I was six years old the first time I asked my parents how they met. My interest was sparked after a rainy day spent watching Disney princess movies. Unfortunately, rather than a fairy godmother and a glass slipper, their story comprised a vacuum and crappy car. This may have been my first real lesson on love.
“We met on Tinder,” my friend Jenna says with the same amount of shame I would expect of someone confessing to an affair with an older married man. “You’re supposed to say we met through a friend,” her boyfriend jumps up from across the restaurant table, disappearing in the direction of the washroom. Annoyed at his dramatic outburst, she rolls her eyes. “We’re in a happy, loving, committed relationship. What does it matter how we met?” I nod in agreement, but I can’t help but think how much more appealing When Harry Met Sally sounds.
Or The Notebook. Or Casablanca. Or The Fault in Our Stars. But these stories, while beautiful and entertaining, are nothing more than media-generated concepts that create false dreams we spend our lives struggling to live up to. Truth is, our love stories often start more along the lines of, “a man walks into a bar.”
Surely, my friend Jenna isn’t alone in having built a successful relationship starting online – nor is she the first to lie about it. Even with our reliance on the Internet, there continues to be a stigma surrounding online dating. There’s even a dating app for people insecure about online dating; it’s called Hinge, and similar to Tinder, it connects you with singles in your area – but only friends of friends. This way there can be genuine truth to the claim that you’ve met through a “friend of a friend” rather than online.
“It just feels unauthentic and forced,” my friend Joe shares his opinion over a beer. “You should be able to talk to people in person.” Maybe meeting through an online dating app like Plenty of Fish, where you basically create a resumé to sell yourself as a potential partner, is surely a little less authentic, but nowadays it’s the norm. For millennials, “We both swiped right” is the new “love at first sight.” For the Google generation, the concept of meeting through a dating app doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. With everything being online – jobs, banking, friendships, school – it doesn’t seem unfathomable to throw dating into the mix.
Online dating is convenient and eliminates some of the hurdles that come along with meeting someone. With Tinder, an app that matches potential beaus based on proximity, you can chat with countless potential partners simultaneously without even having to leave your house. This pre-date chat lets you get to know someone before dishing out $100 on dinner, only to find out the only thing you have in common in that you both live on the planet Earth.
You can even find dating apps that do this type of work for you, like Match.com. This online dating site recommends you to people who share similar interests and future aspirations as you so you can right away know if you’ll get along on some basic level. Some apps even break down demographic barriers. Like Grindr, a dating app aimed for gay, bi and curious men, which locates locals based on proximity. “I was on Grindr the other night while out for dinner and looked up to see the guy they’d paired me with was my waiter,” my friend Jeff divulges to me. “Let’s just say he got a great tip.”
Of course, even with all the benefits, there are dangers and downsides to online dating. Shows like Catfish, which sets out to catch people using false identities on the Internet, show the dangers of online dating. Little fibs of saying you weigh ten pounds lighter or bigger ones, like claiming to be the real Kim Kardashian, are all plausible scenarios when it comes to dating online. And then comes the argument of the benefits of meeting face-to-face, with multiple studies, like the one done by Tech Times, claiming that couples who met online are more likely to breakup. However, when it comes to meeting online, the goal is to meet them in cyberspace but eventually, to form a relationship face to face.
It’s not just dating that’s made its way online. Today, the concept of being online, whether socially or for business, is just everyday stuff. Having, “we met online” as an answer to how a couple met is no longer shocking – nor should it be. A recent study done by MIT revealed that over 40 million Americans use online dating apps. It’s safe to say that meeting online isn’t shameful, it’s normal.
Online dating may be a trend led by millenials, but it’s following is vast, and it seems there’s a dating app for every type of person. Married looking for an affair? Polygamous looking for sister wives? A single Christian looking for sin? Online dating is here to stay. Meeting on Tinder may mean that you don’t have a fairytale story, but hey, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a fairytale love story to live. Plus, why go through the hassle of getting out of bed to meet a future boo when you can find your Prince Charming from the comforts of your bed?
Have you been Tinder-shamed by your friends? Tell us your story in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.