I happened to walk past him on the street. I always use recent photos on my profile, but he felt I didn’t resemble them. He was cruel about it. He had my number and wrote “you don’t look like your photos”, I replied shocked, saying no one had ever told me that, to which he replied “lol! really?”...Imagine being so emotionally inept that you would go out of your way to send a message like that; to have such complete disregard of someone’s feelings. The thing that annoyed me the most was that a few days before the date I told my friend I had cold feet. He was sending me messages that indicated he was shallow, but she told me to give him a chance. I should have just listened to my gut but I didn’t and the experience left me feeling very insecure about my appearance for well over a year. I would physically wince when I thought about the incident. 


The dating apps have a way of removing your sense of humanity. People forget that at the other side of the screen there’s a person with real feelings, their own dilemmas, and are trying their best to navigate an online world that is extremely judgemental. 


Alas, despite the hell hole I always seem to return to the apps. I spend a few months batting my eyelids at men I find cute in public, but no one is making a move in person, so I begrudgingly go back on. And the cycle continues. 



Online Dating  - The Current Norm


And a quick google search shows that 349 million of us are using dating apps. Our way of meeting has fundamentally changed. 


Swiping is exhausting. You have to swipe a significant amount to land a date. You might match, but often no one will write. That’s why I “like” (tolerate may be a better word) Bumble, where, as a woman, I have to make the first move. You’re given 24 hours to write before the match expires. Once you’ve written, the ball is in their court and they have 24 hours to write to you. If they don’t write, the match is lost. This happens often. On Tinder, the tendency is to match, but no one writes. I’m old enough to remember the days when Tinder had just hit the market (tragic) and people were great at writing - it’s drastically changed. 


If you get a reply, then it’s a case of seeing if a conversation can even get to a point where you decide to meet in person. So even with thousands of people to swipe, just getting to: 

👉Match

👉Both write 

👉Conversation doesn’t fizzle

👉Conversation leads to wanting to meet up in person

👉We actually meet up in person 

…is hard.


And in my case, there's rarely a mutual feeling for a second date.

It’s a lot of work, for a very low ROI. 


Aside from the relentlessness of swiping, here’s some other things I hate about online dating. Often someone will ask for your instagram handle or your number. I’m not a huge fan of offering either before a first date, but I do it as I understand it can be far easier communicating outside of the dating apps. The problem? It’s really rare that a first date happens after exchanging numbers or following each other on instagram. 


Currently there are 4 gentleman (they actually genuinely seem like nice men) following me on Instagram from this latest round of being back on dating apps. There were 5 but one unfollowed me - as soon as we followed each other I noticed his following was predominantly beautiful women. Despite a pretty active chat on Bumble where he asked me to be his ski instructor (would have hated that) and said he found my voice sexy when I sent a voice note (literally just told him about my day), our conversation on insta died as soon as we followed each other. I think he’s what you would classify as an insta heaux, so I’m fine with the unfollow. Two others asked for my handle but never followed. But what all have in common is that they were the ones to suggest moving the conversation to instagram, but never have we gotten to a point in securing a date. Fascinating. 


I’ve also given my number in vain. After an incident living in New York where I had to call the police on someone I met through a dating app, I don’t like giving my number until there’s been a first date. But I try to set the New York incident aside and believe not all men are going to be raging lunatics who threaten to come to your college if you don’t go on a second date with them. So I do a virtual trust fall and give my number. But even then, dates very rarely accumulate. And then I’m left annoyed that a person who’s still pretty random to me, has my number. 


When I tell men I don’t give out my number before a first date, the most popular response is to unmatch me or the conversation dies. It’s taken very personally. I’m curious as to why men aren’t as interested in meeting first before giving their number. Don’t you want to verify the person isn’t a complete looney before giving them your number or social media profile? 



The Real World cricket silence 


Most single people I talk to, would love to meet someone organically. But meeting offline isn’t an easy ballpark. 


The other night, I was out with a girlfriend. We bumped into one of her acquaintances at Zurich’s Thursday hotspot, Stanza. This is one of the few places where a man approached me in person and asked for my number. Nevermind he turned out to be a complete loser with major Peter Pan syndrome, making a move (in a non-creepy way) was incredibly refreshing. That was in 2020. 


Stanza is fascinating. On a Thursday it’s so popular people spill out onto the street and down the sides. Yet despite our sardine-can situation, people don’t make a move. You’d think this close proximity would give an “in” for a conversation. Nope. Discussing this, my friend’s acquaintance got onto the subject of how men are no longer men (his words, not mine!). He described being out with friends and watching men stare at women but never make a move. It resonated. I can’t count the multitude of times I’ve locked eyes with a man I think is handsome and would find interesting. Given he’s looking at me I think he feels the same. Looks are exchanged constantly throughout the evening, but no one makes a move. Eventually I’m 4 Aperol Spritzs deep and I go home and watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race. 


I hear you say “why don’t you just make a move Amanda?”. The most obvious reason is fear of rejection. But there’s also this caveat: Because I don’t want to. Because I want to feel a sense of being courted, of being wanted. In an ever shifting landscape of gender roles and norms, women are being empowered and encouraged to make the first move. But I don’t like it and I know many women who don’t. The worst part is, I feel women are made to feel ashamed for wanting to be courted. I understand that men aren’t made of steel and being the one to put yourself out there is extremely courageous and facing a string of rejection is incredibly hard. This is not lost on me - being on dating apps has equipped me with my fair share of continuous rejection. It’s hard and it chips away at your confidence….so I meditate a lot...can highly recommend the Calm app. 


I wonder if this rejection rat race is what’s stopping us from approaching each other in person. Are we all just hoping the cute person we made eye contact with from across the bar will appear on our dating apps? How many potential romantic relationships are being passed up because none of us are willing to make the first move? 


I want to know why single people aren’t approaching each other. So I made a seriously scientific survey (it was not) that I posted to my socials. Although only 20 people responded, it’s enough to shed a little light on what’s going on.


Here’s what I found:  

  • Regardless of gender and sexual orientation, the overwhelming reason why people don’t approach someone they’re attracted to, is out of fear of rejection.

  • Of all the straight women who answered, only one said she would approach someone in public. 

  • Most straight women said they smile and make eye contact to show interest and that they expect the man to make the first move.

  • LGBTQ+ community said it’s hard knowing who is gay/bi when out, which stops them from making a move. 

  • Only two straight men responded to my survey. Both said they wouldn’t approach someone in person. When asked why, one said fear of rejection, the other said they “just wouldn’t”. 


I decided to ask a recent date I went on, why men are shy about approaching women. He said the following:

  • The MeToo movement put a wrench in things. He said men who are decent stopped approaching women out of fear they’ll be accused of harassment, while the men who were the root of the problem didn’t stop. Thoughts dear reader? 

  • Women call it harassment if someone they find unattractive approaches them, while if the man is someone they’re attracted to, they’re flattered. I disagreed with him. Harassment to me is when “no” isn’t taken at face value, unwanted advances continue or you touch or talk to me inappropriately. 

  • The Swiss don’t approach each other at e.g. bars. Here I agreed.


My biggest takeaway is that rejection keeps us from making a move. And not only in the dating world. We need to talk about rejection and how to process it in a healthy manner rather than internalising the rejection as a true statement about who we are. We need to stop it from festering in a way that continues to deteriorate our confidence or fulfil self-limiting beliefs. 



So How Do We Navigate This Dating Circus?  


I don’t think online dating is going anywhere, but I do think we need to rethink our approach to online dating, and reignite our confidence to approach people in person. 


To make the experience on dating apps more pleasurable, I think we need to be far more honest on our profiles. The dating apps are saturated so you might as well get your filters narrowed down beyond age and location. I try to do this by being extremely clear on what it is I want out of it. I select “relationship” for the prompts asking what you’re searching for. I say I want kids. I swipe “no” to men who say they’re looking for something casual or anything that indicates our values won’t align. I used to select Tinder’s relationship option “long term but open to short” so that I could convey some sort of “I’m a chill, cool girl”. I’m not. And if someone doesn’t want to be with me because I desire a serious relationship, then they’re doing me a favour getting out of my way.


I’ve experienced many who lie about their age on dating apps and about having kids. I’d argue those are two pretty hard facts about your existence. This feels extremely dishonest, like you’re trying to convince someone to like you despite these inarguable aspects of your life that might be deal-breakers for them. The right person won’t discount you based on your real age or your family situation. I’ve also matched with people who, after making conversation, spring on me that they’re in an open relationship. This should also be advertised in your profile or at the very least be in your opening statement. 


Real world wise: I might throw it back and start dropping a handkerchief in front of the men I’m interested in. I’ll get them embroidered with something really cheesy (“How you doin’?”, “You look nice”, “You’re cute”) with a small asterisk next to the message saying *if you don’t feel the same please let me down easy/please return to owner, this cost $ to make.


On a serious note, I realise now most of us are just terrified of being rejected. So maybe I’ll give it a go next time I’m out. Or maybe I’ll keep batting my eyelids and sipping Aperols until the man from across the bar takes the hint. And if he does, I hope he’s packin’ SPF 50. 


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3 Kommentare


12tb
01. Mai

Dear Amanda,


I think a coffee sounds good; I've sent you a Mail ;)


Tobi

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12tb
28. Apr.

Dear Amanda. I really enjoyed reading you’re piece!


Seldom, maybe this is even a first; I feel enticed to write a response on a blog.

Fear of rejection, need for belonging; that hits home. Feels like Brene Brown…

MeeToo has done damage, covid probably didn’t help; but before all of that I think the way our generation was raised is the biggest factor. I’m 37 years old, been very reflective over my past relationships and what role my upbringing and childhood in general had on my life.

To man up was never an easy task, ever since MeeToo, most of the decent guys don’t see the point in sticking their head out anymore. The guys that still do, are mostly…


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Amanda Rakel
Amanda Rakel
30. Apr.
Antwort an

Dear Tobi,


First of all, thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and insightful comment. Love it! It's so important to hear other perspectives and I really appreciate a man coming with this much input. It was hard getting any feedback from men on my survey, so I really enjoyed reading about your experience with modern dating...a lot of similarities between our experiences. I think you illustrated the toxic nature of online dating well and I really empathise with your experience.


I've never heard of Bréne Brown, so just had a look at her work and will definitely have to get dig into some of her books. Thanks for mentioning her!


Your pluto comment made me…


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