I mean in honesty where do I begin about being terrified of modern dating. If you read Part One Starting to Swipe, you’ll know my difficulty with the whole online dating thing. Out the other side of a 10-year relationship last year and the way the dating world worked was so different I was immediately afraid. It’s all done digitally now. Whether its dating apps, Snapchat or Instagram DM’s, dating has become predominately all online and even though I live my life online now, it’s not the way I’d ever found love before.
It was all so daunting and terrifying and despite the fact I’ve been at it for months now I still can’t decide if its really for me. Here’s why;
First off there’s the rules. These unwritten rules of the dating apps. Tinder is for hook ups; Bumble is for relationships, keep your bio short, don’t swipe for people with one photo. Oh god the endless do ‘s and don’ts. Do they tell you these rules? No, it’s kind of a matter of learn as you go. I had a couple of people I could ask before I started and I’ve been really lucky to have an amazing friend Lucy and we have guided each other through the many pitfalls and particulars of dating apps, but even still it’s a confusing old place to be. And alongside rules, is the game! Of course, it’s a game, they don’t call it the “dating game” for nothing. But I’ve never been one for game playing, if I like someone I tell them, if I want to text, I text, but now it’s all don’t send the first message and staring at a blue tick for hours on end (something I’m going to write about in another post – the dreaded blue tick) it’s exhausting! I also think dating apps have got rid of the chase. I like a man to do the hard work sometimes but it just doesn’t work like that. So often it’s you the woman that has to drive the convo along otherwise things can just grind to halt. If one likes to be wooed, then I can tell you now, Tinder is not the place for you.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEN & WOMEN ON APPS
If you follow my Instagram stories you might remember last year me being privy to seeing how a guy used his dating apps on the train and it really did make it clear to me how differently men vs women use them. For women we’re looking at the guys photo and profile and we’re making a million deductions and decisions; do I find him attractive? What’s his age? Does he dress nice? What do his friends look like? Do we have similar interests? How tall is he? Any tattoos? Does he have kids? Where does he live? All these thoughts feed into a decision to swipe right (yes). Because in the chance that they then match back there’s no point if you don’t actually like them and want to get to know them more.
Yeah guys don’t swipe like that. Guys are pretty much swiping right for anything that looks half decent and I know this to be 100% true. Its only after they get matches, they will look closely at a woman’s profile and then decide whether they are interested or not. This is why often you can get a match that you’re all excited about and then you never hear from them or they unmatch. It’s a complete imbalance and one that I’m sure contributes to why women find these apps so much less enjoyable than guys, but I guess once you know about it, it does make things easier.
Ahhh the catfish. I’ve been on the end of several catfish conversations and it does start to slightly depress you, but if Nev and Max have taught me anything its how to spot one so I generally am pretty good at sussing them and then calling them out on it.
My top catfish tips, if the photos are too Instagram or model like chances are they’re stolen, no info in bios etc and only one photo are not normally a good thing but a linked Instagram account is a good sign they’re not fake and I hate to say it but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
But this does lead me on to my next thing I find so hard with online dating;
EXPECTATION VS REALITY
The presence of catfish on these apps does make the whole online dating thing trickier. It creates a level of mistrust before you’ve even started. Especially when what you’re basing your decisions and attraction on is a set of photos and a profile crafted by the other person. Honestly, I’ve spent ages staring at matches photos trying to work out if I fancy them, but of course how can you know? How can you know till you meet someone in real life? I remember my first ever date with someone from an app and being genuinely terrified that they might not look like their photos but another overwhelming fear was they might arrive and decide I wasn’t as pretty in real life as mine. I’ve tried hard to use photos that genuinely look like me and aren’t too polished but this is one of my biggest fears around modern dating. It just isn’t like this with dating someone you’ve met in real life; they’ve seen you and as I said in my last post the attraction builds naturally as you get to know someone. Even on a blind date there’s not this level of expectation because they don’t know what you look like, but with dating apps the build-up based on a digital image is scary. Incidentally my first app date was as good looking as his photos although I was surprised by his height. He was an inch shorter than me, not a big deal at all but I remember a moment of disappointment, partly as I on a rare occasion decided to wear heeled boots so now stood a foot taller than him but also annoyance that I hadn’t checked this info on the app more carefully! I mean it’s so ridiculous! I don’t want a list of criteria filled I just want someone who I spark with, but these apps create this way of choosing partners based on attributes and build up a level of expectation that can be dangerous, I think.
This one is a biggie, the competition. You are so innately aware of it all the time. You know that along with your convo, that guy you’re chatting to has god knows how many other matches and conversations happening, plus the ability to keep swiping and matching with more as more people join the apps every day. You know it partly because you’re having multiple conversations too but to be so aware of this competition is hard. To feel like you’re competing to keep this guys interest so he doesn’t stop talking to you in favour of one of his other matches is draining and not something I’ve ever been used to before. If I met someone at work who I liked, I knew there were other women around he might be interested in too but I never felt directly in competition with them and there was only ever a limited number. These apps provide unlimited possibilities. In many ways that’s what makes them good in that it opens you up to people you wouldn’t otherwise meet but it also I think gives too much choice, too many options and it’s no wonder that maintaining and developing a connection on the there is hard when it’s so easy for another match to come long and take his attention.
There are also a few things about me that also make me dislike online dating.
Of course, the apps state your age and it right that it should but it puts it right out there as another criteria to be swiped left or right on. I’m 38. Do I feel 38, no not one bit and I’m told I don’t look 38 either which is a blessing but sometimes a curse as people are shocked when I do say my age. Most of my friends are years younger than me and on the whole my blogging circle is also made up of women much younger than me too. Am I attracted to men my age? On the whole no as they tend to make me feel older if I’m honest and bar my ex-husband I have always dated younger men. I set my age that I’m looking for to 30-38, but on the apps when I first joined I had so many “I like older women” comments from guys that it just made me feel so flippin old. Plus, by my age most women have got kids, which I don’t. I feel like I’m mentally 34/35 but biologically I am 38 and there’s no getting away from that on the apps because your age is there on your profile for all to see. Again, though whereas the way I met previous partners, age wasn’t an initial concern because you met and you liked each other because you got on or fancied each other now I feel like my age matters more than ever. It doesn’t help that I panic a lot about being 38 and childless and starting again but that’s a topic for a whole post of its own I suspect.
As I said in my last post my job now definitely has an impact on the people I meet. Before I blogged full time, when I worked in theatre, I was meeting all sorts of people all the time; actors, technicians, designers, musicians and my social life was very busy. Not only do I work for myself now and work from home which obviously minimises the contact I have with people, but my blogging world is majority female dominated so I don’t meet lots of new men. Not just that but I’ve changed my career and I think I’ve changed as a person too. My blog and social developed whilst I was in my last relationship. He supported me, saw it grow, encouraged me to turn into a full-time career. He understood what it meant. But the changes also meant we started to have less in common and I suspect one of the reasons we ended was because we ended up both very different people. Now I’m starting out dating I have to explain to people what I do and the inevitable awkward questions of “What do you blog about?“ How do you make your money?” arise but also that fear that by being with me they’ll somehow thrust themselves into the spotlight especially as I write about my life and about dating, although let’s be honest, I’m no Zoella so they needn’t worry.
I do worry though that new guys will think I’m just another insta wannabe and a bit materialistic. Don’t get me wrong I love clothes, I like wearing makeup, having my hair done, nice nails and yeah, I own a Gucci and a couple of other designer items but that’s not all there is about me. I love my Primark and I’d always choose love and happiness over a big house or an expensive holiday. At the moment I don’t link my Instagram on my dating apps. As I don’t want people to know too much about me too soon.
Learning too much too fast
That’s another problem with this modern age of digital dating you can find out too much about someone too fast. I mean I am an EXPERT cyber stalker. Within minutes I can have found a guys Facebook, Instagram and even where he works with a bit of savvy searching. But should you know all this too quickly? Does being able to see someone’s whole life online take some of the mystery away? Yeah, I think so. I mean a quick search is always a good idea to check they’re not a catfish but beyond that no. It’s so easy to learn everything about someone before you’ve even met. So many matches of mine once told what my Instagram is have followed, watched my YouTube, watched my stories, like my photos without ever actually asking me out on a date or us ever making it on to one. I don’t want my Instagram follower count to be made up of men I've "nearly" dated!!
THE HIGHS AND THE LOWS
This is by far the hardest part of online dating, the extreme highs and the extreme lows. I said before these apps are like a game, “That game like element of swiping with the triumphant “Match” screen when someone had also swiped right for you” and there is an excitement and a real high that comes when you match with someone you like and even more so when the conversation starts and goes really well. But oh, the lows. I read an article recently about top tips for dating apps and one of them was “Be prepared for disappointment” and its true. You will get ghosted, deleted, ignored and unmatched and there can be a million reasons for it but if you haven’t got a thick skin god it will knock you down. And it did me for a very long time. Me and my friend Lucy talk about the highs and the lows of it all a lot. The downside is if you want to be active and meeting people, then you have to put yourself out there fully and that often means you’re open to being hurt. I can’t tell you the lows I’ve had. I know I’m a sensitive person and I suspect I take things so much harder than I should but my only way to deal with it has been to periodically delete the apps and take a break. It’s a Marie Kondo thing, right? If it doesn’t spark joy, get rid!
Right now, with so much going on with moving house I’m kind of on a serious dating hiatus and so the apps are currently deleted, hence no #debsondating chat on my Instagram for a while.
But I did meet someone, through one of these apps. And he was great. And I’d forgotten how great it can be with someone you really like. But right now, it’s impossible for it to work and that’s hard. But I suppose its proof they can work? Maybe after eight months I’m not terrified any more of modern dating, but I’m not sure I’m 100% convinced either.