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Treading Water in an Ocean Sized Dating Pool Author: Leah Tucker, MA, CIT

Oh, how did you meet?!” everyone asks the happy new couple as they slightly blush and embarrassedly look away, avoiding the question. In today’s day and age, it seems the majority of answers to that question circle back to one of the most game-changing crazes in the search for partnership…an app.

While the stigma surrounding meeting your partner online is dying down, especially among younger populations, the popularity and almost necessity to swipe on an app to find a connection breeds questions and impending complications. In a world where limitless potential hookups, relationships, and everything in between lie at your fingertips, what’s to keep your curiosity at bay, and what does this mean for dating and those seeking true connection?

​Full disclosure, I personally am a dating app warrior. While I do consider myself lucky to have found what I was searching for from a dating app, a fulfilling and healthy relationship, I do recognize that this is not everyone’s experience. My partner and I often speculate with one another, would we have ever crossed paths had we both not decided to swipe right? Is fate real, are we star-crossed lovers whose spirit guides got lucky that modern technology made their job much easier by hitting us over the head with a giant “It’s a match!” notification instead of a suggestive glance from across a crowded bar or a coincidental run-in at the grocery store?

Unfortunately, we’ll never have the answers to those questions, and oftentimes you really have to sort through a lot of potential matches to find someone who you not only are interested in on every level that is important to you, but also that the interest is mutual.

​So you’ve taken the leap, you’re looking for a connection, and you’ve downloaded the app best fit for what you’re looking for. Now what? When does the love come? When do you start going on dates that will take your breath away or meeting up with attractive and fun people with whom you have a good time?

The issue with the ocean-sized dating pool that apps yield is the “easy come, easy go” philosophy that both makes and breaks them. It doesn’t work out with this one? Ok, onto the next. This one took too long to reply? There’s more where that came from. Finding a true match is more than both parties just swiping in the same direction, and it takes time and effort beyond what most people swiping are willing or able to contribute.

​The impact of dating apps is felt beyond singles, and can also carry over into existing relationships. The couple who has been together for years, who met at school back when people met “the old-fashioned way” may hear stories from their friends and the fun they portray themselves having on the apps and get curious. “Why weren’t these around when I was single?” they might ask themselves. And as they say, curiosity killed the cat, or in this case, the monogamy. For the couple who did meet on an app, they both already know what it is like. They’re aware of the ease and volume of people out there waiting, ready to talk, ready to meet, ready for any kind of “relationship” you can define. The prospect of so many other people, right at your fingertips, entices throwing in the towel on a relationship that may have otherwise survived whatever bump it is facing.

​So what is the best thing to do when it comes to dating apps then? First and foremost, always be clear with your intentions. Whatever you’re there for, be upfront and you will find people also seeking the same. If you are looking for a connection and find one, embrace it, communicate about how you are feeling, and make decisions together on things like when you will deactivate your profiles on the said app. As naturally social beings, humans all crave connection with others. Does genuine connection still exist in today’s monotonous swiping culture? I’d like to think so. But modern technology’s impact on the dating world definitely changes the game for what it looks like to seek, build, and maintain partnerships in the 21st century.

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