Once upon a time, dating had some pretty strict barriers to entry.
Being a kind and considerate person were great attributes, but they were only half the battle. You also had to be charming, conversationally nimble, interesting, and attractive just to have a chance at starting something that might eventually become a relationship. And even those characteristics were meaningless if you lacked the requisite courage to approach the person you had your eye on and, you know, start a conversation.
Nowadays, online dating has made striking up a conversation with someone and securing a date easier than ever. (Dating itself is probably more convoluted and exhausting than ever, but that’s a story for another day.) Therefore, in my opinion at least, trying to meet someone special in a bar might eventually become an outdated practice. Here’s why.
It Requires A Very Specific Social Skill
Breaking the ice with a person you don’t know is tricky enough on its own, but when you add in the nerve-wracking risk of public rejection and embarrassment, it can seem nearly impossible to some. Who would willingly subject themselves to public humiliation when they can try their luck with someone way out of their league in the safety and security of their own home?
The ability to strike up a casual conversation with anyone is a specific skill – one that is particularly prone to atrophy if you don’t exercise it frequently enough. And as technology makes it easier to remain connected throughout the day with people who already know and like us, the prospect of expanding that group by having a (ugh) face-to-face conversation with a stranger will become less appealing.
Social Norms Are Evolving
While a lot of women still prefer to stick to traditional gender roles when it comes to dating, the number of women who find those roles antiquated is steadily increasing. Historically, the onus is on the man to make the first move, but many women contend that by making the man responsible for initiating contact, they are relegated to a secondary role in the interaction.
Online dating platforms have begun to reflect this paradigm shift; for example, Bumble is one of the most popular dating apps on the planet, and it is designed to give women more agency in romantic interactions by requiring women to make the first move. On top of that, recent polls suggest that men would rather women make the first move – a survey by Match.com found that 95% of men want women to initiate the first kiss or ask for their phone number.
MRAs Have Ruined It For Everyone
Bizarre though it may seem, there is still a not-insignificant portion of the male population that hews to the grossest, most misogynistic stereotypes about women and dating. Sites like r/TheRedPill claim to offer actionable advice for lovelorn men, but nearly all of it is rooted in the idea that women are shallow idiots who only care about money and/or “status.”
That aside, what these sites tend to prescribe as the perfect cure for lovesickness is to start approaching women wherever possible. If you’re a woman, that means that the majority of the time, the only people approaching you in bars are weirdos who think that wearing a loud, ugly shirt will psychologically trick you into dating them.
So even if you’re a man who isn’t a total fucking creep, the act of approaching a woman at a bar automatically lumps you in with them. And that makes the interaction – one that already requires a lot of things to align just so in order to be successful – that much more of an uphill climb.
When you compare all the nonsense associated with hitting on someone at a bar to the act of sitting on your couch, swiping right Tinder and striking up a good conversation with an interesting person, the choice seems pretty obvious. After all, even if you do everything perfectly with an in-person approach, there’s still a significant chance that the other person will either be in a relationship, not interested in dating, or not interested in dating you. Who wouldn’t want to weed out as many people who fall into the first two categories as they can ahead of time?
Of course, none of this is to say that online dating is necessarily better than the in-person approach. As difficult as it can be to put yourself out there, there’s value in it; even if it doesn’t go your way, there’s something to be gained from that failure. (Unless your response is to go on The Red Pill and complain about how all the women you try to talk to “don’t know a real man when they see one.”) But when faced with a choice between a difficult option and an easier one, most people will choose the path of least resistance.