Let me preface this by saying that I am not an authority on the world of dating apps. I downloaded Tinder for barely two days almost a year ago in the pursuit of free food—and deleted it as soon as the first cute-boy-with-a-dog-and-a-shirtless-pic asked me to go for a hike. Maybe it was the obscene amount of crime thrillers I was watching at the time, but a secluded trail just seemed like a really good place to dump a body. I do, however, have many many friends who frequent popular dating apps—and after living vicariously through their ups and downs over lattes and mimosas, I have a few thoughts on the matter.
I think meeting people online is great, despite what my mother told me 10 years ago. It’s quick, convenient, and with our new lifestyle of constant hustling, it’s the best way to meet people with similar interests with whom you may never have otherwise crossed paths. One of my close friends met her roommate/boyfriend online; hell, I met my boyfriend of almost a year on Twitter. The world works in weird and mysterious ways, and apparently months of retweeting can be the basis for a successful relationship. However, I also have friends who find nothing but drama and bad sex. The funny thing is, those are the friends that keep going back. It almost seems like a gambling addiction: You just keep telling yourself this will be the time you win it all back. It makes me wonder, what is it about dating apps that can send someone home in tears after a bad date—and then right back out on another one with towering standards the very next day?
Sure, they can be a great place for an ego boost and cute company and the possibility of pizza, but they also open the door to degradation, superficiality and entitled boys who see you as nothing more than a piece of ass they should be able to have just because they want it. Most times the people with gambling problems have a seeming disconnect between their expectations and reality: high hopes and even higher standards. It’s all fun and games until a stranger booty calls you at 1 a.m..
In the day and age of questionable emotional development and avoiding “feelings” like an actual disease, it can be really hard to make connections. Everyone seems to be playing games, and to be uncompromising in the pursuit of victory, and being the person who cares the least. If you aren’t willing to put yourself out there and be open about what you want (at the risk of dropping your cool-girl facade), then you have no grounds to be salty at your date for not just knowing that actually you do want a serious boyfriend to introduce to your parents this Thanksgiving. It’s an odd kettle of fish, really. We want someone to be there for us but we aren’t willing to risk the hurt. We hide behind the perfect witty bio and swipe left if they don’t look like our “type,” then come home in tears after another disappointing coffee date with a fuckboy.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that it’s all about your mindset. (Isn’t life?) Yes, the internet can afford us magical opportunities to meet complete strangers in real life and fall madly in love, but at the end of the day, places like Tinder and Bumble are hookup apps at heart. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of men and women just trying to get laid, and there also plenty who are interested in pursuing a relationship. I remember my now-roommate calling me at 1 a.m. almost in tears in the car on her way back from a really awful dinner-and-drinks where a boy she met on Tinder yelled at her to get her shit together because she tripped on the way out. No matter how sober you are, Richmond, Virginia, sidewalks are nasty, and as it turned out, so was her date. On the flip side, I know a girl who has been on a few dates with a Bumble boy and it’s going great.
Just like at a casino, you can never guarantee the outcome. You can’t blame your dates for not showing up with roses so you can live out your Nicholas Sparks dreams when they were just trying to get some. If your “relationship” was based on your body, his height and the fact that you both like dogs, he’s probably not going to propose on the third date (and if he does, might I suggest running like hell?). Tinder is not ChristianMingle.com, and there is a reason that both of those sites exist. Different people want different things—and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Dating apps are a bit like marmite—people either love them or hate them but there’s very little in-between, and there is no right opinion. But if you prefer strawberry jam, you’re never really going to enjoy it. We’ve got to start being a little more honest with ourselves and what we want if we don’t want to hate toast forever.