the melancholic truth of modern dating

After weeks of having internal debates with myself, I finally caved and downloaded Tinder on my phone last month, a little after my trip to New York. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, since I’ve heard plenty of Tinder horror stories about dates gone wrong, and I had no idea what would come out of it.

After three days, I had enough. I turned off the notifications. I thought downloading the app was going to make me feel better, and make me forget about my last relationship. But I was so, so wrong. Tinder goes against my moral compass. Every time I swiped right or left, a pit formed in my stomach. How had dating culture come to this point? I found it difficult to base my attraction to someone on a few photos and a vague bio. Whenever I did open the app on my phone, I was bored. My eyes glazed over as my thumb swiped horizontally in any which direction, forming a song in my head: no, no, no, no, no, okay, no, no…. I felt terrible that I had succumbed to the shallowness that is the primary make up of modern dating. And I already didn’t like what Tinder was doing to me once I downloaded it – I found myself checking the pictures I selected for my profile constantly – wondering if I looked pretty or hot or interesting enough, which led me to ask myself again and again- why does it matter so much?

More so with my generation, we’re so worried about how we come off to other people, and social media has a lot to do with that. Social media gives us the ability to be whoever we want, and there are downsides to that – especially with dating apps. At the end of the day, who are we trying to impress, and how far are we willing to go? It’s hard to tell who’s being honest, and who isn’t. On apps like Tinder, some people are quick to make their intentions clear right away, and with others it’s a guessing game, one that many don’t have the patience to play. Most of the time it’s hard to tell who’s there to actually meet someone, look for love, hook up, or just talk to someone out of boredom. And it gets exhausting – starting a new conversation with someone and watching it go nowhere, only to repeat the same cycle with someone else.

Which is why I deleted Tinder off my phone last week. I was tired, and I am tired. I did go on one date a couple of weeks ago, but the guy was acting and talking to me like he was already my boyfriend, and he didn’t respect my boundaries and even tried to get me to change my mind about him after we went out by sending me this article in a text message….so needless to say it ended up not working out. After our date I had him drop me off at my best friend’s house and we stayed up watching 10 Things I Hate About You and per my suggestion, Beauty and the Briefcase, which is as hilariously awful as it sounds, even after my third time watching it (sorry, Hilary Duff).

Starting over, or rather, wanting to start over after a relationship is hard. I’ve had so many people tell me that this is “my time,” and that being single is fun because you get to do whatever you want. But in some ways it’s not fun, not even a little bit. Downloading Tinder was not in any way cathartic for me – maybe I was just trying to prove to myself that I was moving on, but at the end of the day I realized I didn’t want to meet someone that way, and I didn’t feel as though a swipe across a screen was justifiable enough to judge someone’s appearance, especially so quickly and so harshly. It only made me feel empty. That’s the truth about Tinder – the excitement wears off. When a notification appears, you sigh and open your messages, half-hoping, half-knowing better than to expect anything, because God knows how long this person’s attention span is. This generation is not exactly known for saying “Man, I saw her personality from across the room and I knew it was fate.” We use social media to connect with other people, but when we hope to connect on a deeper level – most of the time it’s hopeless. It’s bleak compared to the way our grandparents and parents met, and navigated the dating world themselves before settling down.

These past few months of being single for the first time in almost two years have been strange and at times, challenging. You can’t unlearn the tiniest details of a person – you can be at the store and not even realize you’re in the section with his size until you remember you’re shopping for someone else, shaking your head. Things like that come out of nowhere and set you back for a little bit, just when you think you’re starting to feel like yourself again. Deep down we all want that one person – someone who vents to us and lets us vent back to them, who tells us about their day or sends a picture of their new shoes or haircut because they wanted to, who will finish the rest of our fries because we’re too full. For my generation, searching for and finding that person is the hardest part and actually being ready, especially after sharing so much of yourself with someone for so long, only to have it not work out.

I’m well past my high school days when I thought that having a boyfriend would instantly make my life better. I’ve outgrown my “meet cute” fantasies of having someone notice me at a coffee shop or a grocery store and striking up a conversation with me….and you know the rest. Sometimes you have to be on your own for a while in order to figure out what you really want. I’ve used the past few months to teach myself that I’m okay on my own, and capable of doing so much for myself – and the absence of another person shouldn’t stunt my progress. And apps like Tinder shouldn’t determine your internal and external appeal. When it comes to modern dating culture, I’m going to swipe left.

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