Connected, but not connected at all

How we date online and the influence of social media on our dating life

Bette Lemme — from Give It

Are we here to find love and then disappear from the face of the earth?! If so, then why do we seek things that make us miserable and keeps the void from love intact!? A pointless search for the ultimate point of no return for our little egos to be delighted! Wanting that glow in our hearts not going dark. Is there therapy for such a thing? No, only love can save us and we are afraid to surrender to it! Afraid to be hurt again and thrown aside. Who is on your side and who is not, how do I know who is hate and who is love? The right answer makes us thrive in our authenticity The other kills us slowly.

In the past, you dated someone next door. When you could hold a normal conversation, was mature enough to take responsibility and take care of yourself, then basically you were set for the remainder of your life. In this day and age, we can’t say that anymore. Things got a bit more confusing and more polarized.

After a girlfriend (actually a crush) of mine found her love through Tinder, I decided to do the same. Little did I know what would happen next. Over the course of one year, I had all kinds of experiences with online dating. For the most part, they were neutral, but I also had bad and some good experiences.

I tried all kinds of techniques in reaching out to someone. First, I tried to hook up for sex and later I tried to take it more seriously and tried to really connect. I got both, but what did I really get? Was it worth it? I would say neutral, but I would not do it again if I would have the knowledge and experience I have now. It consumes so much or your energy and time, that I would not advise it. Only to those who are bored and long for some fling. Maybe, that is also why most are on Tinder.

I am someone who wants quality over quantity. Tinder and other online dating apps could give you quality (you need to be lucky), but mostly quantity. When you live in a larger city, like I do, Tinder shows an incredibly large amount of people with whom you could possibly meet. This knowledge made me less invested in someone and easily “dispose” and replace with someone new. First I did not show such behavior, but after a few not-so-nice experiences, I did become more and more of an asshole. Instead of quality, I went for quantity. My whole dating life merged into searching for a constant novelty and appreciation. Instead of really trying to connect and build something meaningful, I just went for the kick. A fling.

With my behavior and mindset, I hurt people along the way, because I am the ultimate alpha male, right!? No. These experiences made me realize how bad this all was and that I distanced myself a lot from my original values and my authentic self.

Now, I was more convinced that what I felt and knew before was truer than ever before. That is, relationships take time to develop and mature, and the number of people you will meet will be lower, but with that, the quality will be higher as well.

The other thing I noticed is that on Tinder and other dating apps everything is quick; you end in someone’s bed quickly, you begin a relationship quickly, you are being flaked quickly too.

Now, I have deleted Tinder and the other dating apps as well. I want to connect, really connect! With people from flesh and blood. Not with someone in the virtual world and leave it there. I reinvented myself and found relationships that I met through social situation more worthwhile and time well spent than people I met through Tinder.

You are not aware of how serious or with what intentions someone is on Tinder or other dating Apps. You can write a bio if you feel like to let other people know what you are up to or what peculiar thing you have. But the whole thing, in my eyes, is a slot machine. Sometimes you win a jackpot, but most of the time you just loose or get at least something.

As I spoke with people who used online dating to its fullest, they had comparable experiences with that of mine. I did a little research to see what the actual landscape of online dating looks like. Read along to find out.

Our relationship with social media with the mix of modern feminism has made romantic relationships a hurdle in our age.

We look at things we think we are afraid to miss. These are for the most part happiness, wealth and beauty. To stand out and show to others that we have these and more than others. It strangles people’s minds into being fake on social media. To show off. This is a nice kind of fake, like the artificial flavoring in a lot of foods, without calories or vitamins. Just a nice taste. Hollow and unsustainable in the long run. The more mature we become, the more we dislike this taste and long for stability, realness, and endurance.

Social media has excavated social relationships and molded our minds into being fake. We have built social media ourselves and now its effects are projected everywhere. To be a mini-celeb.

“Social media relies on loneliness, filling empty needs for atomized psyched, separated hermits, recluses, nerds, socially inept, socially unable to bond, and unable to be intimate, social media needs this kind of population… Everything that takes away your eyeballs from social media is a treat, so intimacy, love, friendship, family, community all are threats. Because social media exponentionalized the critique someone can get by showing something about yourself” — Sam Vaknin

Here are at least six things to note about social media:

· A tiny exposure of yourself causes pain on social media (and in real life), anxiety, because there will be critics; people who expose themselves even a tiny bit expects a tiny acceptance back. When this tiny exposure does not lead to acceptance, but to critic, then this leads to pain, how much more will full exposure leads to?

· Social media only connects likeminded people, compartmentalization.

· 60% of social media activities is the selfie

· The emotional expression via social media is very basic and ambiguous. The more someone connects intimately with someone in real life, the less ambiguous this person becomes and the more certain the relationship. This is in strong contrast to social media (and online dating)

· Physical emotional intimacy with a face-to-face person also means that you are connected to their world and not the digital world of social media, where everyone is ambiguous and no one is threatening.

· Social media encourages the lack of real life intimacy and increases the need for screen time.

Social media feeds narcissism, the inferiority complex, and is a thriving ground for a sociopath. We like to draw our attention to ourselves and boost our ego. A new way of going upstream. This whole thing is also reflected in dating. Dating a narcissistic person or something similar might be attractive, because of his/her charismatic abilities and so on, but it is toxic as hell.

It is about you, your heart that is humble enough to love and to be loved. But in our world we like fake over real. The real thing might hurt us, therefore, we rather distance from it and have many hosts toward the outside world. Kind of roleplaying in different settings to fit a mold to boost the amount of appreciation around us.

The more we do this, the more we are becoming distant from ourselves. It takes a whole other article to write of finding our authentic self. We lost our authentic self in the rush for going upstream.

The effects of social media are being felt in online dating as well. So much time spend on your device to find the next match, the next hit of a positive impulse for your ego. The endless search for this comes along with a lot of negativity, like ghosting (when a person disappears without any foresight), breadcrumbing (keeping more than one person in the line), benching (uncertainty to date or not to date that person) and submarining (cutting off all communication and then reappear after some time).

All this adds to the uncertainty in the world of dating. You can have the best pictures, the best opening lines, the best witty banter and still being dismissed by one or the other. Not because the other is that bad but the system encourages such behavior. After a match you don’t know how willing the other is to engage and in what. Maybe the other person was swiping you right while sitting bored on the toilet or the other person has a real intent to find someone special. For most online dating means you want to connect but you do not want to invest in the connection.

“As part of their new campaign, Tinder surveyed more than 1,000 single people between the ages of 18 and 25. About 72% said that they’ve purposefully chosen to be single for a while, and 81% said that being single has some major benefits (such as making new friends, being more focused at work, and having time for their personal wellbeing).

More than half of the millennials surveyed also think that both they and their fellow singles are more fun thanks to their lack of a significant other because they’re more open to trying new things. About 39% said they worry that partnering up will make them boring. Millennials also worry about losing their independence (especially the millennial women who responded, for about 25% of whom being single feels empowering).” — Kasandra Brabaw

What happens when courting becomes a chase for the next hit? This chase an obsession and this obsession a delusion. This rollercoaster of emotions can easily lead to depression. What are we really searching? Real love or the feeling of novelty?

To me and many other people dating online looks like a landscape where there is everything, people with serious intents, but for the most part a playground for emotions. An endless search for the next hit. A slot machine, sometimes you win, most of the times you a left empty-handed.

Online dating is many things in one: painful, awkward, difficult, fun, awesome and strange. Sometimes you find lasting love. For many though, online dating has become a pain or an addiction.

With online dating “every” person becomes reachable within arm’s length. This has given rise to instant gratification without emotional intimacy and emotional investment. You can chat-up with people and build up your ego. At the same time, there is a lot of frustration and disillusionment when it comes to online dating. Especially for someone who is looking for true connection and ends up being lured by people who pretend to look for something serious, but in the end it all was just a game.

After looking into a few personal experiences (including my own) I found an image that tends to be more negative than positive when it comes to online dating.

Many people are on tinder to look at pictures of other people or engage in fun chatting with no intention of meeting someone. And it’s incredibly time-consuming too. The average user spends 77 minutes per day on dating apps like Tinder. Tinder has the advantage of size, but a lack of serious dating intent by a lot of users and low connection rates can be a challenge for people to be serious about finding a mate.

From the people who started a conversation the results were bleak. About half of the conversations were completely one-sided — the other person just didn’t respond. When there was a mutual conversation, people exchanged phone numbers only about 19 percent of the time. Half of the people sent a message after a match. Who does so, does this within 8 hours after the notification of a match and 15 percent within the first minute. Some people respond within a few hours, while most people wait a day or more.

There also notable gender differences in response rates. Men initiates around 80 percent of the conversations, if a man does so, he gets around 53 percent of the time a response back from women. When a woman does so, men respond around 42 percent of the time.

Online dating is not all terrible, but these studies confirm that the problems of the real world do recapitulate themselves online and even amplify it. People long to connect with each other, but are also afraid of rejection. If you find yourself with the feeling that apps like Tinder seem frustrating and unproductive, it’s not just you. This is pretty much the average experience for people, everywhere.’

There are people who pursue to meet as many dates as possible, without the intent to really know you. They want to get under your skin and understand what makes you tick in order to raise his numbers of sex partners. These are the PUA’s (pick-up artists) who are not in for the long haul. Their pursue is most of the time solely for sex. This is done by playing into the emotional needs of the other sex. These relationships tend to have a very short existence.

Most people will cringe when they hear about pickup artists and their tactics, while thinking of a man who is very sleazy and lurking on women like a lizard on its prey. Yes, some are like that, but most of them who are trying or learning pick-up techniques are painfully shy people. This is like a hope for them to come out of that vicarious lifestyle they are in.

The rise of “seduction science”, “game” or “studied charisma”, as it is often called, has attributed to polarize the modern dating scene even more. One of the main contributors is the increased empowerment and equality of women in western society combined with the changes to traditional gender roles.

The most uncanny thing about the pick-up is learning to obtain sex; there is almost no focus on how to engage and connect with people emotionally. Which would be more helpful in finding loving partners. In the pick-up world, everything is focused on building attraction, without really giving value to someone you are interacting with and, yes, this is sleazy.

Many pickup artists work on their “game” by improving their understanding of mating psychology, their confidence and self-esteem (termed “inner game”), and their social skills and physical appearance (physical fitness, fashion sense, grooming: “outer game”). Many members of the community believe that one’s “game” is refined through regular practice, with the idea that the abilities needed to interact in this way with women (and men) can be improved. So much so that they believe they will be able to pick-up anyone as long as their game is good enough. This “game” is mostly learned through practice, where basic concepts of mating can be added, concepts like social proof (your social value) from the psychology of influence, but also concepts from socio-biology and evolutionary psychology in understanding the mating dynamics (like making eye contact).

First it was men seeking help for engaging in the fairer sex. However, women nowadays do seek help too, for example, with an influencer like Mathew Hussey. For women, it is about filtering out and attracting good men instead.

Despite all the knowledge, a pickup artist may have, the understanding of mating helps you no further than someone who is genuinely interested in people. The difference is that the pick-up artist has an agenda and plays that out carefully. Whereas a genuine person wants to really know you for you and is not looking which buttons to push to get the desired reaction. They do really want to know everything, the good and the bad, about you.

You only hear the success stories of the pick-up artists; you do not hear about the instances when they are politely, or not so politely, rejected. For the pick-up artist it’s just a numbers game in the end. That’s why the advice from the pick-up community is to be desensitized for rejection, you don’t even take it as a rejection, you just say: “I was too cool!”

Of course, only a few people are like this, but its ideas about mating we see in places we really do not expect. This whole dating scene is so messed up, that guys and girls do not know what to do. Then they search for this pickup thing as some kind of guideline. This pickup thing is carried on and portrayed online as well as in the physical world.

This results not in better (long term) relationships, but increases your changes for hooking up, that’s it. For some a lot, for others a bit.

For you as a person, the best thing you can do is to learn how to connect with people without any tricks. You are not alone, a lot of other people think and feel like you.

What you convey is what you attract, what you show is what you pull. Think of what you want to be and how this looks to the outside world. You can’t please everyone, because then the amount of fake starts to rise.

Many people are hurt along the way when people just unconsciously flirt and engage in something they did not take seriously at all or have a lack of empathy with that person.

Connect your emotional world with the emotional world of the other. This is where true connection begins. Most people listen to the other with the intent to reply, not with the intent to understand. When we understand and engage, we connect. Connecting with someone also means excluding others. Not in a narcissistic way, not in a needy way, but in a way that both parties want to engage, stay engaged and still have the freedom to be who they are.

When you develop yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually into someone who is stable and able to adapt; not a pushover, sleazy social inapt being, you will manage. One of the most important things while dating is that you know who you are and find the people who resonate with that.

With kindness,

Aron, March 2019

Writing about the Human Experience

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store