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Modern Miss Lonelyhearts

Join Massive’s own agony aunt as she dissects the peaks and pitfalls of dating in a millennial world.

Being a student in my 20-somethings, I’m more or less knee deep in the sea (or pond, rather) of Wellington’s modern hookup culture. Perpetually perfecting the art of writing the ideally crafted response to a text, appearing just interested enough while remaining a little mysterious and aloof. Taking the appropriate five seconds or so to adequately judge a person’s tinder profile, determining whether or not give them the golden ticket ‘right-swipe’.

It seems that this is the world you and I live in right now, and I have to confess: I hate it with every fibre of my being.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve let too many time-wasters occupy my mental space far past their expiry date. Perhaps it’s because I have an unjust sense of entitlement when it comes to what the (dating) world owes me. Or perhaps our modern dating scene is, for the most part, just horrendously fucked up. It’s probably a combination of all three, but in the interest of, well, maintaining your interest, let’s just delve into that third observation.

While in a relationship, like all loved-up individuals do, I patiently listened to others complain about the trials and tribulations of the single life. Stories from my friends, anything popular on television, articles from Vice, Buzzfeed or whatever else endlessly clogs up your newsfeed. It’s everywhere. But it wasn’t until I began to experience it for myself that I finally remembered how it felt.

Everything, (and I sincerely mean, everything) – is so damn complicated. What happened to dates? Rather, there’s the ever elusive “let’s just hang out some time” – so after you do, you can spend the next three days that you’re supposed to be ignoring them wondering exactly what it meant. Did you see a film? Grab a coffee? Have sex in their car? Be careful; you guys were just hanging out.

‘It was just casual, right? I don’t know. What does car sex mean now?’

There’s a simple solution for those of us who struggle with haunting questions of that nature – just ask the other person. Seems pretty straightforward.

But wait, apparently, you can’t!

Never ask to hang out two nights in a row. If you initiated the last conversation, it’s their turn to text you first – no matter how long it takes. You can’t assume anything is more than casual, even when you willingly exchange bodily fluids on a regular basis. Oh, and wait, you can’t talk about it either.

We’re trapped in a dating world where people seem terrified of expressing anything genuine, at least, not without having followed the obligatory month or two of emotional side stepping.

If you’re interested in someone, heaven forbid you tell them how you feel; rather, act subtly interested enough for them to (hopefully) pick up on it, but not enough to ‘freak them out’.

We calculate it all to appear thoughtless. Oh, the irony – when in actual fact, it’s anything but. I could earn my masters degree with the amount of time and energy it takes to whether or not my casual hookup actually has a capacity to feel anything for me.

Don’t like that system? Too bad. It’s all a big game with more rules than you can count. If you can’t play, along you lose. That’s it – time to resign yourself to a life of drowning alone in a pile of cats, chocolate and tears.

Admittedly, that sounds pretty tempting at this point.

Why can’t we call someone because I like talking to them? Why is saying you have “a thing” going on with someone more acceptable than just admitting you’re dating them? Are we really still in high school?

If I get angry when I’m met with unsolicited cat calls, or upset when a person stands me up, I’m just a crazy bitch – leaving few options other than to complain to my friends and wade in anxiety until finally a text response appears. And let me tell you something; I don’t want to be that girl. None of us do. ‘That girl’ doesn’t, or shouldn’t, exist – she’s a single faceted, achingly demure, stripped down concept – because us women are all destined to spend our single days waiting patiently by the phone, right?

No one should have that kind of power over anyone. Least of all a broke, stressed student with a million more important things to spend their time worrying about.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am clearly not exempt from this exhausting phenomenon. In fact, I’ve bought right into it for years now.

But here’s my proposal: let’s all try being a little more weary of how, and why, we’re treating our potential suitors the way we do. Or more importantly, how we’re treating ourselves. If someone in your life makes you happy, why not tell them? If you’re not interested in someone, please, lord, just fucking tell them. Let’s do away with the idea that ignoring people until they disappear is an acceptable way of treating another human being. It’s time we stop leaving people hanging with unanswered texts and cryptic social media posts.

Give yourself a chance to be open, honest and genuine.

We’re all just trying to stumble our way through this messy dating world – don’t get so lost in playing the game that you forget to extend the same courtesy to yourself.

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