My Note: I don’t know if this blog goes here, but I didn’t want it to go somewhere else because I really hoped that you would see it and read it and feel it. Thank you for listening. —Kara
I only download dating apps when I fail to keep my overzealous expectations of love at least mildly in-check. Or, the occurrence of the added iPhone installation happens closely after the latest disappearance, disappointment, or disaster in my dating world.
It’s not that I’m asking for wild success in dating— in that I need every suitor to have long term potential. For soulmate-ness, I need just one. Only one person with intention and kindness; class and character. There are moments when I believe that this is not too much to ask, but in a whirlwind world of all happening so quickly and conveniently, is it possible for the underdog of organic connection to compete against the power player of a dating app?
My zest for life, openness to the world around me, and wonder at ‘What could be’— whether that is when I travel, write, or fall in love— colors what I do with intense vibrancy, enthusiasm, and excitement. I’ve discovered that living like this is as natural as breathing to me. It draws friends closer, uniquely engages strangers, and advances my career. Sounds wonderful and it is, but this way that I live, and continue to choose, includes an equally strong warning label. “You wear your heart on your sleeve, Kara. You can’t do that. It’s just too disappointing.” Yes. It does have the potential to disappoint, but I’m learning to manage my disappointments a little better…or at least I’d like to think.
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What I find more disappointing than the emotionally soft person that I am are these dating apps. Maybe they are disappointing because I am sensitive. There are many incredible, kind, honest, and genuine men in the world, but I would never be able to completely tell that by a photo from an app or only in one date. Maybe I would not even be able to tell much after a second date, but there is no reason to know so much too soon. ‘Connection’ was never intended to be made at the rate at which we are rushing to swipe and sex.
We don’t really make time for second chances. We don’t give time to firsts. We don’t have time, and we don’t have time for dating. We fall back on dating apps in slim moments cocooned between sleepless nights and a boring lunch break of our “real lives.”
These dating apps— I hate them, and yet, I find myself falling into a pattern. Bored. Download. Obsess over which photos. Think ‘About Me’ way too long. Type. Backspace. Type. Add Instagram @ for “research simplicity.” Swipe. Swipe. Swipe. Swipe. Chime-tone. Match. Look. Contemplate. Exit. Think, “I need to do something else with my time or really care about this.”
Days go by and— as impulsively as I began to ‘date my app’— I frenziedly think, “Why the hell am I doing this thing?!” I don’t like this thing and don’t want this thing, so why do I have this thing?? Well, to answer that— I do want someone meaningful and I don’t know where he might live. I have little faith that he lives in a dating app. I have little faith that I will find meaningful and magical where I’m looking, but insanely I still look, sometimes chat, and ultimately decide this isn’t working. Again. So, I delete the app and it stays deleted for awhile. Then, a day rolls by when I once again fear “my person” does not exist in day-to-day activities and will only manifest his presence through my phone. Oh, it’s vicious! This cycle of dating app loathing and lonely desperation.
Odd that I would admit to desperation. Yes, I am desperate, but not for a man. What I am frantic over is figuring out a way to avoid what’s not working. I want a story, not; “We met on Bumble.” I want a romance, not; “Well, we went out on one date and hooked up and just kept hooking up.” I want someone who will give me grace and not; “You are a Goddamn mess, so get your shit together and then get back to me.” Wow. Is this how love works?
Ironically, the last two dates I went out with happened to be surprisingly shady, but originally charming— and NOT found from a dating app. This leads me to believe that it is true that dating in the City of Angels is anything but angelic. Before you assume I have just turned this into a man-bashing session, let me remind you that men are feeling the frustrations of our dating culture as well. I hear it often. Heterosexuals, homosexuals, sapiosexuals (which seems to be a trending catch-phrase in app-land)— we are all complaining about how, and in what manner, we connect.
Sadly, I don’t know the solution to the dicey and dangerous digital way that we date. At the moment, the dating app still exists on my phone. I’ve been single for a very long time. I realize that I was a major contributing factor to the way my last date went decidedly distant. This means that my musings are not founded in fact or scientific research, but simply survive as heartfelt authenticity.
I said that I don’t have a solution, but as a woman, I do have power and can create the potential for a future relationship. If I want to date better, I have to determine to play better. The men I meet deserve just as much respect, time, and intention as I expect them to give to me. Expectations are not stabs to your heart, but place your expectations on what can be controlled— you. Expect to date better today than you did yesterday. I need to do it.
App dating when bored, with insincere motives, or rushing the beauty of getting to know someone all account for some of the ways that I’ve let myself down in love. Trust me— men have let me down, too. We all can think of relationships that did not add value or build us up, but that is not the point. I have to acknowledge how I, within the landscape and nature of dating today, can introduce my best self to the people that I meet.
If we want to date— via apps or in real life— we need to show up better for each other. Don’t give me your body so quickly, but please share your time. We are both worth more than what we have been investing. I so often wish I would meet the men I see on dating apps in person instead of in this digital way. So flippantly do I slide past pictures of this one, that one, and the next one— never offering myself a chance to understand a wonderful human being. And I’m the one upset about going unnoticed? Hello Darling! The traffic on the street of finding meaningful matches is more than one-way. We are challenged by so much access, riddled with insecurity, and confined by society’s dating rules.
There is an intense loneliness that settles in when I open a dating app. How can this work? Maybe, I never wanted it to be successful in the first place. When you really, truly want something to happen in your life, you don’t approach it when you are bored or trying to forget something (or someone) else. Your actions influence your outcome— for better or for worse.
If you see me on a dating app, I imagine it’s still ‘Too Be Determined’ why I’m there. Why are you there?