What Dating Apps Misunderstand About Love – Free Ebook

For most of human history, relationships 
were relatively simple for a banal yet immovable  

reason: it was extremely hard to meet anyone 
acceptable – and everyone knew it. There were only  

a few people in the village, travel was expensive 
and social occasions few and far between. 

This had many drawbacks: it encouraged 
people to accept offers from suitors they were  

unconvinced by, it meant that characters 
who would have delighted each other  

died lonely and unfulfilled because there 
were a few mountains or a river between them. 

Our technologists have used their 
genius to correct these historic obstacles  

and provide us with unending choice. Meeting 
someone new is now a constant possibility.  

But this breakthrough at the level of introduction 
has obscured an ongoing challenge at the level of  

ultimate purpose: we may have become easier 
to meet, but we are not any easier to love.  

We remain – each one of us – highly 
challenging propositions for anyone to take on.  

All of us are riddled with psychological quirks 
that serve to render an ongoing relationship  

extremely problematic: we are impatient, 
prone to making unjust accusations,  

rife with self-pity, and unused to expressing 
our needs in a way they can be understood  

by others – just to start the list…
That we can meet so many people  

has beautifully obscured our ugly sides, breeding 
in us the charming yet misleading idea – which  

engulfs us any time we hit difficulties – that 
we are in trouble because we have not until now  

met ‘the right person.’ The reason why there 
is friction and longing has, we tell ourselves,  

nothing to do with certain stubborn infelicities 
in our own natures or paradoxes in the human  

condition as a whole, it is only a matter of 
needing to hunt further for a more reasonable  

candidate who will, at last, see things our way.
The promise of choice has drained us of the  

patience and modesty necessary to grapple with 
the tensions that are prone to come our way  

whomever we might be with. We forget that almost 
everyone is a charming prospect so long as we know  

nothing about them. Part of what it takes to be 
ready for love is to imagine the difficulties that  

we cannot, as yet, know too much about in detail; 
the bad moods that will lurk behind the energetic  

smiles, the difficult pasts that lie beneath the 
lustrous eyes, the tangled psyches that reside  

beneath a stated love of camping and the outdoors.
Even though there are hundreds of other people  

we might meet, there are not – in truth 

  • so many people we could really love.  

Dating apps may have made it 
infinitely easier to connect  

but they haven’t helped us in any way to be more 
patient, imaginative, forgiving or empathetic,  

that is, any more adept at the arts that 
make any one relationship viable. Most of  

the issues we experience with a given candidate 
will therefore show up, in comparable guises,  

with almost anyone we might stumble upon.
The real work we should be doing  

isn’t – once we have had a reasonable look 
around – to keep trying to meet new people;  

it’s to get to the root of what makes it hard to 
live with any one person we could alight upon. 

We will be ready for love when we surrender 
some of our excited sense of possibility and  

recognise that though we might have many choices, 
we don’t – in reality – have so many options.  

It may sound dark, but this will, in its 
own way, be a liberating realisation that  

can help us redirect our energies away from 
the exhausting circuit of new encounters  

towards a search for the kind of mutual emotional 
maturity on which true love can one day be built.

Leave a Reply