Dating app discourse remains the most engaged content on X (formerly Twitter) and for good reason. In an increasingly lonely America, the strangeness of the opposite sex, unmitigated by familiarity, becomes frustrating. Frustration drives engagement. Apparently.
Last week’s viral moment was a video compilation of women’s Tinder profiles all saying essentially the same thing: “Swipe right if you’re in therapy.” As you might expect, particularly vicious men responded with a disparagement of the concerned women (and women in general) because of their unique inability to say anything original about themselves.
A mysterious report belonging to a “Hollow Earth Terf” responded by pointing out what women see on the other side, which is a similarly conformist portrayal of mating potential. As it turns out, men on dating apps have a habit of saying, “Swipe right if you don’t take yourself too seriously.”
Men and women can joke all day long about the silly things one gender does or says that, on the surface, make no sense to the other gender. But a meme is always more than the thing itself, and I think these memes are neither superficial nor stupid. Rather, they are signals that convey a deep longing in potential partners.
Because these desires are thwarted by the cultural milieu and because we are all swimming in water without realizing it, it has become impossible to articulate what we want Really want from each other. The meme captures the essence of longing without the need for a detailed explanation. It resonates for a reason.
When women say they want a man in therapy, what they are really saying is that they want a man who can exercise custody of themselves, can clearly articulate thoughts and feelings, and can also help them resolve their own inner chaos arrange. In other words, you want a man who can lead with caution and demonstrate a special consideration for the special needs of women.
Unfortunately, this kind of open self-control and sensitivity is rare among modern men. And while this female desire is nearly universal and certainly primal, the ability to relax and curb the urge to control everything is similarly rare among modern women.
When men say they want a woman who doesn’t take herself too seriously, what they’re really saying is that they want a woman who won’t try to aggressively dominate or compete with him. In a cultural environment that encourages this, men look for grace. In other words: Men want a woman who can also show something special Tenderness for the special needs of men: perhaps a carefree camaraderie.
But as I have already suggested, trust between the sexes is broken. Because whatever we naturally want from the opposite sex, culture has made them incapable of giving and us incapable of receiving. In other words, these signals convey a deep longing for a vanishing set of interpersonal insights and skills.
Men and women want each other but don’t know how to get it. Perhaps change begins with questioning the memes themselves – as always, with tenderness for the opposite sex and their predicament.