I’ve been thinking about the question of how you meet people a lot lately. Half of the people I’ve dated I’ve known for awhile before we started dating, whether that be through work, or school, or hobbies. The other half are people I met off-chance and hit it off with. In both cases, it felt more like I knew that person in some capacity before we started dating, because we didn’t meet and the intention wasn’t immediately the possibility of a relationship of some sort (or was it?). Now that I’ve been frequenting the Tinder, I’m curious about how people date people. Just in GENERAL, but also specifically, why is it so, so weird to date someone you don’t really know? We’ve covered topics like: do I really want to be dating? And how am I going to know if I like them romantically? But we’ve never covered the ‘how do you even get to know someone you don’t know when all of your meetings are in the date-structure?’. There’s a romantic interest. There’s an intention. How do you get to know someone as both a person, and a potential partner, when you start completely from scratch?
In my mind, there are three routes to dating.
1: You’re friends first. At least you know each other a little, if not very well. Somehow you realise you have feelings, you ruminate, someone makes a move, you date.
2: You meet organically, maybe through friends or family or at an event, you talk, sparks fly. Maybe it’s someone you’ve met before. You have mutual friends, you know of them but you don’t really know them, until the time you properly meet and you realise just you have a vested interest in them now. By your first date, the intention is there, you’re only on the date because you already knew there was something there.
3: You’re just putting yourself out there! So you’re on dating apps because no matter how many parks you sit in reading looking cute, no one approaches to ask what you’re reading (come on!). You go on dates with strangers. You maintain the “no expectations” rule going into the dates. You wonder how you’re ever supposed to meet someone this way. Are you supposed to wait until you meet someone you have an instant connection with? Sometimes you meet someone interesting, so you date… But you still find yourself on the second or third date wondering what the intention is. Who is this person, and at what point are you supposed to start having expectations. You… just continue to date?
Is It Easier Dating Someone You Know Well?
For a long time I was firmly in the camp that dating someone you know is ideal. Because you know their positive traits and their… less positive traits, and you like them anyways. You don’t feel the need to impress them, you can continue enjoying each other’s company, but with some added romantic benefits. Ideal, right? I’m starting to think not so much. There’s still a lot of idealisation that goes on here. Especially if you’ve harboured feelings for awhile. Plus the added complexity of “where is this going? what if it doesn’t work out?” There’s a lot of immediate pressure when you date someone you already know, and there’s a lot of opportunity for disappointment because expectations can be so high. Beyond this, if you have mutual friends the pressure is ON because there are so many eyes watching, wondering how it will go.
Or Someone You Know Through Friends?
I started out thinking the second route might be the best. The person already knows of you, they know some things about you (hopefully mostly good, but maybe also some bad). So, you’re not starting completely from scratch. You at least have some sort of background, some sort of idea of the type of person they are. Plus, you know what you’re on the date for. You know there is an interest involved. You might have some expectations, but there’s not the pressure of you already being friends and knowing each other well. More importantly, there’s no pressure of you having to figure out whether or not you’re really interested (but isn’t it always there?).
Or Is Dating A Stranger The Best of All?
Now, I’m starting to grow biased towards the third. I crowd-sourced on this one recently, and asked who had dated someone they didn’t know at all before they started dating, and what they thought. I’ve used Tinder, and I’ve met a whole of two out of the many people I’ve talked to on Tinder. The first time famously went incredibly average. I have a knack for not putting my best foot forward, and I left the date feeling like I really hadn’t sold myself very well. And, I decided I didn’t want to have to sell myself to someone and make myself seem interesting to them, so I deleted the app. Many moons later, I re-downloaded. It took an exceptional profile and a few good chats for me to meet up with another person. Safe to say, he was not at all what I expected. (I always break the no expectations rule, by the way, I just can’t help it).
The Problem With Tinder Dating
Now the problem with Tinder dating and meeting up with people you don’t know at all is that you have absolutely no clue what that person is like. Even if they have cute pictures, they could end up looking slightly different (hopefully not too much). They could be much quieter, or more provocative in person than they seemed online. It’s not quite the same as online dating that you’d find with people who met through Instagram, or Twitter, because Tinder and other dating apps can be very catered and less personal. Plus, when you’ve met on Tinder and then you meet up, you both know it’s a date, unless it was otherwise specified.
On top of this, the average person will be putting their best foot forward on a first date. They’ll want to seem like they have it all together. They’ll want to downplay any parts of their life that aren’t working out as they want to seem like the ideal version of themselves (can’t relate lol). It’s almost encouraging you to idealise them, but in this case it just means it will take more time to draw their personality out. And honestly, very rarely are you going to rush into things with someone you’ve met on the internet (unless that’s what you’re looking for). From what I’ve done personally, and what I’ve seen friends do, we are so much more cautious. It takes time to get to know someone, and it takes time to know if you like them.
The other problem with dating a stranger from the internet is that you have absolutely no idea whether or not you will be attracted to them. You might think you have an idea, but because you’ve never met them and they could end up being rather unexpected, it’s hard to say. Plus, it’s also hard to say whether or not they’ll be attracted to you. Let’s face it, talking to strangers is weird for a lot of people. It’s even weirder when it’s a date, you’re trying to get to know them and you’re trying to get to know if you like them all wrapped into one. Dating from a completely blank slate is so strange. You don’t know them, you don’t know if you like them, but you know that maybe you might? So you keep dating.
Personally, I really liked dating a stranger. I hated it at first. But then I liked it. However I am also the person who moved overseas without a job or an apartment. I like a bit of an adventure, and try to find every opportunity to discover something new! I took my time getting to know them, and I spent hours and hours talking before I really decided I was in deep. The only thing I didn’t like about online dating was how they didn’t know any of my friends! It took a long time for us to meet each other’s friends. But it made space for our relationship to just be about us, which is nice.