I did not grow up expecting to find romance via the web.
No, I grew up in the 90’s with the likes of passing handwritten notes (do you like me: yay or nay), awkward first phone calls and the ever traditional, palm-sweating dinner and a movie date.
Of course now conventional dating means either swiping right, or really doesn’t have a place in our vocabulary anymore. So when the dating pool already seems so shallow, is one missing out on relationship potential if not on Bumble or Tinder? Because if it does, I’d say that leaves many of us with a fair amount of reason to be a tad unnerved. (And a fair reason to remain single.)
I blame myself for this severe unpreparedness, that and the remaining remnants of the traditional dating culture I grew up in. (Though in all honesty, even if the dating world had maintained any realm of tradition, I’d likely still be a deer in the headlights.) I was raised with parents who did the conventional dating throughout high school, met their senior year of college, graduated with stars in their eyes, simultaneous wedding bells, and expected a future the same for their daughters. But little did my parents know that majority of my first romantic interactions, of what would ever lead to any kind of date would exist primarily on Facebook, texts and Instagram messaging (which, for the record, is especially odd.) And I’m not even referring to dating apps - not yet.
By the time I graduated college I had yet to consider I’d have to determine one’s social skills via texts, let alone one’s compatibility swiping through pictures on an app, which more often than not just appear to be a bad bar scene.
As the dating culture has shifted the psychological impacts of relational tensions have surfaced, acknowledged as an additional source of stress to many lives. It’s been coined relationship anxiety, and is often experienced in committed relationships, whether it be a 23 year marriage or a couple dating for five months, questioning the certainty of love or whether this person is the right one for you.
Though I’d dare say there’s also a kind of lack-there-of relationship anxiety that haunts many single women. Particularly when you’ve been raised with the expectation to be somewhat settled in life by the time you’re 30. I’m not sure how similar it is to relationship anxiety - fear of being with the wrong person. But it is certainly a fear, one of never finding the right person. It’s as if a fear bottled up in hope, as contrary as it may seem. And it tends to follow one at the most unlikely places, at coffee shops, the next party and certainly any weddings you attend (no matter how many times you tell yourself, “No, that would just be too cliche.”) It’s the uneasy notion that you just might finally find that someone, and a simultaneous haunting angst that there will never be anyone. But like any stress in life, you can either entertain it or choose to disregard it.
Entering a dating app that engages this maybe, maybe not, maybe, unlikely not, up and down roller coaster of hope, disappointment and then… reality, is simply a lot for the emotional tank and analytical mind of a female to engage at once. And of course, it’s known to be an addicting ride as well. The swipe… swipe… swipe… has a similar kind of high that draws many to pick up they’re phone with every Instagram like. Though, like an endless notification, it has the ability to suck one’s mentality and affections into somewhat of a dark abyss. Yet when it appears as enticing as a bad bar scene, or a pool of individuals looking for nothing more than a fling (because such things can sometimes be read on a face), I can’t help but question it’s worth in looking for love.
Regardless of “all the time” single girls seem to have on our hands, I’m not sure such platforms are a well investment for the psyche. At least not for mine. Not when there are humans to be met.