We’ve all done it and probably enjoyed it (I know I have). Swiping left and right on potential matches (or non-matches) on apps like Tinder and Bumble.
It’s a snap judgement call.
Is this person hot? Would I make out with/feel good about potentially hooking up with them? What does his/her bio say? Does he come across as an asshole? Is he six feet tall (#askingforafriend)? Does he spend time outside? Does he have a dog? Would he judge me for being a total and complete IPA snob?
Here’s the thing – just like Instagram, it’s all a highlight reel. I know that we all know this. No one really expects to find a guy over six feet, with an adorable dog, stable job, who is intrinsically self-motivated, has a great sense of humor, sings you to sleep and is dynamite in the sack… oh and also wants to actually date. Do unicorns exist? This is a real question – not asking for a friend.
The thing about dating apps is that while they sometimes do lead to relationships, even marriages, the vast majority of the time all they are leading to is the first date or hook up. Yes, we all know at least one couple that met on Tinder, or Bumble, or whatever, and are living their happily ever after. But this is the exception, not the rule, as they say in the movie version of my life – He’s Just Not That Into You.
Recently I heard someone describe Tinder & Bumble in a new and accurate way – “it’s not that they make you feel like you’re WITH anyone, they mostly make you feel like you aren’t WITHOUT someone.”
Nailed it, am I right?
It’s not that while we are using these apps – before we meet these people in real life (if we do) – we feel like we are creating a deep connection. Mostly we are just trying to decide if this seems like someone that we can get a drink with and not get murdered by. However, we are surrounded by so many options, so many potentially interesting and interested people that we feel like we aren’t alone.
This strangely superficial and surface feeling is one that we are all so used to that we don’t even think about it. How many times have you referred to someone as “tinder guy?” Probably at least a few. Now, how many of those people have actually gone on to have a part in your life? Probably not many.
It seems like everyone I know is ready for a relationship, not a fuck buddy. We are all out there looking for someone to make dinner with, not just have one night with. We want the real deal, yet are we going about it the right way? The catch 22 of the whole situation is that we are so used to our apps that we hardly even meet people the old fashioned way. I can’t even recall the last time I went on a date with someone that I met outside of an app (sad, right?).
So where do we draw the line? How do we navigate this increasingly commonplace and persistently superficial online dating world while also fostering real connections with people? Do we even know what real connections look like anymore?
There are times when all we want to is to have a good time with a decent guy. No strings attached. In that case, there are plenty of fish in the Tinder/Bumble sea – cast your net and prosper, boo boo. But sometimes, the search for more genuine connections will require us to step outside of our smartphone-sized comfort zones and experience the world the “old-fashioned” way, even if that just means actually setting up the first date with our app interests.
Invite the cute guy in your office out for coffee. Take your puppy for a walk and chat up your fellow dog owners. Accept that guy’s invitation to buy you a drink at the bar. Guaranteed ways to find a long-term, suitable mate? Of course not – there are no guarantees. But you just might find that your perfect “match” is closer than you think!