Romance 'n' stuff: This could be YOU.
Romance ‘n’ stuff: This could be YOU.

“The course of true love never did run smooth.” as bardy smartypants William Shakespeare once said. Fear not if you’re single in this day and age however, as there is now a multitude of literature and websites to help steer you through the murky waters of singledom.

Now that our elders have unhelpfully done away with betrothing us from birth or palming off their daughters to the highest bidder, it’s down to us to seek out our fame and fortune in the big bad world; and make no mistake, the dating world is as bad as they get; that is, if you disregard places like downtown Johannesburg, or Walkabout on a Friday night. Just how does one find their ideal match now that we’ve expanded our tribes from villages of tens to conurbations of millions?

Online Harmony

Sites such as eHarmony, OKCupid and all claim to have their own secret formula to helping you find your soulmate, because of course what better way to find your ultimate partner than using an unpersonalised online algorithm, based on profiles containing varying degrees of honest information?

I don’t want to appear dismissive on the subject of online dating, as I know several people who are in happy relationships with people they met through these sites, but I also think there’s no better way of discerning how much you like someone than meeting at a party and having a 2 hour heated discussion over the key tenets of a perfect fry up (yes, we’re back to that again), whilst spattering their white shirt with red wine from your emphatic gesturing.

Same Game; New Rules

Following on from a particularly confusing dating experience the other week, my housemate decided to impart her own wisdom to me in my time of (questionable) need, in the form of the book ‘The New Rules: The dating dos and don’ts for the digital generation‘. Now, I’m not usually one for self help books, but this time I was intrigued. Mainly because I find the whole idea of strategising dating and relationships the same as trying to analyse a gig you enjoyed – surely you’re taking a lot of fun out of the process by making it more complex and overwrought than it should be.

The impression I gleaned after an hour of flicking through the pages of this book (because make no mistake, I like to base my opinions on things I’ve properly absorbed and understood) was that women need to let men fulfill their hunter instinct and do the chasing, whether it be by letting them lead all communication, not responding immediatly to messages etc. Obviously this seems counter-intuitive to me, seeing as if I like a person, I consider it rude not to pull my weight in terms of suggesting things to do, or paying my way, or responding to texts.

It also seems to perpetuate this idea that a woman should tone herself down and let the man lead proceedings, as if your own feelings and instincts aren’t worth acting on. I can understand the need to have a bit of self control early on and not get too carried away with your feelings, but that’s a different approach to admitting that you’re letting the guy call all the shots, and not something I’m comfortable with at all.

False Impressions

It all reminds me a lot of the book ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss, which among other things gives guys tips on how to pick up women, but is geared more at shy guys and employs some quite manipulative tactics to get and hold the girl’s attention. I’m all for people learning new ways to get confidence to talk to people, but when it comes down to doing things that essentially give a false impression of your general character and personality I start to feel uneasy; when did it stop being enough for people to be themselves and just see if they fancied eachother?

And who decided this was a ‘game’ to start with? The bottom line is that we’re talking about one of the most instinctive and base emotions you can have – there shouldn’t be a need to put all of this infrastructure around it, because it then takes away from the simple pleasure of just finding someone you really like and instead it becomes about the chase, the preamble, your move, then their move, ad infinium.

There will always be people who want to play the field, maniuplate others and get as much attention as they can – I’m happy to leave those people to court eachother and do my own thing, ta very much.

Let me know your experiences with dating advice and sites – I’m always keen to hear more stories!