Re-entering dating apps after months away is strangely reassuring—the world has changed, but the gang’s all still here. My hair catches the wind rippling from the 12 flag emojis in Doug’s profile. I pay my solemn respects to the many fish that have been clubbed to death to communicate a certain sense of outdoorsiness. Games of “Two Truths And A Lie” stretch before me like a lazy trail of vapor behind a jumbo jet. Maybe soon, I will consent to play Catan with a “doggo” in the home of a man who identifies as “the little spoon.” Who knows? The world is my oyster (which you had BETTER like eating, on our spontaneous adventures!)
A dating app, under the best of circumstances, is an interactive gallery of people trying to be appealing. It is a digitized version of a bar, but with zero music or alcohol—actually, it’s probably closer to a single’s mixer in a church basement with an “Improv Magic!” theme. So it makes sense that after a social hiatus long enough to literally travel to and from Mars, behavior on dating apps is approaching new heights of badness.
Here is an example of an exchange I had on a dating app recently. I wrote: “Ethan! How are your plants?” And he wrote back, “Well watered.” Chekhov dreamed of writing dialogue so succinct! Ethan and I will go the rest of our lives without speaking. One day I will be standing in line at the snow cone machine in the afterlife, and who will turn around? Ethan. And what will we talk about? His plants.
On Hinge, I answered a prompt. “I’m convinced that…” with “…I am personally funding the public library by paying so many late fees.” This is to convey that, ha ha, I am adorably literate but, like, also fun and chill. Recently, a man commented, “While this may be the case, it’s important to give others a chance to check out those books too.” Oh Frederick! I think you were having a bad day.
I wish that I could say, Ah yes, men are so bad at dating. Worse than ever! Totally unlike me! I long to report that I continue to set the industry standard in the online dating space, creating meaningful emoji innovations while maintaining best “let’s exchange numbers” practices. But no. I too have forgotten how to flirt online.