My close friend and I agreed to meet at the local coffee hub in my hometown. Sip This is eclectic, with someone playing guitar in the background and a string of lights and colorful dangling paper lanterns overhead. It’s nice to be able to catch up with Jessica. We’ve been so busy with our day to day lives and are lucky to meet up maybe 3-4x a year. It always feels like no time has passed.
As we sit down over a cup of joe, I can’t wait to hear what’s going on in her life. She has been single for a few years and was enjoying being back on the dating scene. A majority of what she was doing to meet guys was using online dating apps. We giggled as we went through her dating profile. I comment that she looked great in all her dating profiles- she really did. Overall, she was having fun dating and meeting new guys.
“Can I swipe for you?”
I was curious. I was married before the whole Tinder dating thing exploded. Besides, I already had an idea of what kind of guy she likes.
She hands over the phone and we huddle around it while I start reviewing profiles.
Profile after profile I swipe left. There’s a guy with his shirt off, there’s a guy surrounded by other girls in his pics, and there’s a guy who’s obviously just not right for my friend judging from his request for open relationships. Finally after swiping left endlessly, I find a guy that looks like a winner.
“Oooh, how about this one, he looks like he has a job. And is kinda cute!” I said excitedly. The app didn’t give me much to work with. Actually, he looked a little like her last serious boyfriend. I figured she’d be attracted to what seems familiar.
“Ew, no!” She rolls her eyes, “I’m glad he works, but that’s not the only criteria.”
“What’s wrong with that guy? His profile seems genuine. You could message him and get to know him,” I said, maybe if talk him up she would at least give him a chance. I was starting to get tired, we had been swiping left for like 15 minutes and we weren’t getting anywhere.
“You can swipe right all you want; but at the end of the day, I’m eventually going to have to sleep with him and if I’m not attracted to him, why bother?”
I look at her incredulously, ” You don’t have to sleep with them right away! You’re just getting to know them! And anyway, sometimes it takes time for attraction to build. It doesn’t always happen immediately.”
“I know that! But I just hate being the person to end things. It’s so awkward. And if attraction doesn’t grow after a few dates, I’ll have to end it.”
“…so you would prefer if guys broke up with you?” I was still very confused but decided to drop it and keep swiping. I didn’t want to get her upset. After all, I was already married. I needed to get off my high horse and stop judging her; dating is hard.
But it had me thinking of how ineffective online dating apps really are. I mean, it felt like a game, not too different from Pokémon Go. Gotta Catch Em All but this game was more like gotta swipe em all.
The interactions were too superficial. We spent literally 2 seconds looking at a guy to swipe left on him. She could at least read his profile to see what he had to offer. But I imagine this is how millions of app users go through profiles, swiping aimlessly left without looking at more context beyond the first profile picture. I could see why people might catfish scheme; if they don’t present themselves in the most attractive way, they’ll never get any messages. If you knew how to play the game, I’m sure you were very successful.
And all the expectations! I knew people expected sex after a handful of dates but I guess on Tinder and other dating apps that expectation comes sooner? It was causing Jessica to change how she was using the app because if she didn’t have sex with a guy after a few dates, it was going to be a whole awkward conversation. I mean, what happened to the whole courting process? The excitement of dating was not knowing if the other person liked you or whether you would have sex. Sex wasn’t automatically expected.
…Or maybe it was and I just never noticed.
Still, there was also a sense of endless dating options. We were swiping for about 40 minutes. We must’ve went through at least 200 profiles and the great options seemed endless. That’s the paradox of choice, you believe that you have so many choices that you can’t choose any of them,there’s always something better around the corner. Why should Jessica choose one of these guys right in front of her when she could just keep swiping left and possibly find the perfect man? It’s hard to let go of so many options and just choose one.
Overall, I felt like if I had to use those apps to find a date, it would just feed my narcissism. I know that sounds terrible, but we’re all a little narcissistic. We like knowing that other people like us, having someone like your profile pic or swipe right to message you feeds that narcissism. It would just reiterate the want and need to be liked. I don’t feel like the online dating apps actually help people meet the loves of their lives; more so, to feed their narcissistic tendencies.
So between having too many options being told you’re wonderful all the time and all the expectations associated with online dating it just seems stressful and a lot of work. It was interesting to get insight on how online dating is but at the end of the day I’m telling my friend not to put all her eggs in one basket there are other ways to date, including: referred by a friend, good old meeting people in public and through your work environment.
I also told Jessica she should start dating multiple men at once and so she can give more men a chance and get to know them. The men she was talking to seemed flakey.
Even though there are undoubtably people who find their match online, it seemed like a lot of work. But then again, so is being married with children. I guess we pick our poison. For me, I’m glad I’m married so I don’t have to cherry pick a man out of a sea of options, likes, swipes, and confusing social expectations.