The Night I Gave Online Dating The Middle Finger (And Why I Refuse To Look Back)

(Technically, the middle finger action was aimed at myself, in the mirror one evening, after returning home after one too many "almost" dates with an "almost" man who, like so many, appeared too good to be true from the very beginning.)

Which is the entire problem with modern dating in general.

Years ago, when we Millennials were still in preschool, blissfully unaware of what life would look like past the 6th grade, the internet was barely in existence. Those of dating age went about their search for love the only way they knew how: in person. Striking up conversations at the grocery store, meeting people through friends of friends, being set up on blind dates with very little information whatsoever about their potential match. So exciting! And mysterious!

And by today's standards, possibly a little terrifying.

Alas, it either worked or it didn't - men and women either felt a connection and believed there was reason to continue pursuing one another, or they didn't, and moved on with their lives. Back to the drawing board (or grocery store, or Roladex, or Aunt Ida's friend's son) they went.

The common thread with pre-internet dating? Simplicity. A lack of data. The reliance on communication, conversation, and chemistry to determine if a match existed.

Did it always work? Hell no.

But to a certain degree, the absence of technology probably made it a bit less hellish.

Cut to today, where we singles have no fewer than 3 dating apps on our phones at given time. We swipe right and left while sitting at red lights, scroll through pages of 'about me' profiles in between work meetings, and enlist the assistance of Facebook and Instagram when weighing the pros and cons of a potential date.

The information that rests at our fingertips should, in theory, make this beast we call dating slightly more bearable. But instead, it's done the reverse, and screwed us all into believing that with endless options comes a convenient, revolving door situated right in our hands: when one doesn't work out, rest assured! Another 15-20 prospective suitors will appear on our screens within minutes.

And its making us absolutely miserable.

Miserable because on the surface, we appear to be in charge - and yet, that's the furthest thing from the truth.

The wealth of information and speed in which we receive it allows us to gauge (read: callously judge, sometimes) one's personality well before we meet him or her. Combine that with the millions of eligible singles that stand in waiting (cue the swiping) and our patience for really - truly - getting to know someone rests at an all-time low.

Let's also address the scenario when we do actually stumble across a gold star. Yet again, we feel as though we are in control. We've thoroughly vetted this individual prior to date #1 (does he really work at Goldman Sachs like Tinder claims? LinkedIn to the rescue!) and after this research, feel we have a firm grasp on what we are getting into. All of this data rests smugly inside our brains as we sit across them during dinner, as a sense of satisfaction washes over us that we have finally "found a good one".

We've reminded ourselves, prior to walking into the restaurant, how many things we have in common with this person. The reading and re-reading of their profile not only helps paint a picture of who they are, but also gives us the ability to extrapolate and perhaps feel as though we know them better than we truly do.

Of course, as we well know, the first several months of dating don't provide the most accurate picture of one's personality and character.

After the honeymoon period of dating ends and we begin to realize who actually lives behind the mask of perfection, we feel especially slighted. But I felt like I really knew him! is a phrase uttered way too often amongst my group of girlfriends.

And that's the thing: we really aren't in a better place today than our parents were 30 years ago. We think that the convenience and abundance of information should result in an easier path to finding Prince Charming or Cinderella, but as we know all too well, it's quite the opposite.

Which brings me back to the middle finger incident several months ago.

The dating war is not one that I plan on bowing out of entirely, but if I've learned anything from 2 years as a single woman, it's that a reliance on technology - whether it be on a swipe-happy app or using the internet to paint a picture of someone I barely know - is dangerous.

Information is helpful to a point, but at the end of the day, it doesn't offer the entire picture.

Like how someone reacts after a hard day at work.

Their ability (inability?) to handle a family crisis.

How they communicate when there's a disagreement.

All of that fun down-the-road stuff comes from truly knowing someone deep down after spending a lengthy period of time witnessing one another within various environments and moods. There's not a fast-forward button to get to a person's core, but damn if technology hasn't given us that false sense of hope that we can skip some of the time consuming process and jump ahead.

And from here on out, I'll choose to fall in love free of swiping, making blanket assumptions about a dating profile, and jumping to conclusions based on snippets of information found online.

You know.

The old fashioned way.