Category Archives: Internet Dating

Why Generation Tinder won’t go back to dating ‘the old-fashioned way’

By Jenny Noyes

“My most memorable Tinder date?” Kate Iselin gestures as if to say get ready. “It was a gentleman who invited me to lunch, took me to the food court at Martin Place and showed me a photo of his penis. Soft.”

It’s not the fondest memory Iselin – a writer and former sex worker – has of her experiences on the app. But the negative and the bizarre do have a tendency to stick with you.

Horror stories aside, Iselin, 28, is overwhelmingly positive about the impact apps like Tinder have had on the contemporary dating experience. And she’s not alone.

Despite a steady stream of articles about Tinder “killing romance”, making people depressed, or putting them in danger, the app and others like it are as popular as ever (even if some users are loathe to admit it).

Iselin herself has recently returned to 30 Dates of Tinder, a blogging project she’d abandoned a year ago due to “personal stuff” including a relationship. The concept is fairly self-explanatory: she goes on 30 random dates, and writes about them. Now halfway through, she’s accepted every date request received – “provided the date location was safe and they didn’t seem like a closet serial killer,” she says.

Clearly, there’s an appetite for reading stories about Tinder – and part of that is a fascination with what can happen when virtual strangers attempt to light a flame.

But as dating via Tinder increasingly becomes the norm, it’s less about the novelty of using a phone app to date people off the internet. Four years since Tinder launched, Iselin says she’s returning to her project with “a slightly more serious goal”. It’s now more about answering an age-old question than exploring a curious new technology: “To prove that love exists.”

Of course, the proof is already out there among the growing number of successful, lasting relationships launched via Tinder or its myriad competitors. These apps aren’t just facilitating one-night stands. People are finding lasting love in such significant numbers it is no longer considered “weird” to have a partner found online.

Fairfax Media columnist Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen has met almost all of the people she’s dated, in her 28 years, online. Whereas five to 10 years ago there was a stigma attached to meeting people via the internet, it is now “completely normalised” among Gen-Y.

“Most people I know in relationships that have started in the last few years have met their significant others on Tinder,” she says.

Eliza Berlage, 26, met her boyfriend of 10 months on Tinder. She says it’s really a numbers game. “You could go to so many bars, libraries, music festivals, house parties, and still have as much luck … just swiping it lucky and giving it a chance and seeing how it goes.”

With numbers comes choice. And according to Iselin, it’s the choice these apps offer that makes them truly revolutionary – especially for women, minorities, and people whose preferences lie outside the norm.

Although there are some who feel nostalgic for the pre-Tinder dating scene, Iselin reckons women have never had it better; and she doesn’t see us ever going back.

“I know a lot of people say, ‘I would never use Tinder because I want to meet the love of my life the old-fashioned way’. But when we talk about old-fashioned times, we’re talking about a time when women in particular did not have a lot of choice in meeting partners.”

The same goes for people who may be otherwise constrained from exploring their sexuality ‘the old-fashioned way’, says Senthorun Raj, Grindr enthusiast and academic in law and gender studies.

“For people who are busy, those who have social, mental, or physical mobility issues, or individuals who are worried about ‘outing’ their sexual or gender identity in public spaces, dating apps can be a more comfortable way to chat, socialise, and become intimate than meeting people at clubs or bars,” he says. “For same-sex-attracted and gender-non-conforming people especially, these apps can be lifelines to connect with others dealing with similar experiences.”

What’s more, they have the ability to make connections “with people who we would never encounter in the places or circles we normally frequent,” he adds.

Of course, it’s not all rainbows, love-hearts and wink emojis for women, racial minorities or LGBT people. Prejudice and harassment is a real issue – but Raj says it would be a mistake to suggest apps like Grindr and Tinder have unleashed it.

“While Grindr does not cause these stereotypes, apps do make it easier in some ways to express harmful racial, age, and other ‘preferences’ because of anonymity or because the lack of ‘in-person’ interaction makes you feel like what you say or do online is … subject to less critical scrutiny.”

Nguyen says rape threats and racist, sexist comments are things she’s personally had to deal with just as much offline as on dating apps and social media.

“There’s such a big moral panic when it comes to online dating and safety, and it’s valid but we also need to remember that women face this everywhere. It really comes down to better education in schools about consent and respectful connections, and also the apps ensuring that they take reports of violence seriously.”

Sex and relationships expert Cyndi Darnell agrees that while mobile dating apps have revolutionised the sexual choices available and the ease with which users can access them, ultimately better education is needed to improve the human interaction side of things.

“We’re still operating on a very, very, very limited consent framework in terms of discussions around sex and pleasure … and yet our technology is far more advanced than that,” she says.

“There’s no app for getting over awkwardness. There’s no app for managing sexual anxiety. That’s the thing we need to remember: just because there is more access to sex, it doesn’t mean the quality of the sex has improved. We mustn’t confuse quantity with quality.”

Then again, there’s quality to be found – especially if you’re willing to put in the effort. “I’ve been on excellent dates and I have friends who’ve ended up in the most magical relationships,” says Iselin, who’s confident she’ll achieve her goal in one way or another by the end of her 30 dates.

“We are the generation now going to Tinder weddings. There are Tinder babies. I think that’s really exciting, and that gives me faith.”

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He Knows Me; He knows Me Not

SEX! — We have a finite number of erogenous zones, but an infinite number of ways and means of stimulating them. INTIMACY! — We have a finite number of needs, but an infinite number of ways and means of satisfying them.

Sex is one a way of expressing intimacy and intimacy can give meaning to sex. Simple, right? As if! When sex and intimacy collide, confusion, disappointment and frustration abound.

Doc,I really have a serious problem. I can have sex all day long — women, men, whatever ya got — not a problem. And I think I’m really good at it too. That is until there’s hugging and kissing. Again, — women, men, whatever ya got — big problem. I don’t mind a quick hug or embrace, or a fleeting kiss, but anything more than that and I just freeze up. I can’t seem to relax inside myself while in another’s embrace. I am 39 and worry about dying alone and forgotten, because I can’t let myself get close to someone long enough to fall in love. I know this sounds foolish, but I have never even slept with another person, like after sex, in my whole life. What’s wrong with me?   — Frozen

Wanna know what’s wrong with you, Frozen? Easy! You’re a human, that’s what’sbrutos4235.jpg wrong with you! You are exhibiting a very human characteristic, a fear of intimacy, albeit a rather severe case of it indeed.

Many people are able to perform sexually, while having difficulty with intimacy. When I see such a person in my therapy practice, I help my client overcome this rift by encouraging him to gradually increase the amount of intimacy he is comfortable with every sexual encounter. It’s a simple behavior modification thing.

So, I suggest that you hold an embrace a minute or two longer each time you are embraced, taking the intimacy a bit deeper than you did the time before. The same goes for kissing — hold a kiss for a few moments longer, or kiss a little deeper each time a kiss is offered. You’ll have to concentrate and make a concerted effort, because this is unfamiliar territory for you. But you have a really strong motivation; you don’t want to be sad and alone. I think you’ll find that you will be rewarded handsomely with everything you invest in this exercise.

A good potion of any fear is what we talk ourselves into about the feared thing. Sure, there may be a traumatic event at the source of some of our fears. But even if there is, we have the capacity to move through the remembrance, let go of the trauma and move on with life.You’ve been living with this phobia for a long time, Frozen. It’s become second nature for you. As you apply yourself to overcoming your dread of intimacy, have some compassion for yourself. Know this will take time. In fact, it’ll be the work of a lifetime.

My advice to you is to set a goal for yourself. Try to turn some of this aversion to intimacy around. Give yourself say 6 or 8 weeks to make this happen. Start out with baby steps, but don’t hesitate to stretch and challenge yourself. Let your partner(s) know that you are working on something important. Ask for his (their) help and patience. You’ll be able to overcome your hesitancy even sooner with the help and encouragement of others. Ask for feedback on your progress.

Keep at it till you are comfortable cuddling in someone’s arms for an hour or till you can kiss someone passionately without wanting to pull away. Celebrate the fullness of your personhood; don’t just settle for bumping parts.

Good luck

Dear Dr. Dick,I could sure use you some advice on how to find Mr. Right! Can you help? Here’s the thing, I only meet guys that want sex….they objectify me and just think about their own needs. I’m sick of it. I’m including a link to my online profile and photos of myself so you can judge for yourself.Where can I go to meet someone that believes sex is mutual?    — Why Not Take All of Me

Are you trying to tell me that someone as delicious as you is having trouble connecting with quality people? If so, what chance is there for us mere mortals?

Listen, I don’t mean to be flippant. It’s just that looking at your photos and reading your profile, you sound like a dream. Of course, maybe that’s the problem.brutos3046.jpgI’m not sure asking me, or anyone else for that matter, how YOU should go about finding Mr Right is the correct way to go. The reason being, there’s a different Mr Right for everyone. For some, Mr Right is no more than a pretty face, stiff dick and a supple ass.

Your needs appear more complex. One thing for sure, if you are looking for the perfect match for YOU, integrity and authenticity are preeminent. Don’t settle for less than what you want.That being said, you might begin by reassessing how you present yourself online. If the images you post suggest sex, that’s what you will attract. I mean come on — all those eye-popping nude full body shots of yourself; the close-up of your dripping hardon; your ass backed up to the camera lens like that, so that everyone and his mother can see where the sun don’t shine. And your profile, it proudly proclaims, “power bottom extraordinaire.” — Trust me, darlin’, none of this invites anyone to take you seriously for the dignified, well-rounded person you claim to be.

Finding Mr Right, is difficult at any stage of life. While you sound like a decent enough guy, you are no longer a youth. This time of life presents it’s own unique challenges. Are you carrying lots of personal baggage that may be off-putting to potential partners? I see that a lot in my more mature clients. They are too set in their ways to really enjoy the spontaneity of a new relationship.Lots to consider, huh?

Good luck

Dear Dr. Dick,  I have recently been going out with this great guy. He’s had three long-term relationships in the last 10 years or so. He says that with each one, when they met, he felt a “spark.” (I guess he means the spark of attraction, or passion.) But each of his relationships came to a crashing end.Anyway, this guy and I have been chatting on the internet for hours every day for weeks, but have only had two dates in person. And both times we got down to sex rather quickly. Now he says he wants things casual between us, because he didn’t feel any spark upon meeting me. He says I’m not his soul mate.I think this “spark” is passion. But fiery as it is, it always burns out, as it did with his first three partners.I’m different, I fall for a guy by getting to know him, finding mutual interests, and developing intimacy over time. (Although this method hasn’t worked for me, any better than his method has worked for him.)Is the approach through friendship better or worse than the approach through passion? Is there a future for a couple like us?  — In Way Too Deep

My gut feeling is that there isn’t enough common ground here for anything more than asensitif.jpg garden-variety casual internet connection. And I suspect you both are looking for something more permanent than that. That is what you are talking about, right?

While you may have enough in common to consume hours of internet time each week, (no big challenge there, you can train a chimp to do the same) the sex thing, or passion thing, or whatever else one calls it these days, simply isn’t there. And there’s no making it suddenly appear at this point in your association. Your internet “date” is not about to be dazzled by anything that isn’t highly combustible, regardless of how poorly this has served him in the past. Your method, on the other hand, ain’t getting you married either.

Alas, we’re such creatures of habit.I am of the mind that passion is the stuff that keeps us thrilled while we slog through the less appetizing “getting-to-know-him” and “getting-adjusted-to-his shit” phase. In fact, I believe the “fireworks” thing is designed to distract our attention — or more precisely — blind us to the more unsavory aspects of the guy we’re bumping.

If there are no fireworks we’d immediately see the guy’s an overweight psychopath, with anger management issues, bad teeth, a little dick, shameful personal hygiene, a ridiculously low IQ, dwarfed only by his bank account, who picks his nose and lets his mother run his life.Time to move on, darlin’!

Good luck