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Sex + Relationships

Online Dating Stories From a 21 Year Old Romantic

I’m a romantic in every sense of the word. It’s both a blessing and a curse, and always has been. My family can attest, I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. 

Whether it’s through books, movies, TV shows, or plays, I love finding, watching, and embracing love. As a self-professed romantic comedy queen, I’ve seen it all. Literally. 10 Things I Hate About You, The Princess Bride, Dirty Dancing, and Pride and Prejudice (2005) are my regular go-to’s that I can quote religiously. 

In terms of books, there’s a quote from the iconic Donna Meagle from Parks and Recreation that I feel completely captures my life’s philosophy, “Oh, I love any book about vampires, werewolves, monsters, zombies, sorcerers, beasties or time-traveling romances. And if I had an hour alone with Robert Pattinson, he would forget all about Skinnylegs McGee. I’ll tell you that much.” I’m 100% with Donna on this one, especially about getting Robert Pattinson all to myself (the new photos of him as Batman somehow made him even hotter). 

And because I can’t get enough of fictional love, I’ve also turned to reality TV to get my fix. 90 Day Fiancé, TLC’s Four Weddings, you name it, I’ve watched it. My roommate and I binged Love Is Blind, and I was cheering for Lauren and Cameron the whole time (I have yet to get to season 2, don’t judge). I’ll admit that in the past, I’ve watched so much of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise that it’s embarrassing. 

I love living vicariously through stories, and will probably do so till the day I die, but I’m not so great at actually pursuing it myself. In high school, I was too concerned with academics and being the neurotic overachiever I am to pay any attention to guys. That’s why at 18, the summer before heading into my freshman year of college, I finally decided to try my luck with dating apps and change my fate once and for all. 

Prior to creating my Bumble account, I was always kind of scared of dating apps because of the weirdos that could be out there, but I decided to give it a shot once a friend convinced me that meeting someone organically isn’t that common anymore. Romantic comedies make us believe that meet-cutes where you bump into someone on the sidewalk or in a coffee shop still occur daily, but in my experience, they’re not that common anymore. What is considered the “traditional” or “organic” way of dating is slowly being phased out by online dating. Despite having more experience with online dating, over time I’ve found that I prefer the more traditional form of dating. 

I didn’t have many too many preconceived notions about dating apps at 18, but I also was a bit apprehensive nonetheless. At 21, I’ve now tried Hinge, Bumble, and Tinder, and let me tell you, I have some tales to tell. My experiences have ranged from good to bad, hilarious to terrifying, and wonderful to absolutely revolting. Overall, I can say they’ve been far from boring. I’ve met some really interesting people from dating apps and all in all, so far I have no regrets. Also, I’ve been fortunate enough to use dating apps in various countries around the globe (but have spent most of my time on them in the U.S.) and have gotten to know people from cultures that differ vastly from my own. I’ve also talked to a range of men, from 21 to 30 (crazy I know but I’ve always been told to date older so I thought why not be open minded). 

From dating apps, I’ve had a guy try to take me to an abandoned town two hours away with no cell service (yes that one is horrifyingly and tragically true), a guy once tried to break into the National Cathedral after our dinner date, and I had a guy tell me extensively about his earwax problems two minutes after meeting. It’s safe to say I’ve met some strange people, but have also had some good experiences. 

Some recurring trends (at least in the U.S.) on dating apps that I’ve noticed include the lovely fish pictures that are featured on every man’s profile (someone please explain to me what that’s about), pictures with other women (as if to say “I promise women love me”), pictures of buff men reading (as if to say “I’m buff, but I read”), and pictures with their mothers (Freud would have a field day with this one). 

On Hinge, the two prompt responses that I see all the time are “I’m overly competitive about: everything,” and “what I order for the table: shots.” Most guys seem to be looking for a gym bro or smoke buddy (because apparently every day is 4/20), and more often than not, they’re looking for a random hook up. The prominent theme (that most men I’ve seen or talked to support) on dating apps appears to be a no-strings, hassle-free relationship. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not what I want. 

All in all, as a romantic, I’ll be honest- I don’t have much faith in dating apps after being on them for so long. They’re fun and entertaining (and sometimes addicting) sure, but I don’t know if I’ll find what I’m looking for on them. 

Whenever I hear of people ending up in long-term relationships or getting engaged after meeting on Tinder, I won’t lie, I’m shocked. However, that possibility seems to be out there (even though it seems like it’s as likely as finding a needle in a haystack). So, while dating apps aren’t bad, I still prefer real life to talking through a screen. Nevertheless, I would recommend dating apps to anyone, because you never know what you might find, or more importantly, who you might meet. 

All I know is, if I end up miraculously meeting the love of my life on a dating app, I know I’ll say we met in a coffee shop (because there’s no way I’m showing my parents my Hinge profile). I know I’m not giving up on them yet, and you shouldn’t either, because who knows what the universe has in store.

I am a student at NYU Gallatin's School of Individualized Study concentrating in theatre, creative writing, and women's studies. I love performing, playing guitar, writing, and advocating for women's rights in my spare time! I love NYU and working with other women to change the world for the better. In addition to writing for Her Campus, I also write articles on my personal website mayamehrara.com.
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