By Ali Hinman
My parents met when they were kids. They grew up down the street from each other, and my dad asked my mom out when he was 20 and she was 18 because they both didn’t have a valentine. I love this story. I love hearing about how two people are brought together in this world of impossibilities. I work with elderly adults, and I ask all my patients how they met their spouses, and each story is special and sweet. Even 65 years later, their faces light up talking about how their husband got their attention by pulling on their hair in the movie theater or how they knew their wife was for them within the first few seconds of their blind date.
Yet, when someone asks me how I met my girlfriend, I say “oh, you know, on the apps” and change the subject. Sometimes I mention how I woke up to 2 notifications, one from Tinder and one from Bumble, and they were both her, but not always. The person who asks says “oh nice” and then scrambles to talk about something else. I’m not embarrassed about how I met her. I love her. Obsessed with her even. I talk about her constantly. I would talk about her all day if I could. But why do I shy away from this simple fact that we met on a dating app?
The stigma of dating apps have largely been alleviated. When they first came out, it was a little risky to meet someone on a dating app, but now, my friends do it all the time. It’s especially more common now that college is behind us and we are no longer stranded on an island of horny drunk people who are the same age as us. It’s not necessarily looked down upon anymore, but it still feels like it takes the magic out of dating. It feels like cheating. It feels like we have over-technologized dating and turned it into 0s and 1s instead of leaving it up to fate.
However, although the set-up is technologically-based, the rest of it is up to us (or maybe even fate). An algorithm can take data about who you might like and who is in your area, but it can’t create a spark. I’ve matched with many people on dating apps that ended up being a poor connection. I’ve met even more people in real life that were not a match either. The way that you meet someone doesn’t (usually) define the rest of your relationship.
There were still butterflies in my stomach when my girlfriend texted me for the first time. And when I met her on our first date. And when I got to kiss her for the first time. And when we went on our 100th date. And when we moved in together. And every Sunday morning when we make brunch together and slow dance in our kitchen. The fact that aimlessly swiping through an app brought us together is still pretty special. And from that seemingly insignificant action came a beautiful love story. Allie and Noah met at a carnival, Jack and Rose met on a boat, Kelly and Yorkie met at a loud bar, and she and I met on a dating app.
Dating apps do create boring stories. They are unceremonious Tales Of Two Messages that don’t go farther than a polite greeting. They are stories of two people who don’t have much in common, or of one person who likes the other person waaaay more than it is reciprocated. They are stories of two people who match but never talk. Actually, that’s probably what a majority of the stories are. But the love stories they start are just as sweet as any other. The beginning of the story is never the most interesting part anyway.