Being single in 2011 is exhausting. I mean it, it is absolutely knackering. Gone are the days where being punched on the arm by a boy in the playground was a sure sign he liked you. Gone are the times the boy across the street would knock on the door and ask you to play. Farewell to the simplicity of days gone by.
Since the invention of social media, there are 500 new ways to go absolutely bonkers as a single woman. Back in ye olden, Austen-y times, a few shy glances across a dance floor would give you a fair indication that Mr Darcy liked you. You might have an incredibly sexually charged Waltz and share a tipple or two. You might go for a (chaperoned) stroll by his family’s lake. By your third or fourth encounter, you would know if he hadn’t already proposed, he probably wasn’t going to. Next!
But these days, there are a million different ways to negotiate the dating scene. We no longer have the singular mode of actually talking to someone. First there came the telephone, then email, then texting, then MSN, and now you can tweet, poke and Skype your way into someone’s pants. And it’s all so damn CONFUSING.
You no longer have to check for missed calls to your home line a la the old school 1471 route. Now everyone this side of 2001 has caller ID, and most young people don’t even have landlines anymore. Not only are you frantically checking for missed calls, you are wondering how long to leave it between texts. If he left 6 hours before replying to your text, should you leave it 12? And this time he left 1 kiss, but last time it was 3 – should you add your standard 2 kisses, or return the coldness of a single kiss? But what if he sees the single, solitary kiss, is hurt by your obvious rejection and proceeds to stop texting you all together?
And what if, while you’re waiting for the outcome of this text, he tweets you, or retweets you, or Facebooks you? What does that mean, if he hasn’t already texted back confirming or not confirming his status as an asshole as indicated by the number of kisses he does or doesn’t leave? What if he ignores your text by then pokes you later on Facebook? What if, during this confusion, you retweet that tweet you thought was funny – is it too forward, will he think you’re desperate? While you frantically work out the percentage of his tweets you’ve retweeted, you’re waiting around on Facebook chat just in case he decides to show up. And even if he does, who starts the conversation? You really want to talk to him, but it was you that started the conversation last time, and if you start it again this time, will it reveal your secret desperation and send him fleeing to the hills for being just another crazy woman with too much time to overanalyse?
I would like to swiftly point out, that the above scenario hasn’t happened to me exactly. It is more a combination of fears expressed at nearly every girls’ night in, when the ladies are on their second glass of vino, and the terrible, inevitable conversation of ‘how’s-your’-love-life’ begins. The funny thing is, we know we’re being ridiculous. We know, as women, that men are (supposedly) overwhelmingly simple creatures. We’ve been told 100 times over that the rules of He’s Just Not That Into You ALWAYS apply (you are the rule, ladies, not the exception). But it doesn’t prevent the hours of anguish that can rack up over a single text, tweet, status or chat session. And with half our interactions happening in the public domain, everything becomes that bit more complicated.
Feminism has done a lot of wonderful things for women over the years – the vote, flattering trousers, the invention of the sports bra – but it has also left us with a lot more choice. And as most women know, choice is a tricky bitch. Now that we aren’t being dragged around by the hair by the menfolk, we get to decide things – what lipstick to wear, what career to pursue, who we shag/date/marry. And that’s brilliant of course, but it does make things rather a lot trickier. Instead of being told who to marry, we can pick and choose from the 3 billion-odd blokes on this planet, and I don’t know about you, but I find even the idea of that kind of exhausting. How in god’s name am I supposed to find my soulmate amongst all that? And once I have found him, what are the chances I don’t terrify him with the aforementioned insanity of wondering when or when not to tweet the poor bastard?
No wonder internet dating is so popular. You can effectively narrow down the population of the world (or at least the population of the men on match.com) to some key criteria before you subject yourself to the madness that is dating in 2011. Though of course internet dating does expose you to all the crazies that make up the worlds of match and eharmony (I am sure it is about 10% normals, 90% nutters). So really, you’re in just as much of a pickle as you are in real life. If 75% of people are complete turnips and 20% are wankers, it leaves only a precious 5% of men-you-can-take-home-to-your-mother. These are tricky odds, ladies, tricky indeed. No wonder every woman goes pathologically insane the moment she finds a good one.
So heed this warning, menfolk. I know women are a tad… intense from time to time. We know we can be downright terrifying (believe me, I haven’t told you the half of it!). But we mean well, we really do.
But do take note – if a woman’s not going batshit crazy over you, one of you’s not trying hard enough.