Being single is fun, they said. Going on dates is exciting, they said. Well, I think they lied.
When you’re single and young, you’re told that this is the time of your life. You have the freedom to date whoever you want, whenever you want – which should be exciting, right?
There are, of course, highs and lows to being single. But now it seems harder than ever to find that forever person.
For some, being single isn’t fun anymore – rather it feels like a never-ending game of trying to figure out who’s serious. People don’t want to make the effort to communicate with others, plan dates, or even have the decency to treat each other like human beings.
It’s got so bad that some have even given up on the prospect of finding a potential partner altogether.
Michael Akpowowo, a 25-year-old working in the hospitality industry and based in London, says the current dating scene makes him feel like he won’t find anyone.
He’s been single for over five years and is on the lookout for serious relationships.
When asked about some of the more eye-opening things he’s experienced on the dating scene, he lists “a lack of communication, things being rushed and self-sabotaging when it comes to commitment”.
As an observer, he’s also anecdotally noticed “several men rushing women to go back to their place after a date without getting to know them first”.
“In general, it feels like there’s no commitment being made when it comes to relationships,” Akpowowo says. It’s made him want to give up dating entirely.
He’s not alone. Paris Wiliams, a 24-year-old policy officer from London, says she’s given up on dating because she feels that most men are scared to be vulnerable.
On top of that, she’s encountered a lot of men on the dating scene who say they’re looking for something serious, but in reality they want to keep things casual.
“I’ve learned code words for this, like ‘go with the flow,’ or ‘seeing where it goes’ – they’re essentially saying I’m here for something casual, but I’m too scared to say it,” Williams says.
Dating is just a series of games – there is no fun in dating, as unfortunately I can’t turn a blind eye to misogyny, colourism or transphobia or homophobia.Paris Williams
She says she’s also encountered people on the dating scene who are misogynistic and hold patriarchal views. “I’ve noticed a lot of men really love Andrew Tate,” she notes.
When she started to meet more and more men with questionable views, she changed how she approached online dating.
“After some small talk, I now ask questions about their views on women. For example, are you pro-choice or pro-life? Do you believe in feminism? I am really passionate about raising children in a household where there aren’t clear gender roles, so I’ll even ask them things about child-rearing,” she says.
As Williams works in a sector that tackles violence against women and girls, she wants to make sure she isn’t missing any signs that could potentially lead her to trouble later down the line.
“Dating is just a series of games – there is no fun in dating, as unfortunately I can’t turn a blind eye to misogyny, colourism or transphobia or homophobia,” Williams notes.
“I have made an active decision to not want to be in a relationship with someone who upholds systems of oppression.”
There is a general consensus among those on the dating scene that lots of people are simply fed up – and it’s been bubbling away for some time.
As author and journalist Lucy Cavendish wrote for The Guardian last year: “No one seems to know what they want and trying to meet anyone has proved nigh impossible. Also, no one really knows how to date – what to say, where to meet or recognise if there’s chemistry.”
Savannah*, who is a 26-year-old teacher from South London, thinks the dating scene is dead because some men want to have their cake and eat it. “Men don’t want to commit but hate the thought of a woman also dating multiple people,” she says.
“I also think that our generation lacks patience and thinks you can get to know someone within a week or two of texting. This is one of the biggest struggles in dating, I’ve found, as someone who’s an introvert,” she adds.
Whilst Mary*, who is a 28-year-old assistant from Nottingham, says she noticed that people aren’t dating intentionally.
“This means people aren’t willing to invest in an individual because I don’t think they like them as much as they should. I find there’s a lack of seriousness too. People don’t want to genuinely get to know an individual,” she says.
“I also noticed people aren’t direct with where they’re at. There’s also a lack of communication and accountability,” she adds.
“I think the issue is people don’t know how to date and the etiquette that’s involved when dating, it’s a dance in a way.”
Mary believes the apps are to blame as more people see them as a way to fast-track hook-ups.
I think the issue is people don’t know how to date and the etiquette that’s involved when dating, it’s a dance in a way.Mary*
Jessica Alderson, a relationships expert and co-founder of So Syncd, believes dating apps can be overwhelming for some singles as it’s difficult to determine true compatibility from an online profile.
“The sheer volume of options can be paralysing,” Alderson tells HuffPost UK. “A lot of dating apps focus on physical appearance and surface-level traits, such as age, height and job title. This can cause some individuals to feel judged solely based on these superficial factors, which can be disheartening.”
It’s not easy to continuously put yourself out there when you keep meeting people who don’t want something long-term. “If you’re constantly meeting or dating people who don’t take you seriously, it can have a serious impact on your self-esteem,” Alderson says.
“It can cause you to doubt your worth, which can lead to feelings of insecurity. Additionally, it can be difficult to stay motivated if you’re continually being rejected by potential partners,” she explains.
It can be particularly hard if you start to notice a pattern in your dating life. “If you feel that you always want to move the relationship forward, but the people you’re dating don’t, it can be helpful to take a step back and talk to a trusted third party to gain perspective,” Alderson says.
Ask yourself if you’re being too hard on yourself, or is it a case of simply being unlucky with the people you’ve dated?
“Rejection is a normal part of the dating process; it doesn’t mean you’re not enough,” she explains. “However, if there are patterns you are falling into, such as dating people who are emotionally unavailable, it’s important to learn how to break the cycle.”
So what can singles do if they feel like their dating options are narrowed?
Depending on the cause, here’s what Alderson recommends:
Focus on personal growth
Investing time and energy in personal growth can make you more confident and attractive to potential partners, she suggests. This could mean taking up a new hobby, developing a new skill, or seeking therapy to work on personal issues.
Instead of waiting until you meet your future partner, take action now and find ways to make yourself someone your ideal partner would want to date.
Build your self-esteem
Low self-esteem can make you feel like your dating options are limited. Take time to introspect, practice self-care, and invest in activities that make you feel good about yourself. You might also benefit from talking to a therapist or joining a support group.
It’s about taking the time to really get to know yourself and build your self-esteem from within. At the end of the day, if you love and accept yourself, you will feel better no matter what happens with potential partners.
Be mindful of your dating pool
If you feel that your dating options are limited, it could be that you aren’t meeting the right people. Perhaps there’s a specific dating app that has better-suited matches for you, or a community that attracts people with similar interests. Expanding your horizons can open you up to a world of possibilities.
*Some names have been changed on request.