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Swipe, Date, Repeat: What I’ve Learned From Dating Apps

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Boston chapter.

So truthfully, I was inspired to write this article based off of Nina Dobrev’s character in the movie, “Love Hard” (even though I started the movie months ago and never finished it). Still, even after watching for about 20 minutes, I came to realize that she and I share the same dilemmas. For those who are unaware, she’s a dating columnist who tells readers about her unfortunate online dating experiences. I figured, I already tell everyone I know about my pathetic dating life, so why not write about it like her? And really, this article could potentially inspire those who feel terrible about their love lives because seriously, it can’t get any worse than me. All jokes aside, this article is really for anyone out there who feels suffocated by the sight of couples that have been popping out of nowhere due to seasons changing, and for those who have been playing Conan Gray’s “People Watching” on loop ever since it came out. Or in simpler words, anyone who is a hopeless romantic who seems to be struggling with their dating lives. I’ve been there and well, I’m still there.

Dating in general is a nightmare, which I think most people could agree on. Especially since dating nowadays mostly consists of swiping right on people you only find mildly attractive on dating apps since the people you actually want would never match with you. And if they do, well, it’s most likely because they’re trying to hook up (this is just me being pessimistic, it may not be the reality for you). And this is not a diss to anyone who partakes in hookup culture. I am only speaking about dating apps as someone who is actively seeking a relationship, so I can’t talk about what it’s like to be looking for something casual. And you may be wondering, why am I even trying to find love on a dating app instead of going for it the “organic” way? Well I’ll tell you, it’s the same reason why people go to places like Star Market for produce instead of getting “organic” produce at WholeFoods. Because it’s easier and gets the job done! Swiping right and sending a message is a lot less anxiety inducing than trying to spark up a conversation with someone you think is cute in class or maybe at your local coffee shop. I don’t really know where people find love these days, so those could be bad examples.

Moving on though, of course, we all know the downsides of dating apps. First we have the shallowness of them, since we’re basing our entire opinions off of someone’s appearance. You could argue that bios say a decent amount about someone’s personality, but most people skip right through those. Then we have the possibility of meeting up with a serial killer or even worse, a manipulative gaslighter, or both. And there are definitely a lot more downsides, but if I wrote about each and every one of them, this would turn into a novel. So, today I will be telling you everything I know when it comes to looking for “the one” in an inorganic, processed way. Take what I say with a grain of salt, though, since I’m right there with you in the single section. I’m just speaking from personal (horrific) experience, and hopefully you’ll learn from my mistakes because god knows I’m still learning.

Now would be the time to actually share some of my dating experiences, but I’m afraid this is not a friendly group chat and there probably will be consequences of me sharing some personal details. Therefore, I will be vulnerable for just one second and give you this. I have gone on about 20+ first dates, but I have only been on about three to four second dates. So you may be wondering, have I learned anything? Based on my ratio, you’d probably say no, but I’m here to defend myself that I actually learned a lot.

First and foremost, you need to have your own standards on the person you’re dating. You might be thinking that this is self explanatory, but it’s pretty easy to forget things when you’re caught up in trying to find someone. Even as someone who could spot a red flag from a mile away (despite my astigmatism), I’ve been prone to ignoring them all in the name of love, or the astigmatism. And spoiler alert, that has only backfired. Obviously we shouldn’t be too hard on others, but if someone is not meeting your needs now, they probably won’t in the future.

Leading into my next point, while you should have high standards on the person you’re dating, you shouldn’t have high expectations on the date itself. Now, you might wonder how the two are both simultaneously valid points. Let me clarify; they’re two sides of the same coin. While it’s essential to have standards for what you want in a partner, it’s equally important not to burden every first date with the expectation that it must lead to a long-term relationship. Dating is meant to be enjoyable, and assuming that every guy you meet will become a significant other drains the fun out of the experience and turns it into an exhausting chore.

Even if you have the most incredible first date with someone, it doesn’t automatically mean you should pursue things further. First dates showcase individuals at their best, but they might not reflect the long-term reality. On the other hand, if the initial date doesn’t meet your expectations, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should dismiss the person outright, unless, of course, there are glaring toxic traits from the start. The key is to take things lightly and enjoy yourself.

And as a hopeless romantic through and through, it pains me to write this, but we all should have seen it coming. The most important thing is to not put all your focus and energy into romantic relationships. You’ve likely heard the cliché advice from those experienced in love—telling you that you’ll find someone someday, urging you to stop actively seeking them. Believe me, I’m tired of it too. It’s hard to admit, but there’s truth in it, to some degree. Of course when someone tells me that, I have the urge to punch them in the face, and you may even have the urge to punch me in the face now. But, decentering romantic love is truly the way to go. Now, this doesn’t guarantee that love will find you when you least expect it. But releasing that stress and fear of being alone is meant to relieve you, not reward you with the person of your dreams knocking on your door. So, love may or may not come when you least expect it, and if it does or doesn’t, at least you’ll be prepared. Take it from me, the girl who has made every creative writing assignment revolve around love. Including this one. Love doesn’t come because you want it or even deserve it. It comes and sometimes it doesn’t.

Tammy Pham

U Mass Boston '24

Tammy Pham is a member of Her Campus UMass Boston Chapter. I write articles for the team. I’m in my fourth year at the University of Massachusetts Boston and I am currently pursuing a double concentration in Finance and Marketing. Outside of the university, I work as a Beauty Advisor at Ulta where I utilize customer services skills in order to satisfy guests’ needs. Additionally, I also work in Task, where I help maintain the integrity of the store. When I have down time, I enjoy spending it with my friends and family by visiting new places to explore. I also enjoy free writing on the side, just to get all my thoughts out. Coincidentally, I like finding new songs to listen to in order to encapsulate the mood while I write. Furthermore, as mentioned, working at Ulta has increased my level of interest in the beauty industry, and I hope to use my degree to further my path along the cosmetics business world.