Can we talk about how hard dating is in this day and age? I rue the day that everything shifted from offline and was unanticipatedly placed online, via mobile devices, social media platforms and now, matchmaking apps and websites. Like, why? Why was this done? And why weren’t we asked whether we wanted to tag along on the whole revolution of change. Fundamental changes to how we meet, interact and develop affinities! Mxxxm! I’m not happy.
The intricacies and (unnecessary) details of my personal situation notwithstanding, I am here to say that the new way of doing things sucks. Look, when I was coming up, a phone call was ALL that – all that! You looked forward to it and you milked it for all it was. Y’all would talk and talk for hours and get in all your “What’s your favourite colour/artist/movie?” questions in; not forgetting the very intimate details that were eventually and somewhat awkwardly shared too as time unfolded…stuff you were perhaps guarded about…those were powerfully bonding ‘Dear Aunt Dolly’ moments of sorts, LOL! You would ensure you were in a quiet and private space and you’d engage your lower ‘telephone voice’ register and be present. And I can think of many such conversations from my youth. I remember what was said, how it was said, and how thereafter, the ‘mood’ and energy between us shifted permanently. Even though those ‘relationships’ (obviously) didn’t work out, I remain especially fond of the suitors of my youth. We were bonded by a special, admittedly naive, adolescent interaction; something real; something based on unvarnished vulnerability. Or he’d actually come up to you IN PUBLIC and wait for it…introduce himself! GASP! Yes! Have any of y’all younger ones experienced this? Hahaha. Like, back in the day I couldn’t keep up with the number of guys that’d ‘step’, so to speak. Now?! Well, now I’m lucky if some bally-looking ouen (a man that looks old enough to be my father, basically) hollers at me at the local grocery store. And I’m not counting bo mageza (taxi drivers) and the petrol attendants. They don’t count as “stepping” to you. And you can call me classist if you want, but so be it. So, then, you see how the game has changed? Everything has moved to the impersonal world of e-interaction and phone calls are even balked at. The standard response to these now is ‘Before you call me, ask yourself, “Can this be texted?“‘ Yeah. That’s where we are with human interaction, generally.
So yes, I am here essentially to bemoan change! FML. Change is never easy to deal with, even if, even if, it ushers in better conditions. Because, check it – once we moved to texting, our ability to talk to potential suitors and baes was no longer limited to where we were, i.e., location. I could be in bed, on the potty, in transit of some sort, etc., and be able rattle off a slew of SMS texts (y’all remember those?). Granted, the layout of SMS didn’t lend itself well to baring one’s soul (until they introduced MMS, which, for us serial paragraph texters, allowed you to go in and just expand on your message, until the service provider even lost the tailing parts of your message – because whew, chile – it was A LOT🤣🤣🤣 – but it freed you up to go awwfff! That’s better than having to get home to the landline or even having to leave the room to answer or speak on your mobile cellphone. Granted, I think mobile comms (communications) are more expensive than landline vibes, but the advantages far outweigh the downer of increased costs. And with the advent of chat apps? Well, wow! Our communication horizons have totally expanded. We can send voice notes, photos and essays to bae almost wantonly and with NO limitations. I’m a writer. I will spam your ass…my people know. But WhatsApp has NEVER, NEVER, lost even one paragraph from my essays🤣🤷🏽♀️. And so, being that I am quite expressive, you’d think that dating moving online would be cause for celebration right? Well, my answer would be twofold: yes and I don’t know…
I say I don’t know because unfortunately, much of it has become heartless and like a speed dating of sorts. People can’t even be bothered to type in full sentence (where they’re rushing to, heaven only knows🤷🏽♀️). It’s like people are sifting through myriad options – so the engagement is shallow, boring and unattached. People want to be knowing things that they don’t ‘qualify’ to know or getting into chats the are not at their level on the 3rd week! Like, damn. You don’t even know how I sound or look when I’m tired, sad, or vexed. But now you wanna know some other SMH stuff? FOH! Yes, there are those that are able and wanting to take it off-line by at least the 3rd week. Kudos. If I am ever to do that whole ‘getting to know someone’ thing again, that’s what I hope for. Because after a while, I’m just texting you. No excitement, no real interest. Actually, if we’ve not met by week 3, I am cancelling you😊. Easy. I need to meet you to suss you out and determine the physical attraction – to ‘figure out’ what the pheromones are doing between us, LOL. Do they comms well with each other? What kind of feeling do I get when I look into your eyes? What do your voice or smile do to my stomach? What are your ‘on the spot’ thoughts? Your raw and unfiltered mind, basically. There is just no way you can know someone without spending time with them offline. And so in as much as texting works for some of us, it doesn’t work for the relationship as a whole and others (thankfully) don’t like its impersonal feel.
Also, it’s easy to get stuff lost in translation via text. Body language and tone are missing. It’s only when you know someone that you can factor those things into their written comms. Also, if you’re like me, you can also be very subliminal – structure your comms in such a way that the truth of what you want to say is so cleverly shielded, the recipient wouldn’t even know you just said something more than what they read. In other words, too much of a text-based ‘relationship’ can cause us to be increasingly disingenuous. We hide and we give away only what we want to. Then we wonder why even a little or a lot further into the relationship, people don’t know each other. I know for me that when my person can’t read me on this level, to know and hear the things I don’t say as clearly and as loudly as the things I do say, it hurts and I feel unseen. Even when you have taken things offline, I have found that people no longer have the ability to read their people; they’re lazy, and e-interaction has made us duds. We are no longer intuitive and we don’t use our sixth senses or EQ to read and tune into people we claim to love. Usually though, I have found that it’s potential suitors that I meet ‘online’ with whom I have such dud connections with. Only a handful of times have I met someone online, gone on a couple of dates with them and hit it off. But even those didn’t last. The people I have real connections with are the ones I initially meet face to face. I don’t know why, but if I have experienced your aura and presence and we are talking, trust that I like something about you already, on a deeper inexplicable level – otherwise you wouldn’t have my number. I have a lovedar (love radar🤣🤣🤣) or connection radar. The relationship may fail, but that “thing” will be there and our connection will be often deep, inimitable and fire, basically. So I trust myself to meet people in real life first and then get to know them. The e-stuff hasn’t worked for me. But to each his own, as I know plenty for whom it’s worked. Now if only I would smile at the chap that greets me at Woolies🙄. I swear I’m too stoosh – and I am always asked by loved ones, how I think I will get some kind of breakthrough if I consistently ice-grill these guys, grumble a forced ‘Hi’, and never switch up that resting bitch face. My thing is “Why, though?” I BEEN that way and plenty guys penetrated the wall. I always say I am not for everyone and it really does take a special and especially strong one to kick it with me. Anyhoo!
Another thing about text based connections – they fuel our propensity to go awf and generally not hold back or apply logic, or allow time to do its thing, to issues – like a cooling off period. This happens to be a weakness for me, cos I love to go awf!!! I fare better when I am dealing with a mature person who’ll reason thus: Let her be. When she’s going crazy via text, just fall back and rather meet her face to face. This is why I said I appreciate that others are also aware of how imperfect e-love is. So much can be said in a rush to respond and not necessarily understand and hear what the other person is saying. I have to re-learn “Let’s meet to talk about it.” That’s some grown ass folk ish and I commend brothers (and sisters) that can switch to this method of ironing out disagreements in these times of dating. I’m also basically learning the art of patience and holding back – of not saying everything I want to say on the spot, via text, because emotions. I’m learning to say what I want to say when emotions die down. Granted, I am better with written words, which is why I prefer, or rush, to text. When I am speaking with a loved one and it’s a deep issue and emotions are still fresh, I trip over my words and my thoughts aren’t ordered and I’ve even been known to start crying. I cry in front of folks when I am either frustrated or angry. And I don’t like that. With texting, I can draft, delete, re-draft, delete, refine, ask for opinions, etc., all before I send. Precisely because I am anal about being perfectly understood…and texting feeds into that complex. You believe or feel that the more you say, the more you can be better understood, without the benefit of time passing and emotions cooling off and thoughts settling. Also, this e-interaction makes us believe or feel we have entitlement and unlimited access to other people’s time and attention and we can ‘invade’ their space as and when we like, which is why we often are ‘braver’ with texting, less cautious and even just plain ridiculous in how we communicate. We may not have the opportunity to stop due to circumstance, but most likely it’s that we don’t take, or give ourselves, the opportunity to stop, to allow feelings and thoughts to settle and then inform our responses. We just go by our initial thoughts or gut reaction to something. It’s all a part of today’s instant gratification culture…and I generally am impatient and struggle with waiting periods, which is why I do tend to get carried away in certain text engagements and am learning so much more about patience in this way. Patience…a constant thread through many of my recent life lessons. Hahaha! God doesn’t miss any opportunity to refine and ‘school’ me in this, huh?!
So I guess then one can say that there is good in both approaches – the old school way that encourages solid and time-tested intimacy and the new school that allows us to possibly (and thankfully in many cases) accelerate things while also getting genuine depth in (if we’re equally tuned into the process of getting to know each other). As I’ve said, I’m impatient. So, there’s no way I am waiting 3-4 days for you to holler. But then again if someone you’re just getting to know is going to allow that much time to lapse, you’re probably not their priority. It’s just that simple. And I definitely don’t make excuses for people – if I hit you up and we’re interacting and your reply game is weak, forget it. That tells me what I need to know about where your head is at. You will catch me down the road if I’m still interested, otherwise DUECES! This is good and this is bad…for me. Bad because I definitely need to learn patience all round…grace, ya know? Good in that it helps eliminate the duds from the get go. See? One of the upsides to how things are done today. Better I know you’re a waste of time now than 6 months later😊.
So I try to incorporate both aspects, the old and new school, in my approach. I definitely want to meet someone face to face first but then I also want to take advantage of technology and suss them out as much a possible via text. Now this isn’t easy because not everyone is good with texting. Others prefer speaking and other still just aren’t that communicative. Essentially, I guess it’s about figuring yourself out first, what you prefer and deciding the best ways to then proceed to meet and get to know people. Tinder, Bumble and OKCupid…they just haven’t worked for me. And also, I get sooooo tired of swiping! I lose interest after about the first ten profiles. It’s too much…too many faces and too much info to take in…and hardly any personality to those profiles. If there’s someone that catches my eye, I often stop to try and imagine their aura, their personality, their laugh and the sound of their voice. Cos that’s how I relate to a potential suitor. That physical and also intangible stuff first – that attraction. Then only comes the mind and the things that come out of their mouth. But I can’t imagine aura…eventually it gets exhausting. And a good-looking profile picture doesn’t cut it either. It’s literally about a vibe, one’s enigma (if one has one), that I’m looking for. And I have to meet someone in person to get this. Also, I just don’t have a lot of time to be on the phone going through hundreds of profiles…it’s boring. And it’s hard to come across sincerity (which is what I’m looking for) on e-profiles. You can come across smart and witty, but I don’t know if that also comes with some arsehole-y-ness ya know? I just don’t.
So, when one is doing these things and one is looking, I always place more emphasis on meeting people in the real world. I’ll go out and try (really, really hard) to be as approachable as possible, LOL! It’s not easy…I’ve just always been hard to approach. Le sigh. But I prefer this (also if the *right* guys will give me the attention) way of meeting people than the modern one. But that’s me…I am generally never looking for a short fling or hook up – I am the girl that’s meeting someone to possibly become serious with…so the pool is narrower already. I am not looking for humdrum or forced connections for the sake of a hook up. We must hit it off, sparks, flames and fireworks, from the get go! So then I guess it’s best then I stick to my old school ways of seeking out suitors. But even that can become a lot of work🙆🏽♀️🙆🏽♀️🙆🏽♀️. You have to go out frequently, be sociable, etc. Nah – sometimes you (I) just don’t have even that energy. Cos you’re looking for good companionship, not desperate. Being on the market doesn’t have to be a full-time job🙄. So my approach has always been laissez-faire; perhaps too laissez-faire for the liking of my friends. So either way (old or new school), the verdict is I am a lazy looker…LOL. I literally expect to just be found. I am only willing to put in the minimum effort and I HATE feeling like I’m having to work at ‘things’. Annnnnd I guess this is where one has to grow? Meh. Topic for another day. But truth be told, this is kind of (very much) in line with my belief about ‘meetings’ and ‘connections’. I am ‘idealistic’ about it all – I believe that you meet ‘the one’ when the time is right and there’s no particular formula to it. It just happens when it’s meant to happen. And in the meantime, just do you boo. I’m not saying do nothing and don’t explore. Get on that app if it’s your thing; register for online dating; attend speed dating sessions, and by all means, do create a happy, vibrant social circle for yourself – one through which you meet witty, cute, smart and affable guys. But don’t overthink it or sweat the whole thing. It’s not meant to be your side-hustle or other non 9-5 vocation. It’s not and shouldn’t be a full-time and almost singular pursuit. And if it tends to be, then you know there are issues there that need to be dealt with. Period. Simply live the other aspects of your life and at said appointed time, it shall happen.
And that’s the thing with connections. They’re complex and mysterious – almost inexplicable. Sure, you may be able to articulate why you’re drawn to someone, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, that person is the complete opposite of you. Y’all think differently (like, diiiiiifferently!) and not much else besides a mutual attraction seems to be aligned. I’m reminded of the Black Mirror episode, Hang the DJ…essentially, the premise is that you’d go through a series of AI generated/configured relationships in order to help understand what kind of relationship person you are based on how you react to disappointment, break-up, routine, etc. The “system” then collects all this information over a series of timed relationships in order to finally match you with The One. Because admittedly, that’s how complex getting connections right is. Yes, a large part of it is just common sense you know, but also the other part is just so complex. So complex that we need machines to partner us with “ideal” people. And so if that’s the case, I feel even more comfortable with my idealistic approach of “It’ll happen when the time is right”, because life continues to prove that no matter how you do it, getting that ‘ideal’ match remains as tricky as making it work once you do, LOL. So, Tinder or no Tinder, active and vibrant social life or not, my approach is more or less, “wharried”, which is slang for, again, ‘laissez-faire’.
So, I “think” this is where I find myself. I mean, things are somewhat a little more complex for me at present, but my approach generally, is settling even more (to the disconcertment of friends) into “easy just”. And idealistic is somewhat linked to the belief that there’s a higher power coordinating all these things, innit? Or that’s how I see it…and that’s what I believe. He knows me and what I need and want. He’s my ‘machine’, à la Hang the DJ, and I really doubt He needs me to go out of my way to be my own matchmaker, such that it begins to stress me out or whatever. That’s faith. And believe it or not, there are many other things He’s calling my attention to and that I need Him for, quite apart from love interest issues. Like Brenda Fassie said, “Life is Going On”. The number of issues on which I am currently consulting GOD? Wuu, shem guys. I am seeing flames! Flames! An “ideal” partner is probably like #4 or 5 on the list of things I need God to sort out. And honestly, I’m grateful that I don’t feel that burning sense of urgency on the issue cos nothing sucks more than that feeling. Urgh! My hope and sincerest desire is that it stays that way until the ‘appointed’ time. Selah.
So I am really not too stressed about having half-attempted e-dating, and finally throwing in the towel a few years ago. Neither am I stressed about when I go out and don’t meet even a single guy I find attractive. I get frustrated with the wait every now and then, but I’m focused on so much more than just that. I am growing, dreaming, growing (had to say it again just for emphasis), creating, hoping and learning both to deepen my faith and the art of cultivating peace and joy within! Happiness is fleeting but joy is profound and intrinsic. That’s what I am really being pushed into…