Online dating has been around for decades in some form or another, but the launch of Tinder in 2012 is what really changed what people mean when they say they’re “dating.” At first, the app was an exciting way to meet new people, but many dating apps have devolved into a place for people to find a hookup and get validation from strangers rather than look for something meaningful. Not only that, but constantly interacting through screens is causing us to forget how to date in real life.
Ghosting seems completely normal.
While no one you’ve had a couple of online conversations with owes you an explanation for why they aren’t interested, if you’ve been out with someone multiple times, it’s reasonable to expect them to let you know they don’t want to see you anymore. But instead, people will just stop responding to your texts and act like you never existed. Ghosting isn’t exclusive to online dating but it has definitely gotten worse lately since it has become so easy to ignore someone and move on to the next without a second thought.
You become a commitment-phobe.
Have you ever been on a date with someone and felt the urge to pull out your phone to get in a few swipes while they were in the bathroom? Swipe apps make it seem like there is an endless supply of potential dates out there so it’s hard to believe the person sitting right there is the best of the best. What if there is someone better just one swipe away and you’re missing out on meeting them? Commitment isn’t easy in the best of times, but when you’re constantly thinking the grass might be greener, it’s impossible to just pick someone already.
IRL flirting is a thing of the past.
Meeting someone in a bar or a party used to be the norm, but in the last few years, it seems like everyone is too busy texting their latest online crush to pay attention to the people that are right in front of them. You’re no longer present enough to sense a spark IRL because you’re tuned into the vibration of your phone in your back pocket instead.
It’s harder to trust people.
One of the appeals of online dating is that you get to meet people you never would have crossed paths with otherwise. But that also means you have no way of knowing if they’re telling the truth about who they are. You want to give people the benefit of the doubt but after you’ve been burned one too many times by a catfish or someone who claims to be single but actually isn’t, you start to expect the worst.
“Hanging out” has become the new dating.
Since no one wants to commit to anything anymore, asking someone on a date is out of the question. That’s much too serious and could lead to expectations. Instead, everyone just calls it “hanging out”. You’re too worried that you might scare someone away by making it clear that you’re actually trying to date them–which is exactly what is leading to the prevalence of almost relationships that never end up going anywhere.
Your conversational skills leave something to be desired.
The demand for a witty, well-thought-out first message and subsequent engaging, hilarious, and thought-provoking conversation is at an all-time high because of online dating. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards, but you can’t write and re-write the perfect response when you’re face to face. If the conversation isn’t flowing in person, you can’t just stop responding–you have to power through, but online dating has made a lot of people completely forget how to do that.
You’re used to making snap judgments.
The sheer number of options on a dating app means you have to weed people out in any way you can. Maybe anyone who mentions something cliche like how much they love to laugh (who doesn’t?!) will be an immediate left swipe. In real life, people are a lot more complex than a few “fun facts” they put in their dating profiles. But you’re so used to ruling people out for the tiniest thing that you forget that getting to know someone beyond a first impression is actually an option too.
Non-verbal communication is lost on you.
Texting and online communication are completely devoid of tone which isn’t great seeing as when you’re just getting to know someone, it’s easy to misinterpret their words. Things like body language and sense of humor (fluent in sarcasm, anyone?) are important facets of how people communicate but if you’re always talking through a screen, you’ll stop being able to pick up on non-verbal cues that could give you major insight into how someone really feels about you.
It’s hard not to focus too much on appearance.
Swiping through photos with no context means you’re judging everyone based on their looks alone. The problem is, a few photos cannot tell you whether you’ll have chemistry with someone. Physical attraction is important but sometimes the more you get to know someone, the more attraction grows. Dating apps force you to decide whether you’re interested in someone before you know them and that means you’re less open to giving people a chance.
Vulnerability doesn’t come easy.
Online dating comes with a lot of rejection which means you’ve had to build up some walls to protect yourself and stay sane. But that just makes it harder to open up even when you do meet someone you really like. After all, who wants to keep opening up to people when they aren’t getting the same in return? Unfortunately, you’ll never connect with anyone if you aren’t willing to be vulnerable with them. It’s just getting harder and harder to know when it’s safe to do that.
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