My Adventures in Online Dating, Part 2: If You’re a Christian, Swipe Right

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Give me a little time and, take all my money, take all my money

You’ll come around and someday, I’ll be the one you love.

– “Broke,” Bear Attack

Hey!

According to most men on dating apps, that’s not how you should begin a conversation with them. But I think I can say hey to all y’all, instead of thinking of a witty pickup line. (I mean, what do they want other than ‘hey’? A deep question about systematic theology? Very confused.)

But I’ll get to “what men want” in another post. What do Christians want?

In other words – should Christians use dating apps?

Well, my obvious answer is probably “yes,” since I’m currently using one myself. BUT like most topics, different people have different opinions about it.

The Bible isn’t cut-and-dry about dating apps…obviously. We all know Hosea didn’t have an awful marriage because he accidentally swiped right. Ruth didn’t get Boaz’s attention with…well…~pics.~

And then there’s Song of Songs.

BUT ANYWAY

Dating is different now than it was in Biblical contexts. It’s more different than it ever has been before. Until the later part of the 19th Century, most women were still given away by their fathers and/or the patriarch of their family – sometimes to someone they’d never met. ~Love~ really didn’t come into play all that much. It was more mutuality or convenience that drove most courtships and marriages. (Not always…I mean, we’ve all read Jane Austen. I hope.)

What I’m trying to say is, the dating game has changed. But the name of the game is the same. (Lame.)

So has Christian dating. There was that whole courtship phase we all collectively went through in the 90s, until that was overruled by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Courtship is a bit stressful, with a little bit too much commitment far too soon. (It was so bad that the guy who wrote the book apologized.) And we have our ideal, “celebrity” Christian couples, like the Duggars or the Robertsons, who we then found out each have their own fair share of problems just like the rest of us.

So now what? Now what phase are we in? If we’re not being given away, or being courted, what are we doing?

Are we being swiped? 

Well, in a word, yes.

The game has changed, and I don’t think we need to sit idly by and let it change without us. Of course there’s dangers to online dating, but there’s dangers to live dating too. And I’m not even saying you have to limit yourself to an exclusively Christian dating website. Put yourself out there.

So that’s kind of my answer. Yes. Of course a Christian can date online. But, like all aspects of living in a fallen world…you have to be careful.

Actually, I would encourage Christians to date online. The great thing about dating online is you’re spreading your net further than if you simply mingled among your work, school, or church friends. (Because to be honest, sometimes the pickings are slim. Especially at church. Everyone’s already married. Or maybe you go to an old person church.)

So yeah, definitely set up an account on a site you deem appropriate and go on dates.

But here’s the “no-duh:” only if you actually want to. 

If your female relatives keep asking you why you’re still single, that’s not a good enough reason. If your guy friends are telling you about their amazing wives, that’s not a good enough reason. If you’re just plain lonely and want someone around, that’s not a good enough reason.

The church definitely puts undue pressure on single Christians to get married. (You can’t graduate from your 20-something small group into a couples group until you do.) So if you’re seeking a partner just because you feel like you have to (or your grandma keeps asking) don’t do it. That goes for both offline and online dating. Just don’t do it. Wait til you are ready.

And only you can know if you’re ready.

That took a much more serious tone than I meant it to. But the song remains the same: I invite my young, single Christian friends to check out the online dating scene. I’ve had more interesting conversations on these dates than I normally have. And I’ve met other Christians who have different opinions than me (gasp.) So even if you don’t find your soulmate, you’ll probably meet some pretty darn cool people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise.

One last thing before I let you go. When entering the dating scene, whether it’s for the first time or after your last-breakup, remember this (another no-duh clincher:) If you like someone, don’t change your convictions for them. This can come into play especially in online dating. You see a cute guy’s profile and see what he’s interested in, and you might be tempted to, well, change. Maybe he smokes marijuana, and you’re not comfortable with that. Maybe he doesn’t mind sex before marriage. Maybe he has vastly different political opinions – or even some opinions about the Bible that you disagree with. Even if he (or she) is a Christian, that does not give you a free pass to change who you are in order for them to like you “more.” Seriously. It’s super easy to do online. I’ve definitely done it a few times.

So, my Christian brothers and sisters, go on dates. Talk to people. Swipe left. Swipe right. Remember what you believe and why you believe it. If it doesn’t work out, it’s okay. God has something better in mind for you.

Now you kiddos go have fun.

a. w.

 

 

My Adventures in Online Dating, Part 1: Initiation

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So here’s a surprise: I’m single. Very single. I kinda write about it a lot. But the good thing is, I’ve sort of come to terms with my singleness in the past year-ish. After only going on a handful of dates in my lifetime and having had a few ~serious~ crushes, I’m pretty comfortable with being a smart, sassy, single girl.

I’m at the point where I don’t need a boyfriend, but I’d like a boyfriend.

Or, at least, I’d like to meet people. Talk. Get to know people. Go out. Have a good time.

If you’ve met me, you know that I’m abismal at meeting new people. And that’s not a stretch. That’s the truth. My go-to method of flirting is staring at someone attractive across the room until ~maybe~ they notice me (this has only worked once.) If I actually get the guts to talk to someone, my conversation is either bland and uninteresting or WOAH CALM DOWN AUDREY DON’T HIT THEM WITH ALL YOUR WEIRD AT ONCE.

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m my own worst critic. Which is why I’m bad at meeting people.

A few months ago after some emotional setbacks, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was going to dive into the world of online dating.

That phrase has a lot of weight behind it – and a lot of stigma. Swiping left and right and pictures of things you’d rather not see. And Tinder. Lots of Tinder. (I didn’t use Tinder but we’ll get to that later.)

“Audrey, you must be super ~desperate~ if you’ve turned to online dating,” you might say.

And you’re probably right. But it’s mostly because I’m so awful at freaking meeting people. A lot of people have told me it’s hard to meet people after college. Well I’m almost done with college, and even in college I haven’t had much luck either. So…online dating.

I actually have been staunchly against the idea for awhile. Why would I meet someone online when I’m CERTAIN that God is gonna whisk a dude my way in the most romantic way possible?

Concept: Garden party. I’m relaxing under a tree, wearing a breezy dress that perfectly matches my skin tone, sipping rosé. Sara Bareilles is probably playing in the background. I turn to the stairs leading up to the patio and there he is – MY DREAM MAN. He floats over to my shady perch and joins me. His shirt is probably a little bit unbuttoned and he might look like Colin Firth. The rest is history.

Ha. Ha. Ha. (I’m not gonna pretend I haven’t fantasized it happening that way.)

But the thing is, I can’t just sit around and wait for something to happen to me. That’s not how things happen. It’s a little give and a little take, if ya know what I mean. (I don’t even know what I mean at this point.)

But then I listened to this great podcast where a woman was talking about how millennials date, and the way she talked about dating sites made it seem a bit more legit than I’ve heard them talked about before. (One of my friends met his (ex)-girlfriend on Tinder and told everyone they met at Chipotle. Like I said…stigma.)

So I decided to embark on a quest. I was going to find love via the Internet. That sounds like a horrible tagline for a movie.

But guess what? You’re about to get a free ticket.

So the two dating apps I decided to use, in chronological order, were the following:

Coffee Meets Bagel: This is a free phone app (I’m not paying for a subscription…I’m not that desperate) that matches you based on mutual liking, which I found out is pretty typical for dating apps. You put up some pictures, write some stuff about yourself, and you’re off. Then you head over to “Discover” to look at potential match profiles (a weird caveat is their names aren’t given until you’re matched…so I can’t Facebook stalk them at all and that’s frustrating.)

  • Pros: It’s free; it doesn’t overwhelm you with choices; it allows you to filter through categories like religious affiliation, age, height (yeah that’s a serious subject), and distance; ladies get the final choice on whether or not you match
  • Cons: If you want a subscription it’s 34 FRICKIN DOLLARS A MONTH (money can’t buy me love…but a free app can?) and there are lots of features that require a subscription. You also have a certain number of points (called “beans,” like coffee beans, hahahaha) that you can spend on liking profiles. They’re pretty easy to earn, but if you want more, you have to PAY MORE FRICKIN MONEY. The Beatles were right. Also, I’ve had instances of 30- and 40- year olds liking my profile, and that weirded me out a little bit. This cradle is not getting robbed.
  • Result: I’ve gone on one date as a result of Coffee Meets Bagel. We found out that we were waaaaay too different, so no second date. As of a week ago, I’ve deleted the app off my phone. I’d rather focus my energy on one app.

Bumble: Bumble is popular because the lady initiates contact first (which can be stressful – will explain later) after the match is made – or after you both “swipe right” on each other’s profiles. Then you have 24 hours to initiate contact, but your chat never expires, which is kinda nice. It’s like a safe Tinder. Safe being a relative term. Bumble has also branched out to helping people find friends or simply helping them network. They recently opened up an IRL place for dates to meet.  I was introduced to this app after seeing countless ads for it on Instagram (I’m the gullible demographic they’re looking for). So I decided to give it a shot.

  • Pros: You have a lot of time to chat with each other (which I like, because I need a while to get to know someone before outright asking em out); there’s a “report” feature in case you find a shady character; you can make a fun lil bio for yourself (highly encouraged – I’ll talk about that later); you can filter who you see age and location wise.
  • Cons: It can be a bit overwhelming, almost like online shopping, so it’s probably good to use in moderation. You’ll run into a lot more shady characters here than on CMB. Sometimes people don’t utilize the bio portion, so you have ~no idea~ who they are. And if you’re like me, going from zero prospects to several prospects is a bit harrowing.

Not to mention. I’m bad at starting conversations on the Internet. Case in point:

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This was an actual message I sent to an actual person I was matched with. He never responded, and less than 24 hours later, his account was mysteriously deleted.

I really know how to reel em in.

On the other hand, as a result of being on Bumble, I’ve been on two dates with two different people, and one of them have merited a second get-together.

This post has gotten a bit long-winded, so I can’t talk about everything I’ve learned so far. But I can tell you that this will become a ~blog series~ (I’m so professional) including topics like:

  • Can Christians date online?
  • What Men Shouldn’t Do on Dating Apps (from a Female Perspective…you could call it womansplaining if you’d prefer)
  • General Advice on Online Dating: An Introvert’s Perspective
  • How to Talk to Strangers
  • Smooth-as-Heck Pickup Lines

One of those will NOT be a blog post. Guess which one. (Hint: It’s the last one.)

So, until next time, may all your swipes be right and all your chats be longer than 24 hours. If that wasn’t the most millennial signoff ever, I don’t know what is. Stay tuned, friends. It only gets better from here.

a. w.

the Hope that You Have.

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“Back when the Bible was written, then edited, then rewritten, then rewritten, then re-edited, then translated from dead languages, then re-translated, then edited, then rewritten, then given to kings for them to take their favorite parts, then rewritten, then re-rewritten, then translated again, then given to the pope for him to approve, then rewritten, then edited again, the re-re-re-re-rewritten again…all based on stories that were told orally 30 to 90 years AFTER they happened.. to people who didn’t know how to write… so…” – David Cross, actor and comedian

Any good Christian would blanch at this quote and start to sputter. “But – but – wait – that’s not the whole truth.” It kind of sets a fire under you, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but it definitely gets me fired up. My apologetics sirens start going off. I stare that quote right in the face (or the screen, since it’s usually on Facebook) and say, “Sit down, I got something to tell you.” When I got them where I have them…I…

…blank.

A few weeks ago, I had coffee with someone who has walked away from the faith. He gave great evidence for his lack of faith, for his issues with Christianity. He hit me with scientific evidence against God. He hit me with the contradictions of the Christian faith. I sat there getting fired up, twiddling with my iced-coffee straw, waiting to say something. When I had the opportunity…I…

…blanked.

And his words sunk in.

And I started to doubt.

He asked me why I believe in God. “Is it just blind faith?” he asked.

And I blanked. And I doubted. And I questioned. And I prayed.

Why do I believe in God?

It’s like I forgot everything I was taught. I forgot tenth grade apologetics, twenty years of going to Sunday school and church and youth group, sixteen years of Christian education. I sat face-to-face with an atheist and had no idea what to say.

Why do I believe in God?

That’s not an unfamiliar question for most Christians. We reach a point in our lives when our parents aren’t around to tell us how to live, whether they were Christians or otherwise. They’re not there to tell us to go to church or tell us what to think. We have to get up and go to church, wake up and pray every morning…and have a better reason to believe than “I was just raised that way.”

This goes for any religion and any ideology, really. Once you’re on your own and can think for yourself, you have to know why you believe it.

Ever since that question was posed to me, I’ve mulled it over in my brain. In order to get answers, I went to the most reliable place I know – Facebook.

After posing the question to my friends, I got a number of different answers. I got a few different categories of responses, and most of them were to be expected. Most of them fell into the following three categories:

Evidence. “I have yet to find a reason or argument or fact that proves he doesn’t exist, and I doubt I ever will find or hear of one.” This quote from one of my friends sums it up pretty well. Similarly, one of my other friends cited her pastor who said “they’ve found the bones of Buddha and Mohammed, but not of Jesus.” Evidence-based people look for facts to back up their beliefs. Some Christians operate this way, which is why we have so many “Case for Christ“-esque films/literature.

Grace. “I don’t know where my belief and his grace even begins.” It’s hard to argue with grace, especially when it’s given freely and often. That’s what the Christian God promises – grace without end for those who choose Him. Many of my friends’ testimonies involved stories of grace and marveling at its mystery.

General Revelation. Any good Bible student knows what I’m talking about here – the way God reveals Himself through nature, to anyone who wants to take a peek. There’s not special knowledge needed, just the senses. I think more friends of mine responded with this than any other reason. “I have much faith in an intelligent creator, a higher being that created us and continues to watch over us,” said one. “I listen to or help create beautiful music and cannot stand to believe that sound could have been accidentally created,” said another, who happens to be a musician.

“Can everything that we see, and all of the infinity finite details that make up all of the world around us be unguided, random chance?” It’s kind of hard to imagine our world was created by just the right mixture of whatever matter, or an explosion.

But some might say it’s far-fetched to believe in a Big Dude in the Sky, too.

Which brings me to my other point – some people responded why they don’t believe in God. I got some fairly compelling answers there, too. Here’s a segment of one:

The way I see it, the Universe is way too wonderful and weird for there not to be some higher power or whatnot, but I guess I’m not comfortable saying that it’s the Christian God. Maybe it is, maybe it’s multiple gods, maybe it’s something even bigger that all of that, and maybe just maybe it’s nothing at all. These things, for me, are too much to try and comprehend, so I leave it alone, and focus on the things that I know and can see in my every day life.

This person identified as an agnostic, and also talked about how faith and the Bible are good things for certain people. What was interesting was no one responded by outright saying they don’t believe in God. Maybe I don’t have enough atheist friends.

A compelling comment I got was this:

I believe god either died or abandoned us long ago and that’s fine, he was selfish, full of himself, arrogant, and merciful only to those who fell for his lies. He probably had daddy issues which is why he needed mankind to worship him and acknowledge him because his dad could care less about him. I can see why. I can’t believe in that god. I believe there was a war of the gods at some point, and somehow that god won. I can no longer believe in that god. I can’t believe I ever believed in that god. I hate myself for believing in that god.

How does a Christian respond to that? How do I respond to that? It makes my skin prickle and gets me fired up…but how do I respond?

As you can see, opinions are diverse when it comes to higher powers, but they all seem to point to the same thing – a need for Something Else. Something Beyond. A belief that we’re here for a reason. Because what would the point of all this be, if that weren’t the case?

But my question still wasn’t answered. I now understood why they believe, but why do believe?

“Because my parents do” isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Neither is “just because I do.”

So, in the midst of twenty years of Christian training, hundreds of people who’ve trained me up in the way I should go, waiting for me to give voice to my faith with bated breath, I make my response.

So, why?

Because I refuse to live in a world without hope.

We can’t just be here by accident. It would be impossible for me to live if I thought this was it. There’s got to be something. Something Beyond.

I can’t live in a universe without a Creator. A truthless universe is no universe at all.

And most importantly, I can’t be a human without a Savior.

And that’s what sets Christianity apart for me. Not only is there a God, but there’s a Savior. A Savior who had the audacity to take on human flesh and save people who don’t deserve it. What other god has done that?

Is it blind faith? Quite possibly. But I’d rather believe it than believe in nothing at all.

Could I be wrong? Maybe. Maybe this is all there is. But what have I got to lose by believing?

Why do I believe? Every day, I stand in the midst of the Great Creator. He stands above any evidence against Him, rises above all doubt, and loves his Created so much that He made the ultimate sacrifice in order to declare, “They are mine.

That’s why I believe.

a.w.


Oh the mystery of it all
I can never peer within 
I’ll never find the words or understand 
The fullness of a God
Become a man

Vapor, The Liturgists