Dating Apps: No Longer A Dirty Little Secret

A while ago I wrote a piece called “The Really Obvious Reason Why I Actually Like Tinder,” in which I alluded to a little bit of my experience with the app. However there are so many other dating applications available these days and now almost everyone I know is using at least one of them. So as I’m watching The Carrie Diaries and thinking about dating and all the ways that its changed since the 90s, I wondered: are more people actually using dating apps or are people just more open about it?

Never in my life have I been categorized as someone who was “boy crazy.” I’m very independent, have a lot of close friends, and my introverted personality suggests that I’m pretty good at keeping myself company. Since finishing school however, I seem to spend about 20% more of my time talking about dating. My girlfriends and I discuss who we talked to that day on Tinder, what new hilarious profiles we read, and spend a substantial amount of time deconstructing weird messages we receive.

It used to be that my friends and I would talk about so many different things – what assignments we had for class, what club meetings we went to, what sorority events we were dreading, etc. – and dating was just a small piece of that conversation. Now that I have nothing but work to fill my time (though it does require a lot of it), everything else is just open-ended. As post graduates my friends and I have more opportunities to date and meet people than we did in college, so we do; using dating apps has become a part of that experience. They’re a way to casually put our feet into the shallow end of the dating pool. With apps we can test out the waters and see what’s out there without even leaving our couch. It’s easy and an arguably more polite means of swiping through people we have no interest in. And since all of us are doing it, its become a major topic of conversation.

What I don’t understand is when it became socially acceptable to use dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Coffee Meets Bagel. I’m not saying it’s not great – people should use whatever means available to them if they’re committed to meeting someone – but six months ago using a dating app was a joke, not a serious method for finding a date. If any of my friends were using one, especially if they were using it seriously, then they kept that information to themselves. Dating apps were like the dirty little secrets you kept in the back of your dorm room closet; they weren’t dinner conversation. But now that the secret is out about the apps, they’re all anyone can talk about.

In some sense, I like that people are being more open. It’s nice to talk things over with friends and have someone looking out for you when you go to meet someone for the first time – my roommate actually called to check up on me the first time I met someone off Tinder – or to have someone proofread your messages so you don’t kill the conversation in the first five seconds with too much sarcasm. But I also miss the preoccupation with other things.

I don’t want my whole life to be about relationships – finding one, being in one, or whatever. I want it to be about life and friends and fun. And I get it, you can totally have fun while being in a relationship. I have some friends who’ve been in years long relationships with people that they really love and I’m so happy for them. But that’s not me right now. I’m not in a relationship and finding one shouldn’t be the focus of my conversations with my friends – we used to have so much more than that.

So while I enjoy using dating apps and love sharing my adventures with my friends, I also miss the times when dating apps were hidden away in the back of the closet. I miss bonding over other things and I’d like to get back to that.

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