Tinder. Bumble. Happn. There’s probably a couple 100 more that I don’t know of yet. Confused? Well, these are all windows into the ‘wonderful’ world of online dating. What is that you may ask? Quite simply put, dating but online. It doesn’t follow the sweet meet-cute moments you often find yourselves fantasizing about in those romantic movies you’re watching. It’s a lot less charming and actually quite monotonous, tiring, and frustrating. How do I know that? I tried it myself. And what did I think? Well, let’s find out.
Left or Right
To be completely honest, for some, downloading these apps may seem almost second nature, completely natural. But for some others (like me) it is a complete and utter retrospection into what I wanted, and needed, and desired. Thinking about the fact that I needed a digital portal to find me a match is not as easy to digest as most would think; it’s actually quite daunting. I found myself rethinking my priorities, my desires, even my actual motivations. Was I even ready for a relationship? Was it just to get that experience I missed out on in university during lockdown? Was I just feeling lonely and left out? Whichever it was, it didn’t matter because I put myself down the rabbit hole anyway.
From there the process seemed quite easy. Left for ‘not my type’ and right for ‘sure why not’. But little did I know, the simple left and right swiping would become an annoying, dull, and extremely frustrating feature of this app. The endless swipes were just that. Endless. At some point you just start feeling hopeless. Like it doesn’t really even matter anymore. Sure, you see these people, read their bios, explore your so-called ‘options’, but so what? More aptly really, then what?
Well, it’s a little thing on your phone that calls itself…. “It’s a Match!”
I Like What I Like But I Ghost What I Don’t
Though I say my experience wasn’t the best, I was certainly lucky in other aspects. I didn’t find guys making inappropriate advances and neither did I get any unsolicited pictures from anyone. I guess that’s the standard of a ‘good’ start online nowadays. The main feature of the whole matching and texting that made the process even more drawn out and exhausting is the continuous introductions, the ‘what do you study’ and the ‘where do you live’ times a hundred. Whatever you’re looking for, however, this is something you have to know no matter how boring it gets at any point. But take this as a warning anyway.
Of course, there were opportunities to talk to the people you matched with on text, but it’s hard to accept it when you’ve grown up understanding the concept of dating in the most traditional sense and have to now, all of a sudden, try this entirely new and very un-romanticized version of it.
I also found that being on this app made me surprisingly less self-conscious and more confident in the way I talked and presented myself. I felt like I needed to have my control in my hands and knew that being shy or closed off would just not get me anywhere. I needed to make clear the kind of thing I am down for and what I am definitely not. Being all smiley and laughy on a very volatile platform like this would not cut it. At times, I’d say this sort of newfound confidence and self-sufficiency really did spill over into my real-life interactions too. I became more decisive and more able to stick to my ground, say no and yes to things I disliked or liked, and even started to see myself more for the qualities I love about myself rather than the insecurities I would think of otherwise.
At one point though, there did come a time when I really started to rethink everything. It felt artificial and fake, and I felt that I was becoming more superficial by the day. To judge people based on a few pictures and sentences was just so unlike me. Of course, there were opportunities to talk to the people you matched with on text, but it’s hard to accept it when you’ve grown up understanding the concept of dating in the most traditional sense and have to now, all of a sudden, try this entirely new and very un-romanticized version of it. Obviously, it’s not all dark, because, luckily for me, I did find some light at the end of the tunnel.
“Hey! It’s great talking to you!”
Of course, after a certain point the swipes, the matches, and the baseless conversations become these sort of endless and infinitely dragging instances that just drive you to the point of near insanity until…. You find a person that actually isn’t all that bad. And yes, ‘not all that bad’ isn’t the gold star description of your soulmate, but when it comes down to the kind of people you were finding on these apps, trust me, it’s almost like you won the lottery.
But once you start getting used to that and see that the things you thought were average are actually pretty damn great in the real world, trust me, ‘not all that bad’ turns out to be ‘great, sweet, and worth it’ quite fast.
Now, even though you had a good conversation and are maybe thinking, ‘this could be something’, it still feels very anticlimactic. Like, is this really what I wanted? Was this what I signed up for? It’s not what I see on all those Netflix shows and rom coms but is average all I am good for the way I am? The answer is definitely not. We just don’t understand that when we come out of the fantasy of a TV drama or a romantic movie, that the real world seldom lives up to the hype. And just like that, neither does the world of real-world romance. There are no epic proposals and instant falling in love moments, no background music that makes each time you look at each other feel like you’re the only two in that moment. But once you start getting used to that and see that the things you thought were average are actually pretty damn great in the real world, trust me, ‘not all that bad’ turns out to be ‘great, sweet, and worth it’ quite fast.
Though being on dating apps seems daunting to start, exhausting to endure, and a bit lackluster to find a partner on, it still is a way for you to start looking. We live in a world of lockdowns and isolation and it’s no secret that this is going to be the norm for a while, so ask yourself this. If I’m ready, and if I want this, do I want to take the world of dating in my own hands or leave fate to do what it does best? Either way, the world, dating or not, is a funny place. And you never know, what once mattered enough for you to never use a dating app might become the very same reason you download it someday.
Cover: Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Edited by Carolina Alves