One of the results of the Internet age is that for my generation, we have experienced dating both pre-dating apps and post-dating apps. We are among the few who are able to attest to watching that shift and comparing the differences. When I was first dating, boys would make me mix tapes (or later mix CDs if they were from the nicer side of the tracks), hand write me notes, have to talk to my dad when he called my house, and possess enough courage to ask me out on a date in-person. For me at that time, I would have given him printed photos of myself (as any narcissistic teenager would), try to pry information out of his sister to find out if he likes me, and fight my siblings for the phone line to talk to said-boy into wee hours of the night.
Fast forward to 2017. Now I can Google search my date before we even meet to find out what he does for a living, where he grew up, if we have any mutual friends, what his hobbies are and if he checks off my list of boxes before going on a date. I can get someone’s number from a dating app and have hours of conversations before even meeting face-to-face. Romance is practically dead. Next to no one picks me up at my house. Gifts are rare. I have had a few men make me meals, but that usually comes after my consistent hints of how much I like food. When we go out, I’m never really sure if the man will pay until I get to the end of the date. I have even had times where his card was declined and I ended up paying for the date. There are no such things as grand romantic gestures. (Ok, there are a few, but they are nearly extinct). Then again, there aren’t those traditional games. You pretty much know what you’re getting within the first 20 minutes of a date. Red flags are more apparent. It’s a far more efficient way to date rather than the rigmarole of courting someone.
I’ve been dating in the Internet age for over three years now and the number of guys that I have gone out on a date with from “real life” vs “online dating” is about 1/20. I spend most of my time swiping past people who I would never dream of going on a date with, then the majority of the rest of the time chatting/texting with the handful of ones that seem interesting enough, trying to figure out if this guy is really worth my time for a date. With the final fraction of my time, I MIGHT go on a date with the guy, but even if I do, it is not likely to end up in a second date.
I’ve gone on a LOT of dates in the past few years. Think about the math for a second. Let’s say I swipe left past 100 guys for every 1 that I talk to. Then I go on a date with maybe 1 out of 5 of the ones who I chat/text. The number of those dates that turn into a second date is probably half. Out of those, the men that I’ve “dated” for more than a few dates is probably around 10. And of those, I’ve only have one turn into a relationship longer than a month. Seems like a lot of freaking work for very little ROI. But I comfort myself by viewing it as a numbers game. I have to go on x amount of dates to find someone I’m interested in, so just keep going on dates.
Keep in mind, those numbers are all based on a dating app like Tinder where you have to match with someone in oder for them to be allowed to message you. Don’t get me started on the ones where just anyone can message you. You know in the spring time when you see a flock of about 45 male ducks all going after just one poor female duck who is hurriedly trying to swim away in the opposite direction? You feel so bad for her, but it’s like a train wreck and you can’t look away. Multiply that by about 15 and you’ve got Ok Cupid.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not a post about how terrible it is to be single and how everyone should feel bad for me. In fact, I really love my life. When I look around me, there are less than a handful of long-term committed relationships that I admire for their richness and compatibility. For the most part, I see broken relationships where neither one of the people is happy and certainly aren’t bringing the best out in each other. I don’t want a mediocre relationship, so I will gladly wait for the person who will bring out the best in me, be compatible to all of my weaknesses and flaws and enjoy and rich and fulfilling life together.
For the same reason, I don’t view the past relationships that ended as failures either. By the time I got divorced, it had been nearly ten years since I had dated, so I had a long learning curve ahead of me. I’ve been slowly figuring out what I want in a partner and frankly, what I want out of life. I am still discovering who I am, where I want to be and what I want to do, so to think about how another person would fit into that, shouldn’t be a rushed process. A relationship is a bonus. I have made huge sacrifices to build a life that I want and am proud out, and I can truly say that I am living out my dream. I am truly grateful for all of the experiences I’ve been gifted, so adding someone who would enjoy that beauty with me would really just be gravy.
Sorry, got distracted there for a minute. So what else makes online dating different than traditional dating? Well, I’m sure you’ve heard that online dating profiles can be deceptive. That is 100% true. I never really believe anything I read in someone’s online profile until it’s proven in real life. For example, men LOVE to talk about how much they enjoy adventure, camping, hiking, traveling, working out and being outdoors in their profiles. I guess it makes them sound more like a badass. Or something. So often times my first question to him will be, “what was your last great adventure?” I promise you I am not exaggerating when I say that 90% of the time the guy will answer something like, “well, I went on a camping trip with some buddies like five years ago…”
…. [insert annoyed emoji here]….
The other thing that happens with online dating is that you might see the person out in real life before your date. Especially if you live in a smallish city. Or even better, you’ll mention to one of your friends, she asks to see a picture and responds, “Oh yeah. We went out once. Super clingy. Watch out for that.”
Again…. [insert annoyed emoji here]….
This next one definitely crosses the line for me. Since I have an unusual first name, it’s not that difficult to find me on Facebook or through a Google search, so far more often than I would like, men will message me on Facebook or Instagram and say something like, “I saw you on Tinder and accidentally swiped left, but luckily I found you on Facebook! Wanna grab a drink sometime?” No. I can guarantee you that he did not “accidentally swipe left,” I was the one who swiped left and this was his desperate attempt to try to get my attention. Nope. Just nope.
So going back to how it’s pretty common for me and my friends to match similar people on online dating apps. Well, fellas, I hate to break it to you, but girls talk. Remember the guy from a few blog posts ago who told me that I looked like Alyssa Milano, but she is way hotter? Well, same dude happened to match one of my friends on another online dating site. She recognized him because I had shown her his pictures and told her the whole story of how rude he was to me during the entire date. So naturally, as any decent human would, I suggested that we start messing with him. So she started telling him about how she is so sick of rude men can be on dates by insulting a woman’s appearance and scarf and oh, she hates it when men don’t like travel… basically our entire date verbatim. Long story short, I think he learned his lesson in crossing the line from sarcasm into insults when on a date.
The most awkward part of online dating is when you see someone you thought your friend was dating on a dating app. Questions start rolling through your head such as, “Did they just have a fight and this was his way of getting back at her?” “Are they in an open relationship?” “Is he cheating on her?” “Does she know he’s on this app?” “Doesn’t he realize that someone is going to see this and tell her?” Remember how I said that girls talk? Well, that’s still true in this paragraph, just like it was in the other one. How could I not tell a friend if I saw her partner on a dating app? Girls gotta have each other’s backs, y’all. So inevitably I disclose the info and they guy is always on the defensive. Come on guys. You seriously thought that you could get away with that?
One of the best questions that I get from people I meet online is “You’re so pretty, why are you single?” Oh, the infamous question. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me, I would be living happily on my own private island in the Gulf of Mexico.
[Steps onto soap box]
This could be news to some of you, so you might want to sit down for this one. Not being single doesn’t mean “I’ve won.” Being single isn’t punishment or purgatory until you get to the “heaven” of a relationship. In fact, last time I checked, relationships are really hard. It’s hard to get to know someone, it’s hard to be vulnerable and open, it’s hard to figure out how to communicate with your partner, i it’s hard to trust someone fully, it’s hard to share your life and learn how to coexist together, it’s hard to adapt to each other’s eating habits. And you do all of that work knowing that on any given day, that person could break your heart. Not that those things aren’t worth it for the right relationship, but let me reassure you that being single really is pretty easy. No one tells me when to wake up or go to bed, I can eat whatever shameful meal of peanut butter/oats/almonds/honey mixed up into one giant glob and call it a meal, I can sit in complete silence for hours and not be disturbed, I don’t have to go to anyone else’s company outings or family dinners, I don’t get in fights, no one is around to eat the leftovers I was saving, I can change my plans last minute and no one else will be affected or annoyed, all of my disposable income is truly my own, and the list goes on.
I’m not trying to bash relationships. My point is that being single can also be pretty great, so please, let’s stop shaming those who aren’t married by wondering how could it possibly be that no one loves them, or wondering what’s wrong with them, or encouraging them that, “don’t worry, you’ll find someone.”
Maybe when someone says they are single we should start by high-fiving them. And then ask them about the rest of their fucking awesome life.
Ok, off of my pedestal (for now, at least). At the end of the day, I view online dating as a great source of entertainment. I would much rather open up an app and hear someone else’s funny life stories than turn on a TV show. I would gladly spend an hour at dinner listening to what brings another human joy in life. I have made several dear friends through online dating apps and I am grateful for those people in my life. As for my faith in online dating’s ability to produce a life-long partner? Jury is still out on that one. Maybe I was just born in the wrong era?