I hate online dating. I do not believe that there is anything more soul-crushing than swiping, swiping, swiping, becoming more and more dejected in your search to find The One. Or in some cases, company for the night. Conversations on dating apps are painfully dry and any date that I have gone on that has made it out of the talking phase has been an abject failure in human connection. This complete stranger and I, who have only exchanged awkward pleasantries, must now spend two hours asking about the other’s family and pastimes. For some reason — in my experience anyways — this clumsy dance of courting is made ten times worse by how we originally met.
“Sex and intimacy are available at the click of a button, leading to more reluctance to commit.”
Running the risk of sounding prudish, I do think that dating apps have led to the proliferation of hook-up culture, which has in turn completely ruined dating in your teens and early twenties. Sex and reciprocal emotional intimacy have become almost mutually exclusive, often at women’s emotional expense. It is not uncommon to experience ghosting after several dates and sexual experiences, which can lead to a lot of hurt and confusing feelings. You’re left questioning what you did wrong. Sex and intimacy are available at the click of a button, leading to more reluctance to commit.
Even though there is always a risk when meeting up with someone that you do not know, this risk is heightened when you are meeting with someone who you have never met face to face before. You haven’t had the opportunity to read them and their vibes, or to see how your gut reacts to them, which is something that is hugely important to listen to. A good rule of thumb is to meet in public places — tell your friends or family where you’re going and if you get an uneasy feeling, remove yourself from the situation immediately.
“There is already a huge problem in society when it comes to self-esteem and unattainable beauty standards, and this is made entirely worse by the internet and social media.”
Dating apps are helping to create a more superficial world; after all, you mostly swipe left or right based on appearance first, rather than what someone’s biography says. This can lead to self-esteem issues as users may struggle with not feeling conventionally attractive if they find that they are not meeting people on these apps. There is already a huge problem in society when it comes to self-esteem and unattainable beauty standards, and this is made entirely worse by the internet and social media. It can be hard to feel attractive when being bombarded with pictures of beautiful (albeit face-tuned) people and ads for plastic surgery.
Although opinions are mixed on this issue, some say that dating apps are an improved twist on classic dating.
Even though it can seem that dating apps are hindering romantic connections, some people have found success on them. Some of the most solid, loving couples that I know met on Tinder. Amongst all of the catfish pictures and unsolicited sexual comments, there can be a few hidden gems. In order to avoid the disappointment that seems to plague modern dating, it is important to be honest and open about what you are looking for with your romantic partner as dating is more fluid and subjective than ever.
“People who are more introverted may also find it easier to talk to people online.”
There are also advantages for marginalised people looking to date. For example, it can be much harder to meet someone in person if you are a wheelchair/mobility aid user as there are many bars, restaurants and other venues that are inaccessible. For those in the LGBTQ+ community — especially those still in the closet or who are only just out — it can be a good way to further explore their sexuality and to ease themselves into the community rather than immediately going to bars or clubs. People who are more introverted may also find it easier to talk to people online.
All in all, the idea behind dating apps is a noble one. The pursuit of love and connection is never easy and the idea of being able to find it from your couch is especially appealing. Much of technology was created to improve our lives — whether or not this has actually happened is an open question. It can also largely depend on people’s intentions when using these apps. Simply because these matches are available at the touch of a fingertip does not mean that finding love has become easier — after all, finding that someone is only half the work. A true, meaningful connection takes time and effort to form, no matter how you met.