I hate online dating. It is frustrating, thrilling, vague, deceptive and addictive – generally, all at the same time. But some days there is nothing like an average date to put your life in to perspective.
For all the frustration and lacklustre feels, I am a serial “deactivator-reactivator”. I set out with great hopes and promising intentions only to get irritated by the cheesy pick-up lines, dead-end conversations and spambot profiles and kill off my account.
Then I find myself at home, late at night, pondering if I really am going to be the last single person on Earth – so I reactivate my account to see if there are still a few fish in the sea. (There are always many fish – I should learn from this and save myself the worry next time.)
I’ve had one great first date with a person I met through a dating app. The others have played out more like two people who went to high school together ten years ago, who were kind of friends, then find themselves randomly seated next to each other on a long-haul flight. An interesting, insightful and relatively entertaining 20 questions ensue until someone ‘falls asleep’. Or if you’re on a date, it ends – perhaps prematurely, maybe prolonged. It’s the risk you take with online dating – I acknowledge that. Not everyone’s going to be your cup of tea and likewise, you’re not going to be everyone else’s cuppa, either.
I’ve dipped in and out of dating apps over the past 18 months. After a so-so date that ended just fine last week I realised two things:
1. Swiping is an escape. What am I actually looking for?
Now that the newness and intrigue of online dating has subsided I think I tend to reactive my account(s) when I am at odds or fatigued in other areas of my life. Work is busy or unstimulating; everyone else is loved up and I’m home alone again on Friday night; or I’m at a general crossroads in my life and I feel like I’m treading water rather than moving in any direction.
As dry as some of the pick-up lines can be, maybe it gives me an avenue to checkout of everyday life and a random stranger to banter with. If I’m lucky, potentially the opportunity to get to know someone new.
Given that you are trying to make a good first impression, you try to showcase your life and not dwell on the aspects that are draining. It’s almost reverse psychology that in sharing your story with someone else you are encouraging yourself to see the positives whereas you might only feel the weight of the negative when you’re mulling life over in your own head.
After many matches, chats, dates, fades and ghosts – I’ve relegated the idea of actually meeting a Significant Other on a dating app to a low likelihood. Though you do meet a lot of people who are up for a chat, have incredible stories of travel and life, and will broaden your knowledge of any number of topics. I love it. It’s probably why I keep going back. But at the same time, it’s probably a bit selfish to indulge in a chat or distraction-banter when other people are genuinely looking for love.
When I started to question what I was actually looking for after my last date – or more so why I keep reactivating my account – I came up blank. If I let go of the idea of finding big, true love online months ago, why keep swiping and chatting?
2. No one is ever going to give you what you want if you aren’t happy with yourself.
This was the clincher.
Dating someone, or finding love, adds to your life. It doesn’t gloss over or mask an indifference or unhappiness that you can’t or won’t address in yourself.The dating, flirting and honeymoon period of a potential love might distract you, but eventually life collates itself again and everything you’ve tried to escape catches up.
It only took me 29 years (five of those actively dating) to realise this.
At the start of this year I made a pact with myself that I was going to work hard, build my business, save money, and set myself up for what (I hope) is to come in the next five years. It’s hard, the hustle and grind never ends. It’s lonely and at times it feels hopeless. I reactivated my account when I was so over it all that I found myself having a drink with a guy who I had nothing in common with. Battling through a strained conversation, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to laugh or cry.
After woefully calling one of my girlfriends in Sydney and shooting the breeze about exactly why we are always the single ones, I wrote a list of all the things I am proud of in my life right now that I have achieved or made happen in the last six months. Then I made a list of everything I want to achieve by the end of 2017. As stupidly simple as it may sound, that mediocre date and those lists were exactly what I needed to pull myself together, regain perspective and quit making excuses.
I work full time. I run a small business doing what I love on the side. I have plans to travel, creative projects on the horizon, great friends, and a cracking to-do list to polish off before my 30th year is out.
As much as I want someone to share that life with right now – someone who is on the same wavelength and shares similar interests and passions – I can wait. And trust that what’s meant to be will come when the time is right.
I deactivated my account (again). Maybe for good this time (but probably not).