Swiping for Love

Remember the excitement you felt that very first time you created a dating profile and started swiping? So many possibilities! Thousands of profiles! You start swiping. Hmmm…nope. Swipe left. Another. Definitely not!! Swipe. You swipe about 40 potential soulmates until FINALLY – here is someone with possibility. He’s attractive, smart, seems emotionally stable, and doesn’t have pictures of only his car and some fish he caught. Then – you match. Your very first match!! You can’t contain yourself. You can’t wait to meet him.

Fast forward to one year later. You tediously pick up your phone and open one of your dating apps. Disinterested, you begin to swipe. Left. Left. Left. Oh, right. Left. Left. A match. You continue swiping. Eventually, he sends you a note. Sometimes you send a note first, but mostly you wait to gauge their interest. You try to read between the lines, get a sense of who he is, what he wants. Does he want a hook-up? Is he emotionally stunted? Is he afraid of commitment? Is he a serial killer?

You’ve become so good at this, you can tell who has fake pictures, who is obviously lying, and you can tell within the first few minutes of the message exchange if they are worthy. They need to be worth you taking a shower, getting dressed, and leaving the house (and if they are over a 45-minute drive away – they have to be really WORTHY!) That’s my standard now. It means less dates, but less wasted time and effort. 

I used to think, what is wrong with me?!  People keep asking me how I’m still single since I’ve been swiping for a while (eons??) I’m pretty self-aware, I don’t have any substantial personality flaws, and always have many options to choose from. So there must be something wrong with the men I am choosing because I am actually pretty close to perfect, right??

Wading through the profiles to find your perfect match is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Some of these men are players, married, emotionally inhibited, criminals (do I have a story about that!), commitaphobes (how is that even spelled??), confused as hell, utterly asleep when it comes to self-awareness, self-centered, breadcrumbers….ok, you get the idea. Yes, there are some great ones out there and I’ve had some fantastic dates and even longer-term “situationships.”  I’ve met some interesting men. SO what is the problem, if it’s not me, and it’s not the men? 

The problem is online datingOnline dating, coupled with our culture’s full immersion and over-reliance on digital communication, equals failure. You see a few pictures, a brief write up, other bio info, and make a split-second decision about whether you want to meet this person. You really don’t know at all if there is any possibility of anything between you until you meet. He could look like George Clooney and have the wealth of Jeff Bezos, and the spirituality of Deepak Chopra, but once you meet there is NOTHING there. No connection, no chemistry. For some, looks and/or money is enough, no judging here. But for those looking for something more, maybe the whole package, you can’t find that connection or chemistry just by looking at a picture, texting, or even talking on the phone. Plus, that kind of connection is rare to find in general. Online dating can help you narrow down your choices, but it doesn’t beat meeting someone organically (my term, for meeting someone in the real world). Thus there are many failures. You can filter out the definite no’s, but it all takes so much time and effort. 

Our society’s overuse of texting and email also makes it much easier to ghost someone or blow them off.  Ghosting someone is much easier than telling them via text or even a phone call that you’re not interested. We have become a world of rejection through ignoring, instead of being honest and telling people the truth. The way we connect in our world, everything can be said in a text or just not said at all. Poof. Just disappear. 

I have to admit, I have done this also, but eventually started telling people that I enjoyed meeting them, but I really didn’t want to go any further. Isn’t it better to hear the truth? It seems most don’t care though, and ignoring really is much easier for those who fear and avoid confrontation. The first few times this happened to me, I was perplexed and felt like I needed closure, but now I have come to understand that if someone ghosts me, it’s because they don’t want to see me again. I’ve accepted it, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. 

There are too many choices. It’s great to have so many options when you’re swiping. Lots and lots of choices. Sounds great, but it actually makes some people think, even those who are on a 4th or 5th date with someone, that they are missing out on some of those other options. Like a kid in a candy store, you might keep swiping, even though you are happy and enjoying your time with another person. People become addicted to the swipe and seeing who they can match with, not necessarily because they want to date others, but they want to keep their options open, just in case. And it is a great ego boost.  

Before online dating, especially in those early days of dating someone new, there wasn’t a temptation to continually look at your dating apps. Maybe you checked people out or they checked you out, but if you were happy, it meant nothing. People were more committed to creating meaningful connections with one person, instead of fleeting, meaningless connections with many people. The temptation of the apps and the many choices make you indecisive and fearful of sticking with one person. This creates many unhappy people. The search for the elusive and non-existent perfect mate, is a fruitless endeavor, which leaves many unhappy with themselves and dissatisfied with everyone they meet.

 Lies, Lies, Lies. It’s easy to post a fake picture or false information about yourself. Men who say they are single can be married. They describe themselves as kind and patient, and the next thing you know they are criticizing you for taking too long to decide what to order. Their pictures can be 10 years old or photoshopped. They show up looking nothing like their pictures. Then there are those who say they are looking for LTRs (long-term relationships) and ask you to go to a hotel room the first time you meet. Not judging if you want hook-ups, but say it in your profile. Spell it out, tell the truth, so you don’t waste the other person’s time.

I’ve learned a lot from my online dating experience. I’ve learned what I want and what I don’t want. I’ve learned what questions to ask before I even meet someone. I try to tell them, either before we meet or during our first meeting, exactly what I am looking for. And I don’t have high expectations. That’s important. If you expect to meet your soulmate each time you have a date, you will be sorely disappointed. The chemistry, the connection – that is rare. So don’t be discouraged and keep in mind the problems with online dating. You can then approach the adventure realistically and forge ahead into the unknown world of the magical swipe.

BUT, most importantly, you should remember that a man will not define who you are. Having a man or a long term relationship is not what makes you happy and whole. You have to find your inner happiness and love yourself first. And don’t take the rejection personally. That is key. Learn from it, become stronger, and know that sometimes rejection will bring you to better things. You were not rejected – you were rescued.  

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