In 2014, I downloaded Tinder out of curiosity. It was around the time the dating app started gaining traction worldwide and was a hot topic among my friends. Since I was single at the time and wanted to see what the fuss was all about, I made a profile… and deleted it 30 minutes later without swiping right on anybody.
Six years laters, I still don’t understand the appeal of online dating. When I tried Tinder briefly, it sort of bothered me how these potential matches had connections to someone I knew and they could see who I’m connected with too. There was no anonymity—you’re expected to add your name, age, interests and other details about yourself in the hopes of finding a date through a screen.
I also downloaded Bumble earlier this year to see if my mind had changed about online dating. This is the first time in almost six years that I’ve been single after all. But just like Tinder, I immediately noped out of Bumble after a few minutes. I didn’t even finish setting up my profile.
Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer meeting new people in person, especially if it’s a potential partner. It’s quite ironic considering that I met a lot of my friends through social media first and then hung out with them months later. I thought that would remove anxiety of talking to random people online and make it easier once dating apps became popular. Clearly I was wrong.
Of course, I’m not discounting the fact that online dating is an easy way to meet people. You just swipe left or right on people until you get a match and you start talking to them in the in-app chat box. If you decide that you guys have chemistry, you can set a date. I use the word “date” loosely since this can mean going out for lunch or a casual hookup.
Online dating also apparently saves you time and hell of a lot of money. Marketing strategists from ConvergEx reported in 2014 that American couples could save $23,660 if they met online. But that’s also measured between average time from courtship to marriage for people who meet online, which is about 18.5 months. This is significantly shorter than the 42-month dating period of couples who’d met IRL.
If you’re wondering why ConvergEx cited that online dating couples marry quickly, there’s actually another study that found that dating websites and apps “fast track committed relationships because when two compatible people meet and discover they want the same things, there’s no reason to hit the brakes.” But I digress because I know many people aren’t looking for future spouses on dating apps. If they were, Bumble wouldn’t ask if a person is looking for something casual on the account setup page.
Despite these advantages, what ultimately scares me about online dating is diving into the unknown and not knowing what to expect out of it. Admittedly, I’ve never been on a date with someone I barely knew. (Both my past boyfriends were my friends before we officially went out.) How do you even strike up a conversation with someone you found on a dating app and hang out with them to get to know them more? Also, how are people even sure they’re not talking to a catfish or worse, a serial killer?
That last part is a little extreme. But if there’s one thing we can learn from Netflix’s “The Circle,” it’s that it’s hard to tell if someone is genuine or not just by looking at their profile. According to SurveyMonkey’s Curiosity at Work, 56 percent of adults view dating apps negatively for this very reason, especially since not all dating apps screen for sex offenders. There’s also a small percentage of people who are scared of their personal information getting leaked. These are all valid points.
Still, I do admire those who can confidently use dating apps and aren’t scared to meet new people. Online dating does sound like fun but it’s really not for everyone, especially if someone is emotionally unprepared to be disappointed by a person they’d met through these dating apps.
Would I give online dating another try in the near future? I honestly don’t know. If I feel like messing around with it again, maybe. I’m in no rush to go on dates and get into a new relationship anyway.