Like basically every person alive right now, I tried online dating. I figured if I wasn't on there, I was missing out, missing an opportunity and missing finding my person.
I tried everything from tindr, to Jswipe, to grindr, to every other word that is missing an "e" in it.
I made lots of matches, talked to lots of "interesting" men and even went on a fair number of first dates.
However, after partaking in my own dating experiment, during which I went on one date every night for a week, and two dates on Friday, I finally reached my ultimate conclusion.
Online dating just isn't for me.
I want to preface that for everything I say, I know there are a ton of people who will disagree, and have the relationships to prove it, but as I ventured into and out of the virtual dating sphere I found out a lot about myself. Additionally, I know my experiment might sound extreme, but I needed something extreme to happen for me to really give it up once and for all.
This is what I found out:
1. I Was Bored
If you've ever been on any of these apps, gay or straight, you know that most of your hunting, swiping and searching is done when you are bored. If you live in a cosmopolitan like myself then chances are you aren't necessarily bored a lot because you have work, friends, fitness and a ton of other things constantly at your disposal, but boredom somehow creeps up on you. All of a sudden you're bored at work, bored at home, bored with your friends, bored at the gym. I think you catch my drift.
Life just isn't as exciting as you want it to be, and the thought that maybe just around the next swipe is the person you've been searching for all along is exciting.
However, the problem arises when you finally do get excited, but continue to keep swiping because why not?
2. No One Was Ever Who I Thought They Were
As you make matches, swipe past people and possibly converse you start to build an idea of who the person is on the other side of the phone. You create an ideal, and all of a sudden every little nuance becomes a bigger complexity to who that person is, and how they operate.
You can't help, but think, "Damn, where have you been all my life?"
And then bam.
Mister Amazing loses his luster. He either starts creeping real hard, says something that throws everything off, disappears or just never decides to meet up.
If by some crazy force of nature you guys do set a date and meet, chances are he is not who he claimed to be, or who you built him up to be.
His confident demeanor is replaced with one that is far less interesting, and not having the phone as an easy buffer shows you a much different person than the one you thought you had been chatting with.
This is why after 6 first dates in 5 days, I not once found myself wanting a second date.
3. I Am Pickier Online Than In Real Life
Having someone be presented essentially as a two-dimensional option, rather than a real life opportunity makes them feel much more disposable. I know personally, I looked at everything: from what you said on your profile, to how you said it, to what pictures you picked to best represent you with not just a little bit of judgment, but a lot.
There was no energy, no butterflies, no eyes from across the room to say, "Hey, wait there's something special about this one, and we can't put our fingers on it."
It was all brain, and no heart in who I decided to virtually flirt with. You literally became a resume that I could toss into the trash pile without any real thought, or feeling, which isn't how finding our potential partner should work.
4. I Became Way More Shallow
Sure, whether it's real life or virtual reality, the first thing you notice is how someone looks, but in a real life, you quickly see how someone acts, moves, sounds, etc.
These other important attributes are what creates someone individuality, and takes them from being just anyone to uniquely them.
If I didn't like what I saw, I was quick to swipe left. No thought other than, nope, not what I think I like. Hair, eyes, skin color, height, weight all became your stats in a world where I had never used statistics to make my choice of who I might be interested in.
Yes, all those things did and do continue to play a part of who I am interested in, but online they became all I saw, and I left little room to be more open-minded than had I been meeting these gentlemen in person.
Sometimes you just don't know you're best angles, and sometimes you do, which is why I always say buyer beware when it comes to what you think you're getting online.
5. I Don't Like Games
And that's exactly what all these things are, games.
While none of these apps call themselves games, it doesn't take much effort to realize that that is exactly what they are. Video games, if you will, where you become the player, and everyone else is the game.
There are rules, directions and even moments asking if you'd like to chat, or "keep playing."
They say don't hate the player, hate the game, and that is exactly what ended up happening for me. I hated the game and playing only made me like myself less and less.
6. I Wasn't Honoring My Truth
Going off the idea that these things are a game with rules, I quickly found myself changing who I was to best "win" at the game.
I was holding myself back, I was playing up certain parts of myself, and playing down other characteristics, all so I could be more "desirable."
I became who I thought I was supposed to be, not who I was. I acted more way casual, and less emotional than I really am. I put only the best pictures of myself out there, but not what I look like when I wake up in the morning.
I filtered myself in basically every way, and took what makes me uniquely special out of the equation, so I could be more "marketable." That isn't sexy, romantic or interesting. It's dishonest, dull and way too technical for something that shouldn't be so systematic.
7. I Wasn't Happy
While I didn't realize this till months later, I was simply unhappy with my life. I was using the idea of dating as an escape from my own life because well, it's an easy distraction, and even easier the more venues, or apps, you have to keep the hunt alive.
I don't think this is necessarily true for everyone facilitating these tools, but I do think it's way more common than many people realize.
It's another numbing device in the avoidance of ourselves. Focusing your attention on others as a way to not look in the mirror, and find what is truly wrong, hurting or uncomfortable at this moment in our own lives.
It's really easy to think that when you find someone a lot of your issues will just subside or disappear, but the truth is until you start to work on you, you'll never be happy, coupled up or single.
One of the hardest things to do is look in the mirror and be honest with yourself because there usually is a lot of sadness, confusion and disappointment. However, when you finally admit this to yourself, you take the first step to changing all of that.
8. It Made Me Crazy
Thinking about who I could meet, having numerous conversations with multiple people and trying to keep up with all of it was exhausting.
Call me old-fahsioned, but I think there is something beyond romantic about meeting someone, one person, and courting each other. Finding out about each other, focusing on just him and seeing where it could go.
Having Larry, Moe and Curly in the wings just kept me unnecessarily anxious, unfocused and a part of the three stooges.
Call me crazy because I for thinking I wanted to, or could juggle that many men at one time.
9. I Wanted A Relationship/Boyfriend
I know many people will disagree with me when discussing this topic, but hear me out.
As I chatted, met and repeated each of these steps with guy after guy, and there even was one named, Guy, I found myself constantly sitting across the table from someone, who wasn't on my page.
Maybe it was the guys I was swiping right to, the app I was choosing to facilitate or any other number of reasons, but it seemed like most of these men didn't actually want a relationship.
They wanted something, but not a relationship.
They wanted validation. They wanted attention. They wanted someone to have dinner, a conversation or sex with, but not actually a relationship.
Essentially, they wanted to win the game, by winning me over, and that was that.
Winning meant different things to different people, but it never felt like there was two winners at the end of it all, and in my opinion, there is no point in taking part in anything where you don't have two winners.
I know that life won't always make this the outcome, and that's ok, but to go into anything with only your wants, needs and desires in mind, sets you and your potential partner up for a lose/lose situation.
I truly believe it's either two winners, or two losers and the later played out far too frequently in this unwinnable game.
10. It Just Isn't For Me
In the end we all have the right to do, act and say as we please, but as I had swam through the never ending pool of virtual daters, I found myself tired, numb and even more bored than when I had started.
I didn't like the shallow conversations I was having to have over and over again. I didn't like the lack of emotion that was fostered through staring at my screen for hours, and I didn't like that I felt bad day after day about not finding what I had been searching for.
After being off all dating apps for about a year, I can honestly say I am more at peace with my life, my love life and myself. I have met some great guys in real life, "organically," if you will, who have showed me that there are some great ones still out there, and you don't need to be staring at your screen to find them.
Frankly, you need to be doing the opposite. Look up, look around you, look all over. There are great, funny, interesting individuals all over the place: at work, on the subway, in the grocery store, on the street. The key is to just get over yourself, and say hi.
Yes, you might get rejected, but that's ok!
We let so many people walk right past us, sit down next to us, and stare at us, but never take a leap of faith and say hi because we don't have a buffer. Forget about the buffer, forget about your pride, forget about everything because when you see someone in real life, and they give you butterflies, you need to honor that feeling and fly with them.
Dating isn't a game, there shouldn't be rules, and the longer you stay a player the longer you just get stuck playing a video game.
I'm not saying quit everything all at once, but I am saying that if the thought of doing that scares you, you're probably addicted and actually do need one big break from all of them.
Enjoy the process, enjoy your time and most importantly enjoy yourself because until you do, no one else is going to enjoy you either.
Finding inner peace shows, and will create peace in all other aspects of your life. Whether it's dating, relationships or work confidence is gold.
Good luck, and happy dating.