I am forever reading articles about how dating is harder than ever. (I would like to take this opportunity to ask my mother to stop forwarding these articles to me, and also to stop setting up profiles for me on http://www.christianmingle.com).
Dating is harder than ever, but it’s not because of Tinder, or sexting, or globalization. Dating is being ruined by self-describing. I’m not sure when it started, or where it’s come from, but increasingly people feel the urgent need to bypass the obviously wildly inefficient process of ‘getting to know someone’ by simply telling me who they are.
Self-describing is everywhere, and the person I have chosen to blame is Arianna Huffington.
Arianna Huffington is keen to describe herself as ‘tuned in and chilled out’, making ‘hilarious’ jokes about ‘sleeping her way to the top’ as she does a series of interviews for her new book, Thrive. The ‘joke’ is predicated on the fact that Huffington’s book champions the radical idea of ‘sleep as a good thing’, whilst also cleverly referencing the fact that she was formerly married to a man worth $70 million.
But, as ever, where Arianna goes, others follow. Nowadays, it is hard to get through a dinner without someone making a pronouncement about themselves. ‘I’m really relaxed’, is a personal favourite, possibly because it is only ever said by people as highly-strung as thoroughbred horses.
‘I hate talking about myself’ is another useful one, allowing me to moderate my jokes for a person who clearly doesn’t understand irony.
More and more frequently, I find myself opposite these kind of statements, with the other person staring at me expectantly, waiting for my own self-analysis. ‘It’s becoming increasingly awkward,’ I told a friend recently. ‘I’m not sure how much longer I can hide my irritation. Or my own blinding lack of self-awareness.’ ‘Tricky,’ my friend agreed sympathetically. She went on to ask my opinion of a mutual acquaintance. ‘He’s impossibly attractive, incredibly funny and can work a room like a pro,’ I told her. ‘It’s the main reason I can’t date him. We’re too similar.’