Tariq Jordan and Goldy Notay in 'Speed'
"Nooooo," screams a friend as she accidentally swipes a dishy profile picture to the left. Those of you who have had any experience of the dating app Tinder are likely to be familiar with this particular yodel of anguish a person tends to emit when losing a hottie in the irrecoverable waste-site of swipe-lefts. For Tinder trawlers, swiping left has become a movement so ingrained in the muscle memory of their thumbs that it's almost akin to the male atavistic jerking of wrist back and forth. Though perhaps less gratifying.
For those who aren't in the know, Tinder is a bottomless pool of dating prospectives. Swipe left to dismiss and the potential date disappears into the ether, never to darken your iPhone screen again. Swipe right and you're on the road to love. Or more realistically, cruising for a highly unsatisfying game of message ping pong and some awkward Facebook flirting. Welcome to the woes of modern dating.
If you're single, a ride on the London Underground can often feel like you're caught in the middle of some lackluster poster campaign for love. Happy couples seem to sell every kind of product: cars, beds, home insurance, laundry detergent - so much so that a happy couple has become a product itself. Posters advertising dating websites adorn tube walls, eager to feed off loneliness and misery. Our loneliness and misery. Why are we the only ones missing out on Richard Curtis happy endings?
So we buy into those adverts - £30 a month for the promise of love, though in some countries you could probably get a prostitute for less. Online dating or events such as speed-dating make the process of finding a partner more efficient, less time consuming. You can even customise your search, filter out the wrong religions, the wrong genders, the wrong hair cuts. Trim the fat. Dodge the fatties. Market solutions for love.
It's no surprise then that we are so ready to be conned into thinking that profile pictures are adequate portrayals of the human beings that lie behind them. That those drunken, deceptively flattering, surrounded-by-mates photos are accurate representations of actual human beings who stub their toes, or barge rudely past grannies on the tube, or cry watching Step Mom (guilty...).
It's a dangerous trap. We learn to dismiss or accept people before we know them. To chase the idea of a happy couple like some kind of tick box, as if putting a ring on it is the equivalent of crossing a finish line, the 'I do' being followed by an interminable period of cheering crowds and confetti - a world where arguments over who last took the dog out for a crap suddenly cease to exist. We forget that relationships are real things with real people.
It's time we reassess what we want out of a relationship. Is a bling ring and a collage of couple photos above the fire place? Or is it warmth, understanding, and a Netflix subscription? Snuggles on the sofa and an Orange Is The New Black binge for me any day, thanks. Because those are the real happy moments. And however painful this is to hear, never forget there is no such thing as a happy ending. Unless you really did pay £30 for a massage in Bangkok.
Speed, Iman Qureshi's debut play about life, love and speed-dating returns to the Tristan Bates Theatre in London from 25 February - 8 March 2014.