Dating these days is a lot of things: fun, exciting; a total sh*t show (mostly that last one). This, of course, goes for people who meet the old fashioned way (my friend recently met her now-boyfriend in the gin aisle at the liquor store—aww!) or the new-fangled way: with a swipe or heart or thumbs up on some digital screen.
Those of us lazy/brave enough to put our faces and information on the internet for the world to see/love/marry know that there are a slew of highs and lows associated with the process. So at risk of becoming the in-house online dating specialist (I’ve had worse titles), I’ve come up with a little run-down of things that every online dater goes through. For solidarity and entertainment’s sake, of course.
And for this iteration, by online I mean on my phone (because I’ve only ever dabbled with apps and there isn’t a great name for that—app-dating? i-dating?). So whether it’s going on a first date with a guy who cried while talking about his favorite movie (this just happened to me), or regrettably coming across a friend’s boyfriend on Tinder (true story), if you’re out there doing this dance, you know that it’s a wild and unpredictable thing. But at least we’re all in this together…right? Right. (Swipe right.)
So, here are 8 things that (I think) every online dater goes through:
1.Getting excited about a new app…only to see that it’s basically just a slight twist on every single other one out there.
Ever since Tinder’s popularity (or notoriety), similar dating apps have been popping up faster than you can say “Is that a goatee?” Most online daters who have been around the ‘ol app block usually get excited when a new app comes out promising to relieve them from certain features that they’ve grown to loathe on their existing apps. Some of this ends up being great. For example, I was really happy when Hinge came out because it offered a limited amount of potential matches a day, taking away part of the ‘meat market’ heebie jeebies (technical term) that Tinder gave me. But most of the time, in my opinion, they’re all basically just a newish take on Tinder: Bumble is Tinder with a time limit and women in the driver’s seat, Happn is Tinder with a better (and scarier?) GPS.
2. Having to pep talk yourself into going on dates when all you want to do is lay on your couch (or literally anything else). This is certainly a part of any sort of dating: getting out there takes work and vulnerability and, as people love to tout: “It’s a numbers game!” But there’s something about online dating that can really fill up your social calendar…if you allow it. On the one hand it’s great to be able to meet this many people face-to-face and have the possibility for a connection, on the other hand, meeting a stranger for a drink might often end up at the bottom of your ‘what I want to do tonight’ list. It’s like, good luck competing with this killer Netflix lineup I have, Jason, 33, who loves to travel! Not to mention, there’s a lot of energy involved in going on an essentially ‘blind’ date. It’s nerve-racking, can cause some major insecurity, and requires washing my hair. True story: this winter when it was like 20 degrees out, I had a Hinge date that I just wasn’t up for. So I gave myself the following pep talk: “Literally dozens of people have found you attractive and interesting! You can do this!” It got me out of the house so I’d call that a win.
3. Not recognizing your date when they walk into the bar. See plight #2. Once you’ve gotten yourself polished and prepared, there you are sitting, waiting for Mike, 29, who works hard, plays harder! And you have to squint at any male who even slightly resembles him because, well, pictures can be deceiving. I can’t tell which is worse, getting there first and trying to not flag down the wrong guy, or walking in and having to awkwardly scan the joint before taking a seat. Maybe it’s just me but this part is the most heart-rate-inducing for sure.
4. Obsessing over your photos.
This winter, on a trip to NYC, a few friends and I met some guys out and we all ended up looked at each other’s profiles to dish out the truth on whether or not the photos we’d chosen actually looked like us, or told (enough of) the whole story. It was luckily buoyed by plenty of alcohol or else it would’ve been a bit hard to swallow. The point is, everyone who is out there making digital profiles knows that it’s a balance of putting your best foot forward and trying not to accidentally catfish someone with that one awesome photo from your sister’s wedding. (Or something. For example. That’s not my profile pic. Shut up.)
5. Deciding that you’ve “had enough” and deleting everything.
Depending on when you talk to me, or how successful things are going in the romance department, I will have either deleted all of my dating apps, or recently re-installed them. There’s nothing like deleting that app when you start seeing someone that you’re excited about…but on the same note, there’s nothing as depressing as getting out of a relationship and firing up ye olde dating app.
6. Frantically googling your matches. If you don’t do this, you’re a liar. And if you’re not lying, just know that everyone is doing this about you, so might as well get on board. There you are: It’s a match! You both think the other person is cute, nice, not-insane, etc. So you begin chatting, try and glean a few critical details and then onward to the world wide web to either confirm or deny or further dig up who exactly this person is. I’ve mentioned this before, but I call this ‘dude diligence’ and I happen to think it’s not creepy, it’s safety.
7. Seeing someone you really didn’t want to see. Your friend’s boyfriend, your ex, the guy you started seeing that swore he was off Tinder….the list goes on of humans whom you really didn’t want to come across on a dating app. The biggest bummer of course is people who are being dishonest about who they are or why they’re on there. This is just an unfortunate part of idating life and is best dealt with by throwing your phone into a river.
8. Having to explain ‘how it works’ to married friends who missed the online dating craze. This one usually makes me giggle, because people who were married before these apps all came out are equal parts fascinated and horrified by the whole shebang. You’re all like, “No, they can’t see my address,” and “Yes, it does appear that that guy has a girlfriend based on those photos.”
Over Christmas I showed my mom Hinge and I thought her head was going to explode. Bonus: this is a hilarious video of a guy asking his parents to help him sort through Tinder.
So go get ‘em, tigers. This is not to say that there aren’t upsides to online dating—tons of droves of humans meet and find happy relationships through these crazy devices we keep in our pockets. It’s just a little more fun to point out the things we have to put up with. Love is (probably?) out there for us all and I for one will not lie to my children about how we met (unless it’s on Tinder.)