I still remember the day my best friend and I were hanging out, complaining about dating and boys and life in general, when we decided we were gonna go for it: download a dating app.
We did it at the same time, clicking through the questions and giggling as we were trying to figure out what to put in our profiles, what pictures to use, sifting through a world of unknown. How old am I willing to date? How young? Do I put something about Jesus in my profile, or is clicking “Christian” enough? That whole week we were texting each other screen shots of awkward conversations, updating each other on how it was going. The first time I tried online dating, I found it to be incredibly freeing.
For the first time, I felt like I was taking control of my own dating life – putting myself out there, in a way, instead of just sitting around waiting for a boy to ask me out. It also seemed to open up a whole world of singles that I didn’t know existed. As someone who hung out with a lot of couple and a lot of girls, I almost forgot there were single men in existence. It was a nice reminder.
And thennnn, it got old quickly. Sifting through profiles of people I had no desire in getting to know, hoping that one of the few matches would actually message me – hoping that of those who did message me, they’d be somewhat normal and able to carry a conversation. And then we’re gonna meet up! And then….. Ah. We met up. This was going nowhere. Again and again and again.
I ended up meeting someone the old fashioned way, and as we started dating I happily deleted my apps. No more use for these! Until a few months later, I found myself re-downloading them, editing my profile, hoping for something. This time around, it felt depressing and hopeless. The apps hadn’t changed – I had. When I once was excited about dating, it now felt like an ominous process – and the apps just added to those feelings, with the unending shirtless beach boys looking for “a girl who enjoys fitness”. Eye. Roll.
I’ve gone on and off with dating apps – deleting the, re-downloading them, trying out new ones. Sometimes I really enjoy the freedom they bring and the modern way of dating they’ve invented. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is deal with messaging a stranger, and I wonder what is the world coming to. It’s hit or miss, for me.
Based on the many, many conversations I’ve had about online dating with friends, it changes person to person. But the one thing that doesn’t change? How much it gets discussed – and stressed over – by single millennials. AND how much I get asked to blog about it (literally the #1 thing I get asked to write on). Which brings us to the last question of my Donuts & Dating series. But, first: donuts.
#1 out of 4: (which makes this my top top TOP pick): Donut Bar
Maybe you’ve seen them on the Today Show or the news, maybe you’ve seen the ridiculous line downtown that usually goes down the block most mornings – maybe you’ve been lucky enough to actually taste one of their delicious creations.
With a menu of gourmet inventions that changes daily, this place typically sells out. Every morning. The good news is you can pre-order them the night before and skip the line in the morning if you want to buy a dozen (and, seriously, you should buy a dozen). The better news is they now have a new beer bar and new late night hours Friday and Saturday – aka fresh batches of donuts and 20+ beers on tap. Aka HEAVEN.
I talk about this place, and their social media, so often that I’ve been asked on more than one occasion if I get paid to advertise for them. I. Wish. (Donut Bar, if you’re reading…. I’m so down. Let’s chat.) My roommate and I started frequenting their establishment… often. We may have been on their Instagram. They may follow me on Twitter. Don’t worry about it.
My brother asked for “more donut talk” on my next blog, so if this is too much donut info for you – blame him. If it’s not, I’d suggest trying their S’mores pop tart donut – life. changing. – or their hard root beer floats that COMES WITH A ROOT BEER FLOAT DONUT ON TOP. You read that right, a root beer float donut. On top of a root beet float. Okay. I’m done.
“Are dating apps okay? Tinder?! Coffee Meets Bagel? Whaaaaat?”
These days when I ask a couple how they met, I can almost always guess when their reply is going to be a dating app – they pause, smile at the floor, then each other, then lower their voices and respond with “… we met online”. For the vast amount of relationships that start online these days, people still seem pretty embarrassed to admit they are part of the ~35%. I think with Christians especially, it seems like we should be ashamed we aren’t exclusively dating in the church, aren’t trusting God to drop our soul mates onto our porch, or are doing something as “worldly” or “superficial” as a dating app. Dating apps are nothing to be embarrassed of.
Would I smile at a cute guy in a coffee shop or bar? Would I chat with him for a bit before considering giving him my number? Yes. Why is this seen as so different when the basically same thing happens through an app on my phone? I’m big on pushing back against the stereotypes of online dating, so I try to be as open and candid as possible about it: I’ve been on some apps, I’m not on them right now, I’ll probably be back on them at some point. It’s no secret to hide behind. I even posted a screenshot of an old bio for the sake of this blog, which quite honestly feels really, really strange, but we need to stop treating dating apps like a dirty little secret. And I had to take my own advice.
Am I currently single? Yes. Am I currently open to a new relationship? Yes. If I’m okay with the whole world knowing that, why should I not be okay with them knowing I’m on a dating app? I get there are certain stigmas and such surrounding them – especially in the church. But being single and ready to mingle is nothing to be ashamed of – neither is being on Christian Mingle.
So, as Christians, are dating apps okay?? YES. As “okay” as dating is – if you’re doing it in a healthy, smart way that is representative of who you are. There is 100% nothing wrong with dating apps in my book. Here’s what I will say:
Know why you are using dating apps. Some dating apps have certain reputations – Tinder is pretty known for being a hook up app and I’ve stayed away from it for that reason (though I knew a few people who are now in serious relationships thanks to Tinder). Are you looking for a serious relationship or a date for Friday night? Are you looking to actually connect with other human being or are you looking for something to entertain you? If you don’t know your intention going in, just like dating, you’re probably going to end up disillusioned and frustrated. Just like you’re going to find different types of people at different bars, knowing why you’re using dating apps will help you “walk into” the right place.
For the record, I’ve had the most success with Hinge (they’ve recently changed things, which I find so very interesting), but I’ve been on Coffee Meets Bagel, Crosspaths & one I honestly can’t remember the name of (or find on Google). I’ve heard great things about Bumble, OkCupid, and Christian Mingle.
Know how you are using dating apps. Here’s the biggest problem I always see people run into: dating apps aren’t ways to date people, they are ways to meet people. You cannot actually get to know a real human, and they can’t actually get to know you, through a screen. I don’t care how much you message them or see their pictures or whatever, you need to actually meet up in person to date them, and to see if they are even worth dating. Be intentional about how you’re actually using these apps – to see pictures of various single people in your area, or to date various people in your area? Are you messaging people just to message them for the night, or are you messaging them to hopefully meet up for drinks next week?
Remember there are people on the other side of the screen. Technology is really, really wonderful – but sadly the more removed we are from real interaction with others, the more removed we feel from the emotions of others. Remember there is a real living person on the other side of the phone – with real thoughts and feelings and emotions. So don’t say things in a first message you would never walk up to someone and say in person (like “please send nudes”). Don’t agree to meet up with someone and not show up – you wouldn’t do that to a person you know in real life, right? And don’t incessantly message someone, toying with their emotions, because you’re home alone and bored one night, and have no intention of talking to them the next day.
Be smart about it. In many ways.
- Proof read your bio. Seriously, you would think this is common knowledge – but based off the many, many spelling mistakes I saw, apparently it isn’t. This is just embarrassing – your phone has auto correct. Your computer has Word. You have Google. Don’t be the guy who “will buy you a cup of coffe” or “sucker for a niec smile”.
- Don’t lie about things in your bio. Or…. don’t lie in general. Don’t use fake pictures, don’t put a fake job up, don’t list hobbies that you actually don’t enjoy. I will never understand this logic – you’re basically guaranteeing the person will be disappointed by you in the first 10 minutes (as YOU AREN’T WHO YOU SAID). Why would you want a date to start like that?
- Trust your gut. When you’re messaging someone and something feels off… trust your instincts. If you’re going to meet up with someone and you’re getting a weird vibe, cancel. (Notice I said cancel, not ghost). If you’re on a date and it’s getting weird, feel free to leave at any point. You have nothing to prove here and no promises to keep.
- Stranger danger, friends. When you’re going to meet someone in person that you’ve only talked to online, be smart. Don’t give out your phone number to just anyone. Offer to meet them at a public place, instead of agreeing to be in a car with someone you don’t know. Don’t tell people where you live, where you work, etc unless you trust them. Especially if you’re a woman, don’t put yourself in situations that have a potential to end badly – and if they do end badly, THIS DOESN’T MEAN IT WAS YOUR FAULT. I repeat, this doesn’t mean it was your fault. Just try to remember your date for the evening, no matter how seemingly charming, is still a stranger. (I, who have both an obsession with Criminal Minds and an vivid imagination, would always text a friend or two where I was going, what time, the guy’s name, and a screenshot of his picture. If I’m going missing, they have something to tell the police. Ya know?)
I’ve forever wanted to do a blog of strange bios that I’ve actually seen or the WEIRD pictures some guys have on their profiles or the horrible, horrible first liners some guys used in messages. Trust me, I have quite the collection. But I’m not here to shame people. Those laughable moments (which, if you’re online dating, there will be plenty of)? Screen shot them and send them to your friends. Have a good chuckle, and then remember dating is hard and we’re all making this up as we go.
In summary, just like we now use Facebook to flirt with someone, we now use the internet to help us meet someone. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – it all depends on how you go about it. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. The way you meet someone has no direct effect on how successful the relationships is going to be (unless it’s like… in jail), but how you go about the relationship is incredibly more telling.
My Donuts & Dating mini series is questions we didn’t get to answer, extra thoughts of mine on the subject, and – of course – my favorite donut spots in San Diego.
Be sure to read my initial thoughts on dating, staying friends with your exes & emotional boundaries, dating with intention & when to break up with someone, how to make yourself attractive & when to ask someone out, annnnnnnnd everyone’s number one question for me: online dating.