WHAT 10 YEARS OF ONLINE DATING TAUGHT ME
This will be my first Valentine’s Day celebrating with someone I’m dating. To be honest, these past years without a SO haven’t been all that bad. Some were celebrated with girlfriends over several bottles of wine and a cheese plate. Some were celebrated uneventfully going to the gym or cooking in. The truth is 98% of me didn’t really care that I didn’t have someone on Valentine’s Day. But the other 2% of me knew that being with someone would make a nice day even better.
But how did I get to 2/14/2019? Let’s rewind 10 years to 22 year old Lauren, living in San Francisco with all of the optimism of someone right out of college. I have always been a “rule follower” which, even today, is called out to me. I followed the rules in school which meant work hard and you would get good grades. This followed me into my career which meant work hard, get promoted. So I figured in order to get a boyfriend, in this post-graduate life, you had to put the same sort of ruthless determination into dating.
Dating sites were just starting to become a thing (Uber wasn’t yet invented, I know, I’m old) so I decided to sign up for eHarmony. I couldn’t tell you why that was the one I chose, I think Match and a handful of others were launched by then, but eHarmony it was. I had to be one of the only 22 year olds on eHarmony. I mostly had gross older men sending me matches, which I promptly blocked and begin the past 10 years of lamenting and really not understanding what the “formula” for dating was. How could I follow the steps which lead me to a boyfriend as linearly as I had followed the steps in my career to move up the ladder? What I learned was that it just isn’t that simple. Sure you can put yourself in scenarios where the likelihood is higher but, honestly, at the end of the day, dating is a crapshoot.
I know, not really the comforting advice you wanted to hear but let me tell you, it is comforting. Because the truth is that you cannot control a lot of dating. You see, humans are complicated and that’s why we love them and also why it’s hard to find that one person you are compatible with. If I told you to go find the best sheets on the internet you probably could do some research, read some reviews and price out options to find which ones are best for their value. You just can’t find a person that easily because they have quirks and a history that make them who they are. It’s not as easy as reading a few reviews and looking at options side by side. You have to go on awkward first dates and sometimes second dates and sometimes third dates, when you wish you would have just stopped at the first date. You have to meet guys that take you on a 8 mile hike and on mile 4 you find out they were a drug dealer (true story) You have to go on dates with guys who invite you to trivia night with their co-workers on a second date (another true story) You have to do all of that in order to find out who they are and if your quirks are compatible with their quirks.
Don’t worry I have a happy ending to this story because I did find someone in this crazy process. After 10 years of swiping until my finger was sore, then deleting all of the apps in frustration, somehow it worked. To this day, I honestly still can’t believe it worked.
After my initial experience with eHarmony, I tried nearly every app that came out just to experiment and see if maybe that was the magic ticket. I signed up for Jdate when I’m not that Jewish. I tried one app that had you select 9 Instagram photos to represent you—it never took off. I finally got into the League after years (yes, years) of waiting—it ended up being like every other site. I kept hearing about everyone’s success on Hinge, which I already had on my phone for years. They had just redone the interface to require people to read more of the profile, not just aimlessly swipe, and it seemed to be working. I decided every night before bed to spend 10-15 mins, the same amount I spent on Instagram, swiping on Hinge. The consistency paid off and I ended up going on dates with two guys before meeting my current boyfriend. It was sort of a goldilocks situation where the first guy was too young and still lived (and enjoyed) living with his parents. The second guy was older but got serious real fast (he was the aforementioned trivia night guy) and ended up sending flowers to my office the first week we met. And then there was Trevor, who was just right.
One of my biggest pet peeves when I was single was that everyone said “you will meet someone when you least expect it” I always thought this was a weird statement because I was “working” so hard at dating—literally swiping left and right in my spare time. How could I “least expect it” when I was trying to meet someone every day? I can’t really explain why it happened now but I think Trevor and I were both in a good place in our lives to meet someone. A year or so ago, I went through a total health transformation (I will be following up with a post on that because I haven’t really touched on it) and Trevor had done the same around the same time. It feels like we both needed that time to really make ourselves into what we wanted to be before making room for someone else.
This is turning into quite a long post but I am happy to share with you because I wish someone had done the same for me. There is comfort in knowing that the process is almost never linear. The sharp turns right and left make for good stories later and they teach you about what you are really looking (or not looking) for in a partner. There is a time and place in your life for watching Sex and the City in your ugly-but-so-comfy sweats and for laughing with girlfriends over wine until 1 in the morning. Enjoy those moments, seriously, and have confidence in yourself that, if you want to find someone, you eventually will.