I ran from online dating for as long as possible, but eventually realized it was going to have to be part of my meeting people repertoire because…it just was. Remember when you used to go out to a coffee shop or a bar and people would look around and interact and possibly make eye contact and even speak to each other? No? I barely do either, but those days are gone!
Because I live by myself, I frequently head out to various coffee shops to read, write, eavesdrop, people watch, and have basic interactions with other living beings. Though I know I am not alone in this desire for connection, it’s as if we have forgotten how to deal with each other without the safety net of a screen and, instead of simply looking right or left, at the cute person who might be sitting next to us, we instead choose to sit alone and swipe. Swipe left. Swipe right.
I first signed up for online dating at the beginning of 2015, after making the New Year’s Resolution to step out of my comfort zone and date. I lasted about six months and actually met some decent guys and came away without any horror stories, before deciding I was tired of it. I made the same resolution at the beginning of 2017 and back I went. Friends, who have been in long term relationships since before the online thing went mainstream, love to ask me about it. What do I write? What kind of pictures do I post? How do I decide who I will go out with? Tinder, but isn’t that the hookup app??! I always reply the same- You have to be in the right mental and emotional space with yourself to online date. It will push all of your self worth buttons and depending on where you need to work on your self love and care, bring all of your insecurities to the surface. Maybe any relationship will. But, it seems the smorgasbord like atmosphere of online dating brings these issues up quicker.
But, that being said, if you’re good with you, are able to take it all with a grain of salt, see it as a kind of game or a way to get clear on what you do want by learning what you don’t want, and if you don’t take any of it personally (which is hard!), then it can be fun! Or at least bearable.
I am currently in a quantity phase. I am basically saying yes to invitations from anyone who sounds interesting, even if I know I am not interested in dating them or am not necessarily attracted to them. But, if they seem funny, interesting, or smart and they approach me, I have decided that having an innocent beer, cup of coffee, and a random conversation is more fun than sitting at home swiping, waiting for Mr. Perfect. It gets me to show up, dress up, work on my convo, boundary, and communication skills and, as a bonus, I get to explore LA. I’ve been out with three different scientists this week and have discussed baking bread, families, baseball, and politics, among other things, over coffee and Moscow Mules.
My biggest take away from dating, but specifically online dating, is compassion. Compassion for myself and for everyone who is putting themselves out there, approaching others, being ghosted, figuring out how it works, dressing up, making small talk, and repeatedly showing up.
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