I think it goes without saying that I’m a power user of dating apps. Having come of age on AIM (the locus of the entirety of my 7th grade “relationship”), dating apps allowed me to flex the only flirting skill I ever developed: strategically deploying witty banter from behind the eye-contact-free safety of a screen.
I admit it: dating apps were absolutely a crutch for me. Sure, crutches slow you down and hurt your armpits, but they also help you walk when you can’t do so on your own. A naive 22-year old new to New York City, I wasn’t a fan of talking to strangers and I didn’t understand how adults made friends, let alone lovers, outside of work. (Plus, I worked at a company where dating coworkers was “not allowed.” FML for being such a rule follower, but also clearly nobody was interested, lol.) I was also poor, and apps made it so I didn’t have to spend money at a bar in order to maybe talk to guys. I could sit on my couch for free and take my time crafting the perfect response. Bless the innovation!
And helloooooo, this entire newsletter is a testament to the fact that the apps fucking work! Perhaps too well. I never really gave myself a chance to meet people IRL because I could always play it safe and shy by relying on the apps. There would always be another batch of men who might love me, if I just kept swiping. In fact, I’d inevitably get FOMO any time I was off the apps for too long. What if my person was just a few more swipes away?!
This is the dark side of the apps, the reason (I suspect) most people don’t chat up strangers in the wild like they used to. Endlessly defeated by the fact that guys would rather hide in their phones than bravely approach such a magnificent creature (me), it finally struck me that I’ve been a hypocrite doing THE EXACT SAME THING.
Although it wouldn’t have mattered if they did approach me. Scared to let anyone in, I would have shared just enough to gain the information needed to morph myself into someone I’d assume they’d like more. I would tell myself they didn’t “deserve” to know the real me yet, when really it was just my way of protecting myself from judgement/rejection. Clearly a winning strategy!
So here I am, once again, claiming to be “off the apps for good.” I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me; I’m well aware I’m the Girl Who Cried IRL. But lately, in addition to being consistently frustrated by the seeming lack of quality options on Hinge (I gave up on Bumble and Tinder loooong ago), I’ve also been feeling limited by my own profile. Having recently arrived in a place where I feel comfortable showcasing my true self—no matter how polarizing she might be—I discovered how difficult it is to convey my Many Incredible Facets in just 6 photos and 3 prompts. [Not to mention the fact that concisely-and-creatively-communicating-a-variety-of-value-props is literally what I do for a living! So if it’s hard for me, I can only assume it’s even harder for these guys—which is probably why their profiles are all so trite and tiresome.] I started to notice the pessimism that bubbled up every time I opened Hinge, and it felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy—the digital equivalent of sitting at a bar with crossed arms, a sour face, and expecting anyone to approach while expecting, and exuding, the worst.
Officially fed up with the limitations of this stable source of in-cum, I guess you could say I’m going romantically freelance? In the same way I’ve learned to clearly articulate the type of work I’m looking for in my independent career, and confidently say “no” to projects that don’t meet those standards, I look forward to navigating the social seas with:
- The confidence to ~*bE mYseLF*~ and wave my freak flag proudly,
- The optimism that my particular brand of freak will tickle the fancy of at least someone, and
- The courage to prioritize my values and boundaries over the inane desire to be liked by everyone.
- (Also, some smiles and more approachable body language probably can’t hurt.)
However, I owe much of my professional success to word-of-mouth referrals, so I trust you’ll do your part in singing my praises (personality, beauty, humility, etc.) whenever the opportunity presents itself.
P.S. I forgot to mention that, a few days before I wrote Part 1, I was at an outdoor yoga class when, who puts down their mat directly in front of me? Sauce Man’s cousin. I said hi and we chatted for a bit before class started—it was actually nice! Turns out she recently moved just a few blocks away from me, so I’m sure we’ll be bumping into each other more frequently, LOL. Neither of us brought up Sauce Man, which is great because I genuinely want nothing to do with him the more I reflect on what I can now see was a very unhealthy relationship. Ya live and ya learn.
P.P.S I hope you’re not sick of my painfully-late-in-life revelations just yet, because you better believe there’s going to be a Part 3.