Desmond Grundy at Terri Manduca. Neither of us was sufficiently interested to go on a proper first date, but one night after the gym, I had agreed to go over to his; I suppose you could call it a hookup. In January, my year relationship had ended. We had got together three months after my 18th birthday and love had felt like fresh-churned cement being poured inside my shell; it oozed into every nook and cranny, then set.
For my whole adult life, that relationship fortified me from the inside out. Then we broke up. Working within the department of experimental psychology at Oxford University, Machin has dedicated her career to studying our most intimate relationships, assessing everything from familial bonds to the sociosexual behaviour we engage in when looking for The One. A thumb-swipe has become an act of lust — and a lucrative one: Two years on, though, the opposite seems to be true; far from a biblical, end-of-dating-days scenario, we are spending more money and time on wooing strangers than ever.
The impact of that can be felt in everything, from our attitudes to commitment to the expectations we have of others. There was the one who lied about his age 43, not I sank my second large glass of expensive merlot and left. One, I matched with on Bumble. Like Tinder, you swipe and match; unlike Tinder, the first message has to be sent by the woman. After I messaged, my Bumble match seemed very keen to meet. Unlike Tinder, Bumble has a feature that allows you to exchange pictures; when I next looked at my phone, I found a picture of his penis.
It had been taken in a toilet cubicle, his suit trousers puddled around his ankles: There were no words to accompany the photo. The irony, I thought: There was one guy who informed me during our first date that he was into BDSM. He seemed to think of himself as the latter. And I meant it. But I felt more like a keen observer than a sexual plaything.
The next day, I had a bruise that looked like teeth marks; it flowered a livid purple on my inner thigh. Since the dawn of apps, there have been rumblings about tech gamifying our lives.
Its latest iteration takes it up another notch: Matchmaking is an ancient industry, traditionally judged on how many setups end in marriage. And, for this, the longer someone stays on the app, the better it is for the company.
Dating fatigue might seem the ultimate first-world problem, but the more people you meet, the more your faith falters. My housemate — Sophie, 29, single for a year — deleted all her dating apps in June: He told me all about his parents and his disappointments in love.
I slept with him, but never saw him again. He was one of three single men there, and I liked his face. So I guess, for all those tech-upgrades, the old cliches remain.