My curiosity got the best of me in 2019. I was on a lunch break at work the first time I swiped through different men on Bumble. Their profiles displayed pictures of them at their graduations, hanging out with friends, or… holding a dead fish they caught. Needless to say, I treaded lightly. I knew what most people were really after; it was what I was after some nights too, so who was I to judge?
My endeavors in online dating were plentiful, but mostly bleak. I did not mind the lack of substance or chemistry though, it was all for fun. Whether I liked them romantically or not, I loved getting to know them. What they did every day, their interests, their past. Their life stories were no longer only theirs, but they were mine now too.
The rise of online dating gave millennials and Generation Z a new world of people to explore. People we never would have organically crossed paths with are now at our fingertips. All we have to do is swipe right, come up with a flirty pick-up line, and hope we won’t go missing after the first date.
Having instant access to hot singles in the area helped blur the lines more than ever between dating and hookup culture. Sharing that you met someone on Tinder became synonymous with “this is who I am hooking up.” Why is that? Tinder is a dating app, but we all agree that it is actually an app for one-night stands. When you say you found love there, you get met with a blank stare. Regardless, many young people start relationships online. It is not unusual anymore, but it is still almost taboo. When people ask how I met my partner, there is a thin veil of shame when I mutter “we met on Tinder,” especially if I am talking to an older person. When I speak to someone who also met their partner online, a sense of understanding immediately emerges because they get it.
The amount of BS you go through when using Tinder, Bumble or Hinge could fertilize every lawn in America. When we use dating apps too much, we take the people we talk to for granted. With an endless lineup of people interested in us, who cares what we say? So we say whatever because we forget there are real live people on the other side of the conversation. As much as I hate to admit it, I think that began happening to me after I became tired of so many people not taking me seriously. Not because they only wanted to hookup — I didn’t mind if that was all they wanted. What made me jaded was that they treated me like a blow-up doll, not a person.
When people don’t make their intentions clear, they increase the chances of hurting other people. Talking about boundaries and your wants should be normal if you are dating someone, whether you met them online or otherwise.
When meeting someone on an app, it can sometimes feel expected to hook up. Don’t give into this expectation unless you also expect it. Actually, don’t expect it. Discuss it and make sure your date is on the same page. Sex isn’t shameful, but if you give into any pressure, you may end up feeling shameful over it. Learn what boundaries you need to set.
Get comfortable with rejection. You deserve what you want, but so does the person that may reject you. Rejection does not equate to you being unlovable. It just means that you cannot fulfill the wants and needs of that person. This goes for old-fashioned, in-person dating too, but there is a certain sting that comes with getting a match then getting told “never mind,” after you let them know that you are not willing to go to their apartment on the first date. If they reject you for something as dumb as that though — good riddance.
Take breaks from dating and social media when you need to. They sweep you up with their addictive dopamine releases and you don’t realize they are bringing you down sometimes. It cheapens the experiences of both, but especially of dating.
There is a certain amount of silliness that comes with online dating. You are talking to someone you have never met and they are just five miles away. You have only seen perfectly curated profiles of each other and you are talking strictly in witty pick-up lines. It. Is. Weird. You shouldn’t take it too seriously. Keep it light, but don’t sell yourself short. There needs to be some room for a real conversation too.