Is Online Dating Really Worth It?

Ahh online dating. Its prevalence and popularity deludes us into thinking swiping right is the only way to meet people. Fantasy stories about meeting your soul mate on Tinder give us all hope, encouraging us as we download app after app in search of the one. Love it or hate, it’s here to stay, and you will probably encounter it at some point in your single life. The whole process can be stressful—picking the right photos for your profile, coming up with a clever bio and then sifting through the endless possible suitors that pop up. Often, I end up feeling like it wasn't even worth it. Why should I put myself out there if I’m just going to get an onslaught of frat dudes asking for my Snapchat? 

  1. Online dating is weirdly intentional. I was always taught to play it cool when I liked a guy but hard to get games go out the window with online dating. If I swipe right, he clearly knows I at least find him mildly attractive. It makes me feel desperate to be searching for someone so directly; directly indicating to a guy that I would probably be willing to sleep with him goes against every feminist bone in my body. I think I’ve even had a guy tell me he thinks women who are on dating apps have lower standards, so I have a whole complex about it. I don't need a man, but online dating sure doesn't make it seem that way. 
  2. The whole thing is superficial. Obviously, attraction is important in a relationship but there's still something weird about rejecting someone entirely based on how they look in five pictures or less. It makes me feel mean and I don’t like the idea of someone looking at their phone and deciding if I’m worth their time or not. Some people don't photograph well!! What if I swiped left on the love of my life because he's not photogenic?? What if the love of my life swiped left on me because I’m not photogenic?! These are the fears that keep me up at night, people. 
  3. STRANGER DANGER. The combination of watching too much "Catfish" and witnessing some real-life impersonation stories have made me very nervous that anyone I meet online will be a liar, criminal or fake human. I don't want to show up for a date and get kidnapped or have my date look totally different than he did in his profile. This is RISKY. It’s UNSAFE. WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME DO IT?
  4. You know too much to make awkward small talk on the first date. Whether you've stalked the person’s profile incessantly or you've talked to him a lot before meeting up, chances are the online meet cute will take away your go-to "I don't know you well" questions, meaning you actually have to be interesting on the first date. What am I supposed to say if I can’t rely on those go-tos?! It’s awkward to be like, “Hey, I know this is where you went to college because it was one of the five facts you listed about yourself. Tell me more!”
  5. Too. Many. Options. There are so many people on dating apps that I'm not always willing to talk to a guy I match with, even if he is cute. What if someone cuter, smarter or more interesting comes along? I end up psyching myself out and then I don't even talk to anyone, leaving me alone watching Riverdale once again. 

Have I convinced you online dating is the worst? Yes? Great. All that being said, here's why I also love online dating: *plot twist*

  1. Intentionality can be good. It's likely that someone I meet online is also actively trying to find a partner, meaning I'm more likely to find someone who wants the same thing as me. And whether you're in it for hook ups or something serious, it's easier to be more up front online about what you want from someone than it is in person, making it less likely you’ll get hurt by crossed signals. I could have saved myself a lot of time if I approached guys I met in real life like I approach men I meet online.
  2. Like I mentioned, attraction does matter. I've tried to date a few guys who I haven't been that attracted to because they were really nice. I tried to convince myself I'd feel that way about them eventually and it never panned out—I wasn't satisfied and the guy got hurt. Ladies, we all deserve more than faking it with a guy who is polite but boring. Online dating can help you stay focused on guys who will actually satisfy all of your needs, saving his time and yours.
  3. Meeting new people is the whole point of dating! Meeting new people is so difficult once you're out of college. The only people you meet are from work (danger! SOS! red alert! don’t date someone you work with), friends of friends (if the guy is any good, your friend will go ahead and tap that) or randoms at bars (most of the drunkies I meet don't seem like boyfriend material but live your life, girl). Just having a pool of men available to you who are clearly single and looking for a partner of some kind increases your odds of meeting someone, giving online dating an edge.
  4. You get to skip awkward small talk!!! Because you've probably already talked to the person you're meeting up with a decent amount, you can get to know them in more meaningful and fun ways once you meet in person because you don't have to waste time on "Where are you from?", "Where do you work?" type questions. Even though it can be awkward to mention things you know from his profile, he’ll probably be flattered you paid attention to him and you’ll find out sooner if you really have a connection or not.
  5. Options are a gift. In our small social bubbles, it can often feel like there are no single men left in the world. Apps remind you that Mr. Right is just around the corner, you've just got to be open to meeting him however he comes along. If I approach apps from the perspective of meeting as many guys as I can, I feel encouraged even if I do end up talking to a creeper or get rejected. Just because that guy sucked doesn't mean the next guy will. Increased numbers keeps you positive! 

Listen, I'm no expert. I've only been online since June and I've been out with exactly one guy I met on an app. BUT meeting up with that guy went really well because I took my time to find someone I really connected with—our initial conversations were easy, I definitely thought he was cute, he didn't ask for nudes (this doesn't seem like it should be a basic requirement but for some reason it is) and he even sent me the link to his LinkedIn profile before we met up because I told him I was nervous about getting catfished. By the time we met up, it felt effortless and comfortable and I felt like I could really be myself around him because he already knew a good bit about me. There were lots of duds and creeps before I swiped right on this guy and there will be many after him, just like meeting guys in real life, but guys like him do come along and I'm so glad I met him. Who knows where it'll go, but either way I'm grateful for the experience because it's reassuring to know that I can meet great guys online. I'm sure there are hundreds of other real men on apps out there who want someone like me and I'm willing to look for them. So when it comes to online dating, give it a shot. What do you have to lose?

Feature art by Aleyna Moeller