I was one of those people who swore they’d never sign up for a dating app. To me, they seemed superficial and frankly, gross. Back when dating sites like Match.com were a new thing, many of us probably thought that online crap was for losers. Then, somewhere down the line, we bitterly accepted it, and shortly thereafter, apps became the modern way to date.
Meanwhile, I’d always fantasized about meeting my guy “the old-fashioned way.” Maybe in the grocery store line or on a long flight, but never through an a cyber catalog of contenders. After being single for a few years, noticing it was sort of the norm in Los Angeles, and over dating actors I’d meet in the real world, I bit the Bumble bullet and signed up for my first online dating profile.
At first, it was admittedly kind of fun! I’d make matches, start up conversations, and go on dates with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. Thankfully, I didn’t get murdered or catfished along the way, but I also wasn’t really meeting anyone I’d want to go on a second date with. Eventually, I grew tired of the Bumble format and graduated to Coffee Meets Bagel, which I convinced myself was much better, more dignified. But after getting sent a number of head-scratching matches, or “bagels,” I stopped using the app. Where was my everything bagel?! A month or so later, out of sheer boredom, I tried my luck at another dating app: Hinge. I found that I liked Hinge’s format best of the three, as the profiles didn’t just revolve around photos, but answers to interesting questions; this gave me more insight and sometimes allowed for deeper conversations. Yet I’ve realized the longer I’ve had these apps on my phone, the less I really use them. They’re simply collecting dust at this point. Even if I claimed one app was better than the other, I would soon run into the same issues and grow bored.
More times than not, conversations would either never begin or, if they did, they’d start with a cheesy, over-used pickup line and eventually lead to mundane and formulaic small-talk. On these apps, it’s actually become the norm to match with dozens of people and find that nobody ever says anything.
Is it laziness? Or boredom? Or is it simply about racking up matches? About boosting egos instead of making real connections? All of a sudden, there’s a plethora of options at our fingertips and we get to decide if Sam is worth a like or if Ryan is hot enough to get a message in return. We’re watching the problematic “millions of fish in the sea” metaphor materialize right in front of our eyes. We’re scanning logistics like height and location long before we’ve even gotten to know their last name. We no longer have to work up the courage to go make conversation with the cute guy across the bar. We don’t have to get all gussied up to flirt and our first impression can be pre-chosen photos from three years ago that show off all our best angles.
We can “date” from the comfort of our own couch in a face mask and sweats! It’s easy and convenient, like a Instant Pot recipe you whip up in twenty minutes and scarf down while watching a half-hour sitcom…I’m sorry, but since when was dating supposed to be convenient? Or easy? Dating is work. Impressing someone isn’t an easy feat. We all know this.
But over the last few years, the bulk of “the work” has become less about the actual interaction and more about perfecting one’s profile and attracting matches. Look, I don’t need a guy to open the door, buy me a drink, or surprise me with flowers, but it sure would be refreshing to be on the receiving end of some good old-fashioned gestures. Because I’ve always been just as happy to surprise a guy with his favorite dinner or watch hours of Fast & Furious because I know he loves him some Vin Diesel! “Dates” (if I’d even call them that) have simply become less impressive as a whole. Now, maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking, Hey, but I know someone who’s friends with someone who works with someone who just got engaged to a person they met on a dating app! Mazel Tov to those people! But for the majority of us who fill out these profiles and go through the motions, there’s not many promising dates happening.
The dates I’ve been on from these apps typically fall into three categories: there’s the casual coffee date that’s easy on the wallet and a person’s time but feels sort of like a business meeting, there’s the “Come to the bar across town that I’m at” date because that’s just what’s most convenient for them, or there’s the actual dinner date where they make a reservation and suggest you meet them there.
When I do go out on these “dates,” there’s almost nothing to talk about because we’ve already gone through the basics before the date has even begun. I know where he’s from and where he works and how long he’s lived in L.A. and where he went to college and how many siblings he has and what his hobbies are – all because the app and our somewhat-interesting-but-mostly-bland conversation has clued me in. All that’s really left are the things we’re not supposed to talk about on a first date, namely religion, politics, and past relationships. Awkward. And interestingly enough, he’s nowhere near as charming and witty in person as he was through the app probably because he doesn’t have five hours to craft a perfectly-worded response.
You’re sitting there thinking, Man, getting ready for this date was more eventful than actually being on this date.
Over the holidays, I thought a lot about decluttering and re-prioritizing my life, probably because the bulk of my visit back to my hometown was spent packing up my parents house as they prepare for a big move. It was through getting rid of crap from my childhood bedroom that I realized how great it feels to let go of things I’ve outgrown. I don’t need dating apps. I never did. But somehow I let modern society persuade me into thinking that I might.
The best dates I’ve ever been came from meeting people in the real world, not on an app!
Perhaps one of the nicest dates I’ve ever been on was the product of an unexpected encounter with a man I met on plane back to Los Angeles. He sat next to me the entire flight, never said more than two words, then helped me with my bags at baggage claim and politely asked for my contact information. A month or so later, he took me out to dinner at a romantic Italian restaurant when he was in town visiting family. He even picked me up for the date, which was well out of his way, and on the date, there was so much to talk about because we hadn’t exhausted all the topics through an app. He was a real gentleman and I was so impressed.
Reflecting on my dating app dilemma really got me to thinking about what I’m looking for and what I actually have time for right now. The truth is, while some days a romantic interest might be nice, I honestly don’t mind being single. In fact, most of the time I really enjoy it! That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up or that I don’t care, but finding “my perfect match” isn’t high on my list of priorities at the present moment. And neither is wasting my valuable time on these apps.
If you’re still reading this and you’re on a dating app with no intention of deleting your account anytime soon, I’m really not here to judge or change your mind! I’m here to share my personal experience, which I don’t regret and would never take back. Using dating apps was an interesting and enlightening experience! If you’ve never been on one, give it a try (if my post hasn’t completely turned you off to the idea). Maybe you’ll find it works for you! But ultimately, I’m deleting mine and not looking back.
When I eventually do meet a guy that interests me, I won’t be annoyed that he isn’t as witty in person or that his ultimate goal is getting me to sleep with him by the end of the night. I’ll have a better idea of what I’m getting into right from the start. I just hope he’ll be smart enough to ditch his apps, join me for a scotch, and strike up a real conversation sans screens.