A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…a naïve girl swipes right on a hunky college athlete (the star pitcher of a D1 baseball team, if we want to be specific), and a screenful of sparkling confetti announces…she’s struck a match! The pair commences in incessant pre-date texting, despite the girl’s slight disbelief that someone so funny, charming and attractive would require dating apps to find love. She pushes these thoughts aside over the next couple of months, so as to enjoy the whirlwind romance of their relationship.
At the end of summer, she finds herself checking an empty text message chain for the thousandth time, devastated that she hasn’t heard from her brand new boyfriend in over three days. But never to fear, that devastation quickly absolves into anger when she walks in on him making out with someone else — only to discover that he had been cheating with FOUR. OTHER. GIRLS. The end.
Awful story, right? Well, this isn’t just a twisted tale of fiction for your viewing pleasure. That naïve girl was me, and that story was my life.
The string of unsuccessful relationships I had that summer were all products of the infamous dating app culture, as I thought these meager attempts at romance could distract me from incurable heartbreak and seething loneliness. But after serious bouts of self-reflection through tearful nights, I glimpsed the writing on the wall: I will never find love on a dating app, and I don’t want to.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cynical enough to believe that dating apps never work — I already know several people that have found their long-time S.O.s that way. But, I came to accept that online dating will never cater to my needs.
So here’s why I abandoned those apps years ago, and still refuse to partake.
I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, drooling over countless YA novels throughout the years and slowly curating (potentially unrealistic) dreams of experiencing my own star-crossed love story, fated meet-cute or enemy-turned-lover relationship. And even though love doesn’t always take such paradisiacal paths, I think it should occur naturally.
Dating apps force you into an immediate romantic relationship forged on the premise of physical attraction alone (since people often fling lies left and right on their written profiles and thus cannot be trusted), essentially bypassing the foundational necessity of having a friendship first. Love takes time to grow, so how are you expected to know that you want a relationship with someone after only seeing a few pictures and messaging about favorite colors for a few days?
Piggybacking off of that point, it’s incredibly difficult to get to know someone over the phone. Even after messaging my matches for weeks, or going out with them for months, I still felt like I didn’t know them at all. The lingering fear of being violated or assaulted always lingered in my mind — society teaches children the importance of online safety for a reason, right? The truth is, we don’t know these people. That’s nothing against us; it’s just a fatal flaw in the system of online dating.
Finally, we often turn to the apps in times of loneliness, thus putting ourselves into these riskier situations out of a deep desire for love and affection. Very few people join these apps without motivation, which means that a majority of users haven’t had previous luck in the outside dating world. This equates to matching with more people than we can handle, wasting hours upon hours messaging potential partners and going on dates before we are truly ready for them.
I understand wanting romance. I understand wanting to feel loved. But the best type of love comes unexpectedly, and forcing ourselves into relationships we don’t truly want isn’t going to solve anything. If you want to try dating apps because you believe in their ability to broaden your scope of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, then please do — I wish you the best of luck! But if you’re like me and want to wait for that movie magic meet-cute, then I hope your love is well worth the wait.