‘MEN CAN OR­DER A GIRL LIKE PIZZA, DELETE HER FROM THEIR PHONES AND OR­DER A FRESH ONE’

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - @WORK -

score com­poser, who has lived in LA for 20 years. Sex with Philippe is great, and re­fresh­ingly straight­for­ward. There are no hid­den whips be­hind his head­board (I checked) and he doesn’t send me dick pics when I go to the bath­room. ‘My God, you’ve found the only nor­mal guy in LA,’ my friend Olive says when I re­count all.

But it turns out that Philippe has ‘in­ti­macy is­sues’. His body shuts down when he gets too close to women in the real world. He’s a vir­tual recluse, locked away in his stu­dio com­pos­ing mu­sic. And he can only get aroused with strangers. I won­der if this is an elab­o­rate ruse. But I think he’s telling the truth.

At home the next night, the girls gather for a sum­mit meet­ing on the sub­ject of a pos­si­ble Male Sex­ual Cri­sis. Liv trots out her sto­ries of ‘emo un­avails’ (with as­so­ci­ated erec­tion is­sues). There was Ja­son, who would get naked but would never coun­te­nance any form of pen­e­tra­tion, while Ryan looked at porn so much he could never get an erec­tion. Olive had one lover, she re­veals, who, mid-coitus, sug­gested they watch the TV se­ries Mak­ing a Mur­derer.

‘The dat­ing apoca­lypse is nigh,’ Liv sighs. ‘LA is pop­u­lated with sin­gle men in their for­ties who now never have to con­front their is­sues. On dat­ing apps, they can or­der girls like pizza, have emo­tion­less sex, and if they can’t per­form with a girl, they can just delete her from their phones and or­der a fresh one.’

I speak to Nan Wise, an Amer­i­can sex ther­a­pist and cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist. I ask her if she agrees with my sex­ual cri­sis I call a “plea­sure cri­sis”,’ she says. ‘Ten mil­lion peo­ple are on Tin­der in Amer­ica, at a time when we are be­com­ing more pu­ri­tan­i­cal. We’re so ob­sessed with sex­u­al­ity on­line that we can’t even en­joy it in the real world. We’re al­ways seek­ing sex, but we’re not re­ally get­ting any sat­is­fac­tion from it.’

So why are we do­ing it? And what is it do­ing to our men? It’s too soon for hard data. But the male brain is more prone bi­o­log­i­cally and hor­mon­ally, she says, to be­ing ‘hi­jacked by all the sen­sa­tion seek­ing and the stim­u­la­tion of the on­line world. They’ve cre­ated habits in the cy­ber-sex­ual world and no longer have the tools they need for the real one.’

Nan says that the 0-120km/h speed of hook-up cul­ture and the hy­per-sex­u­al­i­sa­tion of dat­ing can be over­whelm­ing for some men. ‘Guys tell me that women say that if date they think there is some­thing wrong with them. There is a great ex­pec­ta­tion of sex­ual per­for­mance. In the ab­sence of be­ing emo­tion­ally con­nected with their sex­ual part­ners, that’s a recipe for dis­as­ter.’

But per­haps the fu­ture is not all bleak. My neigh­bour, a sound edi­tor, is con­vinced that we are on the brink of a Tin­der back­lash. ‘There used to be a time when a glimpse of a wo­man in her un­der­wear was ex­cit­ing. Now women will send you nude shots, if you ask, be­cause they’re com­pet­ing in a tough six weeks on Tin­der. By the end I was just queasy. I miss the days when it was hard to get women to have sex with you.’

Three weeks pass. There are more Bum­ble dates, but I can’t face an­other sex­ual en­counter fraught with po­ten­tial weird­ness. Mean­while, Liv has been ac­cepted on Raya, a new elite dat­ing app, with ‘suit­abil­ity’ for en­trance based on In­sta­gram fol­low­ing. Eli­jah Wood and Jeremy Piven. But af­ter she pays her sub­scrip­tion the tal­ent dis­ap­pears. She hasn’t had a match since. I point out that she is com­pet­ing against Sports Il­lus­trated swimwear mod­els and I doubt they’re wear­ing polo necks.

I prom­ise to cook her some low-carb com­fort food. At the check­out, I chat to a guy who shares my aver­sion to kale. Be­fore I can stop my­self, I’ve asked him out for cof­fee. When he re­quests my num­ber, I’m so taken aback I drop my bag. I’m not sure how tall he is, or his ex­act IQ , and he may like sex­ting at din­ner. But, for now, he seems rel­a­tively nor­mal.

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