I spent the entire year single. That was by choice as I was taking the time to heal from old traumas and focusing on establishing my life in a new city and in a new career. But I also needed to re-define what I wanted in a relationship. I had to prioritize the qualities I envisioned in a long-term partner that would want to make me want to settle down and commit.
Online dating has become everyone’s go-to when it comes to meeting romantic prospects. We program our entire lives via apps—from health and wellness to money management, so it’d make sense that our dating lives are also manipulated by the results generated by apps. For me, I found that a bit too contrived and problematic.
For one, the bulk of dating apps don’t take into consideration where others are in their lives. When you put together your profile, you’re stating your intentions and your desires. “I’m looking for…” And based on what people aimlessly check off on their profile, you’re matched up. Except most people leave profiles open-ended to cast a wide net. Depending on the app or site you’re using, you’re going to have to do a lot of sifting through before you find any good candidates. In most cases, the best candidates are going to be selected based on criteria that make sense on paper. However, physically or intellectually, the matches wouldn’t be people you’d pick in real life.
Distance and scheduling plays a huge part in the successes or failures of one’s online dating experience as well. Think back to all of the great people you’ve met in the digital world. Haven’t they often lived a few hours or even a flight away? How many times have you met someone at a conference or on a weekend trip thinking they were a breath of fresh air, only to find out it was a high chance you’d never see them again?
Online dating isn’t always that extreme although it operates under a level of immediacy that can feel overwhelming. You want to meet them right away because things feel easy and there’s magic behind the comfort of your phone screen. Then once you’re sitting across from each other, you find out that there’s no magic at all. It’s a letdown. On the other side, you can be pleasantly surprised by someone that didn’t wow you exchanging messages. After a few dates, though, things fizzle out. You’re back to square one without as much as an explanation other than assuming that they’re just busy.
The biggest reason why I think people should give up the vicious cycle of dating online is because there are better, more reliable ways to meet people. Depending on apps and social media can get exhausting. For the most part, you’re living in your head so much. There’s very little open communication because we’ve gotten used to moving on to the next thing. There are tons of options at our disposal. The risk of any type of accountability or investment is low. Online dating has turned people into numbers and it can suck the fun out of the process of dating if you let it.
If a healthy relationship is near the top of your list for 2017, I’d suggest looking into your social circles. Look at the places where you spend the bulk of your time. This year, I met a few great women through friends of mine and at church. My friends were invested in trying to fix me up (sometimes a little too invested) and knew enough about me that they picked good women for me. The people you trust likely are on your side and want to see your happy ending as much as you want to have it.
I’d also advise that you sit down and be honest with yourself about what is it that you want. Oftentimes we say we want a serious relationship when what we really want is companionship. Those two aren’t the same things. You can have one and not the other and that’s OK. But it’s important to not conflate them and to find someone who’s on the same page.
Dating is supposed to be enjoyable. Online dating apps have their place. That shouldn’t be your sole source for romantic quests though. If you’ve had more failures with it, I challenge you to get back to the basics of meeting people the way our parents and grandparents did it. Be bold and actually say hello to real, live people once in awhile.
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