I feel like I’ve been talking about dating apps with a lot of my friends recently, more specifically about how unsatisfying they are. While there are a whole slew of problems with these apps that contribute to this feeling, today I’m only going to focus on one and how I specifically combat it by using, or rather, not using the apps.
The chief problem with these apps as I see it, is that they allow us to fall into the belief system that we can actually find a PERFECT partner for ourselves. Because we have access to a seemingly endless amount of potential matches, we allow ourselves to think that eventually, we must be able to discover the PERFECT one if we just swipe long enough. You may not think you do this – but I encourage you to be more self-critical. Have you ever swiped left on someone because they weren’t tall enough? Swiped left because their job wasn’t ambitious enough? Swiped left because they misspelled a word in the profile description? I definitely have. We think that because we have infinite choices, we can be infinitely discerning as well. We disguise these limitations as having ‘standards’, but more often than not the standards by which we are evaluating potential matches are society’s standards, not our own. Because the means by which we are normally able to evaluate matches – actual interaction – isn’t available.
Because here’s the thing – people are SO different in real life. I think about it this way – for me personally, out of the seven* guys I’ve gone on more than two dates with, I met six of them in person. And I wouldn’t have swiped right on ANY of those six had I spied their profile on a dating app. Not because they weren’t attractive, but because they totally aren’t the type that translates well on a dating app. They’re the type to post cheesy photos and simple profile descriptions if any so they just wouldn’t stand out on an app to me – but in person, I clicked really well with them. In person, I was able to evaluate by the standards that matter to me. Do they make me feel wanted? Do they make me feel safe? Do they make me laugh? Do they turn me on? And so on and so forth. Notice all of those questions have to do with how they make me FEEL which is impossible to tell on an app. The most you can do on a dating app is maybe send some flirty texts back and forth but until you meet in person you can’t know if you have that x-factor with someone because it’s just too detached.
I’m not saying you should give up on apps completely but they should definitely be taking a backseat to your other interactions – if you use them too frequently, you’ll just drive yourself crazy. So first and foremost, do you. Kill it at work, practice your hobbies or pick up a new one, watch Good Omens like you’ve been meaning to, read, workout, travel, spend time with your friends and your family. Fill your life to the brim with the things that already bring you joy and accomplishment. This will do two things – it reduces the time you have to merely swipe out of distraction, but it also makes your life fuller so that when you do meet someone you have that much more to bring to the table because you’ve actually been living a life instead of swiping it away.
Secondly, when you do use the apps, I only have two tips for you – prioritize the people that made an effort to talk to you first rather than just match, and then endeavor to meet up with whoever you take a liking to as soon as you can. As I mentioned before, it’s so hard to tell if you really click with someone unless you meet them. This also weeds out anyone who is just in it for the distraction as well as preventing the black hole of texting in circles.
Lastly, focus on meeting new people in person whenever possible. Whether it’s a work or networking event, or a friend’s party, you never know how far your circle truly expands and who might be able to introduce you to someone amazing.
*No I am not currently dating the 1 that I did meet on an app – that was a short six month relationship awhile ago.