10 Things I Learned from Dating on Tinder.

10. Countless casual dates feel meaningless after a while.

They always say that sex is best with the ‘right person’ rather than all the time with any old person. I used to question what the difference was (in this case, I’m equating casual sex to casual dating). It’s a strain to constantly build your dating life around meeting strangers for the first time. You end up telling the same stories and having the same conversations again and again. You tend to keep it pretty casual. After a while, it feels empty. You feel empty. But….

9. Casual dating is actually a lot of fun, despite its shortcomings.

When people ask me what I think about online dating, I have a pretty strong anti-online dating standpoint. But it’s not necessarily because it’s not enjoyable (and sometimes even a little addictive); it’s because of that eventual frustration and aforementioned emptiness. I think if you’re on a mission to marriage, it will feel discouraging to constantly date online. But if you’re looking to meet people, have something interesting to do on a Friday night, and you don’t mind guys dropping off the face of the planet once in a while (or 90% of the time), it’s actually pretty fun.

8. Casual dating teaches you more about yourself than about other people.

I hear all the time from girls I know that Tinder has taught them that “all men are assholes” and “all guys just want sex.” But what Tinder taught me was, what I wanted and needed to feel secure; what kind of relationship dynamic I was comfortable with; how comfortable I was saying both ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and importantly, to really reflect on what I was doing and what I was looking for by casual dating in the first place.

7. Tinder really is just as much about hooking up as people say it is.

I learned about Tinder by watching a daytime talk show with a ‘lifestyle expert’ touting its good qualities: you don’t have to talk to anyone you’re not matched with, you can meet other people outside your social circle, and you can just quickly meet up for a drink via your mobile device without all the back-and-forth messaging that other sites demand. But all those ‘good’ ‘quick and dirty’ qualities of the app are the same reasons why the app is really just about hooking up. I’d like to say I came to some amazing conclusion about the wonders of Tinder or that I was pleasantly surprised about people’s intentions on the app, but no… I wasn’t. Whether guys were super open about their intentions or not, at the end of the day it was about sex. Anyone who finds anything more than that is an anomaly.

6. I am the kind of person who ‘casually dates’. 

I used to maintain that I was only interested in dating someone when there was potential for a relationship. But then I moved to a new city where I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have any single friends to ‘go out’ with anymore and I realized just how limiting a viewpoint that is, to consider one’s self “above” casual dating. While the act of dating casually gets a bad rap (especially, unfairly, for women) it leads to an understanding of dating and relationships, one’s own self-exploration and a more thorough understanding of human relationships. Plus it makes for some good stories. I don’t know that I ever would have known what I wanted and didn’t want out of life and love had I not become a casual dater.

5. It’s okay to ‘want’ a relationship.

Once again, my perception of “wanting” to be in a relationship changed with this process. I used to look down on people who admitted fully that they were specifically looking for a life partner. The reality is, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a partner in life. Maybe at 18, being on a quest for permanent love is a little soon but in your mid-late twenties, I get it and I understand. People get lonely; people are re-evaluating their life goals; people want children and they want a confidante. I completely understand it in a way I never did before.

4. Everyone ‘first dates’ a little differently.

Some people handle their nerves by name-dropping and bolstering themselves. Some people handle their nerves by drinking a whole lot. And some people are just really great conversationalists that immediately make the person they’re with feel comfortable and excited. What I was grateful for, is to never encounter someone who was too awkward to handle the awkwardness of a first date. On Tinder, anyways.

3. If it doesn’t work… it doesn’t work.

When you online date, sometimes you don’t feel any chemistry with people whatsoever. They may feel that same lack, and they may not. But there’s no point continually seeing people when you feel no spark or fire behind your time spent with them. It ends up just being a bit of a burden. It’s important to remember that you don’t owe anyone anything.

2. The most unlikely people (I mean the most unlikely people you could ever even imagine) could end up being among the best people you’ve ever dated.

I gave someone a chance that was against what could have been against my “better judgment” (I can’t really elaborate on the details here) and I’m so glad I did. I met not just this person, but many people who I feel were unlikely matches for me and very different from me but that I learned so much from about acceptance, second chances and what it means to be a ‘good person’. I’m incredibly lucky and blessed to have met these people and to have learned what I learned from them.

1. NEVER – and I mean NEVER – have dinner on a first date.

Dinner is long. And you’re obligated to stay and eat at that point which is potentially (and in the case I’m thinking of specifically), actually awful. 0 chemistry, but 2+ hours of dating listening to weird and boring stories about someone’s friend who wears a cape around is/was pretty horrendous. Drinks only. At MOST, an appetizer. Lesson learned.

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