Don’t tell anybody…but I’m online dating.
I know, I know, some people have opinions about the online dating apps and those of us doing the swiping. In fact, there was a time even I considered signing up for online dating to be a sign of romantic desperation. And then I found out my ex had a dating profile, and, well, you can probably guess what happened next. (Narrator: the next day, he signed up for online dating.)
It’s been a few years now (some off, some on) since I fired up the dating apps for the first time. Some things have changed, and some have stayed the same. There’s not quite the same stigma attached to online dating in the broader culture, that you have to be weird or desperate or socially awkward or some combination of all three to do it.
But there are other stigmas, like you’re only looking for a hookup. There are, of course, some stigmas that have persisted throughout: that you can’t snag a date in real life so you have to try to figure out how to be so much cooler online.
Stigmas aside, there’s also the little voice in the back of many people’s heads that asks: if online dating “worked,” what’s taken me so long? Why keep doing it? In other words, given its mixed reputation, why stick with online dating altogether?
For me, it’s fairly simple: on the one hand, I actually *enjoy* online dating. And on the other hand, as much as I’d like to think that locking myself in my bedroom and feeling sorry for myself is going to land me the woman of my dreams, I tend to think that I’m going to have to be at least somewhat proactive about this whole dating thing.
So whether you’re wondering about the online dating thing for yourself or just wondering what would possess a somewhat self-respecting man to subject himself to the Tinders and Bumbles of the world, this list’s for you.
Like it or not, there is something about the efficiency of online dating. As many as 40% of Americans use dating apps, and I’m sorry to say that many people haven’t darkened the door of your local Brothers Bar, much less the farmer’s market or local church. The fact of the matter is if you simply want the chance to interact with the most potential mates as possible, online dating is the place to be.
But it’s more than sheer numbers. The people who you’ll find on the dating apps (yes, with some exceptions) are single and looking. And while I’ve gotten better at actually noticing which attractive ladies are wearing engagement or wedding rings when I’m out and about, there’s something nice about talking to women you know are also looking for romance.
There’s also something to be said about getting the essentials out of the way — and I’m not talking height and weight. Depending on the app, you can find out immediately how old someone is, what sort of religion he or she is into or not into, whether they want kids or not, etc. etc. etc. Some of these things are serious concerns or even legitimately relationship deal-breakers for a lot of people, and it’s very helpful to be able to adjust accordingly without investing any further time or energy.
2. Back to reality
Some of us (like me) want dating to be romantic. Like all of it. Like we meet in the cutest place, and I have the perfect first line and I pick out the perfect first date and we live happily ever after. Which is great. But sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Like at all. Or maybe there’s some fairy tale stuff, but not as much as you’d hoped. Does that mean it wasn’t meant to be?
Of course not. Dating apps demystify dating and reset expectations. Nobody lies awake at night hoping and praying to meet their future spouse on Tinder. And that’s okay — so long as your goal is to have a meaningful relationship and not merely a #meetcute. As someone once said, it’s not how you start, but how you finish.
In this way, counter-intuitively even, online dating helps ground us in reality. So you want to be married but you haven’t been on a date in six months? It might be time to actually go on a date, and online dating can help.
Waiting for a 10 but haven’t even matched with an 8 yet? It might be time to rethink what’s important to you. You say you want a wholesome guy but keep matching with sex-crazed d-bags? There might be something about your swiping (or even your profile) that needs adjusting.
And for those who think online dating is overly shallow, because it’s so based on looks: when’s the last time you’ve been on a truly blind date — like no pictures involved? What’s the first thing you notice and use to determine attractiveness in real life? It’s looks, of course. And there’s no shame in that — as long as it’s not your only requirement.
There’s a lot you can learn (about yourself and about dating in general) along the way.
3. Meeting up for an in-person date
Between the women who tell me that guys don’t ask women out anymore and the men I know who are definitely not asking any women out, even attractive single women and men aren’t going out on as many dates as you’d expect.
And unless we start bringing back arranged marriages, that’s going to have to change if these people want long-term relationships. Or even short-term relationships, for that matter.
Among other things, online dating is an efficient way to get to date number one, which is a necessary, if somewhat awkward, first step toward long-term relationships. And if nothing else — even if there isn’t even a second date — getting more comfortable on first dates will help you be more comfortable on the *last* first date you’ll ever need.
Sure, you might go out on a lot of first dates that don’t lead anyplace. But even those don’t have to be for naught, because every date — even the miserable ones — is an opportunity to learn more about yourself, to treat others with respect, grow in gentlemanliness and ladiness (ladylikeness?) and to learn more about what you’re looking for.
Lastly, thanks to online dating, you don’t have to go to the bar on the weekends constantly searching for that special someone. Knowing you’ve got online dating as an option, you can relax, hang with the boys (or girls), and who knows, maybe just meet that special someone without even trying.
Either way, it’s important to understand that relationships happen in mysterious ways, with the help of technology or not. But it doesn’t hurt to increase your chances.