Online dating apps and sites have been around for a while, and now more than ever, they are one of the main ways people search for romantic partners. One of the most jarring things I experienced in my mid-20s was how absolutely difficult it is to meet people once you’re out of school, so naturally, online dating seemed like a solution.
However, it has been more of a problem than anything for me.
It’s Become More Popular In The Past Few Years
In an increasingly digital world, it only makes sense that dating has become increasingly digitalized too. With people being more socially isolated—and with age, there are fewer ways to meet new people—online dating has become incredibly popular.
I mean, with online dating, you’re able to see hundreds of people in your local area who you might not meet in traditional ways, you can filter by preferences (e.g. smoker vs. non-smoker, age range, lifestyle preferences), and it’s honestly easier to review and swipe profiles in a matter of minutes.
Conceptually, online dating should be a utopia for those looking for a like-minded partner, but unfortunately, there are a lot more complications that make it difficult.
Profiles Aren’t Very Helpful
In a perfect world, a short profile could help you understand what people are into early on so you could measure compatibility. However, if you’ve been on dating apps/sites, you know that a lot of people tend to share generic traits about themselves or superficial information that’s pretty useless when trying to suss out a partner.
Personally, 1/5 profiles I encounter reference tacos, The Office, “going on adventures,” or some unholy combination of the three—nothing seems to stand out. Many people’s profiles are littered with group photos or photos taken at a distance so it’s borderline impossible to know who you’re even swiping on.
Lastly, people tend to project a “desirable” version of themselves on their profiles (of course, you want people to want you), but tend to say things that are a little untrue: they don’t actually like the outdoors as much as they say, or they are more of a homebody than they let on. I’ve gone on a date where the guy admitted that he doesn’t actually like hiking that much but he thought it seemed likable on his profile. It’s terribly frustrating.
The Illusion Of Choice
One of the most persistent issues with dating apps is that with so many profiles on each and so many different apps, it’s easy to believe that there are endless possibilities. However, what you find in reality is that you see a lot of the same people across each app.
Additionally, I think that psychologically, even on a subconscious level, swiping through and picking people out can be hard because you’re given a constant stream of potential partners. It can almost seem like each match means nothing because there will be dozens more like them.
Frankly, As A Woman, There Are Safety Concerns
Of course, dating is never the safest for women, but there are more risks in meeting up with a stranger from the internet than, say, going on a date with a friend of a friend. Women on dating apps are often subject to sexual harassment or angry responses from disgruntled matches gone sour, which can really leave you feeling unsafe and dampen the entire experience.
It’s A Lot Of Effort
Even if you get a match, you have to manage the “talking stage” where you try to figure out if you like them over text conversations. Of course, if you love to text, this is a breeze, but as someone who hates texting, it’s an exhausting process, especially when you spend days texting one person only for things to go nowhere. Add multiple conversations going on at once and you get burnt out.
Even if I do like them enough to meet up, there’s all the trouble of scheduling a date, getting ready for said date, navigating the get-to-know-you awkwardness, and most times, I leave the date feeling like it was okay at best. It’s a lot of work and effort to put into a dead end.
It’s High Pressure From The Get-Go
I personally like to meet potential romantic partners in person and in casual settings (a party, at an event we’re both volunteering at, a group class, etc.) because it allows you to talk to them and get a feel for who they are without really there being any expectations. If we hit it off naturally and have decent chemistry, I tend to move forward from there.
However, when you go on a date with an online dating match, there’s kind of the immediate pressure that the ultimate goal is that you’ll like each other and fall in love and blah, blah, blah. Both people are consciously trying to impress the other and not particularly relaxed, and I find that pressure makes it even harder to truly enjoy any of the interactions.
Going on dating apps for me is like that one sweater that I occasionally rediscover in my closet; it’s so cute that I can’t believe I don’t wear it more often, but then after a couple of hours in it, I remember that I never wear it because it’s horribly itchy. I keep putting it back in my closet anyway.
I, like many others, find myself deleting dating apps because I’m sick of them only to redownload them months later when I’m in a slump—like looking into the fridge multiple times hoping that a new snack will appear. I’ve truly given the apps my best effort, but it continues to be a fruitless experience.
It Really Does Work For Some People
I’m not saying that dating apps are inherently bad or useless at all. In fact, several people I know who are dating, engaged, or married originally met through one. Dating apps can be a great way to meet other people, connect over niche interests, and start a healthy, happy relationship, and I predict that in the future, even more relationships will start out online.
…It’s Just Not For Me
Dating apps can be great, but I simply don’t have the disposition to form meaningful connections from them. There’s nothing wrong with them, but there’s also nothing wrong with me for not being great at using them. Rather than beating a dead horse anymore, I’ve decided to stick to what I know actually works for me: meeting people the old-fashioned way, even if that might be a little more difficult at times.
If you’re anything like me and have found the online dating scene incompatible with your lifestyle, I encourage you to critically think about why. Perhaps they really aren’t for you either, and that’s totally okay.