Let me start by saying that I have no problem with online dating, chatting, swiping, liking, or any variation thereof. Technology has opened up a wide world of potential mates outside your small town and that’s definitely a good thing for women who still haven’t found what they’re looking for. (Yeah, I guess I did just quote U2, but let’s go with it.)
Still, there are times I think we can give our dating apps a little more credit than they deserve. For instance, one article claims we have the likes of Tinder to thank for “reducing the terrifying prospect of getting rejected in person.” Really? Is the fact that we no longer have to face people in person really something we want to be handing out props for?
The truth is as ego-boosting as a daily barrage of tiny “so hot right now” flames can be; it’s not likely to get us anywhere more meaningful from there.
According to a 2013 PEW survey, one in five singles ages twenty-five to thirty-four-years-old had used an online dating or mobile dating app within the month surveyed. And yet, this same survey indicates that one-third of all online daters have not yet met up in real life with someone they initially found on an online dating site. This number includes online dating, so I can only imagine what the percentage for mobile apps alone might be.
I’m sorry, but look around. How has the effort you took to swipe right done anything for you when it comes to putting yourself out there in the real world?
We are all as broken and insecure as we were before we had the impersonal gratification of mobile dating apps. But at the end of the day, we have to look up from our phones and talk to real live men and women. This requires facing our fear of failure, our fear that we won’t be good enough. And honey child, I’m not pointing a finger at that guy you have been hoping would “man up” and finally ask you out—I’m actually talking to you.
For all of the attention women get from the creepers in our phones, it seems to me that many—but not all—women still find it hard to “put themselves out there” when it comes time to meeting men in person. We show up to parties looking fabulous (as always), find the optimal place to plant ourselves for the entirety of the social event, and then proceed to scare the crap out of any guy who might want to introduce himself.
I know this because that is totally my M.O., and also because I’ve had numerous men explain that this is the exact scenario they regularly contend with.
I used to always tell myself that my “he must approach me” tactic was simply my “style.” This may be true to a degree, but not hitting on a guy is very different from slapping an “Approach At Your Own Risk” notice on your forehead. Let me tell you, this has nothing to do with style and everything to do with fear of rejection.
I had been told for years that I had such a sign on my forehead, and I told everyone to buzz off. But then I had a revelation. You see, when I really took a good look at my dance card at the end of the night, I noticed that men were actually approaching me and some would even ask me on dates. But my dissatisfaction was really because the guys I was interested in didn’t ask for my number at the end of the night. When I looked back on these encounters I realized my mistake. I was friendly to the guys I was not interested in and avoided the men I was interested in like the plague—or at least made no strategic effort to talk to them.
Why would I do that? Because I was afraid they wouldn’t be interested in return: classic fear of rejection.
The point of this sob story is to explain that I get it, but also to encourage women to put down the phone and smile at that guy who seems totally out of their league. Life is not like Tinder. Guys don’t tend to wink at the beautiful woman with the sultry “don’t mess with me” look on her face—they run.