If you’re a millennial the chances are you’ve already tried Tinder, Bumble, Grindr or some version of an online dating app. If you’re older than us, then you probably think online dating is another way to get murdered.
Online dating is the most prominent way of meeting new people because who in their right mind will come up to someone randomly on a bar and ask for their number? Who spontaneously flirts with someone they just met and ask them out on a date? WHO DOES THAT? Dating apps were built for those socially awkward people who, by spending too much time on the internet, have forgotten how to interact or flirt IRL.
I downloaded Tinder after a friend told me to. I’ve never dated anyone before Tinder, so the app became my introduction to the dating world. My first date ever was a huge disappointment. It never crossed my mind that someone who sounded so charming over the phone could be such a prick in person. This made me stop.
Fast forward I’m 22 and I download Bumble. Now, I started using this app exclusively because it gave me the illusion of power. Women on Bumble are the first ones to make a move. Women message first and if they don’t, the match gets deleted after 24 hours.
At first, my morals were conflicted. As a person who has struggled with self-image for years, posting my most flattering pictures and writing an appealing biography felt like Catfishing. I pictured all the scenarios where I was going to be contacted by MTV producers. It all seemed too vain for my taste because it meant picking people solely based on their looks and their ability to write a funny enough bio with the hopes to persuade you into swiping right. (You swipe right when you like someone and left when you don’t.)
I felt uncomfortable thinking of myself as a vain person. “I shall not judge a person by their profile picture, only by the content of their character!” Said MLK about dating apps. How dare I be superfluous and only swipe on boys I found attractive? And at the same time, I was thinking about my probabilities of matching with someone and how they were eventually going to discover the fraud I was.
Eventually, I got over it. After spending more than 24 hours on the app, my thumb became the master of rejection. I swiped so fast I didn’t even stop to read a guy’s biography, which in dating app terms is giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes my head would spin by how fast I was saying swiping left, and my heart would skip a bit when I matched with someone I liked. “HolY crAP this guy likes me? ME?” I couldn’t fathom the fact that someone else besides my mom found me beautiful. Attractive guys finding me hot was revolutionary.
Figuring out who I was and accepting myself lead to great success on the app. Or so I think. I felt more empowered on who I was choosing and I wasn’t as focused on if guys liked me or not. At the same time, the swiping and match ratio can take a toll on you. You are judging people by their looks. No amount of funny biographies will convince me otherwise. So, being more comfortable in my skin helped me deal better with rejection.
Is there rejection on the app? Oh yes, there is. It takes many forms. Some people, rookies I’d say, like to think they’re too hot to be rejected or get ghosted. Turns out, it doesn’t matter if you’re Jennifer Lopez, you will get ghosted too. You’re not special and you’re not that hot.
It’s funny to think online dating started with websites where you had to write a fully descriptive profile about yourself and your ideal partner, then the algorithm took care of the rest and matched you accordingly. In these apps, it comes down to how hot you look in your profile picture. Some bios have made me reconsider some people, but not everyone is that funny or charming by writing alone.
Breaking the taboo
I’m comfortable talking about my dating life with my friends and, frankly, anybody who asks. Sometimes too comfortable. Dating is fun, it’s weird at first, but you get used to it. It’s a mixture of small talk, awkwardness, a good selfie, and confidence. I encourage my friends to join one of the apps but I always warn them about the rejection, unsolicited pics, and the awkwardness involved.
I understand and see where the skepticism towards these apps comes from. A way I try to explain it is that these apps are just like blind dates, only you know (or think you know) how the person looks like. Texting is the easiest part because if it goes south you just delete the conversation and it’s over. It gets “challenging” and nerve-wracking when you are going on a date. So many things can go wrong but so many things can go right, too. You have no clue if they’re going to be as nice in person, match their profile picture or be the next Ted Bundy. Online dating is the Russian roulette of love.
Dating puts you out of your comfort zone. It’s mostly dealing with awkwardness and figuring out ways to tell the other person you’re definitely not interested. But it’s also fun. Meeting new people has its charm, it’s a reminder that I should relax, enjoy what the other person has to say, and become a listener.
No harm no foul.
I do think you have to be in a place where you are fully comfortable with yourself. Good self-esteem helps you handle rejection when it happens. People will ghost you, some will be rude and vulgar, and others will text you things that will make you crawl out of your skin. But if you’re good with yourself, none of what people say or do matters. Remember, it’s an app you can delete at any moment.
If you haven’t tried online dating and want to give it a go, you have my blessing and full support. Comment down below your experiences with dating and if you’d like to try one of these apps.