by Jamen Dean Dröge
Millennials, we have entered a technosexual era of dating. Smartphone activity composes one-third of our waking day. We spend the majority of our digital time on social media apps, notably Facebook, and we are more likely to answer texts versus phone calls.
How does this digital infatuation affect your love life? It depends.
For the purpose of this article, let’s refer to “love life” as any sexual and romantic encounter. If you are looking for no-strings-attached additions to your black book, dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, Jack’d, and Scruff will add a few notches to your bedpost. If you want to build a meaningful relationship, avoid these apps at all costs.
Like many gay men, I have downloaded, deleted and re-downloaded every relevant dating app in the app store. Currently, I’m in my deletion phase, again. Let me explain.
A recent dating prospect who we’ll call “Luke” said to me, “I never thought you were interested. You never responded to me on Grindr.”
Coincidentally, before his confession, we met through mutual friends at a networking event in July. I didn’t recognize him from Grindr. His profile picture didn’t do him justice. I had used the app to satisfy my unending curiosity and to recalibrate my gaydar; I rarely responded to guys. Having friends introduce me to Luke helped spark a connection, but it was his personality that continued my interest— qualities he can’t reveal via text. My lack of engagement on Grindr nearly ruined his romantic interest in me. I would’ve missed out on a great guy.
After the networking event, me and a group of friends, including Luke, visited 303. We continued our engaging conversation throughout the evening. That morning, I never expected that I would end the night walking out of a bar, laughing.
You might be thinking, “If you had messaged him back on Grindr, you would’ve gotten a date, dummy!” Maybe, but the social excursion and conversational journey were far more exciting.
Photoshop aside, social profiles and exchanges are deceptive. Interacting with someone’s virtual self is different than communicating face-to-face. Think about some of the conversations you’ve had inside of an app, then compare them to real life. With Luke, I didn’t face first meeting anxieties like wondering if I looked like my profile picture or if my mannerisms were masculine enough. He didn’t judge me against a romanticized image.
Many people, including myself, know couples who’ve met online. Sites like OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and Match spout countless success stories. Online dating does work. Those sites promote compatibility tests and resources to help you find the best match. To sustain online relationships, a fair amount of regular physical interaction needs to take place —Skype and FaceTime help.
Excluding video chat, Facebook messaging and texting do not replace our need for human connection. We are social animals, introverts included. The connection we feel from texting is illusory because we edit ourselves, and then, tap “send.”
The tone of a person’s voice is harder to detect in text form. If you are sarcastic like me, you’ve discovered some unintended consequences of your humor via text. Real-time interactions reign supreme. Embrace your imperfections and uniqueness.
So, are dating apps ruining your love life? Not if your medium and intention are aligned. Drawing from 10 years of experience, meeting naturally in-person tends to yield better, longer lasting results —fingers crossed for my date this weekend.
Tinder, Grindr, Hornet, etc., are hookup apps. Don’t let them misguide you. They are not likely to lead you to a substantial relationship. If that’s not what you want, that’s OK, too.
Tell me about your experience with dating apps. I love to hear the successes and misadventures of dating: firstname.lastname@example.org.