Why Tinder has Ruined Dating

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Last week I downloaded Tinder.  Last week I also deleted Tinder.

To be fair, the only reason I downloaded it in the first place was because I was fairly bored (aka being lazy) and all of my friends were merrily swiping away all around me.  It was a moment of weakness in which I was like “wellllllll ok, I’ll play”.

Just to be clear, I am not looking for men to sleep with; notches on a bedpost do NOT appeal to me.  I want to find a quality man that I am attracted to and who obviously shares those feelings in return and eventually build an amazing life with that person.  (But Hannah, why are you on Tinder then?  Yeah, Yeah, I know).  While I do not want to meet my future husband off Tinder, I also was curious to see what was out there because frankly, the dating pool in California majorly sucks.

With this goal in mind, the only thing I put in my profile was my height and the tagline “if you’re not ready to take me out on a legit date, don’t even bother.”   This, I thought to myself, should weed out any potential booty solicitations.

What I didn’t take into consideration, however, was the fact that I was supremely busy and didn’t actually have time to go on many dates.  And every message I got asked me when we were going to meet up for drinks, or coffee, or dinner.  It was overwhelming!  Yet also exciting-so many men who wanted to meet me?  Really?? Oh the possibilities!

The same sword that slays the dragon can also cut the hero, however.  The fact that there are so many options at your literal fingertips seems glorious at first, until you find yourself discarding this one or that one due to minor issues that you wouldn’t even have known about yet had you met them in real life.

The seemingly endless options that we have available at any moment has made us picky to the point of ridiculousness.  Why would I settle for THIS guy/girl who has 9/10 of my wants in a mate when I could just swipe a couple hours more and possible get a guy/girl with 10/10?

Choices are not the enemy, but they definitely make commitment harder and loyalty a treasure more precious than diamonds.  The endless option atmosphere that permeates almost every aspect of our lives, while amazing, is making us fickle and SO much more shallow.

This was made incredibly real to me when I went to fair by myself.  I had spent the day intermittently working and swiping, and had had several different conversations with eligible Tinderinians who fit my initial attractiveness criteria for swiping right (which means they were HOT…I have high standards.  #sorrynotsorry.).  At the fair, I ran into one of the guys running a booth and we struck up a conversation.

This guy was not my usual type.  Scrawny, blonde, a smoker, not unattractive but definitely not movie star status, and just over my height.  Yet for some reason, I found myself attracted to him more and more as we talked.  Our vibes just clicked.

We kept in contact, and each time I get a text, I am always excited.  Which completely weirds me out.  He is NOT someone I would have EVER pictured myself with, and I’m pretty sure that this won’t actually go anywhere, but just the fact that I wouldn’t be opposed to being taken on a date by someone I would have never, ever swiped right on is indicator enough that it’s time to take dating back offline.

Online dating has made us hyper critical of everyone else while simultaneously complaining that we can’t find a man or woman who loves us for who we really are.  We are quick to dismiss people we may actually be quite compatible with simply because they don’t fit what we have envisioned for ourselves or because we fear what other people might think or say.

Online dating has also made us scared to actually start something in real life.  I have been in so many situations where I had a great conversation with a dude only to have it end with a “see ya around!” rather than a “hey, let me get your number.”  Granted, some of those men might have just been friendly and/or already taken, but I get the feeling that the vast majority find it a lot easier to miss a match than to get shot down in person.

Additionally, online dating has made open sexuality permissible.  If the initial messages aren’t sexual from the start, its becoming more and more acceptable to introduce sex as a topic on the first date.  I went out for drink with one guy, my age, from Tinder last week, and by the end of the first cocktail he mentioned that (R rating alert) he wished I was sitting on his face.  I had known him for less than 12 hours and he felt that this was an acceptable addition to the conversation.

This is contrasted to a date that I had on Saturday night with a guy who was older than me by 7+ years.  He checked about my dietary restrictions, made reservations at a vegan friendly restaurant, and bought tickets to a show that I’ve wanted to see for forever.  There may have only been 7 or 8 years between those two men (and I met them both on Tinder), but there was a world of difference in how I felt about how I was treated.

So what’s the solution?  How can we balance all the amazing things this new generation has to offer with all of the pitfalls that come along with it?

Honestly, it comes down to you, the individual.  You decide how you will view the world, and you decide what you’re going to accept and what you’re going to reject.  It may take more work and more time, but you WILL find someone who has decided on the same values.

When you find someone who gets you, truly gets you, it doesn’t matter how many matches you made or how many right swipes you may be losing out on.  All that matters, truly, is how THEY make you feel and how much you elevate each other to become your best selves.  And that, friends, is the best match you could ever make.

 

 

 

Dear Men: Court Me like This

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Once again, surprise surprise, my thoughts have turned towards relationships.  One of these days I’ll be able to shake it off like Taylor Swift and mull over some other profound thoughts, but for now, my mind is stuck on love.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what I as a woman have the right to expect out of a courtship and eventual relationship.  So many times we get used to being treated poorly and we think that this is normal, and then something happens that makes us go Oh!  So THIS is what being treated like a lady feels like!

The standards for dating, in my eyes, have been playing a game of limbo for years: how low can you go?  How low can you go?  And yet when you try to stick to a higher principle, it can seem discouraging because that immediately shrinks the eligible bachelor pool down to 1.5 men in the nearest 100 mile radius.  Yet I have decided that when I am ready for another go-around on the roller-coaster of romance, I will not settle for less than I deserve.

So what, exactly, do I feel that I (and all women) are entitled to?

Women deserve to be courted.  And yes, I mean courted in the old-fashioned sense.  Women warrant feeling like the man wants to pursue them and is willing to put in extra effort to make that known.  This means paying for things, that extra text to make sure she gets home safe, making sure to compliment her on her outfit/makeup, and overall making her feel like she is wanted.

In most social settings, you can really tell who likes you and wants to potentially date you versus someone who just wants a piece of ass.  This was made abundantly clear to me yesterday when I had one guy at one bar approach me and start a nice conversation, then offer to buy both me AND my friend a drink.  At the next place, I had a guy talk and flirt with me for hours without offering anything.

In the current hook-up culture that we have going on, being courted is rare.  Yet if a guy really wants to get a quality girl, he has to put in the time and effort that it takes to make that bid for her affection.  Trust me guys, it’s worth it.

Women deserve to know where they stand.  I have seen endless amounts of memes where the woman is freaking out because her man hasn’t texted her back in days and she has no idea if he still likes her or not.  If a man truly wants to seriously date a woman, he needs to make his intentions crystal clear.

Speaking from experience, not knowing how someone feels about you for weeks or months on end is a shitty feeling.  I am all about being busy chasing your own dreams, however, busyness is something that can be communicated.  If a man likes a woman but simply is strapped for time, that needs to be something that is addressed.  Quality women will have things going on on their own and will more than likely be just as busy.  However, days without communication can be misinterpreted if they aren’t given the proper heads up.

Women deserve to keep their bodies to themselves.  I am all about an amorous sack session, but that should not be expected right away.  As a woman, sex is a powerful bonding experience, and it should not be viewed as normal to give that privilege away cheaply.  If a man is seriously interested in a woman, he might hate the thought of waiting, but he will do it without making her feel pressured because he respects her and wants more than just the cookie.

Sex is amazing.  Yet if you were to compare sex just for sex versus actual lovemaking with someone you care about and are connected to on a deeper level, lovemaking will win every time.  You get all the heated passion PLUS a deep level of trust and intimacy that cannot be found stumbling home with some random from the bar.

I am all about women having the freedom to enjoy whatever they want whenever they want with whomever they want.  However, once you’re ready to pursue something real, it’s worth it to hold out; those who want ALL of you will wait, those who don’t, won’t.

Women deserve to feel beautiful.  I don’t care if you are a solid 4 or a 10+; no matter where you fall in the stereotypical beauty scale, the man you are with should make every effort to make sure that you feel like a million bucks.  No woman will ever get tired of hearing “WOW” when she steps out the door or a low whistle when you bend over to grab your purse from the floor.

Feeling beautiful is so much more than feeling like your guy loves your body or your face.  Feeling beautiful is feeling completely seen by someone else, and knowing that they like the view.  Feeling beautiful encompasses a woman’s whole being, and a man who truly wants to pursue the whole woman will gladly make that known.

Women deserve effort.  This is my last point because I know that sometimes, the things that I mention above are hard for guys.  Some guys don’t make a lot of money.  Some guys would rather choke than say what they actually feel.  Some guys are awkward and have no idea how to interact with a woman properly.  No on is perfect.  However, no matter how far away a guy is from a streamlined dating machine, if they want a woman bad enough, they will put in the effort.

This effort might come in the form of planning out an entire date of free things.  Cost-effective, yet the time it takes to think everything through is work.  Effort might come in the form of someone who hates words mustering up the courage to simply state “I like you”.  Effort also always comes in the form of communication; no matter what your hangups, quality women are infinitely able to work with them if they are made clear and attempts are strongly made to work through them.

Overall, the goal of courtship is to see whether or not this is someone with whom you can build a quality, lasting bond.  If there is no effort put in to obtain this partnership, than there will more than likely be no effort to maintain the connection.  A relationship with a good person is a privilege for both men and women, and its benefits will correlate with the value placed upon it.

So men: if you aren’t ready for a real relationship, don’t try to add notches on your bedpost with women who are.  And if you do want to try to win the love of a real woman, do it right.  Court her like she is a lady of old and you are her knight in shining armor; when a woman feels desired, respected, and safe, there is nothing that she will not do for you.  Put in the work to earn it, and the ROI will be more than you could have dreamed.

 

Best Foot Forward

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I just ended a week full of presenting my best self.  Interviews are no joke: dressing to impress, trying to recall all of your vast work experience to fit into one perfectly worded response to the rapid-fire questions coming across the conference table, and anxiously waiting to hear back from the one job you really want (and, of course, hearing back from the job you’re only so-so about two hours after you leave).

Finding a job is serious business.  If you’re good at the initial first impression game, you have lots of offers, even if your qualifications are sub-par.  If you can’t interview well, sometimes you are passed by for someone with more flair.  Knowing how to play the game is crucial if you really want to get ahead.

These observations instantly reminded me of dating.  Finding a partner is one big interview process that can be intriguing and exciting but also exhausting and disheartening.  And the exact same parameters for success apply.

When you’re dating, you make sure you make up your face perfectly and wear the top that shows off just enough cleavage to be interesting, but not enough to be slutty.  You try to come up with clever and witty responses to their questions, and you anxiously wait by the phone for them to text (but sadly, usually only getting 5 in a row from that one guy from that one bar who won’t leave you the hell alone).

This begs the question:  what’s the difference between someone who gets the job, and someone who is sent the polite “thank you but no thanks” e-mail?  What differentiates between someone whose call is eagerly awaited and someone whose very name on the screen initiates an eyeroll and a screenshot?

Marketing matters.  The candidate who comes across as knowledgeable, friendly, and confident, even if she is shaking in her proverbial boots, is the person who will receive the offer.  Likewise, the guy who goes after what they want without any hesitation and puts out the vibe that they know the other person will like them will usually get the giggle, sideways glances, and beaming smiles from the girl they are pursuing.

However, this is a double-edge sword in both scenarios.  Sometimes confidence can cross the line into arrogance.  No one, either in the professional and dating worlds, wants to be around an egomaniac.  Trying to downplay things, though, can be equally as off-putting.  While reaching the Goldilocks sweet spot can be tough, it is the attitude that wins the offer letter AND the 2 second text response.

Authenticity matters.  Even if people aren’t  as in tune with their inner psyche as they should be, we usually can tell when something is off.  As humans, we want to know that we are surrounded by trustworthy human beings both on the job and in our romantic relationships.  Authenticity means being true to your likes and dislikes, what you need, and not being afraid to show your whole self.

Nonetheless, this again needs to be tempered with common sense.  Just because you prefer casual dress at the workplace doesn’t mean you should show up to an interview in jeans.  Likewise, just because you enjoy frozen TV dinners more than fine dining doesn’t mean you should take your date to Chipotle the first time around.  Our BEST authentic self should be what we present, not our ’20 years in the same job’ self or ‘thrifty, cutting corners’ self.

Preparation Matters.  Believe it or not, there are some people who show up to an interview with no idea of what the company stands for or what makes it unique.  Likewise, there are people who ask for a first ‘date’, only to end up dilly-dallying around because they made no plans beforehand.  Interviewers want to know that you have done your homework and that you actually want to work THERE versus ANYWHERE.  Girls want to know that you care enough about the date to take the time to set up a dinner reservation.  Doing your homework may not guarantee an A on the test, but it will give you a hell of a better shot than just winging it.

Ultimately, you can market yourself impeccably, be true to yourself, prepare to the Nth degree, and still not get a callback or a second date.  Sometimes, there was a superior candidate.  Other times, it just wasn’t the right fit.  While either scenario sucks, it’s also a relief to know that you are still free to find the perfect fit for YOU, whether it be a job with more flexibility or a partner who just gets you.

Opportunities in life are just that: opportunities.  Just because one doesn’t take off the way you imagined or hoped doesn’t mean that you are forever doomed.  In most cases, people looking back on their lives at chances that didn’t work out for some reason (OTHER than lack of effort) feel that they were the recipient of something much better later on.

And so, whether you are searching for a job or searching for a soulmate, don’t tie yourself to one image of what you *think* you want.  Give your all and take every chance that you think might pan out, but don’t spiral into despair over a rejection letter or a flopped date.  In the end, if you play your cards right, the best things in the world will fall into your lap, and you will thank the stars for every experience that led you to that point.

Standards vs. Expectations

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Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is how to know when you are expecting too much versus how to realize when you are compromising your standards.  I feel that in the modern world of the internet, people tend to view the extravagant things that they see on social media as acceptable/common expectations for relationships, when what they really need to be focusing on is figuring out their personal standards.   The difference between the two may seem hard to grasp at first, but I feel there is one important distinction, which can be seen if we look at the definitions:

Standards: Those morals, ethics, habits, etc., established by authority, custom, or an individual as acceptable.

Expectation: Something expected; a thing looked forward to.

In other words, standards are broad, expectations are narrow.  In relationships, everyone should have certain standards that they establish for how they will or will not allow themselves to be treated.  However, it is unfair to your partner to have specific expectations in your mind for every little thing as this just sets them up for failure.

The one standard that everyone should have for their relationship is healthy communication.  If the relationship is going to ‘go the distance’, both parties need to be able to discuss their thoughts and feelings with the other person.  However, there should be very little expectations placed upon how honest and deep communication comes about.  For example, perhaps you expect your partner to be able to discuss what you are feeling whenever, wherever, but your partner feels the most comfortable discussing things in private after some time de-stressing from a day of work.  If you focus on the fact that your expectation is not being met, you are disregarding the reality that he or she is still honoring the standard of communication.  If, however, your partner refuses to communicate at all, you would be lowering your standards by staying in that relationship.

Another standard that should be, well, standard in a relationship is a certain level of affection and appreciation.  Both parties need to feel that the other person recognizes their value and is attracted to them physically and mentally.  This is where the 5 love languages come into play (read the book by Gary Chapman if you haven’t already).  If you have the expectation that you should be verbally thanked every time you do something nice, you may totally disregard when your partner does a kind action in return.  If you refuse to see how your partner gives and receives affection and appreciation, you will inevitably end up disappointed and angry.  However, if you focus on simply having a standard that you will only be with someone who appreciates you and finds you attractive, you will be opening yourself to the myriad of ways that others show their acknowledgement and interest.

A third standard that should not be compromised is similar life goals.  Each half of the relationship should desire complimentary things.  However, this is another aspect that can be ruined by specific expectations.  For example, if one of the focuses of your life is going to the gym and staying healthy, you would want someone who also values health.  However, if you expect that your partner be a gym rat as well, you may totally disregard someone who goes hiking and biking on a regular basis when they may be perfect for you in every other way.  Another instance might be someone who is ambitious and wants to become the top salesperson in their district discounting someone who does not want to rise to the top of their own field, when the person they passed over is actually quite motivated in other areas of their life.  So many times we create an image of who we expect our ideal partner to be to complete our personal picture of our future, yet completely ignore the simplicity of traveling in the same general direction in life.

Overall, every person deserves to have an optimal relationship that meets their standards, but no one deserves to be in a relationship where they are trapped by unrealistic expectations.  If your partner meets your standards for communication while showing you affection and appreciation in a way that you understand, they should not be expected to meet those standards in a certain cookie-cutter way.  Of course, everyone has particular things that they enjoy; these should be communicated with your partner, and they should be allowed to communicate their specific desires to you.  If you really love that person, you will WANT to know what makes them happy.  However, if you cling to certain expectations all of the time, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Initial human relationships are the most difficult and confusing things on the planet.  Don’t make them harder by having unreasonable assumptions of how things should be OR by accepting less than what you deserve.  In the end, though, if you find someone who is worth the hassle of riding out the inevitable turbulence, you’ll find that there is nothing more amazing than the rock-solid knowledge that you have someone who is always in your corner, no matter what.

Optimization is Hard

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Today I came to the realization that optimization is hard.  The desire to make every aspect of your life as amazing as possible is not hard to ignite, but taking the actual steps to do so? Brutal.

I’ve come to this realization because of the conversation I had this morning with the guy I’ve been seeing for the past four months.  We had briefly discussed where our relationship was going (or wasn’t) last weekend, and I wanted some clarification.  This was not easy for me to bring up again since his conversation had previously leaned towards staying uncommitted.  I expressed that I did not want to waste my time simply “hanging out” every weekend if it wasn’t going to go anywhere, and he expressed that he felt that he was too young to settle down.  Which, of course, leaves us at an impasse.

This has forced me to sit down and think about what I actually want out of a relationship.  What are the things that, for me, make an optimal partnership?

I want to be secure in the knowledge that I am someone’s first and only choice, not just an option, because they will be my first and only choice.  I want someone who can love the goofy side of me, the serious side of me, the emotional side of me, and all other sides that choose to surface.  I want someone who I can be proud to show off to my friends and family.  I want someone who is unselfish with their time and affection.  I want someone who will support me in everything that I want to accomplish, and who will share in my excitement over things both monumental and inconsequential.  I want someone that I can walk demurely down the street with but pounce on the second the door is closed.  I want someone I can bare my soul to because I know that he will show it respect and understanding.

There are so many things I want out of a relationship.  And I know that listing even just that small number of criteria might make me seem stuck-up or demanding.  However, I feel that I deserve those things because I know what I bring to the table.

I am the girl who will support your dreams unconditionally while still offering a critical eye when needed.  I am the girl who will wake up in the middle of the night to pick you up at the airport if you need me to.  I am the girl who will cook you breakfast and pack you a lunch with a note slipped in the paper bag.  I am the girl who will clean your apartment one day out of the blue just because I know it will make you smile.

For me, doing all of those things for the person that I love is easy and it makes me happy.  And what made this morning’s conversation suck so much was that fact that there are so many parts about this guy that fit into my optimal partnership.  He makes me laugh, is SO affectionate, makes me feel like the sexiest woman alive, and can carry on a serious conversation for hours.

And yet.

There are things that are NOT optimal.  Which brings us to the question: what is the line between compromise and settling?  Choosing to have an optimal partnership requires you to have healthy compromises.  If you are simply settling for someone because they are “not all bad” or “better than the last one” or “I don’t want to upset the status quo” then you are selling yourself short of what you deserve in a relationship.

Optimization is hard because it requires you to not settle.  It requires you to take a stand for what you want and actually take steps to attain it.

For me, it would be so easy to keep things going the way they are.  I love hanging out with him and the way that he makes me feel.  It’s been so fun to have a secret little thrill when his name pops up on my phone and to have a go-to plan every weekend.

But.

Right now, our relationship is not optimal.  If I were to continue to hang out with him and not actually expect a commitment from him, this would be a compromise for me that crosses the line into settling.  I know that in the long run, I’ll be miserable.

And so, with full commitment to the Optimization Operation, I have to let him go.

Which sucks.

I hope that if you are reading this, you have found someone who meets your optimal relationship goals. And if not, I hope you know what you’re worth and refuse to settle for less.