When corona sent us all home from school, I spent my first night back at my best friend’s house, where the topic of dating apps came up. Along with one of my other close friends, she herself had been on dating apps while at university. As a joke, I decided to join the club and download tinder as well. I didn’t really know what to expect, nor what I was looking for, but my love life (more like lack of) was looking pretty dull. If anything, I figured I’d at least meet new people and gain social skills out of it.
I will admit, I was pretty late to the whole dating thing, seeing as I had my first kiss my junior year of high school, then started my first somewhat serious relationship senior year. Then again, I don’t really think there’s a set “right age” that someone should be dating, it’s just whenever it feels right I guess. Nonetheless, I had no real experience with casual dating or meeting complete strangers, seeing as all the guys I had “things” with were people I met from school or work. I can’t say I’ve ever had the best luck nor the best taste in men really…. my first kiss was with a guy who ended up being a drug dealer. Yikes.
Dating apps and the idea of casual dating was never something I thought I would be participating in, but I think those are things that have become a little more common in our generation. What was once a platform probably designed for older adults to actually find a genuine connection, has now turned into an app for people looking for hookups or a sort of casual relationship. As I said, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, but was also pretty open to anything. I was very bored during quarantine with absolutely no excitement in the romance area of my life. So, I approached tinder with a fairly open mind.
I realized that the city I’m from was much bigger than I thought, as there were tons of people on the app who within 15 miles of me. I talked to new people, actually met up with some, and went on numerous first dates that went nowhere. But through it all, I will say I have learned quite a bit about relationships, myself, and people.
While being on dating apps, it helped me realize what I wanted out of a relationship or a romantic partner, but also what I didn’t want. I learned how important it is to me to find someone who valued hard work, had aspirations, and just in general, was not an a**hole. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find anyone who has all three. I think the biggest lesson I learned from dating apps was this: not everyone is supposed to be in your life for a long time. Some romantic relationships aren’t meant to be serious long-term ones and are really just supposed to be a learning experience.
I was always pretty self-conscious and absolutely hated my body at times, but meeting new people and putting myself in romantic situations made me more comfortable in my own skin. I learned to love my body a little bit more (keyword on little, that is still a work in progress). In the past, I have also struggled with my own sense of self, but meeting new people helped me establish who I am as a person. I learned that I can have casual relationships with people despite initially believing I got attached too quickly to others. I worked on skills I learned in therapy regarding healthy and open communication, which meeting new people on dating apps helped develop better.
By going out with total strangers at times, I was exposed to people from outside a city I lived in for my entire life. Suddenly, Washington didn’t seem as small as I thought it was. I met people who had also lived here there forever, others that were here for only a short amount of time, and some who had just moved here or were stuck because of the pandemic. As you can see, I met people with all sorts of different backgrounds and stories. I have never really traveled much, so this was the closest experience I got to meeting all sorts of different people, and it was honestly very fun. Getting to know others with completely different backgrounds and stories from mine was a cool experience. I believe that it will help me build better relationships, whether it be platonic or romantic, in the future.
While I know casual dating in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t the smartest idea, paired with living on my own for the first time in my life, it led to a lot of growth as a person. I gained new memories, funny stories, and more experience about people and the “real world” outside of what I had originally known. While I’m not on any dating apps now, I think they were a cool experiment to learn from.
So if you are feeling any slight shame about downloading Tinder, honestly just ignore it. You never know what experience you are going to gain out of it.