Technology is Changing the Dating Game

Hi, I like you. Do you like me? Dating isn’t anything new. Although arranged marriages used to be a thing, dating has been the acceptable and expected way to meet someone with hopes of sweeping them off their feet for decades. Looking back, how has the introduction and innovations of technology changed the way we date? Here are a few significant ways technology has helped me and burned me along the way.

Tinder.

We need to get this out of the way. For those who don’t know, Tinder is a (very popular) dating app. It has earned the reputation of being the ultimate hook-up app, so, if you’re on Tinder, other Tinderers have some high expectations. Tinder consists of swiping through people within 100 miles of you based on their pictures. Okay…there’s also a place for short biographies…but no one actually reads these. If both of you swipe right, “It’s a match!” Now, you are free to send private messages to each other. Many Tinderers are ashamed to openly admit they have (and use) this app because of its harsh reputation. Yes. I used to have it. My friends put it on my phone and made me a profile. I guess they were tired of me being the “really single” friend…meaning I ate pizza in my underwear while watching Law & Order: SVU instead of going out. After having Tinder for a couple months, I had 1,200 matches.

I’ll be honest. I went on a lot of dates. Although I never used Tinder for its intended purpose, I made a lot of friends, and a lot of awkward acquaintances. On average, I would go on 3 dates each week. My friends joked that I was only going for the free food. …I can’t exactly deny that…but I’ve already accepted the fact that I’m a horrible person. In addition to the free food, I would go to make friends. 2 of my best friends are guys I met on Tinder. This seemingly harmless app has significantly changed the dating game. For me, it was more of an esteem booster than anything else. Who wouldn’t want to open an app once a day and see messages of guys telling you you’re beautiful? This goes without saying, but some messages were more vulgar than others…I shudder thinking about it.

Is Tinder a lost cause for finding someone amazing? No. In fact, I was reconnected with a guy from my high school via Tinder, and he is now my boyfriend. We live together and honestly I couldn’t ask for anyone better. It all started when he messaged me and invited me to his softball game. 2 weeks later asked me to be his girlfriend. Despite popular belief, Tinder isn’t just for hookups.

Pre-date Research.

It’s not creepy. At the end, you may even feel like you need a job with the FBI. Because of technology, it’s possible to know a wealth of information about your future date before saying a word to him. In the past, going on dates with people you hadn’t met before was more of a guessing game. What does he look like? Does he have siblings? Where is he from? These questions, and a thousand more, can now be answered without asking him. I used to go on dates knowing all the basic information about the dude, but I would still ask all of the questions — #1 for conversation and #2 for confirmation. If he gives conflicting answers, this would be an immediate red flag. Especially information I knew he was lying about. On the first date? Really? Without technology and social media, dating would be more of dark cave experience…and who wants to be surprised on the first date? Do that research…but know when to quit snooping, too.

Cheating.

Technology hasn’t helped or improved all aspects of dating. It is easier now than ever to low-key cheat on your significant other. In my opinion, anyone who cheats is lower than pond scum. Picture this: two people have been together for 3 ½ years. They live together in Missoula. Girlfriend gets sick, goes to her doctor in Arizona. She’s hospitalized for a week, while her boyfriend stays in Montana to take care of her horses at her parents’ house in Helena. Through a text, the day before she flies home, her boyfriend breaks up with her. When she flies home, she finds out her now ex-boyfriend was sleeping in her bed with his side girlfriend who’s now his regular girlfriend. Blindsided, she remembers how he had two contacts in his phone as his brother. She remembers how he always went outside to talk to his brother, and deleted the thread of text messages. She puts the pieces together and realizes the side girlfriend was in his phone under his brother’s name. She also realizes he went to his cabin to go hunting with his “brother” for the weekend on numerous occasions. She remembers this happening for 4 months. Her boyfriend had another girlfriend for 4 months.

Sounds really shitty doesn’t it? It was. This was my life 2 summers ago. My boyfriend was cheating on me for 4 months and I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was possible to hide another girlfriend from the person you live with. Technology made this possible. I’m not saying cheating didn’t happen before cell phones, but it definitely made it much easier and much more common.

Unhealthy Obsessions.

Similar to pre-date research, Facebook/Instagram snooping can become an obsession once you start dating someone. After analyzing his family, pictures, and posts, you’ll run across pictures of him and his ex-girlfriend. You’ll casually click on her profile, and soon you’re scrolling through her pictures until you find one that makes your heart sink. You’ll find one of them together. Probably kissing or looking disgustingly happy together. It will have some sappy caption about how much she loves him, and you’ll keep looking at it until it completely ruins your mood. She’s pretty. She made him really happy…look at them! What does she have that I don’t? You’ll continue snooping which will continue to put you in a bad mood. You’ll probably find a picture of her with his family on the holidays, and you’ll feel threatened and insecure because she was part of his family…looking pretty and happy. Eventually you’ll close out of Facebook and sit and think about the pictures, which will only make you feel worse. You’ll try to remember that he picked you, and he likes you, and they aren’t together anymore. However, you’ll always know that those pictures are online for the world to see, and you’ll know they’re only a couple clicks away. Without technology, you would most likely never come across pictures of him and his ex-girlfriend. His mom would take down her pictures in their house and, if they are polite, never talk about her. You wouldn’t have the images in your head of them being incredibly happy and you wouldn’t see things he has written about how much he loves her and always will. You wouldn’t feel the sinking feeling in your gut, because it wouldn’t exist. Sure, we could make a conscious decision not to look at the pictures plastered all over his Facebook and Instagram, but…do people really have that much self-control? I know I don’t.

What I’ve learned is that you can’t let these pictures, posts, whatever, destroy you. Yeah, it feels weird and you hate seeing them and you hate feeling the sinking feeling, but you need to be confident. You need to be more confident than the girl in those pictures, because she may have part of his past, but you have his future.

Jealousy.

It’s easy to get insecure and jealous with all of this unnecessary technology. Who’s this girl that commented on his status? Why did all these girls like this picture of us? Are any of them ex-flings? Should you ask him? No, you’ll sound psycho. You can’t bring this up because you’ll look bat-shit crazy. This girl is really pretty…how does he know her? STOP. Even though I’ve just talked about how easy cheating is now, you need to stop. You need to trust him, and you need to not be crazy (out loud.) If you can’t trust him, or you feel the need to attack him about every comment and like on social media, you need to rethink your priorities. Social media has brought to light just how many people would probably stab you in the back without thinking when it comes to your significant other, but you need to use this information and store these doubts about your friends/acquaintances in the back of your mind. Get smart and strong…don’t get crazy and weak. Put the phone down and go outside. Go for a run, go fishing, go shopping…whatever floats your boat. Stop obsessing about the past and do something with your future. There’s no better way to show his past how amazing you are than to act like it and grab life by the horns.

Unneeded Pressure.

Now more than ever, there are pictures, videos, blogs, and everything in between swarming us…showing us what “pretty” looks like, and showing us that “ugly” isn’t acceptable. What makes someone ugly? Their hair? Body? Facial structure? Women feel the pressure to be perfect every second of everyday. Plastic surgery, hundreds of dollars invested in makeup, body-tightening under garments, you name it. Social media tells us what we need to look like through photo shopped images which creates unrealistic standards. When I see perfectly photo shopped images of a celebrity…I admit I feel a pang of jealousy. Look at HER. I wish I had her hair. Look at her legs! How did she do her makeup like that? Her teeth are perfect.

It’s important to look at these images and see past the makeup and the airbrushed skin. Looking deeper, we need to remember these are normal people. They have flaws and things they hate about themselves just like the rest of us.

I’m not saying women didn’t have unrealistic standards before the explosion of social media, but it is something that has become a glaring issue in society today. These images and standards can make dating a little intimidating. We need to remember that just because we don’t look like someone else…doesn’t mean we aren’t beautiful. Embrace what you have and be thankful for your health instead of stressing about having perfect hair and airbrushed legs.

Final Thoughts…

Dating has been drastically changed by the explosion of social media and technology in general. Although many things about dating have been improved, many things have become more difficult.

Remember not to get too bogged down in all of the technology. Remember to go outside. Remember to read books. Remember to hang out with your friends. Remember not to stay at home, glued to your phone, hoping some guy (or girl) will text you. Things have a way of working out. Don’t overthink situations and focus on yourself rather than other people. Jealousy is a wasted emotion…it doesn’t help anything and it only puts you in a shitty mood. Be a boss. Be yourself. Don’t let dating take over your life. What’s meant to be, will be. I’m a strong believer that no matter how far people wander, the ones who are meant to be in your life will always come back to you. Don’t fret over people who walk out of your life, and don’t fret about walking out of others’ lives. Do what makes YOU happy.

Technology has made it so much easier to be anxious and stressed about what other people are doing…he doesn’t text back but he can post on Instagram? Instant anger. Don’t let this happen! Don’t let someone else control your emotions so easily. It’s possible to put your phone down and walk away. Don’t forget this…always remember you don’t have to respond to anyone. Ever. You don’t have to be affected by their actions and you certainly don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself.

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