How to meet, how to vet, and what’s the latest social media dating etiquette? Helen Dalley discusses dating in the age of activism.
It was all going so well… until you found out your date had strong beliefs that were completely different to your own and now you suddenly find yourself in the middle of an argument over dinner or cocktails, wondering how to get the evening back on track.
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Dating in the digital age of activism can be a bit of a minefield. Besides not offending others while also holding true to our beliefs, many of us are meeting people online and have to negotiate the do’s and don’ts of digital dating and adhering to the ever-evolving social etiquette that surrounds it.
In the age of climate change, for example, many online profiles profess to be looking for more than a nice smile, GSOH and someone who loves 80s hip-hop as much as they do. More and more prospective daters are bonding over climate activism and swiping right on matches without green credentials. It’s even created a new dating trend, “Thunberging”, where young daters seek to bond with other activists.
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Whoever you meet, disagree if you must – but at least be charming as you do it. Want to end the relationship? Then do the decent thing, and pick up the phone…
Do Your Due Diligence
If you have strong beliefs, or if you’re not really into those that do, the digital age does give you one advantage – you can vet in advance. In the age of activism, the more passionate people are about their beliefs, be they religious, social or political, the more likely they are to define their online persona by them, giving you a chance to vet date, sidestep the controversial, or at least go into the date informed on which topics might be a little controversial.
However, Don’t Creep Possible Dates Out by Following Them on Every Platform
If you’ve ever received a friend request or direct message from someone you’ve met only once, briefly, or, worse, a friend of a friend that you’ve never even met, you’ll know what we mean. Just met someone you’re keen on? Keep things light initially by communicating by text or phone call and don’t stalk them on social media by sending multiple friend requests and commenting on their posts. After all, they might not be ready for you to see those messy photos of “Bali 2018” yet, or stumble across that crazy lockdown hairstyle they were sporting in the early 2000s…
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It’s Fine to Disagree – Just do It in Style
Disagreements are a part of life and we’re going to end up locking horns with plenty of people at some point. If you don’t agree, there’s no need to make a big scene, raise your voice, or make a public stand. Instead, up your game by being well-informed on current affairs so you can argue your case with laser-point precision. You never know, you may have a convert on your hands.
If Your Date Wants to Go Dutch, Let Them
It’s become a bit of an old-fashioned notion to think that men must pay when on a date (although Asia has maintained true to tradition compared to many other places). This is the age of activism, equality, and opinions galore, so if you both reach for the credit card/phone/wallet when the bill comes around, don’t make a big scene of insisting you’ll pick up the tab – instead, let them pay their way. If things go well, you can always use it as an excuse to get them a cocktail later.
Don’t Get into Petty Arguments Online
Someone’s posted something on a platform – perhaps it’s a political view you don’t agree with or a snide dig at your fave sports team – and you’re tempted to wade in and take them down a notch or two with a withering one-liner or make things personal. Before the red mist descends and you press “reply”, consider that if prospective dates decide to check you out online, they might just see those comments, and get the wrong impression of your…passions.
Try to Keep an Open Mind
Life can feel a bit black and white these days and there’s this feeling that you need to pick a side whatever the debate. Being unsure about things – whether it’s that Biden is too old to run for President in 2024 or that Elon Musk is delusional to want to colonize Mars – just isn’t an option. If someone brings up a view that you don’t agree with, hear them out before putting your own point across. You might just learn something in the process…
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Don’t Dump Someone by Text
So you’re just not feeling it anymore and want to end things. Whether it’s been a few dates, several weeks or into the months, don’t leave someone dangling, or ghost them and ignore their texts. Also don’t cut corners by simply ending things with a few crafted words and a curated selection of emojis, as tempting as that may be. Instead, pick up the phone or tell them to their face that you don’t want to see them again romantically. Graciousness always pays off – and who knows, you could end up dating one of their friends down the line so it’s best to bow out with the right impression.
If you’re chatting online with more than one would-be-beau and considering going on dates with more than one person, be upfront about it so no one gets the wrong idea about notions of exclusivity (and be plain about it so there’s no willing misunderstandings either). If you’re going to lay your cards on the table, this will hopefully encourage your dates to do the same too, so everyone’s clear on where they stand.
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