– by Regina Hopkins, Introvert Unbound
How long have you been on Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Match, eHarmony, POF, Coffee Meets Bagel, Happn, Christian Singles, MeetMindful or Grindr? If you have used any of these for any length of time, your answer would probably be, “Way too long!” Being on these apps produces the illusion that there is an endless stream of new faces and bodies and the person on your screen is as quickly replaceable as the changing the song on your car radio. “Just swipe left if you don’t like them,” boast these apps.
Many introverts have an issue with these dating apps because introverts tend to value deep and meaningful human connections and dislike shallow and surface level interactions. However, these apps can be helpful, and as somebody who’s used them at various points, I can’t say they are all bad. But, they are a double-edged sword, to put it kindly.
With the sometimes limited focus on the person behind the face/body, it seems that dating apps promote an environment of expendability. And for introverts who crave deep meaning and connections when they do choose to expend their usually more limited social energy reserves, I can see why so many introverts in particular find dating apps to be disheartening at best and resentment/contempt-prompting at their worst.
After about the thousandth swipe left I’m left wondering, why does this all feel so hopeless, so pointless? Is there anybody out there for me? The truth is there were probably at least a handful of potential meaningful connections in the 1,000 or so people you did swipe left on. And if you had met them in person, the story may be far different. There’s something about the convenience, “doing-ness” and satisfaction of swiping your finger on a smooth screen that just kind of makes it, well, addicting. In our society, and with the advent of dating apps we are constantly reminded that “people are expendable and replaceable,” as easily replaceable as the swipe of your finger. And that is an idea that just doesn’t sit well with many introverts or others who have a desire for connectedness far beyond just surface level.
Even with their dark side, dating apps do have a place in the dating world in terms of functionality and usefulness. And that combined with a strong dose of good luck I would not say they need to be written off completely. If it’s been awhile since you’ve had some attention from the other sex and your access to single women (or men) is low, then dating apps make sense. But, there’s a lot of “sorting through” to find the people you can truly connect with on a deep and meaningful level (if that’s what you want, and if you just want a “casual encounter,” there is of course that possibility too).
With that said, here are five tips I’ve come up with to help you survive the dating app conundrum.
1. Even when you put your best foot forward and take (possibly) professional photographs and have a well-written description of yourself, you need to keep reality in check and remember this statistic, “According to a 2016 study of an unnamed dating app, 49 percent of people who message a match never receive a response. That’s in cases where someone messages at all.” (Beck, 2016). So as disheartening as that may seem, on the flip side it can be empowering to know that there’s a whole lot of ignoring and distracted people on these sites, so no, “it’s not you.”
2. Know that you are definitely not alone in the frustrated-by-dating-apps-boat. In an article by Julie Beck in The Atlantic entitled, “The Rise of Dating-App Fatigue” one dater commented, “I have a boyfriend right now whom I met on Tinder,” says Frannie Steinlage, a 34-year-old straight woman who is a health-care consultant in Denver. But “it really is sifting through a lot of crap to be able to find somebody.”
3. Remember that using these dating apps requires effort, attention, perseverance and patience. Keep it as one of the options in your toolbox, but don’t put all your eggs into this one basket. As they say when you are investing in the stock market, diversify. Use a combination of online, in-person and don’t downplay the power of good old fashioned networking through friends or family.
4. Don’t blame the dating apps. Dating and finding that “perfect mate” has always been a challenge since the dawn of time and humans started walking homo-erectus style. It isn’t all the apps’ fault. After all, finding that person is hard, and for most people has always been hard (minus the damn lucky few who married their high-school sweetheart and are still together 50 years later)!
5. Long term research on relationships has found that, “people who you aren’t necessarily attracted to at first sight, can become attractive to you over time, as you get to know them better. Evaluating someone’s fitness as a partner within the span of a single date—or a single swipe—eliminates this possibility.” Luckily for introverts, however, we are more likely to try to look beyond the surface and put more of our limited energy into connections where there is a stronger possibility for a genuine connection.
On dating apps there is an illusion of plenty. Even if you don’t regularly use the apps, just knowing that they exist give you a typically false sense that there would be a 100 women (or men) lined up to meet you any time you hop on the app. Okay, well let’s be realistic here, maybe more like 10 people. But, for most regular Joes and Janes out there, that myth doesn’t hold up to reality. So keep your perspective in check while regularly doing reality checks with yourself, realize you definitely aren’t in the “hard” dating boat alone, keep at it, don’t put all your eggs in that one basket, keep your chin up, and good luck! The path is long, the forest is thick, but in the end when you find that one person, it will have all been worth it.
And one last thing: remember that whatever happens (or doesn’t happen) on those dating apps, never determines your worth as a person. It can be easy to attach meaning to all the seeming “rejection” you face on dating apps, but it’s never about your value as a person. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that and attach more meaning than what is warranted to the dating apps and think that you’re “not good enough” because a certain person or people didn’t “like” you. I think we need remind ourselves, regularly (at least weekly) that our value is never attached to someone or something else. You had value, well before dating apps were ever invented, and have just as much value now, regardless of what fluctuations are happening on the dating apps.
References: Beck, Julie. (2016). The Atlantic. “The Rise of Dating-App Fatigue.” Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/10/the-unbearable-exhaustion-of-dating-apps/505184/