Things Single Christians Wish You Knew: Online Dating Sucks
Table of Contents
So I'm going to say something controversial.
Christian online dating doesn't work.
Or rather, it doesn't work for me.
Yet we treat it as a catch all solution for everyone.
I've had far more damaging experiences on there than I have positive. Oh, I'm absolutely sure that someone's mate met their other half online, but for the majority of people, it doesn't work.
You know this,
I know this,
we all know this.
Can we finally just acknowledge as a community of believers that online dating is a bit rubbish?
Why I don't think it works
My experience of online dating is this.
I do it because I feel I have to.
Personally speaking, I'm unable to meet someone in real life, that's just the way it is. I'm not in a position to meet anyone who is single and Christian and, as mentioned in the previous article, as much as many single people might want to ask for help, often we're not able to.
Online is a last resort.
Speaking for myself, I am well aware that I'm no one's first draft pick, so going online is supposed to be the new and exciting alternative for people like me, except that it's impersonal and a bit of a meat market.
It's a place where strong foundations that lead to love are abandoned in favour of short term infatuation and disposable interactions.
I guess my main issue is that, as someone who has a touch of body dysmorphia, it's really damaging to be in an environment where you are seen as worthy or unworthy based purely on the way you look. I hate my appearance, I just can't see myself as anything other than a bit of a monster. I'd love someone to look past me and see me for what I actually bring to the table and what I can offer, which is a fair bit. But how do we expect this to happen with online dating, where looks are the primary factor in judging someone's worth?
The stupid thing is, as a community of faith, Christian culture rightly condemns this attitude from apps like Tinder and OKC, yet faith based apps like SALT and CC use exactly these same models of "here's a picture, like it or get rid" models to deem the worth of Christians to one another.
In short, I am expected to use the same logic I would have done pre Christ, when I was 6 pints deep down my local boozer and on the pull than I am when it comes to trying to meet one of God's daughters.
There's no gravity to the situation. No prayer or discernment to the approach.
We can easily approach 40 women or men we like in an hour of cutting and pasting. And we can be dismissed just as easily.
How dare we?
How is this ok?
This is not a trustworthy foundation to build something on.
The other thing with online dating is that, because of how transactional it is, sometimes when it clicks, it really clicks.
The problem is, because you have a relationship that is between two people in a private forum with next to no accountability, it can get very intense, very quickly.
A friend of mine (who is happy for me to share this) told me once about a girl he met on a Christian dating site. She seemed cute, dead clever, but very very keen. And he caught feelings for her, hard. Within a week, they'd spent 3 full days together. Within a month, they were head over heels in love.
And yet, when the 4 month mark came around, he'd blown through his savings, she was sleeping on his sofa 4 nights a week. And they'd fallen out of love. The break up was messy. Stuff got thrown, she pulled a knife on him. Total mess.
All that relationship resulted in was a drained bank balance, a stab wound and emotional scars for my friend which are still healing.
The kind of love that online dating brings can be amazing (and props if it works for you), but without that temperance and accountability, it can easily fall to bits. It can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that we miss the fact we're no longer in Kansas.
Weighing the heart
Here's the other issue with online dating.
People will have different reasons for using it, and not all of them are good..
Most people have their own reasons for using it. Maybe there are no blokes around them or they've had a bad breakup of they've been catfished before and this time it absolutely won't happen or, I dunno, they're praying for God to bring someone to them.
Make up your own backstory, I'm not your mum.
But what unites many people is that, although their individual reasons for doing online dating are unique, the outcome is the same. It's incredibly damaging.
For some women I've spoken to, they have met Christian guys who just want to sleep with them. Some men have been rinsed for money or been mugged. Some people just go on these apps because they like the attention and lead people on. I've fallen for this myself and it is utterly heartbreaking.
Online dating is rife with predatory and exploitative behavior that just wouldn't be acceptable in the real world.
And unfortunately, whilst there's protection against some of this stuff, there is no protection against the emotional and mental scars that this predatory behaviour causes
The odds are good but the goods are odd.
Widening the net
So my dream, if I can call it that, is to meet someone local, who gets my church, and do the happy ending thing. As a geezer, to say this out loud is considered beta/weak/whatever, but that's the way it is.
So here is my issue. There isn't anyone local on these apps I can meet. Tried it, but it doesn't work. So what that results in is widening the net, looking further afield to meet someone.
The problem I have is, where do you draw the line?
So, like many of us, I am on an extremely limited income. By the time I've paid everything, there isn't a whole lot left for me to have a decent quality of life. It's not that I don't earn much, but as a single income household, what I get in goes straight out. I'm actually considering moving into a tent because of this issue.
So when it comes to travelling, or widening the net, like many people suggest I do, there is a huge financial risk implicit in this. And I know I'm not the only one in this situation.
Whilst online dating does allow us to connect to people all around the country, our bank balances and collapsing transport network do not.
The grind gets a bit much
The other thing with online dating is that, if you can't meet someone, it's the default option you're supposed to take. And getting into it, it is an absolute grind.
As transactional as online dating is to some, because I believe in being intentional, i pray a lot before I message someone. Call me an idiot, but God's will be done matters more time than blanket bombing people with messages.
So when you get ignored as much as I do, that's kind of heart-breaking.
I'm sure people find my stories about my disastrous first dates amusing, but behind each of those stories is a ton of stuff I don't talk about.
You'll never hear me talk about the exhausting and draining daily churn of messaging people and trying to discern if you'd be a good match. Then there's the whole trying to think of an opener that isn't too much whilst paying attention to her profile leading to creative burnout.
Once that happens, you then spend a lot of time trying to weed out the people you don't match with. Then there's the constant frustration of being ghosted almost at random and the disappointment that comes with that. There's the hope of matching with someone just for them to disappear when things were going well, the disappointment of never getting a message or a response.
It wears you down after time.
The other thing that no one talks about is that, should you be forced to become a long term user of these sites, like I have been, it's the same handful of people on there. I now find myself in the position where I'm thinking "this person didn't want to talk to me 5 years ago, why would they want to talk to me now?"
And here's the thing. I would absolutely love to walk up to someone and say "hey, I like you, let's go out." But I can't. The way I look and my inability to access help stop me doing this.
So into the meat grinder we go once again. Into the churn and burn of trying to connect with someone on more than a transactional level, trying to stick the landing, holding onto hope whilst bracing for disappointment.
After 20 years of this, I would literally hack my own limbs off for an alternative.
The trouble is, there isn't another option available for people in my situation. And believe me, I've looked for it. So ultimately, soul draining meat market approach or nothing is the choice a lot of single Christians have.
The truth is, what presents as a light and easily accessible way of meeting people is, in reality, a meat grinder of impersonal and damaging transactional relationships. It's a literal death by 1000 cuts.
The problem is, for many Christians, this is scarring their souls.
But there isn't another way.