Nothing haunts me more than the idea of online dating. Aside from the fact that dating apps are anything but romantic, internet dating is just a nightmare for someone like me. I am a bibliophile and a romantic who completely loathes the idea of meeting my future husband online because—among other, very valid, reasons—it completely derails the fantasy I have meticulously created for my love life in my head. Despite my pathetic and misguided assumptions that people will eventually revert to dating without apps and websites, I’m afraid I must admit that internet dating is not going anywhere. This leaves me at an impasse, wondering where I can go from here. Part of me wants to spitefully avoid dating apps at all costs, but the rest of me fears they may be my only option.
I was about seven years old when I attended my first seminar about internet safety with my classmates. Over the course of an hour, the speaker showed us every way you put yourself in danger by having an online presence. He then proceeded to show us an example of how someone can find all your personal information in less than five minutes. Since this presentation happened before apps even existed, I can only assume it has gotten easier to stalk people through their social media accounts. Unsurprisingly, this memory stuck with me over the years, and every time I think of dating apps, I remind myself that I am blindly trusting that the guy on the other side of the screen is who he says he is.
Contrary to my previous statements, however, I am not as fearful about the internet as I may seem. While I am still very cautious about what I choose to put online, I am not a hermit. I still have various forms of social media, and I use them every day. My main issue with dating apps isn’t necessarily the people but the culture they created. I don’t care for the superficiality of dating apps, and I have no interest in swiping through photos of people I don’t know. The pictures tell me nothing about who these people are, and I don’t care much for beauty if you’re a terrible person. I prefer to meet people in natural settings, but even that is proving to be difficult lately—I’m looking at you COVID!
It is unfair to blame the internet for all of my misfortunes. I am hard to please. Anyone who knows me knows that my standards for a partner are unrealistic, at best, and completely unattainable, at worst. But I can’t help it! I am a hopeless romantic, and despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that the man I’m looking for does not exist. The fact that I consume fictional stories at an alarming rate has also risen my expectations for men so high that I can only be disappointed when real men don’t measure up. Consciously, I know this is an issue that I need to deal with if I don’t want to be single forever, but my heart won’t listen.
Despite my issues with dating apps, I do think they’ve been very successful for other people. Two of my closest friends have found their long-term boyfriends using Tinder, and I could not be happier for them. I just don’t think it’s for me.
Of course, this opinion comes with many people that question my decision to avoid dating apps. I frequently find myself fielding questions like: “Have you tried online dating?”, “Do you have Tinder?”, and my favourite, “How do you even meet people anymore?”. I understand these questions are harmless, but I can’t help feeling like I’m on borrowed time. Everyone is expecting me to give up and join dating apps eventually, but shouldn’t I be allowed to want something else? In a world that is becoming completely digital at an alarming rate, I’m beginning to feel like my only other option is to die alone. Okay, that is an extreme scenario, but the odds are not in my favour.