I was told I was an old soul when I was in middle school. I started using a computer at a pretty young age. In fact, I was only six-years-old when I started using the first computer my family and I had at home. This was young, even for someone who grew up in the Information Age. Still, as I got older and things like AIM and online chatrooms, started to take over over my middle and high school experiences, it all still very unnatural to me. I liked talking to my friends on the phone, and seeing people I knew face-to-face. The excitement lay in the chat rooms—where I would talk to other kids from around the world (supposedly) and the sense of mystery was almost too intense. This same feeling has reappeared appeared whenever I’ve found myself using dating apps.
I am reminded of my old soul status every time I go to a movie theater. I usually try to keep to local, small theaters and until this day, I enjoy the old school cartoons they play beforehand, telling you to hit the refreshment stand. It always felt more personal—despite the plenty of connections I’ve made online (and I am deeply grateful for all of them). But I crave raw, spontaneous interaction—the kind of energy that says, “this was meant to be.”
I started using Tinder in 2013. I was a senior in college, bored with the slim pickings of my alma mater (sorry, Iona). I also wanted to use the dating app, a new revelation in online dating (similar to how I felt when I downloaded AIM in sixth grade), to see how it would impact the way I interacted with men by meeting them online first versus meeting them face-to-face (what I called organic interaction). I roped in friends of mine to observe these differences and conducted a study. Yes, I got credit for this study in my senior seminar.
I realized that, time after time and case after case, a successful relationship could come out of either vehicle—it all depended on the chemistry. Shout out to my best friend who I made do this study and her and her boyfriend who have been together for five years now!
There was, however, moments where it all felt forced—the talking, the meeting, and the repetition of it all. I had my successes and failures on the app. I became more interested in the idea that all these potential people were out there to talk to than actually going out on dates with them. It defeated the purpose of the app all together, and matched the excitement of entering a chat room.
After having a few match fails from Tinder (meaning we match, go out, but nothing substantial comes out of it), then having smaller stints of OkCupid and Bumble in the course of five years (on and off), I finally hit a breaking point after my last Tinder date (hi, I hope you’re reading this).
The date started out simple enough—he was handsome, smart, and the conversation flowed. I found myself losing track of time, and having a genuinely good time. At the end of the night, we set a time and date for the second date. I agreed, but I couldn’t get one thing he said out of my head: “You’re like, super intimidating. I’m almost afraid to touch you,” he told me.
What my date didn’t realize that day (and it took me a day or two to realize it myself) was two things: he was negging me and I was giving up online dating, for good.
Backhanded compliments, ghosting (both before and after meeting), and a genuine lack of connection are why I gave it up. Even those that I had met and felt some kind of initial chemistry with quickly faded away. I was also tired of spending so much time on my phone at the end of a busy day, hoping to find at minimum one person I could hold a conversation with, at minimum. Truthfully, the hoops became too many to jump through: finding someone attractive, matching, talking to them, deciding if you wanted to meet—the same story with different people, all ending in disappointment.
I deleted my dating apps after my last date. I also took into account insight I had received from a previous article I wrote: people you meet face-to-face have a better chance of being a match because you are taking into account body language, conversations, and first impressions.
After a deep drive into it, I deleted them all. I kept Hinge for a bit because it seemed the least insufferable of them all and at least gave some insight into this other person, without being overbearing like OkCupid or too limiting like Tinder.
Seeing someone in movement, in their element, and enjoying their passions is a total different game. Plus, these elements give me that sense of mystery back. I’m able to feel excitement in the air when I see that other person, and all the things that seem to get lost in translation over an app time and time again.