Ancient philosophers talk modern technological dating

The ancient philosophers had a lot to say back in the day, and even presently they’re still communicating with us.

It’s one thing to have your parents and grandparents lecture you about your dating life, but when the long-dead philosophers start with the judgement, time to roll your eyes and say ‘alright, let’s have it.’

With apps, and online dating, the world has become your potential-oyster, but it’s just that: potential. There’s a lot more to consider when it comes to love, than just how many options are out there.

Let’s dive into the pros and cons. The attention. God, the phone won’t stop buzzing with notifications, but often we abuse apps for an ego boost. Partners are valued superficially: appearance, ambition, career potential, and charisma. However, the stereotype on apps like Tinder is that men generally swipe on anyone as it’s a numbers game, but men are generally pickier about who they swipe on, and so the higher the number of girls swiping on a man, the higher the probability of a successful relationship for them.

Many people live with an external locus of identity; that is to say, they value themselves by how others value them. This can translate to the number of their sleeping partners through the belief that the higher the number of sexual encounters, the more desirable the individual is. This plays into the well-known double-standard of men being considered a ‘player’ and successful, while women who do so, become imbued with negative connotations.

However, this is a result of the world designed by modern daters. Women are more likely to gain attention than men, so it is easier for women to attain a hook-up than a man. Thus, it is less impressive when a woman has sex because there is no challenge; men however must first draw her attention, as the male peacock with bright colours, and then seduce her.

With modern dating, the priority is an immediate hook-up over a long-term partner, and unfortunately, the number of sexual partners is not valued favourably when it comes to trust and respect. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre believed that when picking a partner, lovers consciously determine the success of a future relationship; yet that is the paradox of beginning a relationship, we do not know the future and it is difficult to deny one future in committing to another without the knowledge of how it will end.

Before the advent of technology, dating was competing within the social circle, for example, colleagues, friends of family, and friends of friends. Dating on apps like Tinder expands the competition by miles – you’re competing with the city, the neighbouring city, and the world.

It is difficult to know truly who you are talking to on the other side of a phone or computer, hence the term: catfishing. This is when a person lies about themselves, usually with their appearance but also their personality. Especially online, we present ourselves superficially, appearing to hold the values desired by partners to maintain their attraction.

However, building a relationship needs a foundation of trust and friendship. Aristotle believed that humans come together because we need each other for the ‘necessities of life”, such as raising a child. As human offspring take the longest to raise, humans have the longest relationships of any species, and places the importance on forming one which lasts.

Philosopher Nietzsche noted that romantic love was fleeting and overrated, and the highest form of human bond was friendship. This connects back to the difficulty of online superficiality as healthy relationships are built on foundations of trust and love, which is undermined when we cannot consent truthfully due to the lack of knowledge of the other. This is further supported by Plato – inventor of the phrase, Platonic Love – ideal love is connected with the notion that friendship is the first step to all bonds, parental and romantic, as friends all have respect and a kindness in common.

Love exists in the same format as it did in the past, but the method of pursuit differs greatly with the progress of technology. Increased relationship options do not mean dating has become easier or even necessarily better, but it certainly enables us opportunity to reflect upon ourselves. As cheesy as it is, no romance can begin until we love ourselves, because once we see that side of awesomeness, so will everyone else.