As I’ve mentioned a few times in this column, earlier this year I made a pact with myself to be more open to romance. Having lived the swingin single life for the majority of my actual life, I figured I’d do what the kids are doing these days, and download a couple of dating apps to see what the fuss was about. It was always something that seemed odd to me, using a phone app to find to, ostensibly, find love or some reasonable facsimile thereof. But, since it’s all the rage, I persevered…for a time. The time has now come where I’ve realized how downright WEIRD dating through your phone is. Obviously, some people manage to make it work, and great for them, but for me, swiping and clicking my way through dating just doesn’t fit. Some of you may relate to some of the more excessive oddities of app dating that I’ve come across.
If there’s one thing that feels just plain wrong about dating through apps, it’s how it reduces people to a photo and a few words, and does so disturbingly easily. It only takes a few minutes on an app like Bumble or Happn before you’re discounting people for things as simple as their choice of outfit, a fishing picture or using the term “sapiosexual”. While those things can be deemed rightfully offputting, generally they don’t define a person. Unfortunately, dating apps allow us to ignore the fact that humans are multifaceted, and shouldn’t be reduced to a badly lit selfie paired with a Rumi quote.
It’s SO shopping
Tying into the above, it’s hard to think of people as people, when these apps make you feeling like you’re using an app to shop, but for a significant other rather than a pair of shoes. Have you ever used the “refine search” feature in a shopping app? That’s pretty much the “settings” feature on a dating app. I’m not sure about you, but I feel a bit odd about browsing for through the boyfriend shop while using tick boxes to narrow my search.
The other day I was out with a girlfriend of mine, and she asked me how I knew a guy she’d seen commenting on a Facebook post of mine. As it turned out, he was someone we’d both matched with through a dating app. Now, she and I have wildly different taste in men, so we’ve never overlapped in our prior dating experience. But this was now the second time that we’d found that we’d matched with the same guy, both times through apps. I’ve never been a fan of double dipping in the same dating pool as my friends, and with dating apps it’s far too easily done. I don’t need my friendships to be that close, thank you very much.
Running into people
If I never have another one of my guy friend’s congratulate me on a “hot Bumble profile pic”, it will be too soon. It’s one thing to run into friends while out at a bar flirting with a cute guy over cocktails, but it’s quite another seeing friends of mine on dating apps, and being seen on them. While the dating app run in may be commonplace now, it still weirds me out.
When you meet someone through friends, or when you’re out and about, you can get pretty close to a 360 degree view of that person in that first encounter. When it comes to meeting someone through an app however, you’re taking far more of a gamble, specifically when it comes to attraction. For me, I need to be in someone’s presence, to know their vibe, how they smell, and how they carry themselves, to truly determine if there’s an attraction. That’s not something you can predetermine from some photos and texts, so whenever you head out to meet someone new, there’s a chance that the first meeting may be the last. While that’s probably part of the dating journey, it starts to feel like a waste of time, and can also lead to disappointment and hurt feelings. Dating is supposed to be fun, and that just isn’t.
These are just a few reasons why I’m not vibing with the swipe route to romance these days. It just never quite feels right, and who needs to compound the awkwardness of dating any more than necessary. Who knows, maybe I’ll get back on the wagon, but until then, I’ll be saving my battery and my data plan for Snapchat filter photo shoots and Instagram stories.