Come off it. Tinder isn’t killing relationships.

My friend posted an article on my Facebook wall. She said it makes some interesting points and that she likes the style of journalism. I can only assume she was trying to bait me. It worked. The article is “This Is How We Date Now” by Jamie Varon. Here’s reply to my friend:

It’s polemic, not journalism. It’s a bit shouty for my liking. I don’t like all those short sentences declaring ‘facts’, rather than thoughtful sentences building up a fair and cogent argument. And, um, I disagree with the argument itself.

The writer makes three mistakes. First, she takes an old-fashioned view on relationships by implying that ultimately what ‘we’ all want is a committed life partner. I don’t want this, so I’m worried that she wouldn’t find me acceptable as a person or genuine lol. Second, she argues that modern life (Tinder etc) doesn’t make the kind of relationships that she sees as the gold standard possible. It’s a classic mistake that ignores all the millions of people who have found what they want while living this modern lifestyle (yeah, people even find ‘true love’ on Tinder). I don’t know who she is to say what the gold standard relationship should be. She implies she’s talking about something universal, which is obviously not true. It’s not true because there are people who don’t need what he seems to think everyone needs. And it’s not true because even those people who do choose what the writer says she thinks they need, ie a conventional relationship, often end up having profound sexual or emotional relationships outside of that anyway.

Third, she wraps the whole thing up in the idea that we’re all empty really and we just need love from another person, a life partner, to make us feel whole. I don’t doubt that’s true for a lot of people. But to imply that the only way we can feel whole is by having one special person isn’t fair on those of us who don’t feel like that. I feel like I can take on the world by myself. I feel that I’m stronger when people stand with me, but I don’t fancy the idea of being expected to lift one person to become the Chosen One out of the pack of my friends, lovers and family members. Yes, we are all empty really and we seek love from others to fill us up, and there are some people who want one person to do that and some who are happy to lean on several people.

To judgmentally criticise technology like Tinder, which connects us to so many people and has led many of us to have deep and beneficial friendships and relationships, is just classic anti-technology claptrap. Maybe the poor gal just needs to get laid?

The Carole King musical is beautiful but also totally desperate

beautifulSongs can be clingy. They stick in your head. But they’re also another kind of clingy. Songs often tell a story about someone who really wants to be in a relationship with somebody else. Yesterday I went to see Beautiful, the Carole King musical, and hearing a lot of her early songs together in quick succession mixed in with the story of her personal life I realised: man, was she hormonal and desperate. I’ve been thinking about relationships a lot—I’ve written about them here previously and I’ve been reading books like Michael Warner’s ethical polemic against marriage, The Trouble With Normal, and Julie Bindel’s assessment of queer politics today, Straight Expectations.

You might not be used to a queer analysis of a Carole King musical but here goes. Continue reading

Desperate Dan and why men don’t stay

Builder by Pictr73 via Flickr
Builder by Pictr73 via Flickr

A sad thing has happened: my friend Dan has become a homeowner, a husband and a dad. It’s sad because he’s finding it all really hard. “I love them,” he tells me. “But I’m not loving it.” He means life. He’s not loving life. More specifically, the responsibility and the sacrifice of freedom. In fact he’s trying to escape the more difficult elements, like millions of men who have gone before him. I visited one weekend to help him build a wall in his garden. There was tension in the house between Dan and his wife, who is never happy with his performance and is always questioning how he does things. They were bickering and it was verging on nasty.

One morning we were having breakfast and Dan’s wife was quietly attacking him for not yet having bought all the materials for the wall. “I’ll just have to go to Homebase again later for the extra bricks,” he said. “You should have had it all ready so you could just build it all today,” she said, pushing food into the baby’s mouth. Dan scooped up the last of his eggs and stood up, mumbling something under his breath as he ditched his plate in the sink. “Don’t call me an idiot,” she said. The toddler ran around bashing a plastic spoon against the cupboards. Dan pulled on his shoes and walked out to face the job. I followed awkwardly to help. Continue reading