Most of us who reached high school before social media and dating apps were a thing can remember what dating used to look like.
You know, the days of having a cute little crush on someone at school or summer camp; being giddy and acutely aware of when they were around (as you pretended not to notice them), the old-fashioned butterflies that ensued when you realized they liked you back, the all-night phone conversations on your parents’ landline, and the beginning of a solid, love-filled relationship with someone you already knew.
Now, dating has become more of a sport or an online shopping binge.
And for some people, that’s great.
There are countless couples who have met with the help of an online dating site or app and who have gone on to form a strong and solid relationship. My problem with such platforms has nothing to do with any sort of stigma associated with that type of dating. I feel the same way about setups as I do dating apps, or any other type of forced romantic introduction. This, of course, is opposed to an organic, old-fashioned one.
For me, setups never work out. I have never joined a dating app, but I have had people I had never met reach out to me through Facebook and strike up a conversation that has resulted in a date (or two). In the end, it was a total waste of time.
I don’t have to tell you that there are so many more rules and calculations when it comes to the introduction. You carefully decide the location for your first date, which we all know is usually more reminiscent of a job interview than any sort of romantic interaction. You may have a one-drink rule as you sit there and inevitably assess the other on whether they meet your expectations, standards, and checklist of requirements (and if they don’t, you can easily move onto the next with one swipe).
Nothing about it seems organic, however smooth the conversation may be. You’re so busy assessing and overthinking that it’s a challenge to live in the moment with the other person, which is also due to the fact they were virtually a stranger an hour prior.
In the experience of myself and my friends, you’re pleasantly surprised if the math adds up. Good conversation, good vibes, and an 80 per cent success rate in terms of your checklist equals a second date. Then the typical, somewhat tedious text message banter ensues as the two of you plan the next time you’ll meet.
Seriously, it gives me anxiety just to think about.
If everything seems to work out, make sense, and the other person isn’t a complete psycho, you begin to see each other on the regular to figure out whether you actually like each other enough to embark in a relationship. At the same time, one another’s nuances and habits begin to surface and you internally assess whether or not you can deal with them.
The best part about meeting someone and dating organically is you’re usually aware of these intricacies long before your first kiss. You’ve already figured out that you’re into them (as much as you may have tried to ignore that feeling). You’re willing and eager to be invested in them. And, best of all, nothing about it seems forced or calculated.
Of course, the problem with dating organically as a young professional is that it’s difficult to find ourselves in situations that facilitate organic love connections in the first place. So, many of us give up on the prospect of that good, old-fashioned love story. You adapt to the times with your dating life, suck it up, and join an app or agree to a setup. And again, sometimes it works out. Others, when you’re met with one shitty date after another, make you feel even worse about being single.
That’s why going organic is always the better idea.
It isn’t easy, trust me. But the first step is to make an effort put yourself in a situation to meet people without any preconceived notions of what it means to be dating. The possibilities are more fruitful than you may think, from joining a softball league or sitting on a charity board to attending an out-of-town industry conference – all of which better your life in their own right anyway.
I’d so much rather spend my time doing that than flipping through options on a dating app.