According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2016 there were approximately 2.3 million people residing in the Houston area. Of those, Huffington Post claims, 45.2 percent of adult men in the city are married, leaving the other half of men open, ready and willing… I thought.
As far as I can remember, I have had problems with dating. In middle school, I pretended to like girls and those relationships eventually deteriorated. High school was a blur and sexually I did find some guys attractive, but mentally we were on different wavelengths. By freshman year of college, I was ready to get this show on the road and open myself up to potential prospects. Well, those hopes dwindled after three years of being single/celibate. I know it sounds like guys weren’t interested, but in actuality, they were. Later on, I would find I had been too naïve at deciphering whether someone was flirting or not due to my lack of dating experience. So, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, I downloaded a dating app.
Grindr, “the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people,” as branded on their website was my first attempt at taking the online dating scene by storm. I had heard about Grindr through friends and they mostly described it as a hook up app, rather than a dating one, but I thought I would take the risk and find out for myself. When I initially logged on to the dating platform I was greeted with a dashboard of abs, beer bellies, the occasional face and a magnitude of black boxes with no pictures at all. After scrolling for a while, I decided to make a profile. I soon found out this part of online dating would be the most daunting and crucial exercise of my existence. I didn’t know what profile picture to choose without coming across too masculine or feminine because I wanted to seem appealing to everyone. My ethnicity, eye color, height and weight seemed to be the easiest part to fill out, while the “about me” section of the profile was left empty. After Grindr approved my image (yes, I said approved) I began to do some more investigating. When I clicked on guys’ profiles I noticed many of them didn’t talk about themselves at all, but about what they were looking for in a mate. Many men used “NO FEM (no feminine men),” “NO FATS (no fat people),” “MASC4MASC (masculine guy for masculine guy),” or “LOOKING (looking for sex),” in their descriptions immediately turning me against the social giant. These slang terms and tools used to separate the gay community made me realize the superficial culture of online dating and validated my fear of having the “perfect” profile. Some guys were decent and seemed to have good intentions, but there always seemed to be an undertone of sex in every conversation. After receiving the occasional dick pic, and having countless conversations consisting of,
User123Down2Clown: “what’s up”
me: “nothing much, u?”
User123Down2Clown: “chillin, what you into?”
I wrote Grindr off as a total loss.
Tinder, a dating app geared towards men and women utilizes a swiping technique to like and dislike individuals eventually leading to a match. Though I went into Tinder not being as naïve as I was on Grindr, I still had some reservations. I knew people that used Tinder to gain friends, find lovers and also find an occasional hook up. After creating my profile and having a baby heart attack over what photos captured my beauty the most I commenced to giving this baby a whirl. For every one time I swiped right, I had swiped left about fifty times. I don’t know if it was my pickiness, or if I began to notice the ridiculous nature of dating applications. Me and everybody else using Tinder were only swiping based on looks, and the sometimes clever “about me” section. When I matched with someone our conversation wouldn’t consist of much, and if it did, I would soon become disinterested. To be completely honest, I became increasingly discouraged by using apps like this. It was certainly more dehumanizing than it was humanizing and more times than not I felt I had to overexpose myself in order to keep the conversation going.
There is a certain amount of clarity that comes with meeting someone in person. The internet unfortunately is a moment in time and only captures a millisecond of someone’s reaction in the form of text, picture or video. In order for me to truly connect to a person there has to be an extreme amount of physical contact, not sexual contact, but a genuine embrace of mind, body and soul. If sex was my end game, these dating apps would exceed my expectations, but due to my hopeless romantic nature I was left feeling more unenthusiastic about dating. This is not at all saying it is impossible to date using apps, I just think it makes it harder in discerning intentions over the internet rather than in person. MadameNoire.com says,
“A connection, is based on direct interactions that are formed over time. It is a combination of mental, spiritual, emotional, and sexual intimacy.”
I wholeheartedly believe energy does not lie, and a connection can only be formed in person. I also understand that dating apps are meant to link individuals and the rest is left up to you, but for me the initiation of a romantic relationship cannot be authentically recreated in the confines of a chatroom.