As a millennial I’ve seen an evolution of social technology throughout my lifetime. From anonymous chat rooms, to early social media like Myspace and the beginning of Facebook, to now where everyone (including my mother who was vehemently against them) has a smart phone in their pocket.
When I was in high school, AOL instant messenger became a popular way to communicate with friends. We learned to speak through typing versus our voices. When texting became popular a little later, we easy transitioned to it, and stopped talking to each other on the phone.
I first started dating in high school. We had to actually talk to each other, though sometimes it was through instant messages. In college I would like boys who lived down the hall from me or I saw at work. After I graduated, that real life liking boys continued for a little while, until it stopped.
I would only meet new people when I started a new job, which wasn’t often. My friends weren’t really into going out to bars and clubs, and though it was fun sometimes, it wasn’t really my scene either. One of my friends told me about a website called OKCupid. I was really skeptical. I was still in my early twenties, wasn’t online dating only for older people and internet predators? My friend had fun with the website and eventually I decided to try it too.
I’ve been on online dating website and apps off and on for years now. I’ve tried a lot of them, gone on several dates, and only had one longer term thing – that lasted about a month. To put it bluntly, I pretty much hate that this is what socialization has become.
Quite frankly the idea of swiping sucks. Back when people used actual dating websites more, it was slightly better. You were supposed to fill out a profile. Talk about your life, your interests, your dog. Now if you’re not instantly attracted to a person in the first half second you see them, left they go. Not to say people don’t make instant judgements when they first see a person in real life, they do, but you can’t learn anything about a person this way. Sure apps work sometimes, but how many relationships have you heard of that developed out of long term friendships? Even if there was an instant attraction, getting to know each other is what really made for a great foundation.
We live in a world of instant gratification. You can go on Amazon and get something delivered in a day or two, or sometimes even a couple of hours. You can decide you want Olive Garden and have Postmates or Door Dash deliver it straight to your home. And you can go on tinder, swipe a bit and find a date for tonight.
Instant gratification can be great, but if you’re someone who would like to one day have a strong relationship and maybe even a family, it doesn’t really work.
I’ve noticed this instant idea shift over to when I’ve actually met people from apps. I go into the situation like I would any first date, hoping for the best, wanting to get to know the person better, and definitely feeling more than a little bit awkward. My ideal date ends with me being happy that I met the person and plans to go on a second date.
I don’t think everyone goes into first app dates this way. It’s almost like a job interview, or an audition. I’m auditioning to see if I’m “girlfriend material”. When people initially meet in person and then decide to go on a date, it’s a little more organic. Sure you’re probably still a little nervous and awkward, but both parties have a better idea of what they are getting. You don’t have to prove yourself that “yeah I really am as cool as my profile” and you can just have fun.
When I go on initial dates, I basically view it as meeting a stranger. I can talk with you on an app or text with you for days, but I still don’t feel like I know you. I’ve never seen you in person. I don’t know what your voice sounds like. I don’t know if you have a criminal record. The list goes on and on. But for some this virtual pre-dating is enough. They’re ready to take you home on the first night. They’re ready to jump straight into a relationship. But I’m not.
So basically, I’m a bad app dater. And I’m okay with it.
Currently I have two dating apps on my phone but I’ve been on an accidental hiatus from them. I’m thinking I’m going to make it an actual hiatus and try to focus on my real life more. I want to strengthen my connections with the people I already know. I want to work on becoming my best self. And none of this is going to happen on an app.
Have you tried online or app dating before? I’d love to hear about you experiences.