It was Nora Ephron’s 1998 romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail, that introduced many of us to the concept of online dating and matchmaking. Since then both the phenomenon and the means by which we practice it have gone through many iterations. Some strange (Bristlr: A dating app for men with beards and those who love them), some allegedly benign (Christian Mingle: I assume you can make that leap), and some straight up scandalous in more ways than one (Hello Ashley Madison: Their tagline is “Life is short. Have an affair.” Like…).
Now, in it’s 18th year of existence, online dating has become passé to many. There are thousands of lists that detail which apps are the best or the worst. Everyone who is single is participating in it in some form from online matchmaking services to quick swipe apps to just setting your current social media profile to available. If you are not, you are considered by many as not seriously putting in the work to find a partner… whether you are looking for a partner for tonight or for life.
Nevertheless, there is one thing that I have found strange in my talking with folks from around the world who are all swiping, matching, and connecting to their heart’s content: as much as we all like and/or use these apps and online dating services to find love there is a large number of people who secretly “don’t want this to be their story”. They don’t mind the casual dating experience that Bumble has to offer or the random hookup partner from Hinge but I have heard from a number of friends, both new and old, that they don’t want to meet their “forever partner” online.
Many of my friends would rather meet the person that they end up marrying “the old-fashioned way” – meaning on a night on the town with friends while at an art gallery, sporting event, or happy hour. “I just don’t want to do it,” a recent acquaintance whispered to me and another new friend over happy hour cocktails and appetizers. “Like how embarrassing would be to tell my family, or worse yet my kids, that I met their Dad on Tinder!” I laughed and said I understood. However, when I probed her as to why it would be embarrassing she honestly didn’t have an answer. She just didn’t want to do it.
Usually, in this situation, I counter with the fact that I know at least one couple that got married from Tinder and I know one that is currently engaged after meeting on Hinge. I have a friend that is married and expecting from her match from an online dating site and that NONE of us who stood up next to these people or sat in the crowds at their weddings had anything ill to say about their unions. But no matter how much I protest, or how many articles I send to them that say that online is the best place to meet people now, my friends still hold that they couldn’t do it.
So I posit you now, dear reader, why do you think that is? Why do you think people are so afraid to find actual love online? Do you think that they feel that it makes them seem not as cool or desirable? Do you think they feel like it implies that they have no “game” to be able to pick up a partner in person? Or maybe really, super deep down we are all hopeless romantics hoping and praying for that meet cute love story of old?
If you ask me, I think that it has to be one of the three (In my mind, it’s more than likely number 1 but don’t quote me). In practice? I’m not sure. I do know however, that if you ask me how I feel about the situation I don’t mind either way. I treat dating apps as an extension of reality. Meaning that, I might not get to go out tonight due to work, global lockdown because of a pandemic (lol), a family obligation… but even though I can’t make it to happy hour with my friends I am still able to see three or four guys that I wouldn’t have been able to and make a move to talk to at least one of them. Online apps and dating sites keep me in the game when I’m not able to be there. If I am able to go out with friends I will then put myself in a position to be approached by/or approach at least one or two people all the same. In football we call this the spread offense. We are just trying to score (read: secure) a relationship.
Of course the situations aren’t always perfect. I don’t really like to text people (but I love to write…imagine that, ha). Most of the pictures that men take are not optimal – too close selfies, old grainy college sports photos, strange car pictures with their pets… Why are you holding a baby that is not yours lol? But to me, once I decide what my check list is for a swipe yes or a swipe no, I am in the dating game from the comfort of a second cousin’s baby shower or a airport during a layover. If I happen to meet my husband on Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, or the likes I wouldn’t mind, as long as we are both happy and he is tall (I wear heels y’all. It’s a must.).
So again, what do you all think? Do you date online? Why or why not? If you do, are you opposed to meeting your longterm partner on there and why? Finally, if so, how do you imagine you are going to find a longterm partner in the wild if you are using online dating? Or do you, like me use it as an extension of the dating arena? Let me know below.