Dating is part of college life. It is a rollercoaster that many struggle to come to terms with throughout their college career, mostly because of the difficulty many millennials find in communicating what they want personally versus what they dictate as "cool" or "in." But the truth is - you shouldn't feel like you have to fit any sort of mold, no matter how unsure and insecure you may be feeling. Below is a personal anecdote talking about my personal experiences with a particular culture, online dating, and what I learned! Enjoy.
It starts out as a game - you're curious, you think it will be funny, and you're slightly entertained. Then you get your first match.
To be quite frank, that's when the madness started for me. Coming into freshman year I definitely lacked a lot in the self confidence department, and was constantly fretting about what my hair, face, and clothes looked like. To put it in simple terms, I lacked self worth. I was healthy, pretty, and smart - and yet I was incapable of recognizing any of these things because no one other than my family had really ever taken the time to tell me that.
But then I got my first match. And another... and another... and another...
There it was. The idea that I might actually be attractive. I began to grow more excited when the messages began to flood in. They want to talk to ME! They want to have a conversation with ME!
I became obsessed with the accumulation of matches, but more importantly, the validation of my attractiveness. I grew zealous if I knew others had matched with people I had matched with, even stressed over whether or not they found them more attractive than me. Any non-match only seemed to me a further reason to prove to myself that I was good enough, yes, attractive enough, and that it was their loss they had not swiped right.
Then one day it hit me; sitting there at 3 in the morning, swiping left and right, left and right, right right right, left, right right, and suddenly: I hit a dead end. The screen flashed red for a second, and then the dreaded "No New Matches In Your Area" flashed before my eyes. I had swiped through every single person within a 10 mile radius of me. Panic stricken, I began contemplating the usual options: message someone I had already matched with from several weeks ago? Message back someone I was already talking with? But how long ago was too long? Restart the app? Start over? What was I looking for?
What are you looking for? - the words flashed before my eyes and burned at my eyeballs. Suddenly, I was at a loss for words. I realized I couldn't answer my own question. Furthermore, I couldn't find an answer through the apps from my question. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how unsettling this whole thing was. I was addicted to a swipe. I judged my self worth based off of whether or not someone would match me or not, and got upset when I was the one to swipe first. I changed my photographs and bio constantly, and panicked when I felt my messages were not witty enough to garner a response. It had reached the point where I couldn't bring myself to even approach a boy if I didn't receive a swipe as confirmation that he found me attractive in the slightest. I was a lost woman. I was a mad woman. And I was an unhappy woman. All because of one little app's ability to swipe left and right based off of how "hot" the person on the other end thought I was.
So this summer, I said no. I deleted Tinder and Bumble, and started something completely alien to me - I began to introduce myself to people organically. I began to meet people not through a computer or phone screen, but in person. And I realized why people hid behind the screen. It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. There was nothing I could put a filter on, and I couldn't take my sweet time coming up with witty banter to display any sort of intelligence. There were times when I would say things that made absolutely no sense, and times where I definitely fended them off more than drew them closer. But being Tinder and Bumble-less for a summer taught me so much about the importance of communication, and more importantly, learning to love myself, and to not have an app dictate whether or not boys, or ANYONE for that matter, should like me.
What a lot of people don't realize is that it takes a certain kind of person to be on Tinder, Bumble, Grinder, Hinge, etc. And if you're not that kind of person, you shouldn't feel like you have to be that person. I personally recognize that, as of right now, I am not that kind of person. I am, quite frankly, currently in a mindset that is not meant for college hook up culture. I have too much work to be constantly on this app swiping left and right and spending 20+ minutes trying to decide how to perfectly respond to the message sent to me. I prefer meeting people through the organic, the REAL, rather than the artificial and technological, the SCREEN.
Call me a bit of a romantic, but I miss the days when people got to know me personally rather than physically, and can't remember the last time I was asked out on a proper date. It's not my fault - it's not anyone's fault - that the culture has shifted and changed. And that's not to say you can't find value in the matches you make on these apps. I have had both good and bad experiences; lived a little on the edge; made some great new friends; been on some fun escapades; been in some awkward situations; and each has made me a stronger woman.
I respect all the people I have matched with on Tinder and Bumble. Many of them are a fleeting memories, while others I still see and say hello to here and there. And I admire their ability to navigate their way through the vast mystery that is Bumble or Tinder. But for me, I miss communication. I miss conversation. And I'm not talking dopey, over the text with a little emoji on the side. I'm talking verbal, let's sit down and talk.
Because at the end of the day, that's what these apps are trying to help us with - our fear of conversation. Fear of rejection. Fear of vulnerability. Humans are built to be strong and superior, so in this day and age, it's easy to swipe left or right on a button based on a picture. But to look someone in the eyes, talk, and to genuinely be yourself - well... Bumble... Tinder...
looks like you've met your match.