Short answer? Yes
Long answer: Read the rest of this post 😉
Online dating used to be a great option…
Probably about a decade back, online dating apps and websites used to be unheard of. There was eharmony and very specific sites catered for certain tastes and backgrounds. But apps as a whole were seen as a bit strange to be on.
The common thought back then was if you were out there living your life in the world, it is not difficult to meet anyone at all. Most people in my 30s age group actually met their loves in college or at work or various social events.
Meeting someone was not a problem at all.
Fast forward 10 years and amidst rising levels of isolation and mental health issues amidst other societal challenges, it seems that no one knows how to socialise with other humans in person anymore. Everyone is connecting more on tech but missing out on real-life connections.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that technology cannot really fully replace in-person interactions.
Yet this co-incides with the rise in dating apps and online dating. And it’s ruining our dating experiences and how men and women view each other.
Dating Enemy #1: The intention of online dating runs completely against how humans get to know one another
If you were ever on the dating apps from 2016 to 2019, pre-pandemic basically, and at the height of its usage, they were actually pretty fun to use because they were novel.
Everyone had a plethora of people to choose from – hundreds of profiles wow, all that choice! (A complete illusion which I will talk about later).
Struggling to attract the right romantic partners?
And the speed! You don’t have to go on several in-person social gatherings in order to get to know someone over a couple of weeks or months, you can do so all at a couple of swipes and a push of the button on the app.
The convenience! Pull it up when you are standing in line at the grocery store, swipe right when you are bored on your morning commute to work, want to “know” someone? Just push out a couple of texts and you are done.
The choices speed and convenience are unfortunately incredibly detrimental to building up any sort of serious relationship. Any relationship takes time to build and nurture, you need to observe the early signs and ensure that the person is a right-fit for you – values-wise and spend time getting to know them. All of that requires time, something that online dating is not built for.
Additionally, online dating apps introduce plenty of red flag behaviours that can be hard to detect. Scammers/shady people with dark intentions can hide in their sheep’s clothing and you’ll be none the wiser, people mistake the speed for intimacy, hookup culture is on the rise as well as a host of other unpleasant and abusive behaviour ranging from ghosting to sexual harrassment and date rape.
If you are looking for something serious with a good person, it seems like a complete waste of time.
Dating Enemy #2: The way it is set up prioritises inorganic
Overly focused on the superficial/appearances
People are complex and dynamic and deliciously surprising and uncertain. But online dating gets people to summarise whoever they are in just a couple of sentences, tags and photos. This forces people to be “exciting” in their descriptions and put up their best photos and forces others to evaluate people based off that.
It creates a false image of someone and pressures people to put up only certain sides of themselves. This already creates a false image of the person right off the bat, and people are supposed to make up their minds in about 3 seconds by swiping left or right.
This is why many people don’t seem to be who they are when you meet them in person because the photos and profiles were painting a very different picture of them as people.
False perception of many choices
As I’ve mentioned above, this is one of the biggest reasons that make online dating such a poor experience for many. This is because most people on the app aren’t really motivated to get off it or really put in effort to get to know someone, because guess what?
If this doesn’t work out, shrugs, there are 50 other people I can swipe right on and have fun with.
When people think they have many choices and any of those choices could be a good fit for them, the willingness to commit to one would be low. There’s always a sneaking thought at the back of their minds – why if I could do better? So “keeping yourself” committed to one is going to give you major FOMO.
Also, the number of choices you have is an illusion. There are many people on the apps yes, but just like in the real-world, the majority, in face 99.9% of them aren’t a good fit for you at all….
Having to go the extra step of meeting up with people to determine chemistry/vibes
Online dating adds a layer of inconvenience to the plate in my opinion, because there are additional steps to getting to know someone. If you’ve swiped right on loads of people, you’ve got to narrow down that list, vet them before going on to meet them in person.
And when you do meet them in person? Lots of people just don’t seem to be the right fit, come off very differently in-person vs texts and because of the illusion of choice – a perfectly nice person in other circumstances can come off bland and you comfort yourself by saying that you have zillions of other profiles to look at anyway.
Extra steps/effort with not alot of pay-off.
Dating Enemy #3: The company you meet is inadequate
Exposed to a greater proportion of just not very nice/good people
When you are on an app/website, you are essentially hiding behind and a screen and projecting whoever you want to be into the world. Such an anonymous, impersonal platform tends to attract people who don’t really have very good intentions.
People that you probably wouldn’t even be exposed to or have in your social circle in real-life. From my own experiences as well as my friends/clients, we’ve all between us come across married colleagues/friends, scammers and people with darker intentions. If you’ve seen the Tinder Swindler, you will get what I mean.
You are also exposed to all sorts of toxic behaviour like ghosting, cheating and downright scary and dangerous behaviour like harassment (verbal, sexual physical) and molest/rape.
The environment can be chaotic and messy, I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in trying to figure out of the 5 guys whom I’m texting are actually really good people or are in reality married with kids or scammers. Don’t have the energy for that.
Difficult to tell when someone is being honest
Following on from the point above, it is incredibly hard to determine if someone is telling the truth about themselves or not. You only have their profiles and whatever they tell you about themselves to go off on. Yes, you could perhaps stalk them on social media, but that gives very limited data about them.
At least with people that you meet offline, you have a certain context of that meeting, you guys are in some sort of community and there would be people that would know things about them. That way you can still vet each other. Online? You basically only got whatever information they are telling you about themselves.
People don’t seem to know how to have a conversation or be interesting
People seem to do only two things:
- “Hi, how are you?”, “What are you doing now?” – Bet you’ve received tonnes of those
- Or just doing the most just to “stand out”. I had one tell me he owned a couple of animals at home including a lion and a bear, and spent most of his time raising them…
The impersonal nature of the platform plus that illusion of choice makes it feel as if to be seen as a person that is unique – you need to stand out somehow, by being over the top. And conversely, it also makes some people put in the least amount of effort just to get to know someone.
Dating Enemy #4: Little desire to find a serious relationship
Most people are using it because they are bored
The number of people who are on these apps and swiping just to past time is probably the majority. Anecdotal, but friends who use the apps only use it when they are bored and got nothing else to do. They swipe to see who replies and to see if any would be interesting enough for a further conversation – none are usually in the right mindset to get to know you in a serious and measured way.
This is why meeting people off the apps can feel so meh sometimes, because everyone is just there to be entertained or get their dopamine high instead of really getting to meet and know someone.
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Hookups are rampant
Hookup culture has always been around imo, but have actually risen exponentially due to online dating. These meet-ups can feel very intense and fast which can quickly lead to physical and sexual intimacy very quickly. Coupled with the fact that it’s never clear what someone’s intentions are on these apps – they may tell you they are looking for a serious relationship but they actually there for one night stands.
And for someone who is looking for something serious, it can feel very confusing. The usual advice is to put up lines on your profile to say that you aren’t interested in a fwb and casual sex situation. Been there, done that. Nothing is stopping them from swiping right and sliding into your texts asking for sex.
No desire to delete their profile/apps
Then comes the problem of you dating someone you met off the app – do you trust them to delete it or are they still sneakily using it to swipe on people and chat them up?
I’ve seen plenty of married and supposedly coupled-up people on the apps. Some of them claim to be on there to “make friends” – really? It’s hard to build up trust and intimacy with someone who has his/her toes in other side-buckets.
Dating Enemy #5: The companies do not want you to stop using the apps
Get this: The only way they make money is for you to constantly stay on these apps, pay for “premium” memberships and click on ads.
The only way for you to stay on these apps is if you are constantly single, frustrated, searching around for The One in a haystack and never finding it. They can’t make money if the majority of users on their app are pairing up, coupled up and living their best lives.
There’s no hard data for this, but my hypothesis is that these dating app companies like Match and whatever make your experience as frustrating and bad as possible so that you will constantly be on it, because this is when the illusion of choice kicks in.
It works on the concept of variable reinforcement – ALL social media apps do by the way, it’s a concept used in casinos and gambling – where on the off-chance that you manage to get a positive response, you keep coming back to the app in hopes of more.
What to do instead
Get off your screens
The reason why people are so isolated and socially awkward these days is because we spend alot of time chatting to a screen than interacting in real-time with people. There’s a real sense of disconnection with ourselves and with the world around us.
Everywhere you look, especially in cities, people are constantly just on their phones scrolling all the time. Or plugged into music. It seems that in our search for inner peace, we’ve actually created an environment that is more confusing and noisy than ever before – the constant thinking and deluge of information.
When I stopped listening to music and staring at my phone on my way to work, I feel more in tune with what is going on around me and more connected with myself.
Pick up hobbies that require you to get off the phone and get outside to do something. Virtual connections has its time and space, but it shouldn’t replace face-to-face contact and a dulling of your 5 senses.
Learn how to cultivate relationships in person
As an entire society, we need to re-learn how to cultivate relationships in person and nurture them. Get into the habit again of getting to know people.
Give your relationships time to grow – they are like gardens and require watering and nurturing. If you see potential in getting to know someone better, spend time with them, go for lunch or whatever get to know them better.
In a day and age where most people are always interacting on-screens, in-person interactions will be a breath of fresh air. Meet someone with potential but the person isn’t interested in taking things forward in person? That’s fine, move on and you will eventually meet someone on your wavelength
Getting rid of the scarcity mindset
I’m sometimes surprised at how so many of us think that it’s hard to meet someone out there – and that dating apps are the only way. There’s alot of “but there is nowhere where I am”.
The world is huge and your tribe is always out there. But if you are stuck just always using apps that give you mediocre experiences, it’s time to stop and explore other methods instead.
You only need one person, ONE. You don’t need a hundred, one good person is all you need.