I met my boyfriend on a dating app. That’s not the romantic story most people want to tell when friends and family ask how you met. Because friends and family will always ask. Something feels shameful about meeting someone online. As if you somehow weren’t capable of finding love the way it has been done for generations: unexpectedly, when you’re just minding your own business and living your own life.
Okay, what I really mean is “in person.”
But dating within Christian culture has its own stigmas however you look at it. There a million different opinions, backgrounds, expectations, and rules surrounding the whole endeavor. They’re all different in churches, families, schools…
Churches spend a lot of time talking about the pitfalls of dating rather than how to date wisely or how why it’s good to be single. Family and friends want to hear every detail about the romantic lives of everyone in the entire community. Gordon has visitation rules, including the open door and two light source policies, as well as no EODA (excessive or offensive displays of affection—which, as an RA, is a rather ambiguous rule to judge). It’s exhausting. And I got tired of waiting for Prince Charming.
So when I heard about a friend’s experience with a rather obscure dating app, I took her advice to heart. I decided to be more adventurous than my analytical, pre-planning self usually allows and jumped headfirst into the online dating pool. The water was warmer than I expected, but why did I do it? Why do I think dating apps are reasonable, feasible, and even valuable dating tools? (Disclaimer: I used an app designed for people who are looking for real relationships and which puts religion as a main feature on each profile.)
1. You’ll find people you wouldn’t meet or consider dating otherwise.
My friends, we live in a fishbowl. A fishbowl of approximately 1,600 people, 2/3 of whom are female. Dating apps work like Gill’s escape plan in Finding Nemo: roll the individual baggies until you reach the sea. I mean gosh, I can’t imagine dating someone on campus. That would be like sharing your whole relationship in the Tartan! Oh wait…
Plus let’s be honest, humans are stupid. We don’t always know what’s good for us, or see a good thing when it’s right in front of us. Dating apps can help us learn more about ourselves, about what kind of person we’re looking for, maybe even about what kind of person we should be seeking.
2. It does your job for you!
Because of the nature of dating profiles that ask about your religion, values, and preferences, you will ensure that your core beliefs line up before getting deeper into a relationship. Profiles encourage discussion about values and points of conflict. This is a very healthy part of relationships that was encouraged by the dating app.
You don’t have to spend all your time scouting out potential dates in everyone you meet. No one wants to be that and no one wants to date that.
3. Why not?
That’s the reckless side. Part of me just had to see for myself what the whole dating app thing was about—just for kicks, not really banking on anything happening. What if I didn’t find anyone I wanted to meet or wanted to quit suddenly? I could delete the account, choose not to meet anyone in person. What could I lose? A little time and a little pride? I’d recover.
Finally, the most important reason why I decided to download a dating app:
4. I wanted to start a relationship, and I knew that if I didn’t do anything about it, that was never going to happen. That should be the most obvious statement in this article. We treat dating like fairy godmothers are a real and invasive species.
One of America’s ideals is to be self-made. We are taught that if we want something—whether it is an education, career, travel, or any other kind of goal—we had better go out and get it. So why do many of us sit patiently and wait for love to come and hit us in the face? That’s the exception, not the rule. (Good thing too, that would hurt!) Contrary to what some of Christian culture propagates, it’s not bad to want to be in a relationship. It’s bad to want one, feel guilty for it, and choose to do nothing because of that guilt.
Do we honestly expect friendships or acquaintanceships to spontaneously combust into romantic flame? Maybe we wait around for Prince Charming (or Cinderella) because it is easier. Our passivity keeps us safe from the risks of rejection, failure, vulnerability. Avoiding those things sure sounds good to me.
Obviously dating apps don’t make dating easy or vulnerability less scary. But I support their disbelief in fairy godmothers. They are reasonable because they are structured, controlled, and efficient. Feasible because they are easy to access, easy to use, and don’t come with great cost. Beneficial because they challenge our dating stigmas, introduce us to new people and new perspectives, and prompt us to discuss values and core beliefs early on. What could be the harm?
Using a dating app is not something I am ashamed of. The reasonableness and the modern-twist this tool brings to the dating “fairytale” is something that makes me very proud.
by Cheyenne Scott-Nelson (‘21, Contributor)