Anna Patch, a 20-something filmmaker, is also baring her dating life to the world. Set against the sunny backdrop of her home, Queensland, Patch is often at her local beach, post-swim with a towel slung over her shoulder.
While Patch says she has been on and off various dating apps for the past few years, she’s started trying to meet people in person. In one video, captioned “I gave my number to a lifeguard – part one,” a friend films Patch going up to a lifeguard to ask if his colleague is single. “F—ing oath he is,” the lifeguard responds.
“Lots of people watch my videos and say, ‘I wish I had that confidence’, so hopefully they inspire people to put themselves out there.”
These encounters have had mixed results. “I have made connections and gotten to a hangout and some of them haven’t really gone there,” she says. But, she says even just the act of being bold seems to have given her a more open energy. “It’s funny, I put myself out there and in the next 24 to 48 hours will have someone come up to me. It’s beautiful, those unexpected moments.”
Patch says her audience is mainly young women like herself, who are always hungry to receive updates about her experiences. “Lots of people watch my videos and say, ‘I wish I had that confidence’, so hopefully they inspire people to put themselves out there.”
Zaslawski adds that her audience has helped her feel less alone with dating. “I’ve learnt that the things I’ve experienced other people have gone through. I’ve had comments from people saying ‘I’ve had this happen to me’.”
“People build up dates to be a big scary thing,” continues Zaslawski, who hopes they will help others become more confident.
It may not come as a surprise that the most popular videos are of bad dating experiences. After all, everyone loves a bit of drama and a villain to hate. But talking about bad behaviour, or “red flags”, also serves another purpose.
“Dating story time really gives women voices in the dating space to say they aren’t going to accept certain behaviours,” says Portolan, adding that talking about these experiences can be “cathartic”.
Given the speed at which trends move on the TikTok, and its participatory nature, she adds that it’s “a really interesting space for potential change to norms that are really hard and fast within the dating space,” she says.
Even without bad behaviour, the genre is helping break down women’s concerns that they are simply being “too picky”.
“I’ve been battling with this idea of, ‘am I being too picky?’ ” says Zaslawski. “[The TikTok series] has helped me identify things that are a big ‘no’ that I don’t need to put up with it.”
“It’s good to normalise that women have some power in that they are the ones that make the decisions, especially sex-wise,” she says.
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