Insider knowledge from four leading dating experts…
15 million people are single in the UK right now, and around 50% of this number are looking to find love and a serious relationship. So if that’s the case then how come modern dating is still so damn hard?
We put this question to four dating industry experts last week during the Adweek talk: ‘Live for Passion: Dating in the Digital Age’, hosted by Marie Claire’s very own editor Trish Halpin.
Charly Lester, top dating blogger and founder of The Dating Awards, shared her own personal experiences of finding love online, while Happn’s head of Media Relations Marie Cosnard discussed the future of dating apps. Evolutionary anthropologist Dr Anna Machin brought her scientific perspective to the panel, also talking about her role as a matchmaker on Channel 4’s ‘Married At First Sight’, while Tim Samuels completed the panel with his humorous insights on the male view of online dating – Tim is a documentary filmmaker and recently wrote a book on modern men – Who Stole My Spear.
The panellists discussed the huge shift in behaviours, expectations and attitudes in the dating world over the last few years, and the monumental changes brought about by the explosion of apps and digital dating technology.
Here are 7 very useful points we took away with us…
‘We’re looking too hard for perfection’
According to Dr Machin and Tim Samuels we need to manage our expectations, with digital dating becoming an endless string of swiping left in search of unrealistic ‘perfection’ encouraged by sites like Instagram. ‘We have the attitude that “this person is great but maybe there’s someone better out there” which can be a problem’ Charly Lester explained.
‘We have more opportunity than ever for meeting people’ – but is it too much?
The panel argued that modern dating has actually given us too much choice. ‘Men are not great when we have too much choice’ explained Tim – likening the situation to being faced with more than 3 different types of jam at the supermarket, ‘we just get overwhelmed.’ Charly agreed, ‘dating sites have definitely broadened the net, but they have made us a lot more picky.’
‘Men and women approach the world of dating in completely different ways’
‘All mating behaviour is about making a baby and that hasn’t changed since we were primates unfortunately’ explained Dr Machin, but when we dig below the surface there are apparently real differences in what we look for. ‘Men look for signs of fertility’ she explained, someone who is young, curvy and with a good waist to hip ratio – all apparent signs of oestrogen circulation. Women however look for someone to protect and provide (we know, what a cliché), ‘looking for signs of wealth, athleticism and good genes for her child’ – even subconsciously looking for high facial symmetry on dating profiles.
‘Digital dating isn’t confined to dating sites and apps’
Digital dating isn’t limited to Plenty of Fish and Tinder – Facebook and Twitter are also great ways to connect. Charly Lester credits Facebook for finding her dates, ‘I wrote a Facebook status to my friend saying that I would go on 30 dates in the 3 months running up to my 30th birthday’, she explained, ‘but 2000 people read the first post that evening because my friends were sharing it on Facebook.’
‘Online dating has turned vocabulary sexual’
‘There’s something about the anonymity of dating apps that turns conversation sexual very quickly’ explained Tim. Dating sites are becoming like computer games with ‘victorious’ men receiving pictures of boobs as a prize. The whole process of new apps like Tinder dehumanises prospective dates, turning them into a virtual object that you can bombard with naked picture requests and dirty language, something that few people would do in person.
‘At the end of the day we all look for kindness’
Despite technological advances turning dating into an appearance-based yes/no game, it looks like our priorities are still in the right place with kindness proven to be the most desired quality in a partner. According to Dr Machin and supported by the panel, it is considered by both men and women as the most important factor for two people to be compatible.
‘We all need to take a step back’
One of the key things that we learnt is that the future of dating is going to be taking a step backwards. The panel discussed how the technological advances of the booming online dating industry have actually gone a bit too far, making our love lives far too impersonal. Marie Cosnard explained that the next step is to stop people from communicating so much via the site and encourage more face-to-face meet ups.