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This year, Love Island's Casa Amor has been pretty grim viewing. There are always a few couples who crack under the temptation of new arrivals, but in 2021's cohort pretty much every boy's head has swivelled - apart from loved-up Jake Cornish and Teddy Soares.
From flirting and spooning to downright cheating, the antics of this bunch of sexed-up blokes have demonstrated the very worst side of lad culture, all conducted under the guise of "testing themselves", like doing so is some sort of noble act.
And it caused more than a few of us to lose our faith in love.
"It’s official ... after watching #LoveIsland 2021 I am off the dating scene," declared one woman as she watched all the action unfold.
As former Love Island 2019 winner, Amber Gill, had similar thoughts, swearing: "I will never date another man again #loveisland".
But as depressing as it is, dating expert and matchmaker Sarah Louise Ryan says we shouldn't be surprised at what we've seen play out in front of us, labelling it an unfortunate consequence of today's "grass is always greener" dating environment.
Unfortunately, she adds, it's something we're going to have to live with, and learn to navigate.
"Whilst Love Island is reality TV and it sometimes might not seem real, the actions and behaviours that are going on in that villa are really a mirror set of what we’re seeing in modern dating, particularly for those who are looking for love online," she explains.
"I’m in my 10th year as a matchmaker, and in that time I’ve seen such a massive growth and saturation of options.
"Because of dating apps, singles have so many other singles physically at their fingertips - it's like a gamification of something that actually matters to us."
Now, you might be thinking, 'what's wrong with options?' Of course, to some extent, it's an asset having a whole bank of potential suitors on tap.
But the problem, warns Sarah, is the impact this has on the strength and durability of the relationships we form.
"If you think about the actual act of [using] dating apps, around 70 per cent of those apps have a swiping functionality," she says. "And if you think that most of these apps involve swiping away someones face, it's almost taking away the human element and the emotions behind the way we feel about rejecting someone."
Sarah adds that dating app culture has subsequently left us "desensitised to how were treating others," adding that even those who don't use the technology fall victim to how it is changing attitudes within society.
"You see that translate into the house on Love Island," she says. Look at Liam, Tyler and Toby, for example. They're "getting a lot of gratification from having their options open," and "feeling desired" by more than one woman, so, why would they give it up?
"If you take those people out of the Love Island villa, they're often the same people on these apps and websites.
"When we're using them, what happens is something goes off in our brain and it triggers loads of dopamine and serotonin [a chemical that makes us feel good] when we are liked by somebody and we are chatting to somebody," Sarah reasons. "More often than not people are doing that with multiple people at more than one time."
So, essentially, these feel-good hormones reinforce the idea that being perpetually single and dating around is a good thing, even if you have found somebody you could potentially be ready to settle down with.
"A sense of belonging in a romantic relationship its really one of those needs that many of us want to actualise in our life time, so people are constantly searching for love, but always looking for something better, more connected, for more hits of dopamine and serotonin," Sarah adds.
"In that way, the behaviour in the villa is really in line with modern dating, and the state of play with it today."
Naturally, the pressures on today's dating culture have the potential to affect both men and women's dating experiences.
But - as we've seen plain as day, thanks to Casa Amor - there's no denying that, by and large, it's a gendered issue, too.
While we can't tar all men and women with the same brush, Sarah reasons this could well be because many women have been conditioned to "pass over [their] power" to men, in search of a happily ever after.
"Often, we're not stepping into the mindset of ‘Is that person in front of me good enough for me?," she says. "By taking [our insecurities] inward and being in our heads when it comes to dating we pass over the power to the men, and often it can be about feeling that we are wanted by someone else [and therefore] actualising a strong sense of life purpose, even though obviously thats not the case."
The solution to this complicated issue isn't one size fits all. Some dating experts say that playing the field and hanging out with multiple people isn't a bad thing, while others even argue it's beneficial when it comes to helping us find the right person.
But as couples like Love Island's Millie and Liam demonstrate, there's an uncomfortable emotional grey area that just can't be ignored.
Sarah isn't one of those experts that condones exploring multiple options at once.
"How successful can you really be if you’re dividing all your time between multiple people, and building pseudo-relationships?" she asks."Dating apps are are monetised off keeping you scrolling. Of course they say designed to be deleted, but are they really? They're keeping you single and so is the culture they’ve created."
However, she advises that you choose to date around, it's important to be transparent.
And as for those who fall victim to this rather bleak new world? Well, Sarah says it's all about keeping our emotions in check, and learning to deal it pragmatically.
"We cannot escape the impact - the negative impact, let's be honest - that apps have had across the globe," she says. "But rejection isn’t the final hurdle, and it's not all doom.
"Stop, take stock and ask yourself 'What did I learn about this person? What can I learn about myself?'
"You have to take those lessons and carry them forward. When you get to that place of acceptance, that’s when you can move forward and it’ll give you the resilience to carry on dating until you meet the right person."
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