Valentine’s Day is here, and I found it appropriate to write about my thoughts on dating and relationships through the example of today’s ubiquitous dating apps. Hope you enjoy it!
Growing up as a Millennial in the mid-to-late 2000’s meant that I saw the shift from flip-phones to smartphones, along with the apps that came with them. Since the 2010’s, the number of dating apps (Tinder, Hinge, Bumble) have exploded, thereby ushering in a new generation of finding what some people might consider “true love” online.
Having dating apps means opening more doors to opportunities to meet people, made even easier with a swipe of a finger. They’re great for those who are too busy or too far away to meet in-person, yet still crave intimacy often reserved for partners in close proximity. They’re also great for those who just want to have a good time, whether as a flirtatious game of texting (that doesn’t necessarily go anywhere) or for that casual encounter. Even more so, they’re the introvert/shy person’s dream, especially when it can be so hard to muster up the courage to walk up and talk to someone attractive in public.
I first became familiar with dating apps while in college, when it seemed like many of my peers were using apps like Tinder for the heck of it. Terms like “swipe right” and “it’s a match!” were commonplace, and it was a huge staple in college culture. Although my peers (even friends) were playing around with it, I didn’t partly due to being preoccupied with schoolwork, and partly because I didn’t understand the appeal.
Might come as a surprise, especially if you know me in-person, but I’ve never dated. Never been in a relationship, either. It may be crazy to believe that I’ve managed to get through the first quarter-century of my life without having that romantic encounter…but I’ve turned out fine (maybe? Just kidding).
No, but really…I’ve never dated nor been in a relationship before, and it’s been fine so far. This isn’t to criticize those who are in relationships, though– if you’re happy being with someone, then don’t break up! I’m merely talking about my own status of being single, and I’ve enjoyed it for a long time. It’s also my personality, as I’ve been independent since a young age, and I often enjoy my company (classic view of an introvert, ftw).
However, this isn’t to say that I haven’t had my bouts of “what-ifs”– growing up, I’d contemplated being in a relationship. I’d create scenarios in my mind of getting together with a crush or a stranger– even if I knew that it would never happen, I had lots of fun playing around with the idea. To this day, I still like doing it!
I used to think that being single wasn’t such a bad thing, especially when I had role models (e.g. my aunt, my cousin) who weren’t attached and had great careers going for them #girlpower. At the same time, I began to see friends and acquaintances pairing off, some even getting married and having kids by the time they were 24. While I wasn’t necessarily thinking about marriage or having children (yet), I was starting to feel my time was running out, even if I knew that there was no such thing as the “right time” to be with someone, let alone together forever.
It wasn’t until just last month that I was spending a night in a Paris hostel that I decided to install a couple of dating apps on my phone. I was bored, and I was curious to see why so many people used these apps, and what they were all about. With that said, I opened up the Google Play store and began searching for dating apps to install.
The first one I install was Her, a dating app for lesbians, transgenders, and bisexual women (I identify as bisexual). Upon installing it, I was given the option of using either my Facebook or Instagram account to generate my profile, in which I picked the latter. My profile was automatically generated, and I was able to begin swiping on hundreds of different profiles in hopes of a “match.”
After messing around with the app for a few minutes, I quickly learned how it worked. For instance, swiping left on someone dismisses their profile (i.e. indicating you’re uninterested in them) and swiping right means you are interested– should the other person do the same for you, it’s a “match.” I also learned how to modify my profile’s blurb, as well as toggle the settings on age range and proximity to others (Paris isn’t a small city, after all).
What I immediately noticed about many of the profiles were how the images looked so similar– pretty as many of the women were, I was looking at a majority of bedroom selfies with chin poses, lip-biting, pouts, or *oh-so-sly* side glances at the camera. Mind you, many of these profiles were of women in their 20s and 30s (as I’d set my age range to that), but still…while I acknowledged many of them were attractive, their body language and posture were off-putting, which didn’t make me attracted to them otherwise.
Next was reading their profiles, if they even wrote one. Many didn’t, or had one line of info– those that at least had some substance were generic, with statements like, “I love to read, love to eat, go to the beach, have a good time…” Nothing too outstanding, really.
There was also the issue of talking to “matches.” After indiscriminately swiping right on each and every profile, I looked to see if I received any matches– in fact, I did, but since I was on the “free plan,” I couldn’t access the profiles. Paying $89.99 for a year’s subscription was outrageous, and soon enough, I uninstalled Her. What a rip-off.
Next up was Zoe, another lesbian/bisexual dating app. Compared with Her, I found it marginally better, mainly due to its more-streamlined format. It also insists that you fill out information about yourself from the start, so that others can look up if you’ll be compatible with each other. Things like if you smoke, have tattoos, or want your potential partner do/have either of them were some examples, and you could also list your hobbies.
However, just like with Her, you would need to pay a subscription to see your “matches” on Zoe. I was able, though, to get a free month of seeing my matches and even messaging them. I wrote to several profiles, only for them to go no further than “I’m well, how about you?” Again, within an hour of installing, I uninstalled Zoe. After that, I decided that I was done with dating apps.
So what’s my takeaway with dating apps? Although I had a *very-brief* moment using them, I think it’s safe to determine that they’re very much based on superficiality, about how you look and present yourself online. I can understand that, especially when in the real world, jobs and interpersonal relations are initiated by first *physical* impressions– however, on dating apps, it’s narrower, as seduction sells and for those who are more reserved in showing off (like me), it just feels uncomfortable. Even one’s bio means nothing, as it’s just a bunch of generic lines which give absolutely no information about who the person really is.
Call me old-fashioned, but after trying out dating apps, I think I’ll choose to stick to “finding the one” in-person. While it’s true that we can inflate, even lie, about ourselves in-person, you can also factor body language and voice inflection to evaluate the person’s worth, which is something you can’t otherwise get online. Dating in itself can be complicated, and I don’t really desire to complicate it otherwise with a dating app.
P.S. Although my experience was solely on LGBT apps, the same applies to heterosexual ones. After all, love is love!
What are your thoughts on dating apps? Have you ever used them before? Let me know!
— The Finicky Cynic
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