First off, I’d like to blame the cold of autumn and winter for what I am about to disclose. If it wasn’t such perfect weather to be cuddled up with someone next to a fire, or for having adorable snowball fights with a significant other or for going on cozy coffee shop dates, my sanity and ego probably would not have undergone such a tribulation as the one that follows. But, alas, cuffing season gripped me in its unrelenting grasp and I was left with a pathetic yearning to have someone’s fingers interlaced with mine.

I knew that none of the guys I knew were going to fill this hole that seems to only concave itself within me during the frigid fall and winter nights. For one, most of the guys I enjoy spending time with are gay, and if they aren’t, then I view them purely through platonic lenses. Secondly, the guys that I have hooked up with turned out to be emotionally immature (shocker) and thus not worth any of my extra time. And, finally, the rest of the guys I know tend to be egotistical and pretentious, and thus unworthy of the perfect cold weather dates I have planned. So, really, unless a 20-year-old Nick Miller (yes, of New Girl fame) came knocking on my door to profess his love, or a curly haired, glasses-adorning, shy bookworm instantly fell in love with me after being taken aback by my rolled-out-of-bed beauty look on the train, there was really no hope for me to find someone with whom I could have the most romantic of all winters. With a defeated sigh, I did what I swore I’d never do: download a dating app, Bumble, to be more specific.

I could have downloaded Tinder. I knew so many people who had it, but they mainly used it for random hook-ups, which is also great- but not what I was looking for. Really, only few found someone who would give them their coat when it was cold. But all had received disgusting, degrading messages from guys on there and I really wasn’t looking for that. But with its self-professed intent to “shift old-fashioned power dynamics and encourage equality from the start,” as well as to “challenge hyper-masculine dating norms,” Bumble seemed like the perfect place for me. Not to mention, with its unique rule of women making the first move in heterosexual matches, I was protected.

At first, I loved it. I instantly became obsessed, and began walking down the street thinking, “swipe right” or “swipe left” whenever I passed a guy. The first day, I made plans to meet two different guys on two different days the approaching week. I matched with 20 (20!) guys in one day, and soaked up the attention. One in particular, a Brown graduate, seemed perfect– funny, charming, well-read and a good listener– but when we met in person, he looked completely different from his picture, and, while he still had the same qualities and interests that intrigued me in the first place, it became pretty clear that he was simply utilizing them so I would get into bed with him. There was another guy: a Berkeley graduate currently getting his PhD at Harvard (swoon). I really hit it off with him online but after a few days of talking (mainly about himself and his studies) and him still not taking my hints and making a move, I got bored.

That’s when it all went downhill. I stopped getting as many matches and this really messed with my self-esteem. It got to the point where I would swipe right on a guy just for a potential match, even if I didn’t intend on messaging him. Or, I wouldn’t allow myself to exit the app until I got at least one match. It messed with my head, and I started seeking validation from these random profiles. My usual healthy self-esteem plummeted because these guys that I found attractive on Bumble didn’t find me attractive either; I failed to consider the possibility that maybe they deleted the app, maybe they hadn’t seen my profile yet or maybe they didn’t find me attractive and that’s OK. Or if I did match and didn’t get a response to the message I’d send, or the conversation was horrible, I’d blame myself and invalidate my personality, again failing to recognize the validity of my off-screen relationships and the fact that my friends all liked me fine. The superficiality of dating app culture affected my self-worth, my self-esteem and dangerously became the only source of validation for myself.

This was my own experience and I’m not belittling the good that dating apps have to offer. I’ve had friends who have met their significant others via online dating and who have had great experiences. There has never been an easier way to meet new people and explore your sexuality, as well as your romantic preferences. It doesn’t even have to be that deep– there’s never been an easier way to take care of your sexual needs and move on. However, I think it is important to recognize the toxicity that dating apps, just like most social media apps, can cultivate due to the superficiality of it all. I had to delete the app and recoup and, luckily, I am now able to reflect on how toxic the online dating culture was for me and how dangerous it was to turn that into a source of validation. 

Lead Image Credit: Pixabay