As a 20-something year old female, I will be the first to tell you that dating apps are a blessing and a curse. I don’t know for sure if that’s the consensus, but that’s totally how I feel. I’ll start with the pros.
First, it’s an easy way to meet people you might not have met otherwise. That’s the cool part about technology.
Second, it’s an easy way to learn how to “play the field.” This is something that all of my girlfriends told me to do constantly. Spoiler alert: I’m terrible at it. Some people, like me, have a tough time focusing their energy on multiple people at once. It’s confusing and to me feels sort of dirty. But I think that’s dating. And I think I hate it.
On to the cons.
First, it’s lazy. Literally the laziest form of human interaction ever. It simplifies the feelings of attraction. When you see a person you think is attractive in public, you either have to give them some sort of underlying signal and hope it clicks, or you have to confront them and just say hey. There’s a level of rejection that exists within that, and you either have to take the plunge, or move on from the attractive guy sitting at the bar. It’s scary, and the worst part is that the rejection will happen right in front of your face.
On dating apps, it’s a different ball game. You’re swiping for an hour and for every match you don’t get, you get a match. Maybe even more. It’s an instant confidence boost. Some messages might go unanswered. There’s a tinge of that rejection feeling, but barely. You start messaging someone and the conversation doesn’t go as you’d hope. Disappointment. Unmatch.
Then, you find someone you feel a connection with. Conversation flows easily. They seem to be a normal individual. As normal as you, at least, who is dating on an app. This time is the equivalent of when you’d ask someone you’re interested in for their phone number during an in-person interaction. With online dating, this isn’t always how it happens. Messaging is easy enough, and it’s a good way to keep a little bit of distance before the next step of saying “would you want to text instead?” or “do you have a Snapchat?” To think that those are the questions we have to ask each other when trying to date, and that these are considered “steps” in a millennial relationship are reasons I wish I wasn’t in my 20’s in 2017.
So you continue to talk to this person like you would any other person you’d text. Except you don’t know them and haven’t actually met them yet. If you think too hard about it, it’s weird because you’re essentially talking to a stranger. Everything is going great. One of you brings up hanging out, maybe getting a drink in town or seeing the new movie that’s out. Both parties seem down. Timing is vague, but no biggie you’ll figure it out. Right?
A few more days go by. You start texting instead of messaging through the app. You get the add on Snapchat (bingo) and you have a new reason to actually do your makeup for work and look fun. Flirting starts to happen and you start to wonder when you will actually hang out.
There’s weeks of this game, but everything feels positive. It gets to the point where you think you could date. Maybe it would even be exclusive after a few dinners. The connection is just too good. And then…
That’s ghosting. I’ve done it. I’ve had it done to me. It’s a terrible, cruel habit but it’s one that app dating culture has enabled us to do. It’s the lazy, cowardly way of cutting things off with someone you’re just not feeling. We all know. Maybe you built a better connection with someone else you were talking to. You could’ve realized you probably wouldn’t be attracted to some things about the person and it wouldn’t be worth it to hang out. Maybe they said something that rubbed you the wrong way. Maybe they messaged you too often, or not enough. Whatever. There are a million reasons. And the worst part about ghosting–you’ll pretty much never know the reason for sure.
I’ve gotten ghosted twice. I’d be embarrassed to admit that if I didn’t just realize that I’ve probably ghosted people between five and ten times myself. And honestly I don’t really care, you can totally judge me. Even just typing this I’m realizing there are people that I’ve ghosted that I didn’t even realize that I’ve ghosted.
The first time it happened to me, I actually went on a date with a guy and swore we had a great connection. I remember him saying there’d be a next time. But he faded. I think they call that the “slow fade.” And then radio silence.
The second time I talked to this other guy for almost two months. He was dragging his feet about hanging out but “really wanted to” he was “just so busy.” I made excuses for why that must be. He made a pretty good argument so I believed him. We ended up hanging out after talking for a month and a half and our connection seemed great. After that, nothing changed for a few days. He told me he wanted to take me out to a nice dinner “soon.” Over the weekend I was pretty busy and we were talking only sporadically. We had a normal conversation about what we were up to and then he just stopped responding. Completely.
Here’s the kind of person I am. At first, I asked if everything was okay and told him that if something was going on he could talk to me about it (I totally wish I wasn’t this person looking back because he so doesn’t deserve that). Then a few days later I told him that this was weird and that we’ve been talking for two months, could he at least tell me what changed and be honest? Yes, I double texted. Again, judge me. We’ve all been there.
At the end of the day, he was just a random guy that I was talking to for two months. It wasn’t him that bugged me, it was the situation. Feeling like I lost and like dating on an app was some kind of a game that you have to win. It’s so unhealthy to even consider building a relationship with that kind of mindset. It was easy for him to disconnect from me for whatever reason he wanted to because to him I was basically not a real living, breathing person. Or maybe he was just a huge jerk.
At the end of the day, you have to remember that not everyone is on these apps for the same reasons. And there are many reasons. Not all of them are good. Given the amount of success stories I’ve seen out there, I have to believe that there’s a method to this madness. That’s the reason I’ll stay on these godforsaken things.
As for ghosting, it’s a bad habit. But we all do it. Next time you’re annoyed because the hot “professional” baseball player on Bumble unmatched you, think twice about ghosting that nice guy who works in sales.