SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Dating apps are easy but love is hard to find

January is the month of divorce lawyers and dating apps. Especially of dating apps.

Some of us worry about dating people who live in our phone; they’re all fakes, phoneys, gold diggers, con artists, or psychopaths who will chop us up and liquidise us in our own Nutribullets, before pouring us down the loo. We get carried away with our catastrophising, instead of focusing on the real issue: addictive algorithms that make us impolite online.

We now have access to each in a way that could never happen in real life, no matter how manically sociable we became. We all live in each other’s phones; the choice is infinite, and immediate. This is marvellous — how did people do it before? — but, like any other big, new thing, it takes a while for the surrounding culture to catch up. We are dating-app pioneers, learning as we blunder along, swiping ourselves silly, having more fun than previous generations could have ever dreamed.

So, why are so many of us suffering from dating fatigue?

The liberation of online dating is knowing when to stop. Just because you can meet a different person every hour doesn’t mean you should; that elusive unicorn of dating perfection doesn’t exist. They are not around the next digital corner. (And speaking of unicorns, why are we adding antlers, bunny noses, puppy ears, and cat whiskers to our profile photos? Where are we, at the vet?)

A date tells me that men have a tough time online, being swiped left to eternal dismissal by all the filtered ladies in bunny ears. Why, asks my date, should anyone invest time in sending a message longer than three syllables, when the chances of it being ignored are so mathematically probable?

In case you meet someone amazing, I remind him. (Which he has, the lucky man). But he’s right. If someone has taken the time to communicate more than a ‘hi’ , they deserve a reply, unless, of course, they have sent an unsolicited anatomical image, having learned courtship behaviour from a David Attenborough documentary on baboons. Otherwise, a friendly ‘thanks, but no thanks’ is basic good manners.

The same as IRL.

Some men, however, interpret being gently rebuffed as ‘please pursue me until I block you’. Like the guy who lists his hobbies as shooting, hunting and fishing, despite me politely pointing out that, as an animal lover, I am unlikely to fall in love with someone who kills them for fun. Or the nationalist, Trump-loving Brexit fan, who insists that having diametrically opposing politics is no barrier to mutual attraction.

Mate, it is.

Or the obese one who describes his body type as athletic, or the wrecked, ancient one who says he’s 45. Seriously, chaps. Even with our bunny filters on, we can still spot the difference between the words and the photos.

Come on, all you daters out there. Imagine we are all in the same room, rather than in each other’s phones. Let’s play nice. It’s more fun.

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