To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Dating apps through the college girl lens

We really have to marvel at the power of technology. Our phones are small enough to fit in our pockets, yet they are capable of doing so much for us. I can turn on my phone, and suddenly I have the ability to pay bills, find a car ride and order dinner. I also have the ability to make exciting plans with a cute boy. However, while the bills, car ride and dinner are more straightforward and robotic, the cute boy plans can be a bit of a dice roll. I never know who I am going to find, what the plans might be, or if I could be interacting with a serial killer in the making. Anything could happen. By this point, I have mostly gotten in the groove of dating apps, but some new curve ball is thrown at me pretty much every day. There are people out there who claim that they are experts, but can anyone truly be an expert at dating apps? Or is it just a puzzle with a seemingly never ending amount of pieces? Don’t get me wrong, I have had fun on dating apps and I don’t regret my time on them in the slightest. However, there will always be complications that make me wish that some parts were made to be a little bit easier. I suppose I should be grateful that we are past the time period where you had to be married by 18 to the first man that courted you in exchange for a large patch of land and cattle. Dating apps will always be exciting, and I have certainly learned a lot from them.

I suppose I should begin by giving some background as to who I am in order to give context for my thoughts. I am sure the thoughts I have will be different from those of an 80-year-old man. So to start off, I am a 20-year-old straight woman at Brandeis University (the last part may be obvious). I have a decent amount of pictures on my profile that show my face and body and I have a bio that is meant to demonstrate my personality and my wit. I would paste it here, but if you ever read any of my articles, you know that I write a lot and it is a long bio. What am I looking for on dating apps? I don’t really know. You’d think I would have an answer after a year, but I like to leave room for exploration and open myself to all of the opportunities that come my way. Matches can serve different purposes in my dating app experience. I never know what I might find with this match, and that is the fun of it all. I have been on dating apps for about a year now and I have matched with a lot of people. I wouldn’t be able to actually count it, but my total matches are probably in the hundreds by this point. Does that mean I have been out with hundreds of guys? Absolutely not.

My interactions with people on dating apps go in a variety of directions. We can start from the beginning, where I first come across a profile. If they’re cute enough, I may swipe without reading the bio and hope for the best. I’d like pictures that show their faces well, as I can’t tell anything from blurriness and/or sunglasses. A picture to show a fun side can be great too so that I can see a bit of flair in the guy. Of course, this will often come back to bite me, so I usually try to look for a decent bio. Hopefully their bio is not just something like “6’2.” Congratulations, you’re tall, I don’t care. I want to see some things in common, a demonstrated sense of humor, and no religious/political opinions that freak me out. After that comes the crossing of the fingers. The beauty of dating apps is that there is no risk of putting yourself out there. Either you match or you don’t. If you get rejected, you’ll never have to worry about seeing them again, not to mention that you’ll probably have forgotten about them by the time they reject. On the positive side, someone you like might like you too! That is the fun part. I have been told that matches are more common for girls than guys since guys are usually less picky and there are also a lot more guys than girls on the apps in terms of ratio. Therefore, I would assume that I have had a relatively positive experience in terms of getting matches. Then there is the tricky part: talking.

Call me old fashioned, but I’m not a big fan of making the first move on dating apps. I’ll do it if I have to, but I would rather be swept off my feet by conversation and not have to lead. We can call that digital chivalry. Regardless, a conversation will start with matches eventually. Not all of them, but most of them. At this point, it almost feels like the movie “Groundhog’s Day” with some of the questions that are asked. There are many guys out there who know my favorite food (shrimp scampi), favorite movie (“Tick Tick Boom”), favorite board game (Trivial Pursuit or Settlers of Catan), favorite bands (a list of some classic rock bands that the autocomplete on my phone has memorized) and other basic information (and I know theirs). I can’t fault myself or the matches for asking these questions, as they are tried and true. However, it wouldn’t hurt to get some excitement in my conversations. So that’s a tip for you men, ask a fun question that will make you stand out. Eventually the natural flow and banter comes into play, which is where it gets fun. That is when some feelings begin to form, everything flows naturally and everything feels original. It can happen with many different people at once, as dating apps give room for that. I have a lot of appreciation to give out. As the conversations keep on going, I then reach the goal of the app. I meet matches … in person.

Alright, now to the dates. It is no secret that there are a variety of types of dates out in the world, and I have explored a lot of that variety. The hot date idea these days seems to be going for ice cream. I can understand that. It’s cheap, it’s a generally likable food, and it leaves room for a lot of conversation. Sometimes, the date will really step it up and take me out for a meal. Which I can always appreciate, I am quite fond of meals in general. Of course, I have found enjoyment in non-food dates. Sometimes I can see a movie with a date, which gives me an excuse to see a movie that I may not have seen in theaters otherwise. The problem is you can’t talk during a movie so the date is two people sitting next to each other in silence for two hours. However, you automatically have something to talk about after the silence, which is great. I once went on a bowling date which was fun. Competitive energy might be just what a date needs to spice things up. One time a date took me to his improv practice for a date, which was certainly unique, but I had a fun time. Laughing is a great thing to do on a date. There are also times where all we do is just go on a walk. It’s relaxing, you get to see sights and it forces you to talk to the other person. The two of you may not be looking at each other, but the conversation is still flowing. There are probably more types of dates that I have been on, but my brain can only store so many memories. While I do love ice cream, I also love variety, so it’s fun to do something on a date that can be both unique and cute.

Then there’s one of the most important parts: chemistry. Sometimes, I can tell within the first five minutes that the chemistry isn’t there. It’s hard to describe this discovery, it is just a gut feeling that there is not a strong connection. Interactions with someone in person are different from interactions over text. When I talk to someone over text, an awkward silence is not so obvious and you have to try so hard with quick and fun responses. That can make meeting up with someone in person after talking to them on a dating app a little more awkward. However, my gut feeling is not always correct. That’s why I should never rule anyone out. Sometimes, time needs to be taken to develop. That goes for anyone on a date; open yourself up to whatever might happen. Don’t be so quick to rule anyone out right away. If we did, it would become a custom for society that dates would only be five minutes if we know everything right away. Then, of course, there are times where it is smooth sailing from beginning to end. Sometimes two people just fit and it is easy to relax. There is no burst of serotonin like it. I wish I could find things in common between what has worked, but it honestly just comes down to feelings. The feelings can also disappear, with the chemistry running out and suddenly the awkward silences pop up. That is never fun, and I always wonder what went wrong. Since this is an article about experiences, the goal of this article should be giving specific descriptions and my opinions. However, there are some parts of online dating that can’t be described. Sometimes these experiences, both the great ones and the bad ones, just happen without a fitting explanation.

Then there’s the dreaded part of the cycle: the waiting. No matter how great I think the date might have gone, the waiting is basically inevitable. Once you leave the date, it becomes all about what is next. Sometimes, there is a quick text afterwards to make sure I have gotten home safe (so far, I always have). However, that does not necessarily mean that the conversation keeps going right away. As it has been clear through this article, I am coming at online dating through the perspective of a college girl, emphasis on girl. I will never know what goes on in the mind of men and the certain patterns they have on dating apps. Why will we have a nice time and then I suddenly get unmatched? Why will they wait a couple of days and continue conversations without missing a beat? The questions go on. I wish I could say I have become more realistic about the process, but I go through the same cycle of getting my hopes up and then never seeing the date again. At least I can hold onto the memories. I don’t get rejected in person through online dating, which means I never have to attach bad memories to the visualization I have of the person. I am telling myself this more than anyone, but the point stands. Fortunately, the guys have not always been one date wonders. There sometimes can be a round two where we may have just as much fun. Have I found something stable though? Nope, but since I’m young, I know there will be more chances and online dates for that in the future.

At the time of writing this article, I am talking to a decent amount of guys on dating apps, and they all seem promising. Of course I could have said the very same thing at the beginning of the year, and I don’t think I am still in contact with anyone that I knew at that time, so what do I know? As you can probably tell from this article, online dating is a rollercoaster of emotions, encounters and people. Does that mean I want to give up on dating apps? Absolutely not. For all of the rare bad experiences, I have had some truly fantastic ones. I have learned a lot about so many people, and I have also learned about myself. I have learned about what I want in a potential partner, what qualities I find attractive and wonderful in a person, and I have learned about how to interact with people. Matches start with attraction, so I have had to develop skills to figure out how to hold that attraction. I can’t scare them off and I have to try to be somewhat pleasant. Difficult, but dating apps have helped me improve. Overall, I would say my experience on dating apps has been better than meeting potential suitors in person. In that I have no experiences with anyone I have met in person. Putting myself out there is scary and if I get rejected, I have to see that person again. As I mentioned before, that is not the case with dating apps, which is why I have had better luck and fun times on the apps. I’m sure my experience and opinions on dating apps will change as I get older. I will graduate, join the real world, possibly want to settle down, etc. Whatever may happen, I would like to say that as a college girl, dating apps are fun. So if you are looking for the push to join, this is it. Put yourself out there online to see who is out there and meet some truly exciting people. Don’t forget to be safe!

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