By Indigo Jones
So, the title of this article sounds like it will be a love-bashing or relationship-hating attack on Valentine’s Day, which is correct, it is exactly that. I have always been a bit of a cynic and have never seen the need to celebrate Valentine’s Day, whether I was seeing somebody at the time or not, to me it was always another unnecessary commercial holiday. If you want to show your affection towards a loved one, why dedicate it to one day a year? In my eyes, this uses people’s emotions to consume as many heart shaped tatty objects as possible. Companies thrive on selling last minute teddy bears, chocolates, and jewellery to people who have forgotten the holiday as they hope for their partners forgiveness. The only thing good to come out of Valentine’s Day is the reduced chocolates in Thornton’s on February 15.
We are in an era where feminism is thriving, where many women celebrate “Galentine’s Day” on February 13, where they spend time with their female friends and celebrate being single. Several bars and restaurants publicise this alternative event, and as a result have found another way to make money off the commercial holiday which is Valentine’s Day. Although, it’s this publicity and kind of positivity in single womanhood that has transcended the traditional and modern dating scene, as more women see the plus side in being single and many prefer it that way. Love Island’s Amy Hart has openly spoken on Loose Women about how she soon intends on freezing her eggs as a result of being unlucky and love and her worries for future children. She stated on the show that her idea of getting her eggs frozen, “started when I was unlucky in dating. My whole thing was ‘what if I never have children?’”. This is the worry of many women as they grow older, and by raising awareness of the issue it creates a more positive outlook for women with the same worries surrounding singlehood.
In today’s society, we no longer find ourselves meeting people in traditional ways, in coffee shops or at bars. We heavily rely on dating apps, whether that be Tinder, Bumble, Grindr or some other variety of app that enables you to meet people. Many people have lost the ability to actively communicate with others in person and have put more pressure on finding the perfect chat up line to impress someone they find attractive. From personal experience I know that puns involving my name (trust me I’ve heard them all) do not make a good first impression, although on the other hand neither does just saying “Hey”. This online way of communication has perhaps stunted how our generation communicate in person.
Tinder now has around 50 million users and according to TMRW magazine “has previously taken the number one spot on Apple’s Top Grossing app chart, beating the likes of Candy Crush and Netflix”. Online dating has made it easier for people to throw dating to the wind, and instead encourages casual relationships, flings, or one night stands over meaningful relationships. This attitude towards dating asks valid questions about whether or not dating is in fact outdated, and whether we have now adopted a casual approach towards relationships. Online dating apps have changed the face of dating, in comparison to past online dating methods like ‘match.com’ and ‘plenty more fish’ which now target and older market.
Psychotherapist Denise Dunne discusses the correlation between difficulties in mental health and the use of dating apps. In an article by TMRW magazine, Dunne states that online dating apps “create an atmosphere that psychotherapists would have previously regarded as pathological, and narcissistic […] the way these apps are designed are around appearances, non-emotional online communication, and they are about ubiquity and endless promise”.
This narcissistic approach to dating, suggests that we have changed our tone from traditional ways of meeting people, and now focus on immediately deciding whether to swipe left or right on people’s appearances. We put pressure on ourselves to have the best profile, asking questions about whether we should include pictures with our pets, the perfect candid, or pictures of us binge drinking with our friends. How do we make the best bio, do we state our height, or make a Gavin and Stacey reference? Who really determines what makes a good profile? This pressure creates a standard for us to live up to the profile that we have created, we stress about how to make the best first impression and replying with the response, whether that is the perfect GIF or a witty reply. As a generation we have changed not only how we view ourselves and how we view others, but also our outlook on life and existing relationships.
Arguably, people less cynical than me believe that Valentine’s day is a special day to celebrate with loved ones. Perhaps they think that my outlook on dating and relationships is negative and they would be right, it is pretty negative. But in a time where we struggle to have a good relationship with ourselves how can we possibly have a positive outlook on relationships with others? Maybe I’m a hypocrite knocking the likes of online dating, I’d be lying if I hadn’t tried it myself (so if you see me on Tinder don’t judge). I miss a time where you’d be set up by friends or meet somebody in passing, rather than through a screen based on looks and whether your bio is creative or funny enough.