The dating game has come so far over the years. It has evolved from just a part of our personal and social lives, to a massive opportunity-turned industry for people of all ages. Sounds very (un)romantic, right? Gone are the days of twiddling your thumbs, waiting to find a way to ask the perfect guy/girl out on a date. We no longer have to anxiously text our best friends to set us up with someone new, and blindly test the waters. Thanks to the likes of Tinder, Bumble, Match, and (who knows what other?) types of matching apps, we gain and lose by gaming the system that’s as old as time – finding your mate.
1. Apps let you get exactly what you want at that moment in time.
Casual fling? Steady dating? Soulmate and father of your children? You can usually be very blunt about what you’re looking for when you’re communicating virtually with people (the last one might not go over so well). Chances are, they will either feel the same way, or you can “swipe left” and move on. There’s not a lot of time to waste, and anyone who uses these apps will understand 100%.
2. Using dating apps can help you boost your confidence.
It’s a lot easier to flirt – or even have a simple conversation – with people if you’re not directly with them and you can read their faces as reactions to everything you say. Thank you, virtual anonymity. For a lot of people who may not have enough confidence to charm their way into a relationship in person, a virtual test run can be good practice, and can let you test out how good you are at starting and maintaining conversations.
3. Apps can help you find people you wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Even on a big college campus, as a senior I sometimes feel like there’s no one else left to meet. It’s refreshing to know that there are lots of cool people out there who I have still never interacted with. If you are fed up with your options where you are, applications today have become so advanced with location services, that you have opened yourself up to a digital world of opportunities, that can easily manifest into physical meet ups.
4. The transition from “texting” to “talking” is much easier.
Odds are, once you finally get around to meeting the person on the other end of the line, you will have had at least a few conversations over an app or site, which will make it much easier to find topics to talk about in real life. And unlike Facebook stalking, you won’t have to worry about accidentally letting it slip that you know his aunt went to Italy on vacation in 2013. Awkward situation avoided. Tension diffused.
5. Different strokes for different folks.
The cool thing about technology used for dating, is that different concepts are created for different types of people. Although we make fun of sites like Farmersonly.com, everybody needs an outlet to find people who like similar activities and lifestyles. One really cool app is Bumble, which I only heard about recently; but the best thing about this app is that it requires girls to make the first move and talk to the guy, or else the “connection” ominously disappears forever; very cool, empowering, and just goes to show that the opportunities are endless. The creators of these apps have very unique ideas in mind, and it’s not all about sleazy hookups (unless that’s what you want, of course, because there’s an app for that).
1. It can become a part-time job.
Raise your hand if you’ve spent five minutes on Tinder and then your weird clock actually tells you that five hours have passed. Put your hand down, and recognize that your clock is not, in fact, broken. Technology has made it so easy to mindlessly sift through all of the potential partners in a two to 50 mile radius, so it can be addicting and highly unproductive. You might be looking for a special someone, but along the way, you could have totally forgotten what makes someone “special,” and screen time searching can consume your life and your mind. Know your limits and know what you’re looking for, or you can get sucked into superficial swiping with no real goals left.
2. It takes out the (fun) guesswork.
The idea of codes, algorithms, and virtual conversations really takes out the magic and spontaneity of dating. Our grandparents can tell us about all of the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty that came with asking someone out “back in the day.” But there are two different kinds of stress; distress – which can be debilitating and scary – and eustress – which is the kind of excited, nervous, first-day-back-to-school sort of tension. The latter is the spice that we need when dealing with romantic possibilities; it’s the kind of feeling that we later recall as butterflies and knots in our stomach that make for a great story.
We become overconfident with the help of dating apps, thinking that we know more about each other before we even meet. It means we have to work much less for the result, and that can be much less satisfying.
3. It’s hard to know the other person.
Even if you think you know the person online, you don’t really. With apps, the information about the other person is just vaguely given to us so that we can judge a person based on their picture and two to three “biographical” lines they can write about themselves, like how much they bench press. Even after back and forth conversations, it can still be a little unnerving to realize that you’re essentially going on a blind date, and might often come out disappointed. People can project themselves however they want on the internet, but their true selves might not manifest until later, when you find out their favorite band is Nickelback.
4. There’s a lot of stigma associated with long-term online dating.
Yes, it is 2016, and yes, times have changed. For many people, it still feels a little weird to pick someone to spend their time or life with from the Internet. It can be seen as desperate, unsafe, or weird. The truth is, it’s never really easy to find the right person. If it were, matchmaking would not be such a profitable industry. Most of us would love a cute coffee shop or library encounter that will give us a great story to tell like in the movies. “We met online and really hit it off” is by no means embarrassing, but many feel it just doesn’t have the same ring to it. And let’s not forget that it can be very weird to find out that the person you spent your Friday night with through Tinder, actually sits two rows in front of you in Chemistry lecture.
5. We become spoiled.
If you’ve ever read or seen Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, he does an excellent job of explaining just how technology has taken out some of the charm and mystery associated with real life dating (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it for a good read and good laughs). Matchmaking services present us with thousands of options, and we become used to the fact that we have so many choices. It’s easy for us to cancel on people, juggle a number of partners at once, and always think about who we could be missing out on. This relates to something called choice-overload theory, which explains that the more choices we have, the less likely we are to be satisfied with any single decision that we make. This is a very real psychological issue of our generation; in simple terms, we’re always living with FOMO.
Online dating is one of those things that’s amazing in theory, but comes with a lot of emotional and mental strings attached if you get sucked into the system. As college students and young adults entering our 20’s, dating is really important to us, and we’ll take whatever tools that make it easier.
But the tools might not always be the best option, and what’s worse is that they could take out the fun of meeting people and fostering relationships with the people around you. While you’re searching for your soul (or weekend) mate, make sure to take a step back and evaluate what you want and how you can make the process simple. You don’t have to keep swiping if you take some time to look up from your phone.
Featured image source: lostitgirl.com