It felt like an episode of ‘Sex and the City’. A few girlfriends and I had met up for lunch on the weekend, and over drinks – sadly, not cosmos – the conversation (as it inevitably does when the group is made up of women in their early twenties) turned to our love lives.
As someone who has been consistently single over the years, with the exception of a brief ‘thing’ here or there, and as someone that really values my independence, I shrugged when the topic of dating apps came up. Over the past three years, I have downloaded and then occasionally re-downloaded various apps, only to delete them again after a week or so. This is not the case with said group of friends I’d met up with. Each of them had downloaded a dating app and had succeeded in not deleting it for quite some time. Not to say that these friends were solely searching for sex; instead, they were all actively looking for the big ‘r’: Relationships.
All of these women were discussing their latest dates – what the guys had done wrong and reasons for not seeing them again, etc. When it was my time to share, and I shared that I had recently deleted the apps (again), my friends were shocked.
“But how? That’s the only way people meet now,” one of my friends added. The others fell in-step and began to push the Dating App Agenda, but I finally admitted it just wasn’t for me. What I didn’t tell them was that part of me secretly likes all the swiping, even though I never met up with anyone from the apps.
The concept that everyone on these dating apps acknowledges that there are tons of potential partners out there inevitably leads to less focused attention on any given person. On a day where I wasn’t getting a lot of notifications or likes, I might turn to swiping just for something to do. After all, these apps are designed to be addictive. But more often than not, I found myself swiping left, and not because I’m as nit-picky as some of my friends, but because I realized I didn’t really want a relationship just yet. I didn’t want to really invest in meeting anyone from these apps. It dawned on me that selfishly, I wanted to know that guys were interested in me – that they found me attractive or liked whatever I’d put in my bio. Since people nowadays date differently, i.e. they don’t meet initially meet in person, it doesn’t always seem like anyone finds me interesting or pretty or whatever metric I’ve used in the past (despite my strong opinion that I don’t need validation from anyone else). In a way, it’s the thought that counts: someone somewhere out there likes you.
I have to think that some of you reading this have felt the same way at some point in your dating app adventures, whether you actually go on dates or are just there to swipe. It’s something no one talks about, but is present. It’s the natural reaction to these apps; after all, they’re all about validation in one way or another, right? Validation in successfully finding a romantic partner, or validation in feeling wanted or attractive, and so on.
While it may seem like ‘everyone is doing it’ and downloading these apps, be assured that not everyone is really using them for what they’re intended for. Some people just aren’t ready to meet someone from an app, or they’re feeling a bit peer-pressured. Some people actively use the apps, and that’s wonderful for them. But finding love (or whatever type of relationship you’re looking for) is a personal journey, and you’re in the driver’s seat. Make your own decisions: if you want to use these apps, great, but if you don’t, that’s ok, too. Even if you download them but just swipe around and enjoy crafting your profile, do your thing. Embrace your own strategy to life, love, and the pursuit of the best right swipe. Or not.