Truth: dating isn’t what it used to be. It’s 2016, and we all know plenty of people who have met their mates online, going all the way back to chat rooms and bulletin boards (remember those?), then evolving into the Golden Age of sites like eHarmony and match.com, which made it easier than ever for people to meet like-minded individuals with similar demographics, all from the comfort of their own laptops.
There are a lot of obvious reasons why online dating took the world by storm, not the least of which is the idea that attempting to meet that special someone by bar hopping doesn’t always appeal to the masses – and certainly doesn’t always involve good, clear-headed decision-making. On top of that, with the algorithms that exist on most dating sites, you can essentially hand pick a love interest who matches any number of date-worthy criteria that you deem important. The process is more specific and streamlined than ever, the search radius wider, and the options exponentially greater than beating the street looking for love.
Over the past several years, the digital dating subculture has progressed even further… into the land of free dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble that enable you to pick up a date at a moment’s notice, simply by searching within a specified mile radius and determining whether you find a potential “match” attractive based on a handful of profile pics. If they meet both search criteria: geographic proximity and mutual attractiveness, BOOM, you have a match. It’s incredibly easy – and incredibly twilight zone-ish at the same time. If you’re not careful, or fairly discerning, you never know who you’ll end up matching with. It’s a crap shoot. Most people I know (including yours truly) who have dipped their toe in the water with these types of apps find themselves either a) discouraged with the resulting level or type of communication (or lack thereof) that follows a match, b) confused or overwhelmed by the people they match with, or c) fed up with the whole process within 2-4 weeks resulting in deleting the whole damn thing. Or d) all of the above.
And let’s not overlook the one obvious thing here that hasn’t been addressed: dating apps can’t calculate chemistry. No amount of search criteria can tell you whether or not if you actually meet in person you’ll have any sort of connection, or if it’ll fall completely flat. But if you want to play the game, that’s just a risk you take.
And sometimes… it actually works. The stars align, you match, you meet, AND there’s chemistry. And you might even question whether it’s too good to be true…but you take a leap of faith and start seeing someone, maybe even seriously. At a point, the next question becomes: with so many potential options at your fingertips, when do you put your faith in someone you’ve met, stop the swiping, and <gasp!> delete the apps altogether? How do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and take that next step, eliminating the safety nets that bring us dozens of new options with a single swipe? Dating guidelines have changed a great deal over the years, and there’s no hard fast rule for digital dating success. There is no one-size-fits-all timeline. You just have to feel your way through it, communicate openly about what you’re looking for, and hope for the best. And if you find someone amazing, by all means- stop the swiping. What could it hurt? Take a leap of faith. You never know what might happen.