Pop Culture

Dating Apps Are Changing The Way We Think

Quick pic in a public restroom.
Quick pic in a public restroom. Tinder
Maybe it's the 80-year-old man in me talking or maybe it's the collective voice of frustrated 30-somethings, but dating apps aren't where it's at. What has happened to smiling and eye-contact being our only tools? In an age of swiping left, right, romantic, platonic, I wonder if the habit is instilling unrealistic expectations within us.

"So which ones are your favorite?" I asked a table of women lunching at a bar. "I don't really like any of them," said Holly, 33. They all agreed.

Requirements have skyrocketed, and we all keep upping the ante just to stay in the game. It used to be, "is he tall enough?" Now, the perfect combination looks as daunting as a Rubick's Cube. Conversations will get as ridiculous as, "zoom in on the reflection from the mirror. Are thoseā€¦ cargo shorts?" Never going to happen.

While discernment differs slightly between sexes, it's really all the same. Rick, 33, states, "I feel like men cast a broader net." Whenever I've helped him scan we run out of candidates every. Single. Time. Men think sex, while women, well, not all of them, can't help but think more long term.

Gemma, 32, noted, "I had a fling with this IT guy who wasn't necessarily attractive, but sweet, helpful and hilarious. Had I seen him on Tinder I would have immediately swiped left." Poor guy would have been out of the game before he even got a chance to make her laugh.

Not to mention the pressure we put on ourselves to have a shiny, desirable profile. Holly states, "then I get nervous that I'm a disappointment." Being quick to assess possible matches might really be quicksand for insecure self-reflections. The Chinese finger trap of our day and age; we aren't good enough and neither are they. According to datingadvice.com, more than half of people lie on their profiles. For men, the majority lie about job status while women lie with photos. Gemma stated honestly, "I am always tempted to use photos from six years ago, because, well, they look better."

Entertaining, yeah it can be. Having a few glasses of wine with friends and foraging man terrain has become almost commonplace. It's easy to be daring in these conditions but Holly admits, "I'm not brave enough to actually meet most of them."

Dating apps have transformed the "initial spark" into something a little less exciting and a little more safe. Brandon, 27, who doesn't use them explains why. "People hiding behind the keyboard can say a lot more things than in person, it takes the courage out of the process." Dating online is relatively fast-paced as well, either we're going to have sex, or I can't help but look at you as a marriage candidate. A rush to the finish line. Call him old fashioned but he re-iterates, "I want to take my time."

Say you've tested the waters, gone on one date, decided it's not right for you and it's time to make an exit. The already safe distance has made it even easier to slip away. We've developed a term called, "ghosting," which as it sounds, is disappearing into thin air. After a few unanswered texts, let's hope they get the point. This habit creates deeper feelings of rejection than flat out telling them it's not going to happen. That terrible, terrible question mark followed with, I wonder what I did wrong? Rick admits, "ghosting is probably the most standard business practice after one date." He then went on to explain that after two or more dates he'll break it off over text.

click to enlarge A light ghosting. - TINDER
A light ghosting.
Is this habit slowly creating a culture that's okay with not being accountable for the small things? It's always the easiest habits that are the most dangerous. Even those who do choose to communicate will play it safe by using text or email. According to an infographic done by eHarmony, 48 percent of breakups end this way.

Yes, dating apps have been responsible for a lot of happiness. The success stories go on and on, and we should continue to celebrate them. What's concerning is the means to the end. I'm afraid that the online generation, little by little, is turning into a group who stacks their summit of happiness upon too many stipulations.

Recently having drinks with a friend, she got up to use the restroom. I began talking to the chap to my left, who was alone, handsome and seemingly eligible. It was a natural conversation, no pressure. I heard the door open behind me and watched as his eyes darted to the woman entering. I could tell he was half-sure she was the one he had been chatting with online. As he began the awkward first moments of an arranged meeting, I went back to a delicious Negroni.

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