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The Problem With Dating (Apps)

[Listen to an audio version of this blog HERE.]

"My biggest problem," I told my best friend, "is that dating is exhausting." We spend time and energy getting to know people who, at any moment, could decide they're not into it anymore or vice versa. So, what's the point?

I told her I feel lonely sometimes, but usually not. She said, "that's normal."

I told her I feel hurt by rejection even if I'm not that into the person. She said, "that's normal."

I told her I feel mean for rejecting someone, even if it's obviously the best thing to do. She said, "that's normal, too"

Then she poured me more wine and said, "You either just need to kiss a lot of frogs or kiss nobody." I don't especially love the "kiss a lot of frogs" advice because that seems like a waste of time, so I said, "nobody it is!" and we clinked our glasses.

Dating is problematic because the likelihood of meeting someone who wants the same things you at the same time as you seems small at best. I recently met someone online who seemed great. He was smart and sweet. He said all the right things until he said, "I'm not ready for a relationship right now." My reaction was more or less, "What the fuck?" and then, "Goodbye, forever."

The more people I meet, the easier it is to see warning signs. Red flags may not always seem like red flags, but there are small indications that it's just not a good match. With this dude in particular, the following things should have served as a warning.

1. Talking too much about ex's

This is something I allegedly did, what with my inability to filter things I shouldn't say and propensity to compare men to other men. My bad! But also, learn from my mistakes.

2. Not telling you important details about their ex's

This is something he did, or rather, didn't do. He revealed to me, after more than a month of dating, that he had been engaged about 8 months ago and it ended with little to not resolution. I was empathetic, because I was once engaged too, but also a little annoyed. Eight months isn't very long and it's pretty intense to jump back into a relationship that quickly. My intuition told me that might be a problem, but I conveniently ignored it.

3. Not proactively spending time with you

The same person once told me he's happy I have a lot going on because he didn't want to feel like he had to spend time with me. The gross part of this is that, even if we couldn't spend that much time together, I expected him to at least want to.

4. Not listening to your needs

This is a red flag that bears repeating millions of times across the interwebs. If someone can't or won't love you in the way you need to be loved, they aren't for you and they never will be. We didn't even get to the can-you-meet-my-needs conversation because the moment I was going to bring it up was the moment he backed out.

5. Giving perfunctory advice

I really don't love being told what to do. It makes me defensive and resentful. I also don't love being given advice about things I didn't ask for advice about. If someone wants to tell you how to live, you can let them, but you don't have to take their advice. I was stubborn, and so was he, and alas, we disintegrated.

There are also (I think) some issues with dating apps themselves, such as:

1. Undue Pressure

Apps construe relationships in such a strange way. There's tons of pressure to meet someone and kind of jump into something semi-serious without knowing someone very well. If you meet someone in real life, you likely get to know them a bit first before spending one-on-one time with them, easing the pressure of expectations and allowing you both to see if there's shared interest.

2. Endless Possibilities

Apps can give the illusion of endless possibilities. They can make it seem like it would be easy to find someone better or to jump right back into the dating game with ease and simplicity, except it's usually not so easy.

3. Flakiness/Ghosting/Catfishing

How could I write about dating and dating apps without mentioning ghosting? It's always weird to be ghosted, and you definitely don't want to be known as the ghoster. Just be honest if something doesn't feel right. And definitely don't lie about your height or use old photos that don't look like you anymore.

4. Huge Time Commitment

The first day I created a Hinge profile I received dozens of messages. It felt like a part time job just keeping up with numerous conversations, especially the boring "Hi, how's your day going?" ones. Who has time for this?

5. No Accountability

One of the worst things about dating strangers, especially in a large, metropolitan area, is that you likely don't know any of the same people, so there's no social accountability. It's really easy to disappear and not be held responsible for being a shitty person.

Dating apps aren't all bad though. According to the Pew Research Center, 12% of Americans say they have married or been in a committed relationship with someone they first met through a dating site or app. And, about a quarter of Americans (23%) say they have ever gone on a date with someone they first met through a dating site or app. Some app users enjoy the ease and efficiency of using online platforms to search for dates, as well as the sites’ ability to expand dating options beyond the traditional social circles. Others dislike how apps have perpetuated scams or harassment and to seem facilitate superficial relationships rather than meaningful ones. While there will always be problems with apps and relationships, about half of Americans believe dating apps have had a neutral effect on their life. As is true with many things, successful relationships require time, energy, and work. Dating apps can make life look easy and carefree, if only for a moment.

P.S. Read more about dating app horror stories here, watch a fun video comparing the difference between men and women here, or read how dating apps store your data here.


Sarah Rose

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