In our Love App-tually series, Mashable shines a light into the foggy world of online dating. Just in time for cuffing season.
There was a time in my life when I wanted nothing more than to get off dating apps.
Back when I was in my twenties, I thought that dating apps were the end of our culture and the precipitating factor behind all my pain. Too sad to get up in the morning? It’s probably because XxGothGirlxX never responded to my very funny OkCupid message that referenced Foxfire (seriously, who else could she find who knew that movie?). Too anxious to eat? Well, that’s because I wasn’t getting enough Tinder matches. Everyone on there was clearly threatened by my extraordinarily clever bio.
The truth was that dating apps could make me sad, but they could also provide intense, immensely satisfying bursts of narcissistic pleasure.
Some part of me will always long for my swiping days of yore.
To be clear (especially to my girlfriend who is probably reading this post right now), I don’t long for being single at all. There are people who are perfectly happy living life without a partner and that’s wonderful. I, however, am not one of them.
I don’t miss the days of microwaving Morningstar Farms chicken nuggets, now that I come home to a partner who cares about her lifespan and making food that’s actually supposed to go in your body. I don’t ever want to go on a date again with someone obsessed with reading me sections from her dissertation on queer performance theory and Weimar Republic clown art. I want to go home to my partner who … doesn’t do that.
[Trigger warning for extreme cheesiness] I’m in a happy, loving relationship, and I’m not interested in turning back the clock.
Here’s what I do miss about dating apps:
1. It was a place to feel superior
I wasn’t the hottest ticket on OkCupid by a long shot. What I was, however, was a snob. I felt such a gross tug of superiority when I saw people list Fight Club as their favorite book or listed traveling as one of their favorite hobbies in their Tinder bio. Never mind that I actually liked both of those things — I would never dare to be that unoriginal and write them down in my profile.
I’m not proud of this particular part of my history, but I’m not going to deny that this feeling once existed.
2. There was something to swipe on when I was bored waiting for the train
We all need activities to satisfy our minuscule attention spans. Reading is great. Swiping? Even better. I once loved the feeling of euphoria I got from making a match, even if I didn’t like the person on the other end.
Nowadays, I’m forced to go on Twitter to keep my brain engaged. Compared to Tinder and OkCupid, it’s a devastatingly depressing platform. I’d much rather be turned down by a bunch of self-professed Slytherins on Tinder than read about Sen. Lindsey Graham’s latest emotional outburst.
3. I had a home for my hottest selfies
Every once in a while, I’ll get a haircut that I think looks good, and I’ll want to post it somewhere. My girlfriend, who is a better person than me, is automatically supportive. I feel awkward about posting a sexy selfie on Instagram, where old coworkers follow me. Does my old boss who I worked with in foster care really want to see me making duck lips? She does not.
To get my full high, I need the affirmation of strangers. If I was on Tinder, I’d have the space to indulge my crudest, most narcissistic impulses.
4. It was a place to get style inspo
Without the internet, I’d probably dress entirely out of the L.L. Bean catalogue. Nothing makes me happier than a well-crafted New England loafer.
As a queer person, Tinder is where I used to go for sartorial inspiration. There aren’t that many style blogs out there for gender non-conforming folks, so the best way to search out queer style is by scrolling through queer people on dating apps.
Tinder is the reason I have a floral bomber jacket today. For that, I am grateful.
5. It forced me to write funny jokes
Some of my best comedic material is in my 2009 OkCupid profile. Before I was able to write for the internet, I wrote for an audience of potential girlfriends on OkCupid. Folks, I killed it — at least with my *sassy* copy.
Nowadays, most of my writing on social media is limited to calling people fascists or using the vomit emoji to describe the subway system.
OkCupid and Tinder held me to a higher editorial standard than Twitter.
6. I got a lot of great recommendations
My music taste is mostly limited to music you’ll find on Now That’s What I Call Music. Thanks to OkCupid, I was able to browse the music interests of people who were far cooler than me. Love my Apple Music playlists? You can thank the OkCupid community of 2005.
The same goes for film and television. Before OkCupid, I was watching the same episodes of The L Word over and over again. Now I have an expanded range of crap I watch on the reg.
7. Tinder and OkCupid brought me community
I’m ashamed to admit this, but online dating gave me most of my current network of friends. It can be hard to find friends in the queer community, which, statistically, is much smaller than the straight population. Often on Tinder or OkCupid, I’d find people just looking for friends, and I’d go out and befriend them (assuming we were compatible/they weren’t too serious about astrology).
People I once dated became close friends. Heck, people I met for half a beer became best friends.
For all of the despair dating apps gave me, they still gave me this.
Listen — assuming my girlfriend reads this post and doesn’t dump me, I’ll never go back. But I can still manage to be grateful.