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4th March 2024

Unravelling the modern dating dilemma: Challenges in student relationships

Is university ruining dating, or is dating ruining university?
Unravelling the modern dating dilemma: Challenges in student relationships
Credit: Alexander Sinn @ Unsplash

The modern dating scene might be doomed. We’re consumed by swiping at a hundred miles an hour on dating apps, messy and unclear situationships, and clubbing culture. Long gone are the days of organic romance and linear dating – dating has become complex and unhealthy, and students take the brunt of it.

Natural chance encounters are a rarity, and forming organic relationships in this way has never been so difficult. Thanks to the incessant rise of dating apps such as Hinge, Tinder, and Grindr, students often find themselves drawn to the online dating scene if they desire a relationship. However, while pitched as a convenience, dating apps are inherently detrimental. People are categorised into boxes and supposedly matched through common interests. While not necessary designed with ill intent, dating apps often dehumanise people. The decision to swipe right or left is predominantly based on appearance, where people whittle down their catalogue of candidates to a select few.

In a recent game of truth or drink with my flatmates, the question of “what is an immediate swipe left on Tinder?” was proposed. The instant reaction from a male participant was “if she’s fat.” Not only is this a disgusting thing to say, but it epitomises my analysis, for people are instantly disregarded based on their looks alone. Someone’s personality and life story is deemed insignificant: an important factor of dating is completely ignored.

While in heterosexual relationships women are generally disproportionally marginalised because they are viewed as sexual objects, and swiping left or right is heavily guided by a sexual motive, men are not safe from criticism. In a recent article articulating this point, Sarah Ditum comments “men are dismissed without compunction for coming under the 6ft mark” in online dating. A man who is below the idealised 6ft height is instantly dismissed, whereas in real life this is often not so much an important consideration. When speaking to a woman posed with the same question in ‘truth or drink,’ Ditum remarked that an instant swipe left would be “if they write something cringe in the caption,” reiterating the point that it is impossible to gauge someone’s real personality through a screen filled with a limited amount of information.

In order to understand the flaws in the student dating scene, it’s necessary to speak on the recent popularisation of ‘situationships’. ‘Situationships’ is a relatively newly coined term regarding non-committal sexual or romantic relationships. This in particular affects students, where situationships are increasingly becoming the norm. The question is, why does no one want to commit? Arguably, this is due to the options in the dating pool appearing limitless – just go on Tinder in Fallowfield and be flooded with thousands of people – and having multiple partners is considered standard.

Despite not being able to comment on this personally, it appears that the LGBTQIA+ dating scene is no better, having had a recent conversation with a gay student. He commented that “Apps like Tinder and Hinge are pointless for me as guys just want sex,” and that dating apps are “very repetitive.” Another friend who identifies as bisexual told me that “A lot of girls are willing to get with you in clubs and that is all.” No one is safe!

However, it is not all doom and gloom – there are anomalies. There are many students who come to university in relationships and continue these positively, whilst some have met their partners at university and are in successful relationships. Yet, on the whole this seems to be rare and unattainable for the majority.

In my opinion, the way we view relationships in the modern era is blasé and impermanent. Without the movement away from pressure on dating apps and the popularisation of situationships, the student dating scene may be doomed. However, it is important to recognise that university is a period of life that is full of growth and development, and experimenting with relationships are an integral part of this process. Perhaps the only way in which to move forward is to let go of this idealised dating scene. The days of organic romance may be long gone and dating apps are the new normal. I believe a collective understanding of the flaws in our new system is necessary in order to improve the student dating scene for everybody involved.

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