A few weeks ago, I challenged one of my best friends to delete all of his online dating apps. He seemed to be having trouble concentrating on dinner while being bombarded by unsavoury men on his phone. He was getting frustrated by lacklustre messages and unsatisfying connections.
If you've ever been on a dating site (and come on, who hasn't?) you know the messages I'm talking about. Short, generic greetings. The occasional lewd pickup line. Sure, it can be nice to get attention but such unimaginative messages can leave a person unstimulated.
My friend took the challenge and promptly deleted each and every app. He started to feel more at ease and less frustrated. We made a commitment to going out more and meeting people in person. At one of our regular stomping grounds, he met someone. The two of them are now turning into an adorable couple.
Now I feel like a hypocrite.
Recently, my curiosity led me back to browsing on OkCupid. In a matter of a week, I got in the habit of scouring endless profiles each night, captivated by the way people described themselves. The behaviour that I had scolded my friend on was becoming a regular routine for me. After exhausting my search in Vancouver I began looking in other cities. Seattle. LA. New York. Berlin. How did people differ in other parts of the world? Were they more upfront? More adventurous? More committed to finding a serious relationship?
There's nothing wrong with meeting people online. But I recognize some of the ugly behaviours I have when I'm trolling around. I become really judgmental. In my mind, I find myself criticizing haircuts, outfits, spelling, attitudes, facial expressions. Finding reasons to dismiss people. Simultaneously, I zoom way into the future. Instead of deciding if I'd like to have a conversation with someone, I'm assessing whether we'll be compatible as a married couple and how many children we should have.
Online dating becomes a project. The project of finding a match. If the project isn't completed, I wind up feeling like I've failed or like I have some sort of lack. I'm not lacking anything. I'm a completely whole person with an amazing life.
Whether I keep online dating or not doesn't matter. What matters is the way I interpret it. I'm giving up my ugly behaviours. My judgments. My fears. My pressure.
That goes for life in general.