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Why dating apps aren’t for me

Dating apps are so not magical enough for me.

They lack the magic of a real life friends to lovers or a meet cute. They have that missing element of romantic love coming into your life when you least expect it. Or at the very least, they lack the magic of romance developing between two people organically, where you are drawn to each other from being yourself rather than from a place of looking to make romance happen.

My most ideal situation is that I fall in love with someone before I start dating them. And that they are in love with me, too, before we actually start dating. This is because I really value the emotional connection aspect. It is so important to me that when I am pursued romantically, I am not just pursued for my physical looks and attractiveness.

I want to be pursued for WHO I am. For my energy, personality, values, passions, interests. In order to be sough out for these things, the other person needs to have a genuine curiosity and desire to uncover deeper parts of me. Yes, I still want them to be attracted to me physically, sensually, sexually. But I want those things to be enjoyed and valued by him from a place of him appreciating the manifestations of my soul– of what is inside.

And I want to lean into him– into his soul, uncover deeper elements of him, for who he is, too. And likewise, I want to be physically attracted to him, too– as an extension of the manifestation that is of him, of the man inside.

Dating apps make this kind of impossible. Yes, we get to put photos of ourselves on our profiles. Sure, we get to answer prompts to reflect elements of our personality.

But that still isn’t the same as getting to know someone in person, without dating-related expectations playing in the background. Especially on a dating app that is specifically DESIGNED FOR DATING.

It becomes so easy to commodify people– both yourself and others– on the apps, even if that isn’t your intention. If we’re honest, we swipe right (for a yes) and left (for a no) with physical attraction as a heavy influencer. Yes, physical attraction and preference are important factors in considering a romantic partner. But on these apps, we are reducing people, potential partners, to their looks and with this whole left-right swiping, we are feeding our brains this dichotomy of “good” and “bad”.

What is this teaching us about the value of other people? What is this teaching us about our own value, based on our looks?

Also, there are men I’ve met in person that I would have been interested in dating having known them that I would likely not have been interested in dating had I seen them on a dating app.

People then become conceptualized in our minds to be disposable. There is this notion that we have to play a numbers game and have a roll of people we are talking to, go on many dates with many people to vet them. There is the anxiety of “what if there is better out there” where no one, nothing is good enough for you when in reality, you’re not being present enough with what IS in front of you in order to be able to make that call.

To be honest, this sounds exhausting. Like a chore. I do not want romance to be a chore in my life.

And again, this really takes away from the magic of meeting people organically with genuine curiosity for who they are. I really need a platonic foundation in order for my romantic interactions to feel meaningful enough for me.

And don’t even get me started on hookup culture.

I get that there are people of all genders who enjoy casual sexual and perhaps even casual romantic encounters and flings, but personally this is not what I want. Dating apps, even the ones that are geared towards people looking for a long term partnership, are optimized to promote casual interactions. This is no mistake. In a culture where hookups are normalized, and those who do not want to partake in them are scoffed at for being too prudish, for being too reserved, not willing to explore their sexual desires, are judged for seeing sex as sacred, so many people including women like myself are made to feel like we are expecting too much, asking for too much.

So many of us, especially for so many of us women, we are conditioned to believe in implicit and explicit ways that the only ways for us to experience our sexual desires and have sexual fulfillment are through settling. Settling through situationships whether they are born out of dating apps or not, even when we’re not happy with them. Or being “the cool girl” and tolerating relationships with men where we aren’t actually appreciated and seen and heard in the ways that we deserve to be.

The recent Bumble ad, very obviously geared towards women primarily, created quite an uproar on social media and for good reason. If you haven’t heard of it, basically there are a few billboard ads saying “you know full well a vow of celibacy is not the answer”.

Who are they to tell women what is right and wrong for them, what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their bodies? The creators of this ad only had the audacity to assume entitlement to say something like this in the first place because of that underlying societal, patriarchal notion that women don’t know what they want, and that women are slaves to male validation.

As I saw a few social media accounts discuss, dating apps like Bumble are trying to make money through selling women’s bodies on their apps. Without enough women to swipe on and successfully get into their beds, the men, often narcisistic and self centered men on these apps, won’t be paying the app as much and as often to have more access to more women.

It’s already sinister that the people behind the ad are trying to influence women to question their own boundaries with their bodies. Even deeper sinister is that they are appealing to women both off and on the app to influence them into getting rid of those boundaries.

Fellow women– and men, and everyone for that matter– who are considering or currently taking part in celibacy– don’t let some stupid ad created for capitalist, profit-based purposes make you question yourself. And beyond this ad, going into the foundational concepts in society that made such a dumb, imposing ad possible in the first place– you are not too much for seeing sex as sacred. Or for not wanting sex at all. Or for wanting to wait until a level of commitment like marriage until you have sex.

Your needs and desires are valid, and don’t let culture at large and selfish-driven companies who profit off of your insecurities convince you otherwise.

And for those of us that abhor dating apps, know you’re not being too much, you’re not being “impractical” for not wanting to be on them. You’re not being unrealistic for wanting to meet people in a different way that feels more organic to you. Remember, there are many ways to meet people, both offline and online, platonically and romantically, other than dating apps that are designed to keep you swiping and being a source for their money makin’.

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