When I first tried out dating apps in 2015, I did it under the guise of doing it as a joke.
I was 18 years old at the time, and I didn’t know what I wanted. My friends were all coupled up, and I felt desperate to dissuade their attempts at trying to set me up with people they knew. I struggled with approaching people in person, and my anxiety prevented me from relaxing enough at get-togethers to meet anyone.
Looking back, it was my own apathy toward dating apps like Tinder that made me fail at finding love, but my experience, nonetheless, helped me grow as a person.
I’d always been someone who had a lot of online friends. It was something that I was proud of, being able to really connect with someone across the world, in a different place than me, without having to meet in person. There were no awkward silences and I could stay connected while still being in the comfort of my own solitude.
Naturally, I gravitated toward dating apps. Tinder was founded in 2012, and by 2014, users were swiping over one billion times a day. It seemed like the perfect place for me to start.
My friends tried to convince me I was wasting my time. I was a self-proclaimed romantic, a dreamy poet with aspirations of being swept off my feet and serenaded with flowers that would exacerbate my allergies. Why on Earth would I give my time to Tinder, an app everyone knew was for hookup culture?
Simply put, I wanted to see for myself. “It’s just a joke,” I said to my friends. I wouldn’t take it seriously, I’d just swipe left on people I wasn’t interested in, swipe right and maybe chat to a few people. It’s just a joke.
Dating online can be difficult because it’s very reliant on appearances and makes it too easy to “date shop” where potential matches are just viewed as profiles and not considered as real people.
I’m not denying the fact that online dating is very hit or miss, heavily dependent on how attractive you are at face-value. Your profile is stacked up against everybody else so you really have to “sell” yourself— whether it be a picture with your neighbor’s dog that you borrowed for the snapshot or a punchy bio with a quip about how you hate pineapple on pizza, online dating is just marketing yourself.
I think online dating is a wonderful tool. I think it really opens up the dating pool; how else would you meet that cutie from across town? Yes, you can meet people organically through clubs, parties or maybe like an indie rom-com where you brush hands at a secondhand bookshop, but the possibilities are endless online. .
When I first began using dating apps, I was a very “one foot out the door” kind of person. I knew most people on Tinder were just looking for something lowkey, but I craved something more. A connection?
Perhaps that was naive of me, but after dozens of meet ups, I think I’m starting to understand myself more.
I began with low self-esteem and a lot of insecurities, but numerous boba dates down the line, I’m more honest with myself. I’m in control.
I feel that I’ve struggled with finding the courage to let things go when it isn’t working, but online dating has allowed me to meet so many different personalities, lifestyles and perspectives that it’s truly enriched my life. It’s OK for me to be “not sure yet” when it comes to love.
I’ve realized that I don’t have to change myself. I’m open and honest about who I am, my interests (Harry Potter, anyone?) and if someone doesn’t like that about me after we’ve talked well, the unmatch button is right there.
For skeptics out there, according to research from the University of Chicago, couples who met online have happier marriages. I’m not planning to tie the knot anytime soon, so if you’re like me, and it doesn’t work out, at least you had fun and have a better idea of what you’re looking for.
You don’t have to give up your fantasy of finding someone organically, but dating apps can help expedite the process of finding someone. The best thing about dating apps is that people summarize themselves in a short bio and you can decide if they’re interesting or not.
It’s 2019 now and I’m still waiting to brush hands with someone at a bookstore, but until then, I’ll shuffle my Tinder deck.