Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash
Content by: Kacie Main – Medium
I was recently with a group of friends and we started talking about the various dating apps. I quickly saw a pattern and it wasn’t a positive one. There I was, surrounded by several amazing single ladies, each entrenched in online dating, and no one was optimistic. No one was excited. No one was hopeful about the plethora of prospects at their fingertips. Nope. They were downright jaded.
Too many bad dates. Too many disappointments. Too many matches that went nowhere. It was like the dating world of possibility had come crashing down on them, leaving nothing left but a sea of negativity in its wake. I couldn’t blame them — their list of trials and tribulations was legit. And sadly, this pessimism is trending among online daters.
Sound familiar? Well, as with anything you do in life, when you find yourself burnt out, it’s time to take a break. Here are three signs you may need to step away from the swiping.
1. You’re making too many assumptions from too little information.
You see one photo… or even something in the background of a photo and boom — you swipe left. You have a reason. Something in the photo told you something about that person that you knew you wouldn’t like.
But here’s the thing — you don’t know. You’re assuming. You’re picking apart each photo and assigning a story to every piece.
We all do this to some extent, and we do it in almost every situation. From coworkers to fellow grocery shoppers, we use limited information as signs of who someone is on a larger scale. The problem is that we are painting a picture of an entire person when only given a few brush strokes. The rest we are making up based on historical data.
In the dating world, this is especially easy to do as you swipe through an endless supply of profiles with only a handful of photos to work with. But you might be taking it a little too far and I’ve witnessed it firsthand…
“I don’t swipe right on anyone with an incomplete profile. If they didn’t take the time to answer some questions, they’re either lazy or douchey.”
“He looks high maintenance.”
“No — he has a little dog. I don’t like guys with little dogs.”
Okay. Yes, you must have some sort of selection process — you can’t swipe right on everyone. But perhaps it’s time to take a step back and really look at your criteria. Look at the large assumptions you are making about someone based off one photo or one answer to a meaningless question. Would you want the same assumptions made about you? Probably not.
It isn’t fair to use a bad date in the past against someone you’ve never met. One person doesn’t define another. And just because you meticulously chose each of your photos, ensuring they all equally contributed to the vibe you wanted to portray, doesn’t mean everyone was that methodical in putting together their profile. Cut them some slack.
The point of the profiles is to show you potential, not give you a reason to pick someone apart.
2. You aren’t messaging your matches.
I don’t understand this one. You essentially said (albeit virtually), “yes, I’m interested in you.” That person agreed that they are interested in you too. And then crickets. It doesn’t make sense. Let’s put it into a real-life scenario:
Two people are making eye contact across the room. One person nods their head toward the bar — indicating they want to talk — and gets up and walks to the bar. The other person gets up as well and meets them there. They both then turn around and walk back to their tables, having never said a word to each other.
Huh?? Now, I know the argument here — you want the other person to start the conversation. But why does it matter? You already showed you were interested. You’ve already raised your hand. You’re already out there… and you’re not alone. You’re both at the bar — now say something!
This is especially true when it comes to Bumble. Ladies — you must start the conversation. That’s the point of the entire app. They can’t message you! Yes, maybe they’re gaming the system and swiping right on everyone then using messages as their selection point, but again — why does it matter? If they don’t respond, it’s no different than if you hadn’t matched. Delete them from your messages and move on.
There is no reason to be embarrassed — or afraid of being embarrassed — in a virtual setting. No one is standing in front of you reading your reaction if you’re rejected. That’s the beauty of the apps. If anything, you should be braver electronically than you are in-person.
You’ve both already shown up — in the app and in the match. It’s the whistle to start the game, not end it. You aren’t avoiding rejection by not messaging your matches. You’re avoiding possibility.
3. You aren’t meeting up with your matches.
This one really gets to me. Isn’t the point of all these dating apps to actually go on more dates? Instead, it’s like they’ve become messaging services. People will message back and forth for a couple days — even a couple weeks — and then it will just fizzle, and they never actually met.
This goes back to #1 and #2 above. You are making assumptions based on messages and turning them into reasons not to like the match. But how much can you really tell about someone from a string of messages? Very little beyond basic facts — job, neighborhood, hobbies, family, etc. And while those may be great get-to-know-you conversation starters, they by no means give you the full picture.
You can’t decipher personality through a message. You can’t gauge humor, wit, or sarcasm. You can’t see sincerity, dignity, or nobility. You must be in front of someone to truly see them.
I know — you don’t want to be the one who asks for the date. And you have your list of reasons to justify that to yourself –
He’s the guy so he should ask.
I messaged first, so it’s her turn.
But again, you are already out there. Who is really suffering by not taking another step? You are. Maybe it will be a great first date that turns into a serious relationship. Maybe it will only last a couple months or a couple weeks. Or, maybe it will end as a first date that never went anywhere else.
Regardless of where it goes or how long it lasts, you still met someone new. You opened your mind and expanded your network. You practiced sitting across from a borderline stranger making conversation — a skill that can be transferred to so many other areas of life. You learned more about what you like and dislike in a potential partner. And perhaps you even learned a little more about yourself.
These apps originated to make dating more efficient and accessible. But they can only work if you are in fact accessible.
Bottom line, if you’re on dating apps, you should actually be dating. If you aren’t, it may be time to take a breather and reevaluate your mindset. After all, you should be giving yourself a chance to fall in love… not looking for every reason not to.
So remove all the assumptions and stop letting fear hold you back. Yes, it can be scary. They might not return your message or want to meet. They might not like you or you might not like them. But all that fear has you sidestepping possibility. It’s stripping you of the opportunity to sit across from someone — to see how you feel and gauge the attraction; to ask questions, hear answers, give answers, and get to know them. It’s denying you the very reason you’re in this.
There will be bad dates. There will be disappointments. You can’t choose who you like or who likes you. But you CAN choose how you view each experience. You can choose your perspective, your mindset, and your attitude. When those go south, so does all the fun, potential, and possibility that is supposed to be dating.
When that happens, it’s okay to take a break. Sometimes the game is best played from the sideline.
Previously published on Thought Catalog.