Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dating Apps & Loving Myself First

This isn’t my regular type of post; in fact, it’s not book related at all. But it’s something I needed and wanted to get off my chest and this is one of my favorite digital spheres to inhabit. I’m not going to say this is the start of a new blogging “feature” per se, but I will warn you that I’m not closing the door to making more of these on here in the future. I doubt they’ll be very frequent, but I’m not closing the door on that either. Anyway, don’t worry, I have more bookish posts coming, but I needed to publish this first.

I’ve done something rather rude today and I’m trying to not feel bad about it, because sometimes you just have to do rude things. Recently, I went on a dating app with the completely serious hope of finding a match for a long-term partner. It was a really scary moment to put myself out there because I’m a very introverted, very anxious person. Talking with strangers stresses me out and I also deal with this internalized hurdle that I’m easily forgettable. And to top it all off, I’ve never been in a serious or intimate relationship, so beginning the whole experience felt a lot like diving into deep water before catching a big enough breath. 

Maybe I should blame books for being such a romantic at heart, but for a long while now I’ve wanted a relationship. A big part of me thinks that being in one will help solve some of my biggest problems: that I feel very lonely a lot of the time, and that, like I said earlier, I feel forgettable.

The real kick to get my gears going and convince me it was time to put myself out there was when, recently, my brother introduced me to his girlfriend. A couple times I’ve accidentally walked in on them being really cute together and cuddling or just whispering to each other and smiling. In a broader family stroke, a lot of my cousins have been getting married. My friend group, too, is starting to fill with people who have significant others. I feel like (and this is not a bad thing) I’m surrounded by people in love and I want to find myself some love as well.

Now, as scary as it was, it’s kind of a boost in self-esteem to see how many people I was matching with. And some of them are really cool people. And pretty much everyone I matched with is someone I wouldn’t have met on my own, out in the wild world, so that was pretty cool, too. But, of course, it was a dating app, and there were some questionable matches to say the least. One of the questions I answered publicly was what my favorite films were, and I only had one listed, and his way of introducing himself was to tell me I was wrong for liking that film so much, and then he asked me to dinner. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Another guy kept asking me what I thought of his dating profile, but in a weird, interview-y way. And, my personal favorite “horror” story, there was the guy who tried to tell me my Hufflepuff scarf wasn’t actually a “Hogwarts/Gryffindor scarf” but then tried to compare his dick to it. I blocked him because he was clearly not cut out for me. Beyond all that, for the first day or so I actually found the app a lot of fun. 

But this rude thing I’ve done today? I deleted the app. I deleted the account. I had been talking to two guys for quite a while and we were sort of making our way towards possible relationships. I gave them no warning and I hope I didn’t hurt them because they were both really great seeming guys.

What happened? There were two factors, really. One is that a lot was expected of me. I needed to keep up conversations with these guys. Which meant being on my phone a lot. And for me, being on my phone requires a lot of energy. And after only a few days I found that the amount of energy I was putting in wasn’t really reaping any rewards for me. I was talking to two people, but I wasn’t getting a warm feeling when I saw their messages. I wasn’t getting any feeling except, “Ugh I have to respond; it’s my duty”. And it’s not my duty to respond to anyone. And, no, they weren’t pressuring me to talk, either, it was an internalized “duty” feeling, which made it worse.

The other problem? I found myself wanting to lie to please people. Not big lies, but I’d pretend I didn’t know a thing, or that I didn’t know as much of a thing, or that I was actually interested in another thing, because that’s what I thought they wanted to hear. This made me realize something I haven’t wanted to vocalize: I’m not actually as comfortable with myself as I thought I was.

I’ve had body-image issues for a while. I’m overweight and I have big boobs, partly because I’m overweight and partly because of genetics (however, I think that’s a longer story for a different time), and these factors make it hard for me to be comfortable in my own skin. I’ve been trying to deal with that and I think in a lot of a ways I’ve gone pretty far towards being comfortable with my physical body. Hell, this is the first summer I’ll wear something sleeveless. I’ve known this is a personal struggle for me, but beyond that, I thought I was pretty comfortable with my internal self. 

Like, I’m comfortable saying I’m a nerd, I’m a book geek, I collect things that have little to no value, my dog is actually my best friend, my bed is my favorite place in the world, and I like the shows and movies I like just because I do. But I wasn’t staying true to myself on the app; I was lying, I was bluffing and fibbing and making myself fit the mold for someone else, and I realized that in the long run this isn’t the kind of relationship that benefit anyone. Especially considering I wanted a relationship to help myself feel seen and I wasn’t showing who I actually was.

I thought about it: why was I doing this? And the answer came to me: I don’t actually love myself first. I don’t have a good relationship with myself and I need to build on that and make it healthier before I go out in the world of dating again. Basically, I need to learn what it means to be me and inhabit myself again.

So, yeah, that’s why I deleted the app. I was being unfair to everyone involved, including myself. I don’t know exactly when or how I’ll feel better as myself, but I’m going to be actively working on it, and hopefully the next time I write about dating apps or loving myself, I’ll be writing from a place of healing and knowledge.

3 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, Sam, I have so many responses, so I hope this comment doesn't end up bombarding yo or overwhelming you. It's just that, I empathized and connected with almost every single comment you wrote throughout this post and I want you to know you're not alone in feeling ANY of these things.

    Dating apps are terrified and I personally ended up deleting the ones I was on, too. I tried Tinder and found I didn't like the hookup culture that was so prominent there. I moved on to Match.com, hoping to find something more serious with a paid membership and definitely found much more promising matches there, but again, I didn't like how you had to parade yourself and present a certain image and how often people cared so much about your physical photos than the information you presented. So I ended up deleting that and then, two days after, met a guy randomly at work who has been my man for the past one and a half years. That was really lucky, but throughout the time on the dating app, I had the same realization: I didn't love myself enough to put myself out there. So I really had to look at myself and see what about myself I didn't like and figure out what exactly I wanted to do in order to "fix" that negative mindset. And it took a lot of work and it's something I'm still totally working on. I think it's something everyone always works on, constantly learning how to love themselves better and be more confident within themselves.

    All that is to say that yeah, maybe deleting the app without any notice isn't the most polite move to the people you were talking to (definitely did that, too). But it's obviously the best move for YOU personally, right now, in order to take care of yourself and that's totally okay. I am rooting for you in your quest for self love. If you ever need any advice, someone to vent to or talk to or just a judgement-free zone to talk through this stuff, please never hesitate to reach out to me, if you're comfortable with that! You can always email me through my contact sheet, if you need it. And know that this realization about yourself is SUCH a pivotal first step towards learning how to love yourself. Everyone's journey with this is different, but that doesn't mean you have to experience it alone. <3

    I'm rooting for you and I believe in you! You'll find love, you'll learn to love yourself for who you are now and find ways to improve, if that's what you want and you'll find someone who makes you not only feel comfortable in your own skin, but feel better about it, too.

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    1. You definitely didn’t bombard me!

      Thank you so much for saying that I’m not alone in these feelings. Honestly the world of online dating— hell, the world online— can feel super lonely sometimes.

      Aww, that’s actually pretty cute that you met your guy at work; I’m happy you’re happy!

      I’m glad to hear that it’s something that you’ve managed to improve on but still working at because that gives me hope that with time and patience I’ll get there, too.

      <3 Your words mean so much to me thank you very much. I may end up reaching out to you as things go along because there’s definitely something to learning from other people who have been in similar positions. In my day to day life I don’t really know anyone who’s felt the same way about dating apps or putting yourself out there— most of my friends and family are either in relationships and have been for awhile or they’re the kind of people who don’t have trouble getting into relationships and don’t want to settle down.

      This is definitely the best comment I’ve ever received on any post ever because it means so much to me and I appreciate it so much. No lie, I actually screenshotted it so I can look back and remember that there’s definitely a forward to move towards and that even when it seems bleak (not that it necessarily seems bleak at the moment, but there’s definitely hurdles to work on) I have this bright light.

      <3

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    2. SAM, oh my gosh, your response is making me feel so good, thank you so much! <3 <3 <3

      It definitely can feel super lonely sometimes. I think the most dangerous/toxic thing about it all is how easy it is to compare all the time, especially on social media and *especially* about relationships. When everyone else around you seems to be in one, it's easy to feel depressed or feel like you're doing something wrong. Hell, I'm in my first one now and I was 24 when I met him. And even still, it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows. We've had our ups and our definite downs, and sometimes, when we have those downs, I wonder if we're "doing it right," since everyone else just seems so...happy, all of the time. But that doesn't mean that they don't struggle sometimes, too. What's presented online is never the full story, but it's so easy to forget that.

      Aww, thanks Sam! It was the oddest stroke of luck that really did feel like all the fates aligned for us to meet. Seriously, there were so many little things that, if I didn't answer that one phone call and he didn't wear that Mass Effect jacket and I didn't step out of my comfort zone, that we wouldn't be here today, together. Thinking about how easily we could have missed meeting one another and yet, we didn't, reaffirms my belief that you'll totally meet your match, even if it feels like you never will (because Lord do I know that feeling).

      Of course! <3 And I seriously did mean that offer. I am more than happy to always chat and be here for you! There have been so many people who have been there for me along the way (or who are there for me now, as I try to navigate being in a relationship for the first time) so I'm more than happy to try and help you remember you're not alone in this journey and everyone goes through it, one way or another! I feel like we have a very similar mindset/experience, so that might help, too. :)

      *dies in a puddle of compliments and sweetness*

      I'm so glad it helped so much and I sincerely hopes it helps in the future, if you need it! Never forget I am here for you!! <3 <3 <3

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Thank you so much for commenting! I love to hear from you and try to respond to comments once or twice a week. Thank you for your patience :)