Why I Refuse To Try To Impress Men On Dating Apps

And no, I don’t expect them to try to impress me.

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

Online dating is a pretty weird experience for everyone involved. The rise of mobile apps like Tinder has changed the entire landscape of modern dating. Dating today is a lot more like shopping than actually building relationships--regardless of the app you choose to use.

People shop around for dates based on gut reactions to photos and short bios. Before the dating apps, dating websites typically encouraged singles to take more time to get to know each other and decide whether or not you really liked a possible match.

Recently, I've caught a great deal of flack for writing about just a few negative experiences with online dating. One thing that surprised me was how much some people objected to my statement that I don't want to try to impress the guys I talk to online. After giving the issue more thought, I decided it deserved further exploration.

Dating is not a job interview.

There's a temptation to compare getting to know a potential mate to a job interview, meaning that you should be on your best behavior and go out of your way to make a good first impression. You need to impress that stranger you're talking to, and show them what a great catch you are. All to just get your foot in the door.

It's one thing to be on your best behavior at work, but what about at home? Don't you want to be able to relax and be yourself?

Life is too short to spend time with people who only appreciate an idealized version of you. Perhaps I’m in the minority on this one, but I don’t believe in looking for love by trying to impress a stranger. Maybe it’s because I’m demisexual, but my point in online dating has always been to get to know a guy and see if we hit it off.

Neither gender should carry the weight.

When I say that I would rather be myself on a date than go out of my way to impress the other person, it runs both ways. I want the other person to be themselves too, and quit worrying about what might impress me.

I've heard men complain about the gendered pressures of dating, and I don't believe they need to carry that burden in the modern world. Let it go. Plenty of women like myself don't care if a potential partner makes tons of money, owns a fancy car, or lives in luxury. We don't care if you look like Brad Pitt, Jason Momoa, or any other celebrity. We want you to be real.

Genuine, good-hearted people today want to find a partner with whom they can do life. Not a caretaker, sugar daddy, or provider. A partner.

Likewise, women today shouldn't have to worry about being a trophy version of themselves. We have value that goes beyond the quest for a perfect image. We have value in who we are and not just what we do for a paycheck. Character matters for everyone.

Luckily, neither men nor women need to carry the burden of impressing the other person. Maybe that's easier said than done, but there really are plenty of people looking for partners and relationships rather than commodities and transactions.

It just takes some digging.

Dating should be fun and educational for all parties.

The value of dating can't be overstated if you are looking for a long-term partner. It's how we learn to have healthy romantic relationships. Gaining experience with different types of partners tells us what works for us--and what we need to work on.

We learn more about ourselves through dating, and hopefully develop better habits. We learn important life lessons and create more healthy boundaries too.

There are so many good and important things about dating, but it's also supposed to be fun. Togetherness is good for our mental health. Fun is good for our bodies.

But it's pretty damn difficult to have fun and learn about good relationships when we're so focused on impressing the other person. Healthy relationships aren't about impressing anyone because mutual respect, consent, and goodness aren't about being impressive, but adult. We all need to resist the urge to pretend and instead pursue authenticity in our relationships.

Honesty in online dating is tough but worth it.

For people looking for lasting relationships online, it might seem like the odds are stacked against us. We've got to wade through people who aren't what they say and people who have opposite goals.

Refusing to play the game and seeking honesty over falsely good impressions is only risky because there are a lot of loud voices who still buy into the more transactional ideas of romantic relationships. But telling a potential partner that you're not going to try to impress them by peacocking or pretending to be anything you're not is also a great way to cut through a ton of bullshit.

I've had guys get mad at me for not trying to impress them with flirtatious banter when we're first getting to know each other. Certain men have said I shouldn't even be on Bumble or OkCupid if I don't want to play that game.

Personally, I think it's silly. I'm not ready to defeat the whole purpose of dating just to please some stranger who probably isn't a great fit with me anyway.

It's not as if "being myself" means throwing out respect, kindness, or health in any of my potential relationships, so despite the criticism I've got zero regrets over my policy.