“Welcome to my world.”
“Good job with the face.”
“You have a nice smile! *winky face*”
“Did you know that cows have best friends?”
These are some examples of the smooth ways I’ve tried to initiate conversation on Bumble. Each of them failed at least once. (Disclaimer: “good job with the face” and “nice smile” were the only ones that merited a response. I bet you can guess why the other ones didn’t.) Some of my more successful attempts have been a bit less interesting, like “You don’t have a bio, so what do I ask you?” or “Tell me about yourself!” Or even the typical “Hey!” Which apparently guys don’t want to respond to…but, hey (!) do guys even know what they want?
Not on Bumble they don’t!
And neither do I…?
Or maybe I actually, secretly do know what I want and that’s what makes online dating so difficult.
After online dating for about two and a half months, I have gone on a grand total of three dates. I haven’t kept track of how many people I’ve matched with, but it hasn’t been an astronomical number. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting to be ambushed with men as soon as I logged on, but I have to admit, it’s been a little discouraging. One of my dates turned out to be an atheist. One now has a girlfriend. And another brushed me off after dangling the possibility of a second date. There are a few I haven’t even met but kinda sorta really want to but can’t for reasons.
So yeah, it’s hard.
But it’S hard offline too. I realize that. The dating game is the same in the real world – you usually have to anticipate rejection, unless you want your self esteem kicked around. But after awhile, it sort of helps you grow a thicker skin, so you can continue to enter the dating pool with confidence.
In short (but not short, really), I’ve learned a lot about myself through online dating. I learned things that I really didn’t expect to learn, to be honest. When I joined the online dating scene, I thought I was simply going to be swiping left and right and going on cute, fun dates all the time, just to test the waters. But it’s actually been a rather emotional (and, dare I say, spiritual) journey for me these past few months.
I’ve never really been ~on~ the dating scene. I was an awkward-as-heck high school student who never had a boyfriend and asked her own date to prom. I wasn’t the victim of freshman frenzy in college. I’ve never really been the “chased-after” one. And that can do a number on your heart sometimes. You see everyone getting with everyone else and you wonder what’s wrong with you. (I’ve talked about this before, haven’t I? I’ll bury the dead horse now.) So to jump into the dating scene at this time in my life, when I’m still becoming the adult I’m meant to be instead of the teenager/juvenile I was, was like jumping into a cold lake, when I thought it was going to be like wading into a tropical seaside.
But life is never quite what we want it to be, is it?
So, before I get any more tangential, here’s a few things I’ve learned while surfing the web for a husband (not an overstatement):
1. 90% of men are really bad at online dating. Ok, that’s not an official statistic, and it’s probably not accurate. But I feel like I’m weeding through a lot of roughs to find the diamonds. Here’s some reasons why they’re bad at it (let the meta-lists begin!):
- Ya’ll don’t specify who you are in a group picture. If all your pictures involve multiple people, I have no idea which one you are. And that makes a difference. Are you the one cuddling the puppy or holding the liter of beer? I need to know these things.
- YA’LL POST PICTURES THAT INVOLVE YOUR EX (or multiple women.) If there’s anything that’s super unattractive to me, it’s when guys on dating apps post pictures of themselves a) with their ex (or a woman who is draped over them for some other reason?) or b) multiple women who are apparently competing for who can wear the least amount of clothing, or bleach their hair the brightest. That’s a huge turnoff for girls who are looking for something real. Unless you’re not looking for something real, in which case…as you were. I’ll pray for you. (Only slightly kidding)
- You don’t post anything about yourself. Seriously, a bio goes a long way. I tend to swipe left on people who don’t have bios because I’m not much of a risk-taker. I do understand that some people are on dating sites for much…different reasons than I am, so maybe a bio doesn’t matter much to some people.
2. I’m bad at online dating too! Be you not afear’d, men. I am also terrible at online dating, as you’ll see by my awful conversation starters. I’ve done really jerk-y things, like unmatch with someone after a conversation (essentially “ghosting” them.) I’ve gotten unnecessarily angry at people I’ve matched with. And I’ve been hecka impatient. That’s been my biggest pitfall so far. Even now, I’m beating myself up for something I texted one of my matches weeks ago. What the heck possessed me to say that?
3. It’s really overwhelming. It can feel like online shopping at times…which is probably not how it’s supposed to be. (But if you think about it, IRL dating can be like shopping too…) It’s almost like that scene in The Emperor’s New Groove (I’m very cultured) when Kuzco is choosing from a row of women for one of them to be his wife. And then when you do swipe right on someone, you get hopeful that you’ll match. And sometimes you don’t. And that can be draining or discouraging. In the last week I’ve talked to only two people on Bumble, and both conversations were unfruitful. I matched with several guys, but those people let the conversation expire. And I keep thinking why? What’s wrong with me? (Wrong way to think about it, but I’ll get to that later.) It can do a number on your self-esteem.
All that to say, my journey on Bumble has been a journey of the soul. (Cue candles and ambient music.) It sounds canned, but it’s kind of true. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I learned that I get attached really fast. After matching with people, I sometimes imagine what our first date will be like, or what our first cute Instagram photo will look like. I imagine what it’s like to drive in a car with them, listening to their favorite music. Audrey, that’s ridiculous. You haven’t even met them yet. (Cue Michael Buble music.) I know it’s ridiculous. It’s friggin’ ridiculous.
Which is why I think I’m going to call it quits on online dating.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I don’t think I’m at a good spot in my life to be doing it. However, I’m really thankful that I made that decision to join a few months ago, because I don’t think I would have learned about who I am or what I want if I hadn’t. Here’s the way I see it: Online dating sites are for people who don’t know what they want. But I’ve realized that I actually do know what I want, which is kind of a weird thing for me to say, because I feel clueless half the time.
Secondly, no matter how hard I want to look ~authentic~ on dating sites, it’s almost impossible to be 100% real online. (Like I said, I went on a date with an atheist and didn’t realize he was an atheist based on his profile.) Sometimes I think the more we try to be authentic, the more fake we are. And yeah, I try really hard on dating sites. So it’s not doing me any favors to show that “me” to potential dates. You can fake it all you want, but just remember there’s no screen when you go on an IRL dates. It’s all you. And it’s exhausting to try to keep up an ~authentic~ facade.
I’ve made some good connections on Bumble. I still talk to some of the people I went on dates with. One has a girlfriend now (we figured out after one date that we weren’t super compatible, but are cool as friends) and is giving me advice on future romantic pursuits. I still talk to some of the people I haven’t gone on dates with, because hey, you never know.
So, in short (1440 words later), online dating is a great thing. But remember, you might not be ready, and you might learn the hard way that you’re not ready. Be patient with yourself and with all those left-swipers out there. Don’t take every rejection personally. Continue growing and cultivating who you are first and foremost.
And most importantly, be the realest you you can be.
What if when he sees me
I like him and he knows it?
What if he opens up a door
And I can’t close it?
What happens then?
If when he holds me
My heart is set in motion
I’m not prepared for that
I’m scared of breaking open
But still I can’t help from hoping
To find someone to talk to
Who likes the way I am
Someone who when he sees me
Wants to again
– When He Sees Me, Sara Bareilles