I ended a pretty serious relationship almost exactly a year ago. We had discussed marriage, how many kids we’d have, where we’d settle down, our goals, our future together. We moved in together after four and a half years, and I anticipated that nothing would make me happier.
Instead, I felt really I felt trapped.
So after a year of trying to make a relationship work that I’d already doomed to extinction, I ended things. It was hard and I hated to see him hurt, but I needed to reconcile the feelings I was having and couldn’t do that while maintaining an honest relationship. After the breakup I felt nothing and it took a while to be myself again, but the holidays at home really kicked me back into gear and I was excited to play the field and get back into the dating game.
I downloaded Tinder, Hinge and Bumble, compiled my best pictures and a catchy profile bio and started swiping. My first thought – instant affirmation. Match after match after match. I’m good at this Tinder thing, I thought.
There were a few cheesy pickup lines that I’d ignore, a few semi-interesting conversations I’d engage in for a while. This was fun. No strings attached, people constantly validating me – or at least the way I looked. It felt good to have the attention of so many men at my fingertips without the commitment of a relationship. I could respond to their messages or not, unmatch them if I didn’t feel like talking, etc.
Eventually I accepted a few dates – no harm no foul. I wasn’t looking for a new relationship, but what could the hurt be in going out with a few people? I’d get a few free drinks or meals and the worst it would put me out is some strained conversation.
The first few were pretty rough. I had to carry the conversation for most of the night (and I’m a talker, so these people were particularly tough), and even used the “I have to go let my dog out” excuse a couple times. Occasionally there’d be a date number 2, or a date 3 or 4 in a few cases, and maybe a random hook up thrown in there.
And nine months later – here I am, writing this article, still single. What I’ve mostly found is a) the type of guy I’m looking for probably has no interest in Tinder or Bumble and b) for every affirmation you get, there’s at least two rejections waiting for you.
I work out. A lot. I’ve actually worked out more since my breakup than I ever have in my entire life. I’ve put on 10+ pounds of muscle and am in better shape than I’ve ever been. I’ve done this for myself. I enjoy working out and I’ve reached running goals (I’m on my 2nd half marathon!) that I never thought I could. So, I look pretty good I think. Now I only tell you this to counter it with saying that I am also the most insecure with my looks and my body that I’ve ever been. I walked around college thinking I was hot shit – wearing mini shirts, showing my stomach and rocking a bikini. Now, I don’t even like tight fitting dresses – I’m self-conscious that they show the slight fat around my hips or my lack of a six pack. I’m self-conscious that I need to buy new jeans just to fit over the new butt and leg muscles I’ve never had before. I think the idea of meeting someone random off one of these dating apps and having them disapprove of the way I look has made me this way.
I can’t recall another time in my life where I was as concerned with the way I look as I am now.
For every person that swipes right, there’s at least one other that swiped left – discounting me just because I didn’t fit their standard of beautiful.
Now fine, I can convince myself that if I had other pictures up or they knew the real me, they would’ve swiped right, and that’ll make me feel better about that one person. I swipe right on a cute guy and we don’t match? “Oh, fine he didn’t see my picture yet” or “Whatever, he was dumb anyways.” WAIT WHAT?!
Since when does someone’s thumb movement get to determine how I feel about a person and more so – how they feel about me?!
Here I am, with 100 and some odd Tinder/Bumble matches and more that I’ve talked to and dismissed. But I get up the courage to say something to the guy with the University of Rochester jersey or Buffalo Bills hat – we already have so much in common – what could go wrong. We exchange a few messages, chatting about the few things we know about each other from our pictures and bio and I send a harmless question – how are you liking NC? What are you studying in grad school? And just like that, the message thread goes dry.
One day, 2 days, 3 days – no response. Now this person, this person who accepted me based solely on my looks, made me feel confident, has just as quickly rejected me. Because of what? One question? Why they chose that question to stop responding to, I’ll never know. But what I know is that I feel rejection. Insufficiency. Doubt. Insecurity. If only I’d asked this question instead of that one or had this picture instead of that one, then he would’ve responded….
When did it become okay for someone to make us feel so low by simply not replying to a message or not answering a question?
When did it become okay to say someone is ‘hot enough to swipe right’ but ‘not worth a reply to a conversation.’ It hurts. I feel rejected and insecure in ways that I’ve never felt before from a silly dating app that should be nothing to me. I’m a strong, smart, beautiful, career driven woman with hopes to find someone who really appreciates me and wants a family with me. These apps have taught me that without the perfect pictures and the perfect catch phrase and the perfect bio – those things are unattainable. And I can’t say that I’m innocent of making other people feel this way too… and when I think about the number of guys whose messages or questions I’ve ignored, it makes me feel even worse.
So I’m done. I’m done letting an app decide my value and my level of affirmation or rejection.
I came into this game wanting matches and messages – to be in control. I’ve come out of it weak, tired and lonely. So lonely.
So Tinder, Bumble, Hinge – you won and I lost. But I’m done. I’m taking back my confidence, I’m done letting you and the guys on this app that tire their thumbs looking for an unattainable combination of pretty and personable – decide my happiness. I have friends that love me and appreciate me and a family that provides constant support. It’s their turn to give me my value, not yours. I’ll find someone – maybe at a bar or the library or a coffee shop – maybe a friend will set me up or I’ll reconnect with an old friend. I don’t need you or your affirmations, Tinder. I’m done. Swipe right on someone else.