There are a plethora of things that nobody tells you about your foray into adulthood. More money gets taken out of your taxes than you anticipated. You’re tired and ready to be in bed by 9 p.m. No, that neon crop top doesn’t make you look good anymore. It probably never did.
The biggest myth of all, though, is that once you get settled, find a stable job, establish some hobbies and a social life, you’ll find somebody significant to spend your (albeit limited) free time with.
Navigating the dating world in your early twenties is hard, because the world of “dating” in 2015 is a very weird place. As Childish Gambino so eloquently said, “Are we dating? Are we f*ing? Are we best friends? Are we something in between that?” NOBODY KNOWS.
Since your 20s are a transition period in life, it makes sense that not everyone is ready to settle down or be in a committed relationship. But it seems like the vast majority of 20-something men aren’t interested in relationships or don’t have their priorities together enough to be in one if they are. I’m sure there are plenty of men who are nice, ambitious, and attractive. But how do you find one that wants to actually get to know you?
It seems like it should be simple—you go out somewhere, you meet someone, you have things in common, there’s a spark, you date. But as much as we try to deny it, we live in a hookup culture that leaves people looking for legitimate connections in the dust.
There is nothing wrong with only being interested in hooking up. If that’s what works for you, do your thing. Everyone has a point in their life where they aren’t interested in a committed relationship and instead want to embark upon the path of casual dating. And that life stage often allows you to learn many things about yourself and what you want and don’t want from a partner, which is really important.
But what do you do when you’re ready to settle down among a sea of potential partners that are not? How do you navigate dating when the majority of connections are made online, and most of them won’t even have an actual conversation with you?
Apps like Tinder have complicated the answer to that significantly. Before Tinder, you had to make a connection the old fashioned way: You spot an attractive person across the bar during happy hour after work, make eye contact, introduce yourself, make small talk and let things fall into place from there. More often than not, you’d have an actual conversation the first time and learn several real things about that person. You could also pretty easily determine if you have things in common, if you are compatible, and if they’re worth giving your number to or seeing for an actual date in the future.
Tinder throws that whole process out the window. Instead, you swipe right on people you find attractive. Even if you take a look at their profile and swipe based on the substance of what they say about themselves, chances are they haven’t looked at yours. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an actual conversation. More often than not, though, you’ll waste your time, especially if you are interested in anything more than a one night stand.
The nice thing about meeting someone in person is that chances are, they won’t say something aggressively sexual the second they introduce themselves to you, since they have to deal with your reaction in person. But online, people will say anything.
How are you supposed to decide your interest in someone if they won’t stop aggressively hitting on you long enough to have an actual conversation? Apps like Tinder have made it so that many men think that if they shower you in unsolicited compliments, you’ll magically want to sleep with them. What happened to “Hey, how’s it going?” or “tell me a little about yourself?” Since when did we, as a society, decide that it’s totally legitimate to start a conversation with the phrase “Yeah I’d cuddle with you” or pick-up lines so sexual I’m not comfortable putting them in an article that my mother might read?
You might be thinking, “It can’t be that bad.” Yes, it can. If you need proof, take a look at one conversation I had during the brief period of time I stepped into the dark hole of Tinder to see what the hype was about.
Does that help what? Make you a more interesting person to talk to? Sorry, bro, but not even a little. Men, do you seriously think that’s going to work for you? Unless you are literally Ryan Gosling, starting a conversation with the word “gorgeous” is not going to make you more interesting or attractive, nor will it make me more inclined to want to sleep with you.
Has that approach ever actually worked for you? What happened to actually making an effort to get to know someone? Is that just not a thing anymore?
The answer isn’t to say the old way is better or online dating doesn’t work, but it does require us to try a little harder and not demand instant gratification from a complete stranger. We could all try a little bit more to be genuine. To get to know one another. To focus on something more interesting and deeper than how hot the person we’re talking to is.
If you’re a fellow twenty-something trying to meet your perfect match, don’t lose hope. He’s out there, he just may not be ready for you yet. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet someone tomorrow at a coffee shop. Maybe you’ll wake up some day and realize what you’ve been looking for has been right in front of you all along. Maybe one evening you’ll swipe right and find a connection that’s capable of talking about something besides your ass. Stranger things have happened.
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