Have you ever been asked if you were 'planning on hitting me with a car or stabbing me' as a first message on a dating app?
No? Well, then you've definitely not answered with 'I'm a bit more emotional with my abuse actually'.
Maybe I'm not doing dating apps right. I'd love if Hinge showed me my 2020 wrapped like Spotify does. Your average reject rate is 0.023 seconds; you judge people who think partying is a personality trait; that one person you actually put effort into messaging, didn't fancy you back; you hit X on any mention of someone being overly competitive about 'everything'; you...are an asshole.
The worst part of dating apps has to be coming across someone you already know. It's all fun and 'oh, he's definitely a Tory' until you're confronted with the profile of a familiar face. In the past, I've been so ashamed that I've deleted entire apps. God forbid someone finds out that I'm lonely or worst still, horny.
I say that knowing I'm a demisexual, a new word my flatmate presented me with the other night. "It means you can't have sex with someone unless you have feelings for them", she explained and I instantly understood. "Ah, so me." I confirmed, and she nodded - "exactly!". This is where my issue lies. I neither have the time for a romantic relationship nor the ability to sleep around like normal human beings without being debilitated by infatuation so what options am I left with besides owning a museum worth of vibrators and dildos? At least I know that's money well spent. A friend of mine once bought a tracksuit worth £100 for a boy who cheated on her. I was against it either way, but the fact that I had to pay for her £10 meal the next day, was a little deranged.
Every fortnight, we get an Oddbox delivered - an eclectic combination of fruits and vegetables of different sizes and shapes that were rejected from the grocery stores' first pick. This week, we were gifted with tiny kiwis. "They look like testicles", my other flatmate, Frankie, said before adding - "and they're hairy too".
"I'd imagine these are a little larger than that", I said, a wash of pity came over my face at the thought of her having been celibate for the past two years. Had it really been that long or was the last man she dated the size of a building? I didn't venture to ask before Frankie grabbed two kiwis and fondled them in her hands. We looked at each other for a second, the kiwis still balanced in her palms, caressing her fingertips, before I broke the eye contact. It felt like I was invading on a private moment so instead, I scurried away to write about it publicly.
At least, I wasn’t Frankie. No, I was just someone who spent the last 6 months thinking about a relationship that barely lasted two weeks. She, on the other hand, had spent the past 4 months talking to a boy on Bumble. Initially, she deliberated messaging him - “you’ll see it the moment I show you his profile”, she insisted. My brain went wild with possibilities - did he have a gun in one of his pictures? One too many cats? Were they all filled with his friends so we’d never figure out which one he actually was? Did he only ever feature shirtless pictures at the gym? Is he a Trump fan? Before I could think further, she turned her phone, showing me the profile.
I scrolled until I got to the last section, nothing noticeably glaring jumping out at me. I looked back at her with an eyebrow raised and an obvious look of confusion on my face. She jerked her phone back at me “no, really look”.
I scanned the pictures again, I took my time reading his answers to the prompts, I went through his music selection - “What? That he likes Justin Bieber? That kind of sounds perfect for you”, but she shook her head.
“It’s his neck”, she said, “look at his neck”, she repeated as if I wasn’t already starting to look. I didn’t know if I was blind but it seemed like a tube-like structure most of us had attached to our heads. I squinted my eyes, just to make sure.
“I don’t see it, I’m confused”, I replied, setting her phone back down on the sofa. She grabbed it instantly, pulling up his Instagram handle that was linked to his Bumble account. She scrolled through his profile for evidence. It reminded me of how my friends would try to find cute pictures of their new crush, ever promising that there was a better picture of them, but in this case, it was the opposite.
She exclaimed when she had finally found it, ‘look at this picture!’ - and I did. It was a picture of him and his friends, and he was gleaned in a black turtle neck. Ah yes, turtle necks are a great choice when trying to help someone decipher the length of another person’s neck. Especially black ones, because it’s so easy to tell where one’s neck ends and where their shoulders begin when covered in thick, dark coloured wool that limits even the contrast that the shadows would help create. What is he hiding in there? More neck, less body? Even then, it didn’t seem unreasonable. He didn’t look like he was about to reach for the tree tops and even if he did, at least then we could be sure that he didn’t just reach for the low hanging fruit.
“You’re just looking for an excuse to stay single”, I said, knowing I was doing the same. Now four months have passed and she has talked to Mr. Long Neck Who’s Neck Isn’t Actually That Long every day, without ever seeing him. “Are you sure you even like him?”, we constantly question, as if her answer could be anything but a no. At this point, they were glorified pen pals. But what was the glorious part of it? They sent chunky messages to each other every night that takes her 15 minutes to write. “Do you even like texting like that?” I asked one day, getting stressed out over seeing scrolls worth of texts, all delivered at the end of the night. Who could genuinely enjoy that? They even text on Instagram so you can’t reply to individual messages. One has to chance at which message the next one related to, just like Frankie had to take a chance that she could tolerate the length of his neck. It felt like a chore, and I wasn’t even the one partaking in it.
I’ve since paused my profile on Hinge - the dating app meant to be deleted. I used to love that tag line, thinking it was incredibly smart until I realised that it was because your experience on it would be so tragic that you were left with no other option, and not because you found your soul mate. The chances that I’d actually meet someone in person were already slim. Whip in a little social anxiety, top that with a pandemic and a sprinkle of dead conversations and you have yourself a sure fire way to stay single for the rest of your life.
So maybe I’m being too picky. But what was the point of having a profile in front of you if you didn’t use it to weed out what you knew you weren’t looking for? Was a company going to hire me if my CV didn’t meet their job spec? Please, they don’t even hire me when it does. I was going to say that at least I don’t leave the lingering souls waiting for a rejection letter that never comes, but I guess that's why I'm an asshole.