I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that online dating is becoming the norm.
Everyone and their mom has tried one of the many options available for meeting new people through an app.
Why do we date online now?
Because it’s easy.
Why go out when we can swipe right from the couch? Aside from that: the internet is where we do most of our interacting these days, we have access to a whole group of people that we would otherwise never meet, AND we get to size them up through a profile before we ever have to say a word to them. The convenience factor is off the charts.
Trying to meet a guy in a bar sucks, BTW. Drunk people trying to yell-talk over the new Calvin Harris track while their standards are lowered from that fourth vodka tonic?
To be honest, I’m almost never talked to by guys when I go out. Let alone decent, nice guys. Most will look from a distance, but rarely introduce themselves. The ones that do approach are usually drunk or the kind of guy that is hitting on as many women as they can just to increase their odds of success.
I did my time in the scene but, at nearly 30, it starts to feel played out.
At this point, most of my dates come from an online source. I’ve tried Match, Bumble, and OKCupid and had pretty different experiences on each one.
Honorable mention goes out to Instagram because, even though it’s not technically a dating site, somehow I’ve met a few people after they slid into my DMs.
(Before you ask, no. I’ve never tried Tinder. I run into enough guys that are just looking for a casual hookup without gettin’ all wrapped up in that mix.)
The three sites I tried all come in free and paid versions. I took it to the next level by using the paid version on Match (you can’t read or send messages without subscribing) and kept it free.99 on OKCupid and Bumble.
Without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff:
The most important thing to recognize about Match is that you’re going to have to bite the bullet and pay. That’s going to turn a lot of people off, but that’s potentially a good thing if you’re looking for a real relationship. The guys I met here had better follow-through, were genuinely looking for someone to be with, and tended to be a bit more mature. They’re more likely to actually fill out their profiles with some detail about who they are and what they’re looking for.
Heads up: they’re going to be a little older than the guys hittin’ you up on Tinder. I’ve had men from 26-61 sending me winks.
I met several guys on Match and they stood out because they usually wanted to take me on a “real” date. I ended up in restaurants more often than bars or coffee shops.
Match lets you set specific search parameters, has a large database, and feels…legit.
Unfortunately, this one wasn’t for me. Never met anyone in real life because I never really liked the “feel” of it. Tinder minus the swiping.
If that’s what you’re looking for, do your thing. This site asks you to put on your profile what you’re there for: meeting new friends, casual hookups, or relationships. You get to search through profiles and a percentage will be listed next to the person’s name that is supposed to tell you how compatible you are based on the questions you’ve been asked to answer.
OKCupid is like the much less sophisticated, millennial version of E-Harmony.
Maybe it’s just me, but I received way more skeazy messages on here than on the other two sites and most guys were trying to plan a meet up in their first messages. Slow down, dudes.
Standout perk that I’ll give it credit for: users are asked a lot of questions about lifestyle, priorities, and thoughts on certain issues that help give you a clearer idea of who you’re talking to. This use of prompts makes the profiles of people on this site more fleshed out because they have something to use as a guide.
I had my reservations about this one, due to the swipe left and right nature of the whole deal, but I can’t lie to you.
It was fun.
The unique thing about Bumble is that once you’ve both swiped right and matched, the woman is the ONLY one that can initiate the first chat convo and has to do it within 24 hours or the match disappears. Then, the guy has 24 hours to answer back.
This setup gives women a bit of an upper-hand in the beginning and the time limit gets the ball rolling after the match is made. No initial ghosting allowed.
There were more guys on this app that I found physically attractive compared to the others. Way more swipes to the right that first day than I would have expected. I’ve concluded that they hacked my life, knew my taste in men, then purposefully showed me all those guys first to get me on the hook.
I see you, Bumble.
Heads up: people on there are all about sharing their Instagrams on their profiles and very little else. If you’re looking for a highly detailed profile full of info about their perspective on life, this one ain’t for you. This one’s for the people who are looking to quickly connect with locals on their iPhone. No fuss.
I met a few guys off Bumble and went on some solid dates. Nothing to complain about really, except that things just seemed to fizzle out.
As a whole, my online dating experience has been…alright.
The Issues with Online Dating
- We don’t have the ability to feel chemistry right off the bat.
It’s hard to truly capture your essence in a profile.
Despite whatever flutter we may have had checkin’ out those pics or getting those messages, who knows if that will exist in person? It’s a damn toss-up.
- Our follow-through kinda sucks.
We have so many options that focusing has become difficult. That “grass is greener” mentality runs rampant on the streets. Back in the day, people married their neighbors and people they went to school with because that’s what they had access to.
The world is our oyster. Opportunities abound and it’s both a blessing and a curse if you don’t keep your priorities in check. People get ghosted on the regular because we forget there’s a real person on the other end of the digital convo.
- We become ideal rather than real.
Real conversations require you to think on your feet. There’s less time to edit and manipulate ourselves. Our face and demeanor can be read. They can see that we’re not really LOLing at their joke. We’re so exposed.
With texts, we have the cushion of answering slowly. We can turn off our “read” receipts and live life on a whim. We can create the perfect response to get back an even cuter response so we can walk around feeling all fuzzy.
Things become more calculated, don’t they? More importantly:
When we get to know each other from afar, we’re more likely to subconsciously idealize them.
That’s how you see these people who fall in love with someone they’ve been talking to online for years (but who they’ve never FaceTimed) end up on MTV’s “Catfish”.
We start filling in the missing parts we don’t know about someone with what we want them to be. They become ideal in our mind and we open ourselves up for disappointment if that person doesn’t end up fitting the vision we had for them.
- It all becomes a habit rather than a pursuit for real connection.
Keep an eye out for mindless swiping and repetitive small talk that leads nowhere. It’s an epidemic.
Even with all that being said, I predict that dating online is here to stay because it’s not bad when you do it right.
It’s convenient. It can be fun. It gives us the chance to connect with people that we would usually never cross paths with and assess what we’re looking for. These apps can be amazing tools if we use them right.
Tips for Online Dating:
- Pick a site that fits you. They’re all a little different and attract different types of humans. Know what you’re looking for and how you like to communicate.
- Actually fill out your profile. It shows you’re a real person who’s making an effort.
- Smile in your primary pic. It’s your first impression! Happiness is attractive and approachable.
- Include a full-length pic. People want to see more than four close-up pics of the left side of your face.
- Don’t let me see you sending “Hey” as a first message. That’s all you got? Form a sentence. Start a conversation. Use your words.
- Stay selective. Try not to get too crazy on the number of people you’re talking to at a time. Spreading yourself thin is a quick way to make your interactions shallow.
- Exchange a few messages, ask for the digits, then make a plan. Don’t text each other for a month before meeting up. You gotta get to figuring out that chemistry part, right? If they can never make the time to meet up or Skype and keep telling you that they’re busy in the recording studio or modeling in Milan, I’ll see you on the next season of “Catfish”.
- Be safe. Don’t meet people in alleyways or at your own house on the first date. Pick a public spot, have your own ride, and let someone know where you’re going. Might seem extreme for some, but I’m a small woman who’s not trying to end up as an unsolved mystery on “Dateline”.
- Be yourself. You want someone that likes you for you. Be polite and everything, but be real. Two of the most attractive qualities are confidence and people who are unapologetically themselves.
- Laugh it off if it doesn’t work out. Don’t let it get you down if the date didn’t go as planned or the connection wasn’t what you hoped it would be. On to the next. Release expectations. Show up. Meet a new human being. Hope for the best and, if necessary, repeat.
If it’s something you’ve been curious about, give the online dating scene a try. There’s no stigma anymore, so have fun with it and see what happens.
You never know who you could end up meeting.
Head over to the Podcast page to hear me talk about dating on “Life Moves Pretty Fast”.
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