Just like many things in my life, I didn’t understand the appeal of dating apps until I tried them for myself. At first, this started off as a somewhat risqué, yet innocent writing assignment.
I was prompted to download dating apps, and make my bio: “I’m not hungry for love, I’m hungry for free food.” Yes, you read that right. I was getting paid to ask for free food, the dream job… right? It was until it wasn’t.
Within .5 seconds of swiping, I felt a bit uncomfortable. I couldn’t grasp that these photos I was swiping left or right were actual people and I felt nothing short of extremely superficial. So instantly, I had to shut down the article idea.
But little did I know, I was just beginning to fall down the rabbit hole of online dating. Right when I was ready to delete the app, I started getting matches, and my entire mentality switched. Match upon match, I went from feeling out of my element and judgmental to becoming Sasha Fierce-empowered.
No, a man calling me pretty isn’t the bane of my existence, but I can’t deny that self-validation is nice every once in awhile, even in the utmost of superficial instances.
And if nothing else, I certainly got a kick out of it. Before I knew it, I was dating a new guy per month. I had evolved into a serial dater (channeling Taylor Swift, the earlier years). I became so acquainted with the types of matches that I could have sworn I had it down to a science.
You’ll meet the “hey” guy—he’s the king of Houdini disappearance acts. He’ll say hey and then vanish into thin air. Then you’ll have the guy who defines himself by his height in his bio as either: being 6’0″+, his defense against tall supremacy, or his unheard-of joke about what his height would be if he was wearing heels (#original). There’s the classic hookup guy, the new kid on the block who wants someone he’s attracted to show him around his new town. And you can’t forget the mirror selfie boys, the one who wants you to know that little girl in his photo is his niece and not his daughter, the frat bros that never left college, the military men, the hippie-nature dudes, the travelers, the muscular gym junkies, the artists and musicians… and don’t even get me started on the sexist Donald Trump wannabes (because apparently one D. Trump wasn’t enough). The list goes on and on.
Clearly, I could keep going. But the one guy who you’ll meet on a dating app that actually matters is the one you really never thought would become a category: the one who you fall for who doesn’t fall back.
It was a lot easier when I could be this brutally sarcastic, heartless, and obnoxiously judgmental b*tch who could stereotype and categorize guys with the snap of my fingers. I knew it was wrong of me all along to be thinking like this, but this mentality served as my security blanket.
If I could spot the red flags before they were being waved at me, I was convinced it would hurt less. If I found myself liking a guy while holding onto what was “wrong with them” in the back of mind all along, I could tell myself I saw it coming and what happened between us didn’t faze me.
But it’s never that easy.
I’d like to think a majority of us are on dating apps beyond having something to talk about at brunch. Naive maybe, but I don’t want to assume we’re only on these apps solely for that one night stand or flavor of the week. We all come from somewhere. We’ve all been through things. We all have stories, and here’s mine.
I matched with a guy, unexpectedly fell for him, and he didn’t feel the same. I swiped him when I was wine drunk and hungover from a rejection by my dream job. Eventually I started to form this horrific habit of drunkenly turning to dating apps whenever I felt lonely, sad, unstable, or confused and that’s when I matched with this guy. He was practically a unicorn. He was my type to a T, and even the absurd things I’ve always wanted in a guy like how he was a European barista who graduated from an Ivy League… yeah, a bit extreme, I know, but somehow that guy had to go and actually exist.
But as I was about to fall, he was about to run. We talked every day for a month. He took me to places I’d never seen and called me a priority to him. He said he loved how I looked when I smiled and after those goodnight kisses by the train, it ended with him claiming he wasn’t ready to date.
Why? Because of his past relationship.
Whether or not that’s the real reason, the point is, we are so much more than we choose to show. While this isn’t groundbreaking news, it’s something we should never forget.
We come from somewhere. We all have stories, and a past. We just don’t really know who we’re dating, until these people truly let us in.
And the thing that tripped me up the most about this experience and online dating in general is just how easy it is to feel replaceable… considering he was on the app days after saying he wasn’t ready to date. I don’t know why anyone thought it would be a good idea for us to be able to see which of our matches are online. As if online dating is awkward and daunting enough, let’s turn this into one giant AIM chatroom ordeal.
But if nothing else, let this be a reminder that even if someone else doesn’t get to see you offline and outside of what you display on some app, it doesn’t change the fact that you are and will always be so much more than something to swipe. It’s not only a matter of the people who we come across in our lives who should realize that, but foremost, we need to remember and hold onto that for ourselves. If we start to assume that all we amount to is what we put out there on the table, onto our dating profiles, and how our matches crashed and burned, then we’re truly allowing those four profile pictures and our bio be all that we are. And I don’t know about you, but I want to be “the one” who is so much more than that chick you met online, and “the one” who leaves you wanting to find out why.