Single Mom Dating: The Truth About Dating Apps
This week I logged into the one dating app I’ve used on and off lately, and then quickly deleted it, deciding to sign up for a writing class instead. My energy and passion better spent in crafting a story than finding a partner.
These are not the times for deep, intimate relationships.
Part of me feels like it’s karma biting me in the ass for my superficial youth, never really fully committing to anyone, at least in my head, anyway.
Little did I know that when I was actually ready to trust and feel vulnerable in a relationship that the pickins would be so slim. So bleak.
It’s no different for us near or plus-40-with-kids folks than it is for the youngsters highlighted in a recent Vanity Fair article about the current culture of dating.
If anything, reading it will make you suddenly thankful for your spouse or partner. Except if you’re single like me.
Then you’ll just be nodding your head.
My experience has been exactly like those 20 and 30-somethings, which is to say that it’s all more like a game than anything else.
Most people juggle three to four dating apps at a time, with matches on any given one not really an indication of anything more than a physical attraction usually based on terrible selfies and badly-lit photos.
It’s hardly a special connection of any kind, just a way for many people to get an ego boost, or perhaps a hook-up, some lasting months and months with no actual relationship in sight even though you might be exclusive. Or so you think.
If something seems off, or you don’t like an outfit she’s wearing, or something he said, you can, in an instant (pretty much literally), find someone else who’s thinks you’re cute and meet up with them in a matter of minutes.
And if not her, or him, then someone else.
This is, as you might guess, extremely time consuming, and disconcerting.
I’m just no competition for the instant gratification that’s perpetuating a dating and relationship ADHD. I give myself 100%, sometimes more, to pretty much everything I do, so to spend my days offering up 20-25% of myself to a bunch of random strangers just doesn’t feel right.
There’s no time for feelings anymore, no opportunities for little flubs or bad hair days, the imperfections that make a long lasting relationship special (or so I’ve heard and seen from friends). There are other matches surely awaiting you, perhaps better than what you might have right now, most not even getting a chance to do anything but say hi. If that.
Most disturbing for me, however, is that the back burner is always lit, burning ever so lightly. The door is left open, even if it’s just a crack, no one ever really committing to anything completely. Apps might be off their phone or tablet, but their accounts can still be active, just a simple click or desktop login to check and see who’s swiped them right.
And look, I don’t expect exclusivity from anyone on the first, fourth, or heck, even the 10th date. But there’s something disheartening about being with someone for a few months and still seeing dating app alerts popping up on their phone like it’s first date Groundhog Day and the time you’ve spent together, sometimes the significant time you’ve spent, doesn’t really seem to mean anything at all. Like they’re just treading water because the commitment of swimming to one side of the pool would kill them.
The excitement and the newness feels like it will always win, especially as I approach 40 with four kids to care for full time.
But the truth is, it never actually will.
We seasoned daters or in my case, divorcees, know that the new car smell wears off at some point. But these days, people don’t give themselves a chance to enjoy the broken-in seats. Or brush off the bit of dust on the dashboard.
They just trade-in for a newer model, or keep a few parked across the street, waiting for a lonely night, or just a speck of boredom to take them for a spin.
And well, I’m just too special for that. We all are, really. It’s just that some of us figure that out more quickly than others.