Dating today is easier, but is it ‘better’?
MANILA, Philippines — A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, if a person is into online dating, it’s either a) they’re out of options b) they’re “over-aged” c) they’re looking for someone to love abroad or d) all of the above.
Basically, it used to be a last resort and was done only in hushed whispers.
But then, in 2013, Tinder became available for everyone with a smartphone. Finding love was, literally, as easy as a swipe of a finger. Hey, no need to keep it a secret if everyone’s doing it, right?
Many fish in the sea
Let’s contextualize a bit. Before the dawn of Tinder, Bumble, etc. We millennials were not the online-dating sorta type. We found love through friends or friends of friends, in school or in the workplace. And if we were feeling a bit adventurous, during nights out in town. Even if Facebook and Twitter were the avenues for first contact, we at least had an idea of who the person was and how we were connected to them.
If things didn’t work out, we would wait. We would wait for the chance encounter of bumping into someone who felt right (preferably with a share-worthy meet-cute) as we went through the cycle: friends, friends of friends, school, office, etc.
It was a small pond we were fishing in, so to speak. The birth of mobile apps opened the floodgates. Who needed friends as wingmen, when you yourself could flip a card deck of potential love interests in your area?
First day of class: swipe! Friday night clubbing at BGC: swipe! In line while getting your sedula: why not? SWIPE!
Dating apps made us realize that indeed there were many fish in the proverbial sea. No longer did we need to settle. The guy you just met turned out to be a bit of a “funboy?” Swipe again and you’re bound to find someone else! You’re bound to eventually, right?
Like a needle in a fish pond
Yes, online dating has its fair share of benefits. The diversity of people you could meet grew exponentially. Communication will never become a problem. The inbox became a de facto mask that gave us more confidence. (How many times have we taken a deep breath, hit send, muted the phone, then hid it behind a pillow or in our bags only to check it again after thirty minutes or so? aminin!)
But just like most good things, dating apps soon became a double-edged sword.
Just like how older generations would lament how good ol’ fashioned library research is now close to obsolete because of how it easy it is to Google, the heartfeltness of online dating soon faded and things became too easy.
For every one match who would send a personalized DM, there would be ten (a personal estimate) who would copy-paste an omnibus message — “You look fine, want to get a drink?” Just look at your inbox, how many are genuine conversations vs. generic pick-up lines?
Dating apps gave us easy access, but also instant gratification. And instant gratification, let’s admit it, made us lazy.
Pragmatically speaking, it’s kind of understandable. Going out on a date once every two months requires thinking and planning of a myriad of activities and dating ideas. Try this restaurant, go bowling, watch a film. But do it twice or thrice a week? You’ll eventually decide on go-to date spots. (The same place in Poblacion the third time this week!? You don’t say?)
Bye-bye flowers and mixtapes. Bye-bye romance.
And, yes, we may have opened the doors to a more diverse, a more interesting dating pool, but we also became a lot pickier.
E.g. A doctor to the barrio, of Eurasian descent...ooooh...but wears bling-bling and rainbow-colored caps. Swipe left! Swipe left!
In the back of our minds, we always think we could do better. We don’t give chances these days.
“So many fish in the sea, but none of them for me.”
Where to find the right catch?
Is there really such a thing as love at first swipe?
Laurie Davis, author of Love at First Click, says that we have to rethink how we see online dating. They’re not be-all-end-all dating services, instead, they are “introducing services.”
Think of it this way, at the end of the day, even no matter how easy things go online, or how good first impressions are, finding love, real love, will be a matter of effort. Algorithms and codes may guide us, but it’s still us who build connections.
So what’s the trick to online dating, you may ask. Well, this writer thinks it's about balancing the OL and the IRL.
Gabe, Aika, and Lia learn this first-hand in Smart’s first ever online series FindHer. Med-student Gabe may have found the right connection online but his perfect girl may exist only in a perfect world...literally.
To what extent will Gabe go to find her? How will he make the love he found online become part of reality?
Dating may be easier these days, but making relationships work will never be easy.
Binge-watch the seven episodes of FindHer now on Smart’s Youtube channel and follow the conversations online using the official hashtags #FindHerSeries and #IsLoveOnline – Rappler.com