Sex and the (Small) City

The best dating strategy is giving up

Emelia Haskey

iStock by Getty Images

With my busy schedule involving juggling study, work, and my plans to nationalise the production of Moscato, I’ve been taking some time away from the dating scene. The sheer bliss of not constantly checking your tinder messages and trying to come up with clever yet charming opening lines to break the ice with someone new who may or may not be batshit insane has been extremely pleasant. Alas, all good things must come to an end. In my case, I asked a mutual friend out for drinks, and he agreed it would be fun. Success, I thought, I have secured the date. When I checked in the next day to see how he was doing, he told me all about the wonderful date he’d been on with someone else, in an unfortunate case of being completely socially inept. When faced with the battle of trying to secure a date while also not ending up in competition with another woman, I chose the only rational option: I gave up.

The problem with growing up identifying as a woman is that you will inevitably be socialised into jumping off buildings for very mediocre men. Rather than letting someone actively pursue you, you end up doing all the work arranging dates and getting to know them and pretending the band they play in is good, before they’ve even told you whether they’re actually interested in you. So, in an effort to stop tripping over myself, I’ve decided to go on strike. Unless someone is actively pursuing me, I’m not making an effort. No asking anyone out, no playing he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not, no forcing small talk. I will be sitting on the couch watching telly until further notice.

This may seem like a fairly extreme approach to what seems like a minor issue, but I cannot stress enough that your time is far more valuable than you think it is, and what you spend it on will come back and haunt you. In Carrie Bradshaw fashion, I couldn’t help but wonder…when it comes to dating burnout, is giving up the best strategy?

Embracing the single lifestyle is not that dramatic a decision since we moved past the 1830s and stopped constantly trying to marry a man who earns 10,000 pounds a year and a cushy mansion in Cornwall. We live in a modern era, we’re all ground down by capitalism, no-one’s going to tell you off if you feel like you need a break from life. That being said, the addictive nature of apps like Tinder is real, and it’s perfectly normal (and healthy) to crave some romantic affection after binge-watching Notting Hill for the fifth time. The media does tend to make coupling-up look like the be all and end all of most people’s existence. This isn’t to say that you’re giving up on dating entirely, by taking some time off can seriously help in avoiding digging yourself into a hole.

In taking the focus off jumping back into the dating scene, it can be advised to try and focus on your interests, pursue your passions, join some Uni clubs, etc. For example, I’m using this column to pursue my dream of becoming a niche internet micro-celebrity with thousands of comments saying “based” under my Instagram posts. We all have our fantasies…

What is not helpful with the whole strategy of “giving up” is the idea that this is a final state of being. Choosing not to engage in the dating chase does not mean you become a hermit and start cursing all happy couples and/or men. I dabble in misandry for the fun of it but I don’t believe in writing off a whole gender, mostly because people’s genitals hold no great meaning for me. In times of doubt — get a hobby. Even if you’re bad at it, you can always crack out a terrible rendition of Wonderwall on the guitar and you’ll be the life/joke of the party. No one’s attracted to despair — and that goes for everyone (except maybe Tim Burton).

My final piece of advice? Apart from writing your own dating column where you get to complain about modern dating (which really is very cathartic), appreciate the other forms of love in your life. Carrie Bradshaw would be nothing without Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte there to stop her doing stupid shit like spending forty-thousand dollars on shoes. Even your parents may have likeable qualities — good for them! So turn on the TV, put your feet up, and sigh contentedly. You’ve earned it.

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