One month into trying out online dating, a month where I tried all apps and gave it a real shot, I can say it was truly an experience. Before I get into all the juicy details, let’s rewind a bit to how I got started in the first place. As a 27-year old working as a writer in an online magazine, someone who went through high school and college, had crushes, tried out dating and remained single for a long time, I began entering into a comfortable rut. Singledom became my comfort zone especially with my job and social life taking on a bigger role in my life. Thing is, working as a journalist requires us to be uncomfortable all the time and that is why there was a day when the editor-in-chief gave me my most difficult career task so far of trying online dating.
Here are the rules, I try out all the apps for one month and once those 30 days are up, I write up an article about my experience. Guess what? I did just that and let me tell you, online dating turned out to be real hard work. There are so many things that people don’t warn you about before you jump into that dating world. Despite how hard it was, it gave me a chance to discover many things about myself. So, with that, let me take you with me on a journey through my experience, in the turbulent world of online dating.
Online dating has become so popular that today there is a buffet of apps catered to different personalities and cultures. In the Arab world alone, there are apps catered to Muslims looking to marry like “AlKhattaba”. Let me tell you something about “AlKhattaba”, that app doesn’t like to joke around. From the moment you open the app and begin creating your profile, you’ll immediately feel like you are in an intense interrogation session. Questions like, “do you wear a hijab or not?” or “do you pray or not?” are part of their tedious and strict initiation process in the online dating Muslim world.
Despite feeling a tad bit intimidated, I answered very honestly and because of that I didn’t fare well on the app. Get this, I got kicked out for not meeting their community values (great start right?). I didn’t mind getting kicked out though because unlike other dating apps, with AlKhattaba, you don’t get much information about the person you are texting as faces are blurred and most don’t have a bio. You only get to see their face after you text them for a long while.
That definitely did not float my boat so I ended up trying the more popular app known as Tinder. That didn’t work out as well because of how in the span of a month, I only nabbed a few matches and most were pretty mediocre. Luckily, there was one app that clicked for me and where I got to meet a unique collection of guys. It is known as Bumble and here’s how my experience went using the app:
Let me keep it simple, that first week of online dating felt like an exhilarating action movie but after that, things began going down a tedious and monotonous slope. On just the first day, I somehow matched with a total of 20 guys. They were all so different and extremely interesting and that really kept me going for the entire week.
During that first week, I juggled texting all 20 and always lost track of time. Sometimes I’d be on the app two to five hours straight and when I look at the clock, I’d realize how much time had passed by. The starting phase with any guy is pretty fun like take one of the first guys I matched with. We instantly clicked as he texted in a way that showed depth and emotional maturity. He told me how he used to have a personal blog that was introspective and dove into the inner workings of his psyche. He also seemed very impressive as he worked as a gamer and created hyper-realistic characters using computer software.
We immediately clicked and It was going really well for like 2 days until I asked him “what’s a typical day like for you?” His answer felt like how Alexa would tell me about her day. Here’s a sample of what he said, “I wake up at 6 am, I wash the dishes at 6:20 am and then I make breakfast from 6:30 to 7:00, I eat breakfast from 7:00 to 7:30 am and then from 7:30 am to 7:50 am I do the dishes….” I am going to spare you the rest out of kindness. Soon the texting just got too tedious, and it didn’t feel real.
Another guy that had potential was also quite smart, deep, someone who read books like “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Victor Frankl and had insightful opinions about it. He also turned out to be Alexandrian and we generally had a lot in common. I was really excited about him and we texted for like 3 or 4 days straight until one day, he no longer texted and unapologetically ghosted me.
There was another guy who was super playful and liked to keep things interesting. We spent most of our time on Bumble playing a fun take on a classic game of truth or dare. We’d take turns sending each other flag emojis and the one who mislabels a flag had to do a dare or answer a question. It was fun and all until it came time for him to give me a dare and he said, “drink water”. Let’s just say that’s when the conversation naturally died down.
With a lot of the guys on the app, the same situation happened, where there would be this exciting zap like texting at the beginning, kind of like a pinball machine but then overtime, things would die down, with most chats not lasting longer than a week. That was my limit for some reason or when I’d not have enough energy to continue. I no longer cared to keep things interesting and felt bored chatting. My replies would be every 2 days and that alone felt like a chore.
By the second week, I didn’t feel a connection with anyone so I decided to take matters into my own hands and push to match with even more guys and text them consistently. It still felt sluggish and forced, I felt like I was trying to get it over with and there was a rush to it. Add to that the fact that the entire time I was comparing my experience to that of my friends which didn’t help at all. I had this one friend who would text 30 or 40 guys at once, knew how to keep the conversations interesting for months on end and go on a multitude of dates.
For a lot of people, including my friend, spending time on dating apps and going out on dates is seen as an important and valued activity but I never saw it that way. I always saw the task as being like a chore. Seeing that texting was not doing it for me, I ended up asking out five or 6 of the guys I was texting until one of them replied with a yes. He was the only guy available for a date so I went for it.
On the morning of my date, since the moment I woke up, I felt this weird discomfort in my stomach and extreme tension. I did not want to go out at all on the date and again, felt like it was a chore. At one point, I was going to cancel the date but knew that it wouldn’t be smart of me not to give it a fair shot. I got ready, I even put effort in my outfit and put on some makeup and headed to a coffee shop near my house.
The moment I got there and I saw my date walking over to me, I was a bit hopeful and felt that kind of anxiety you’d get on a first date. He had on this buttoned up shirt and black pants and looked like he put in the effort as well. It was all good at the start but from the get-go I had a funny feeling in my gut. I ignored it and decided to get to know him a bit. Here’s what was funny, throughout that date, no matter how much I tried to put effort, I felt extremely bored. It felt as if I took out a co-worker or friend for a cup of coffee. It was dull and there was no spark.
Most of the time, my date was talking about himself and whenever I tried to talk about myself, he wouldn’t pay attention or would get distracted or change the subject. I wouldn’t have minded learning about him and giving him the spotlight during most of the date, but it was simply too much. No spark and no chemistry. At 10 pm, I made up the excuse that I have a curfew and the date came to an end.
Looking back at the entire month, from downloading the app to texting the guys to going out on a date, I realized that I learnt a lot about myself. The biggest learning curve for me was discovering that I have trust issues as well as a fear of commitment. I never gave the apps a fair shot and the same goes for my date. I had on this protective shield throughout the experience and this unwavering notion that the entire process is…pointless.
That attitude is what made me lazy, made me not care to put effort and made me realize that I may have inadvertently been avoiding the prospect of finding a partner. Now that I think of it, if I wasn’t afraid and if I really took my time, one of those guys could have been ‘the one’. At the end of the day, it really boils down to patience, consistency and effort. All I know now, is that I am not ready for that and that’s okay.
Another big learning curve for me was that not finding love through dating apps is not the end of the world. Using the apps made me realize that I take a very long time to form a connection with another person. I like authenticity and I like the process to be natural and that is why throughout my life, I noticed how I only developed feelings for someone if I got to know them naturally over a long period of time. Dating apps didn’t do that for me because they felt artificial and from the get-go, have this unfair quality to them of being based on first impressions from a couple of pictures and a tiny bio. We are so much more than that.
This got me thinking of how, dating apps should not be the sole go to, if at all. There are alternatives like meeting someone at the gym or at a workshop. There’s also the option of meeting someone at an event or party. It just needs for the person to have an active social life and to get outside of their comfort zone to meet new people in an authentic way.
So, at the end of the day, I may not have found love through dating apps but I am grateful for how much I got to learn about myself and the fact that I now have this new knowledge that will help me move forward in my love life. I don’t know what your experience was like, but I hope that what I wrote in the article tells you that simply…you are not alone.