“It’s just not for me.”
At one point in my life, this was my go-to response when asked about online dating.
While yes, I was initially made uncomfortable by the idea of putting myself out there in such a one dimensional way, I also had deeper qualms with dating apps.
Mainly: I was still holding out for a better story.
Let’s all admit this: falling for someone who exists outside of your phone, whether it be with a handsome stranger or a long-time friend, is still the ultimate ideal – no matter how ubiquitous dating apps become.
There isn’t a stigma around using dating apps anymore. Everyone does it; Tinder has become as common an iPhone app as Facebook. But there is still a stigma around meeting someone serious on an app.
Somewhere inside of me, there remained a hope, however small, that I’d fall in love with someone in an effortless, face-to-face way.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said something along the lines of: “I’m using it for fun now, but I don’t want to tell my future kids that I met their dad on Tinder!”
Up until recently, I had the same attitude towards Tinder that I did of community college as a high school senior: I was too good for it. It was the easy way out.
But in actuality, both are opportunities to climb your way out of uncertainty. Or just explore.
I joined it to do just that and ended up stumbling into something totally unique and amazing.
I met Mark in the midst of a whirlwind Tinder binge.
I was having the time of my life meeting people and not worrying about commitment or strings. Our relationship hit me like a ton of bricks because I never expected to find something so genuine in an app.
Our first date was hardly magical.
I went into it with a fairly casual mindset. We didn’t have the immediate sparks that are usually the catalyst of a relationship. There were lags in conversation. He awkwardly spilled a little wine.
I was super closed off, as I always am in those situations, and he had no idea if I liked him or not.
But despite all of that, he almost immediately became my best friend.
We met on a Wednesday and saw each other three nights in a row. He didn’t see my standoffish vibe as a turnoff or some sort of weird challenge. He saw who I was beneath all of that, and made a sincere effort to coax the real me out.
When we first had a conversation about defining our relationship, which he initiated, I buried my face in a pillow and wanted nothing to do with it. Not because I didn’t want us to become something more, but because any type of serious conversation typically makes me want dry heave and then jump out a window.
But he was patient and lovely and told me that we had to talk about these things.
He’s made me want to be more open with my feelings. He makes me want to have the sometimes difficult conversations that are necessary for any kind of honest relationship.
I was, and continue to be, astounded by his softness and his kindness.
Our relationship has made me realize that while the act of swiping through pictures and profiles is inherently superficial, it doesn’t mean that those connections can’t go beyond that.
The “how we met” story isn’t what makes a relationship good – it’s about what happens afterward.
And honestly, who cares if we met online?
After all, we do everything else online – shop, work, order food. Is it really so insane that we find a partner online too?
I’m not saying that everyone should expect to meet someone special on a dating app; that will likely result in disappointment. All I’m saying is this: the way you met a person doesn’t have to define the rest of your relationship.
Our story is uniquely ours, just like every couple’s story is uniquely theirs.
It doesn’t matter that millions of people are meeting on the very app that we met on, or that both of us were initially using the app just to have fun, or that our first date was ambiguous and a little awkward.
What matters is that we swiped, we met, and we’re both happier because of it.