In addition to this dating ideas article that I wrote, I have some thoughts on a dating related topic.
A few years ago, I moved back home after college and decided that I should full on commit to giving online dating a try since I had no other way to meet anyone new (especially as a more shy individual), and I had an abundance of free time wasting away that could be used for something new and interesting. Online dating seemed easy enough. Deep down I knew it wasn’t going to result in anything, and I think that attitude served as a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, as my experience was mildly average and not worth talking about. My expectations—exceptionally high, as always— ranged from meeting some quietly humbled vinyard-owning intellectual that I would magically fall deep in love with, to being catfished (I have a deep fascination for catfishes). Neither happened, but I did learn a lot about my preferences, my fears, the dating game, and why I will likely only return to online dating when I am ancient and desperately lonely.
Initially, I had zero interest in trying Tinder as I, like many, completely disliked the whole idea of swiping right and left off of two to three photos and a few sentences. What if you’re swiping no to someone life-changing, and swiping yes to a psychopath? While studies say that it really doesn’t take you that long to decide whether or not you’re attracted to someone, it’s not like I really care to be aware of that fact, and this is one of the earliest cons I had with the app. It makes you feel like a horribly superficial human being (which is the modern truth but I truly wonder what this awareness does to the psyche).
The other con I realized early on was that your success is highly reliant on your area, as it goes with dating in general. I downloaded the app when I still lived in LA, and there were a ton of really unique men just within a two mile radius of me. In my home town, I found that approximately 88% of the profiles I was skimming were eerily similar, as if someone created a template for the male Tinder profile for these men to lazily fill in without any thought.
This imaginary template consisted of these things:
- a “love for being outdoors”, with at least three outdoor activities listed, usually: hiking, surfing, kayaking, or the beach
- a passion for beer
- a desire for someone that is “chill”, “laidback”, “good vibes”, “drama free”, and wanting “a girl with a nice smile”
- this selection of photos:
a.) car or mirror selfie
b.) a photo of him completing one of the listed outdoor activities
c.) a photo of him with a mother or grandmother figure, often in dressy attire
d.) a photo of him with friends, usually at a bar, club, or party, often including girls (of which, did indeed, have nice smiles)
Now, while this is perfectly fine, this is not necessarily enough for me to swipe yes, especially when I’ve seen it hundreds of time (I wish I saved my screenshots for proof). However, because so many of these profiles were similar, and could belong to someone who’s values and desires on Tinder are in high contrast to mine, I easily bypassed any opportunity for “heyy ;)” messages from these fellas and moved on to men that value deep conversation. Sadly, there weren’t too many of these. It took a long time for me to realize that I could actually meet up with this person. It would take even longer to decide whether I really wanted to do that. The prospect of meeting a complete stranger in person is scary for anyone, but because I avoid situations where small talk is guaranteed, it was usually not a risk worth taking. Then you or the other person would just stop replying if you lost interest, which isn’t that bad since you are strangers anyway, but it’s such an immature way of communicating that you lost interest. This tendency is one of the many ways in which general online communication methods can hurt IRL relationships.
I only ended up meeting with one person before giving up on Tinder, and I must admit, it was a pretty great date. We went for high quality ice cream, which to me, is much better than drinks or coffee for the first meeting (simply because it’s more delicious). With our cones and sticky fingers, we walked around, had a nice chat about our backgrounds, and a satisfactory amount of unexpected topics came up too (like favorite stand-up comedians and making art with math). But reflecting on the evening, I realized that I didn’t feel how I expected to feel.
While there was a semblance of connection, it wasn’t the connection, the sort of connection that drives you mad because you’re just so curious about them. I think this is why people that are more idealistic will struggle with online dating if you are looking for a serious relationship. There’s obviously a lot of expectation involved with anything when being an idealist. But within the context of online dating, you feel as if you have to decide rather quickly whether or not you are interested enough to try with this person. And when you don’t feel that connection right away, you feel as if continuing to try and date this person can seem like a lie, or like you’re leading them on (which is definitely not what you want to do). I know that realistically, one date is way too early to know whether or not you’re compatible. But is it early enough to know whether or not you want to be?
OkCupid’s format is much better than Tinder’s for obvious reasons. There’s more information required, so more chance to make an accurate impression of yourself, and the questions are a nice plus since they determine your percentage of compatibility with someone. BUT there’s a downside to this: you have more freedom to lie, fib, or embellish. Which brings me to the reason why I pretty much despise dating in the first place: you will only get to know the polished construct of who that person wants you to think they are—at least in the beginning. This is especially applies to online dating. I read something in the NYT about a man who lied about his height online and how he claimed it was the only way he ended up married. There was also a video filmed as a social experiment where an attractive girl was made up to look heavier than she actually was, then met with men she had been talking to online. All but one guy left, most mentioning that they felt played. People can be deceitful—whether it’s intentional or not.
OkCupid was more overwhelming in terms of the number of messages, but not to the degree that I’ve heard people complain about. It was fairly easy to vet through who took the time to read my profile, and who had not. Funny enough, I only met with men who mentioned their MBTI type in their first message, so that says a lot about me and my preferences. I attempted to message a few guys that seemed to be the more artsy, shy-er, serious sort, but they never responded. So, I sympathize with the expectations men have to get things going which still apply online, and I know how it feels to put in effort and be ignored. Doesn’t feel so great, but everything happens for a reason.
One odd experience I had on an OkCupid date was with a guy who revealed to me he had social anxiety. I have no problem with that, and have my own struggles with social interaction. But because I kept asking him questions that led to the, “well, I have social anxiety so no” type of answer, I attempted to ease this by empathizing and telling him that I’m prone to awkwardness, but I’ve tried to accept this.
He responded: “Yes, I agree. You’re awkward.”
This was about 15 minutes into the date -__- I remember having a Mean Girl moment thinking: “While it’s true, it’s only okay if I say it.” Definitely lost interest after that, but to be polite I sat there and listened to him talk about his job for about an hour and a half (!) until I found an excuse to leave. He had the gall to call me awkward, and he had the gall to ask me on a second date, which I clearly did not go on.
Sadly, the other dates were lackluster, as these men were in a similar life position as me: lost, confused, and fairly unmotivated to change. This doesn’t mean they weren’t interesting, because they were, but two people in the same position in life does not a stimulating relationship make. So I realized that this wasn’t the right time for me to be doing this whole dating thing. If I wasn’t feeling so great about myself, how can I expect someone else to do the same?
I see the potential for INFPs specifically to feel depressed and pessimistic after attempting online dating, because if you have a hard time finding people you are compatible with IRL, that feeling can be amplified in this process, since it’s still dependent on your area. I wonder if it’s truly possible for me to fall for someone within this context anyway. The context from the start is romantic, so you are always going to be seeing the person through those lenses, which just feels biased. You are going to be hyperaware of any flaws or value differences, which is a good thing to do in theory, but it can also halt progress if you’re notoriously picky. And like all things that take a long time, finding someone you connect with generally, let alone romantically, requires the time and effort to try and try and try. Ain’t nobody got time for that. It’s too draining. All these things don’t differ from regular dating, and dating can be a challenge for introverts, including INFPs.
Conversely, I can also see the potential for INFPs to find what they feel is “the one” online. Because we are so reclusive, it’s a chance to play, but on our terms. Generally, it is near impossible for a person to decipher whether an INFP is interested since they can be a little hot and a little cold. We communicate caring, but we care about everyone. And usually when we do like you, we tend to ignore the fact that you exist completely. When one leaves it up to us to communicate interest, it can either be so subtle that’s it’s invisible, or so over the top that it flops miserably, resulting in feeling completely emotionally naked. So to have all of that lessened (to a degree) by the fact that you’re starting off on a romantic note can help, especially if you’re paired with an extrovert that’s not afraid to boldly tell you how they feel about you. But where are these extroverts and how do I find one? Apparently not online and online dating 😛 At least dating online gives INFPs a chance to hone in on exactly the kind of person they want as luckily communicating important values is likely to happen right away.
The fantasy I have in my head is of just meeting someone naturally, where I get to know them without any sort of agenda. But I do not care to leave the house long enough for this to happen (at the moment).
Hopefully this fantasy comes to fruition, as I do not plan on returning to the online dating scene anytime soon (despite the unexplainable temptation to try Bumble).