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Sex + Relationships

Dating Without the “Spark” in the Age of Dating Apps

Love in the time of social media is difficult. This is an unsurprising statement, yet it’s also one that is difficult for us to make amends with. After all, there are more means to meet new people than there ever were before, thanks to social networks allowing for new interactions and more people to speak to. With the advent of dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, Hinge, and countless others, one would naturally expect finding your soulmate to be easier than ever! So, why isn’t it?

As seemingly obvious as it is, it must be emphasized that dating apps only give you the superficial picture of somebody’s personality. Especially with an app as surface-level as Tinder, you get a few pictures and a half-witty pick-up line at most before deciding whether or not you can see yourself settling down with this stranger for the rest of your life. Of course, this is the mindset of a hopeless romantic; realistically, most of Tinder’s user base (especially the men) are looking for a quick hookup and nothing more. While hooking up is all fine and dandy, this realization is hurtful to that hopeless romantic: especially when the people looking to simply “hook up” aren’t always upfront about their intentions. In fact, you could even end up dating someone who feigns genuine interest in you, but after they take you to bed, you would wake up the next morning and find yourself blocked from all of their socials. Now you’re left heartbroken over somebody who was never really interested in your heart in the first place, which seems like the exact opposite of what you originally wanted.

How do our parents make it look so easy, as if you could simply find your soulmate after a quick stop at the nearest coffee shop? It certainly isn’t like the movies, where your high school crush longingly stares at you from across the classroom. This goes doubly so for LGBTQ+ daters, who have to deal with the additional question of “Is my crush even interested in my gender?” Dating apps seemingly solve this question of reciprocation, but think about it… do they really? Attraction is more than a simple glance at the person; attraction is formed by looking at how they move, observing how they react to certain things, and examining their speaking patterns. Just because you matched with someone on Tinder doesn’t mean that either of you are truly attracted to each other. It just means that both of you have entertained the idea of getting to know each other better, which is a very basic connection if you think about it. It’s the digital equivalent of saying “hi” to that kid you barely know from your freshman year math class when you pass them in the hallway. Sure, there’s some semblance of a connection, but there’s nothing real, at least not until one of you approaches the other with your intentions. This brings me to my next topic: actually talking to your matches!

As someone who has matched with over 500 people on Tinder in the two years I’ve used it, I can confidently say that 95% of those matches developed into quite literally nothing. For context, that is 450 people that have either not responded to my pursuits at all, or responded with a quick “hey hru” text before never talking to me again. That is not a conversation! That’s not even the bare minimum! Obviously, both sides of the conversation need to put a little effort in, but it’s so much harder to invest this effort when all you’re really viewing is words on a screen. When you’re talking with someone in person, you have no choice but to converse with them, and even if one party is not interested, that party has to go through the effort of communicating to the other party their disinterest. This is not the case online! If someone is not interested in you, they will ghost you. The second you don’t grab their attention any longer, they will simply not respond to your message. And who can really blame them? You’re not a person to them, you are just a pretty face and a short bio – hardly something to get all worked up over.

Of course, you know you’re more than that. We’re all more than that. But dating apps reduce us to this, and the only way to lift ourselves beyond this territory is to actually invest in a worthwhile conversation with the other party, and maybe then we’ll get the chance to know the person behind the profile. This is rare, but then again, so is true love. Until you find that conversation, though, these dating apps are banking on you to continue swiping through thousands of profiles, and chasing that dream that feels more and more distant with each passing profile. These dating apps are capitalizing on the collective loneliness of single 20-somethings who have given up on finding their soulmate on the corner of the street, and are instead opting for the easy way out. Finding the love of your life online may happen, and for some, it has happened. However, it is important to come to terms with the fact that these cases are rare, and the system is working against you. Even if it seems hopeless, just remember… your true love could always be right around the corner.

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