Dating in the digital era

I had an insightful conversation with a friend last week about dating and relationships in this digital era. We drew examples from various people and, to our surprise, the results fitted the puzzle. Look, dating has changed exponentially. At least, the process of dating has changed. Back in the day, in the good ol’ times, you would pursue someone for a really long time; it felt as though you were working on your PhD thesis. The girl would keep you waiting as if you were waiting for Godot. And if she said yes, it was only agreeing to have a drink, or tea with you. Of course, that wouldn’t guarantee that you’ve finally won her heart. No. It simply meant you had one foot in the door and you’ve got to work so hard to have another foot in. It was a fierce jungle out there.

Then you’d go for a date at a fancy restaurant in town. You would dress to the nines and pray not to embarrass yourself. In fact, you’d rehearse in the mirror, master your lines and, poof, you’d bloom like Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey. On the date, you’d literally put your A-game forward; you would front your best CV. You would crack stale jokes and, because she doesn’t want to hurt your brittle feelings, she would laugh and say you’re funny. At the end of the night, you would pay the hefty bill and drop her home (not yours). No kissing, of course.

Silence would then ensue. You would struggle to keep in touch. If she didn’t like you, the signs would be there for you to see. Phone calls would go unanswered. Messages would go unreplied. Emails would sit in there, alone. But if she liked you, you would go on more other 100 dates before she said yes, or nah. But the game has completely changed in this digital and tech world.

Men and women shoot their proverbial shots in the glaring sun. If she likes you, she hits the follow button and slides in your DM on Twitter to make her case. If he likes you (men are always liking everyone), he will slide in your DM, or Messenger and pour his heart out. There will be a bit of chitchat here and there. The first parts of the conversations are always nonsensical, asking how the weather was. Later, the sharp lad will churn out an excuse and say, “I am not always on Messenger, can I have your WhatsApp number to, you know….uhm”

The girl will fall for this lie. They always fall for this ploy. She will accept and send him the number. Lover boy will then run as fast as possible to WhatsApp to announce himself, “Finally, here we are.” He will then start lying through his lustful teeth and say he’s been missing you. It’s a classic lie, folks. Meanwhile, all this long, you haven’t met physically. The banter will go on for a while. You will view each other’s WhatsApp statuses and churn out a compliment to each other. Or laugh at the memes you’ve downloaded from Twitter.

A few days later, the lad will confess his feelings to the girl. She will act as though she’s surprised. He will insist. The girl will also catch feelings in the process. They will agree to meet. This time, the lad will ask her if she’s free over the weekend. She says she has a baby shower for her friends, but she’s free after that. Like Albert Einstein, the lad will cook up a genius plan; he will propose that, perhaps, she can come to his house after the baby shower. He will cook. And buy drinks. And watch series. Hesitantly, she will say, yes.

Fast forward, the girl will be asking for directions to where he stays. Remember, these are internet strangers. Later that evening, she will be at his gate. He will stand there and lift her off the ground. The night will then be full of you know what.

This can happen in a space of one week. And the next week, he or she will delete the phone number and life will move on.

editorial@newtimesrwanda.com

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