1. Dating app dates are basically blind dates.
You go into the date unduly concerned about exactly how you present yourself, because this person has never a) seen you in person, b) heard how you laugh, and c) seen whether you can laugh at yourself when you inevitably dribble ramen on yourself (sidenote: ramen on a first date is not recommended).
It is, in essence, a “blind date.” We don’t think of it that way, because well, we’ve got pics! But a couple of pictures is a dangerously misleading facade that far from reflects the totality (and often, reality) of the person.
Not only that, a couple of pictures is far from determinative as to whether or not there is going to be any true physical attraction. Physical attraction is a package deal, and is basically impossible to assess from a 2D image showing the general outline of some bro’s biceps, or how a girl’s face looks when she contorts her lips into some misguided wannabe-Kylie Jenner shape for an insta-selfie.
2. We have this illusion that love at first sight is a thing.
We all love to think that we might feel those proverbial butterflies the instant we meet the sculpted Greek God we were presented with on the screen of our iPhone. But we don’t. And then we think that’s the end of it. We see a perfectly constructed, humorous and attractive profile, and expect all of that to instantly translate in real life.
But think about the crushes of your teenage years. The ones that literally made your stomach hurt, your knees shake, and rendered you unable to coherently formulate a sentence.
Even though those crushes sometimes felt irrational, those shaking knees and bumbling lips didn’t arise because you saw a cute boy on a screen. They developed because you saw that cute boy in action. Goofing around with his friends, expertly finger-picking a rendition of Stairway to Heaven, smiling at the cafeteria lady who provided him with his favorite foil-wrapped re-warmed cheeseburger. You saw the person in their genuine, unfiltered, unassuming state.
How often do you see that on a first date? Never. And it is nobody’s fault. Both people are nervous about dripping that ramen. Both people know what’s on the line. Both are worried whether their natural cool-factor is cool enough.
And this is the first time both people are seeing each other. Like, really seeing each other. And this is the screwed-up, inauthentic, nerve-constrained state that is their first impression of each other.
And well, it sucks.
We like to think that a “good” online date should feel as intense as those high school crushes. But those crushes were often the product of seeing a person in their element, being their true selves, and seeing their unique smile and social grace, but also their cute idiosyncrasies.
In other words, the things that are subconsciously repressed on a nerve-wracking, “blind” first date. Plus, let’s be real, we were fucking fifteen and misguided as all hell.
3. We don’t give those nervous, ramen-dripping dates a second chance.
They might not have been super smooth. They might not be the Rico-fucking-Suave who they appeared to be on the app. But that’s likely because they were anxious and sweaty as a clam. Do you like the same stuff? Do you think they’re good-looking in person? Were they polite to the bartender? Did they make you laugh at least once or twice?
Then give it another goddamn shot, and stop thinking that continuing to swipe will eventually elicit a Ryan Gosling Hey Girl moment. It’s not going to happen. We are all nervous, awkward goofballs. Except those of us who are cocky bastards, but that’s no good either.
If you’re on the fence about whether to go out again, just do it.