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One question has been preoccupying me lately: How does one separate the thread of one’s own past from broader trends in history?

I’m talking about the “Dating Apocalypse.” Like many of the commitment-phobic perennially single, I’m on and off “the apps” a lot—swinging from full-blown frenzy to total cold turkey in a matter of days.

Somehow, instead of body image pressure easing on females, it’s rising in males. There’s a bizarre paradox most of us seem to experience on the apps where we simultaneously hate our own bodies, yet expect conventionally attractive people to be attracted to them, while we’re judging others’ less-than-perfect bodies harshly as well.

Whether because I’m a flabby, commitment-phobic 37-year-old man-child or because dating really has changed, I agree with Casey Johnston: Tinder is not actually for meeting anyone.

But here’s the thing: Overwhelmingly, my most satisfying sexual encounters have been with people I met in the “real world.” The apps have almost universally produced fleeting and unsatisfying connections for me.So what does that mean for stories about the present?It is impossible, perhaps, to resist being self-serving, and any interpretation is already flawed.The complexities of consent in the context of #Me Too—which Jessica Valenti put front and center—are also a factor. Whatever else this is, it’s certainly a historical change.In the , gone from normal behavior to borderline creepy [italics added].” Julian’s conclusion was, ultimately, a historical argument about change in cultural attitudes: “The very existence of online dating makes it harder for anyone to make an overture in person without seeming inappropriate.”But she also gestures toward the difficulty of picking up a historical trend while you’re in it: “over and over, people asked me whether things had always been this hard.” And she couldn’t prevent herself from asking the same question: Just as often, though, I was taken aback by what seemed like heartbreaking changes in the way many people were relating—or not relating—to one another.

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