I spent two years on the online dating scene on and off. I met a lot of new people, swiped right and left so much I forgot half the time which one meant what, sent a lot of funny openers (thanks Bumble), stayed up later and drank more than I would have liked, and had a lot of interesting conversations. If I am honest, I did have fun and I learned a great deal about people and myself but I learned nothing about love or how to be in a relationship. I learned quite the opposite.
Dating casually took all the things that we have embodied as a fast-paced, on-demand culture, and brought it into our love lives. Bored, needing a date for a wedding just log on and start swiping. Don’t like the way someone handles themselves or they start to get too emotional no worries there is a whole pool of new people to click on. Just want a casual night out or free dinner? Great! Start swiping.
Online dating is great for people with a lack of commitment and free of heart. Not the best for a hopeless romantic and old soul like myself. With that being said, I did gain some pretty good insight from my experiences. Here is what I learned.
Online dating is great for people who do not know how to communicate their feelings. I don’t know why it has become so hard to tell someone that we simply aren’t interested. What I found is that online dating allowed people to not have to have hard conversations. Simply people would just completely disappear or not respond if they were no longer interested or met someone new.
You aren’t able to gain trust. When you are dating multiple people casually, it is hard to get to the state of trust. And very hard to get vulnerable. Both are essential to a long-term lasting relationship and falling in love.
Defining a term for the date or relationship was tricky. Some guys didn’t want to even say date. Hang out seemed more acceptable. After you made a couple of rounds, it gets even more tricky. Then you start treading in murky waters. Are you supposed to stop saying yes to other dates? Are they still going out with other women? And when is the right time to even ask this? And then trying to define what you are to each other. Ugh, just typing this gives me anxiety-ridden flash-backs.
In order, to survive you must not set expectations. Expectations that they are going to respond to your message, text, or even show up for your date. I know it sounds crazy but it is true. I always did a little confirmation message or text an hour before because I didn’t want to be sitting at the bar and no one shows up. And I can’t tell you how many people either did not respond to the message or said that they weren’t planning on coming. Like when did you think you were going to tell me this???
You learn very quickly how to talk to anyone. I am very confident I can hold my own at any dinner party now. I can small talk with the best of them. The problem here again most of the time it is all service level. Start asking about someone’s dreams, desires, biggest fears, and life regrets well you may just put them in a cold sweat. So, you learn to just tap the service. Never really getting to know anyone.
I was not learning at all how to love anyone in this process. I was learning how to like them. How to spend short periods of time doing fun things and then detaching from the experience and the individual. This is not how we find love. This is not how we develop intimacy with someone. This is not how we learn the depths of an individual. How we grow together and work through the hard times. The design of online dating is just not set up for this which is fine. It still has its perks but learning how to love and be in love is not one of them.