A few months ago, when it seemed safe to imagine the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, we were told the hot girl summa was ours. The memes were exploding, and we thought our bodies would be too, beside and inside one another instead of alone or through a screen. Researchers and writers were predicting a roaring return of all things sex and dating.
Sadly, this has been less a jubilant restoration of person-to-person pleasure and more of a WTF anti-vaxxers kinda season. My province of Ontario is seeing an average of 500 new Covid cases each day and two local bars have been linked with outbreaks. And so, this celibate summer ends with talk of Booster shots, the 4thwave, and impending travel restrictions. Dead unsexy.
Since re-entering the Tinderdome, I’ve chatted with about 25-30 guys and met a whopping two. All hail the champion. It has been the messiest, most terrible experience on dating apps to date. It feels like a time of extremes and men either want LTRs- like STAT- or nothing at all. This statement, which I’ve never heard before, pops up often: “I’m hardly ever on here, so…”
K, so why are you on here at all? I know that these platforms are supreme shit shows, but this kind of despondency makes an already fraught system feel extra useless. It also feeds into and decenters my already unsettled romantic compass. Directionless sums it up.
I forgot how often I have to tell men how to be respectful. I’m talking basic things like don’t use words like “safety” or “safe word” without warning and get defensive when I ask for clarification. If you’re talking kink cool- just say so. But, if not it’s creepy. That point that was lost on the Goderich guy who attracted me with this profile line: “I never want my cat to die.” Meouch.
Then there’s the young “entrepreneur” from Argentina. He’s cute and very eager, but during our chats he repeatedly asks for “more pictures.” This makes me scream because I’ve told him I don’t send nudes to someone I haven’t met. Guys seem to think that striking an erotic pose for a stranger is hot. It’s usually not, but because it’s hot to him I should send them. It’s insane.
When I got the “Ha ha, more pictures” text I didn’t reply. Then he sent the stupid “guy shrugging shoulders emoji” and I got mad. Are you really confused? I’m not going to comply and, like, have you ever heard of Porn Hub? He apologized with a “he he” and said he was just asking. But that’s not all that is happening during these exchanges.
Misogyny blinds men to our refusals to send nudes or engage with them in other ways. They push and push and push and laugh about it or say shit like, “Oh, I thought I’d ask again.” It’s crazy-making and terrifying that they refuse to accept what the letters N-O mean. If they badger long enough many of us give in, which they’re well aware of.
Men tell me how beautiful I am, and they say I’m what they want. So why do they act so terribly? I think they feel powerless and want to erase me as a symbol of their demise. A myopic perspective if there ever was one. As Jane Ward argues in The Tragedy of Heterosexuality, some men get more of out their collective anger against us than sex or dating, which they often sacrifice through their behaviour.
This wicked cycle is played out when douche canoes ask for more pictures or insist that they’re not sending me random messages on Twitter or Instagram when, in fact, that is exactly what they are doing. Another way this bullshit has surfaced lately is the case of the loser who stood me up three times. When reflecting on the situation I realized that I wanted him to ghost me. Hmmm?
I was using him to unfurl myself from the pointless dating game. I didn’t hear from him all day and didn’t follow up- it’s not my job. As my friend says, if they haven’t checked in by noon make other plans. I felt joyful at 6pm, one hour before we were to meet, because I knew he wouldn’t show up. I curled up on the couch and read my book, smug in my self-sabotage.
Is that what it was? What choice do I have? I try to be open, direct, and honest and it’s of no avail. Maybe it’s just not my time. I feel pulled between the intimacy I desire and the very limited room I have for those things in my life right now. After all, if my book is my boyfriend and I keep having nothing but dating woes, why don’t I delete the apps?
I’m struggling with being alone and sometimes feel angry that this always seems to be my fate. I’ve been solo most of my life, but the last few months have felt different because we’re surrounded by the plume of sadness that weighs upon our planet. The pandemic lives inside each of us and impacts us in countless ways.
It’s a weird time and it feels scary to be a woman. The uneasy currents streaming their way through our society show men that it’s ok to laugh at and push us beyond our comfort zones. There are few repercussions and all kinds of men do it, including the guy who ghosted me. Is he afraid of women? Does he hate us?
Whatever it is he was taking it out on me through ghosting me and promising to show up again. Winning seems impossible at this point and what does that even mean, anyways? Is surviving my only option in the arena of romance? When the bar is this low and my aspirations so scattered, I really should take the advice I keep writing about. Walk away, grieve the loss, do my own work.