Advice

Everyone Who Uses Dating Apps Is a Human, and We Need to Treat Them That Way

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I’m on the fence about dating and hook-up apps. Their interfaces lull you in with fun and games — Tinder even suggests you to “keep playing” when you make a match! — and it’s simplicity keeps everything straightforward. I like the geo-centric aspect, where I can find people nearby, and it’s fun to go through matches fast. My problem comes with the high level of stress that comes from using apps, like Tinder or Hinge. A Daily Dot article calls it “Hook-Up App Stress Disorder.”

Hook-Up App Stress Disorder is when “disappointed users feel unseen. Their identities go unrecognized, threatening individuality, and leading to daily, mild-to-wild maltreatment.” On Tinder, swiping left and right is fun, addicting, but removed. Sometimes I do it to kill time while I wait for the train, mindlessly playing as if this was Flappy Birds, and sometimes I’ll let my friends take a few swipes, toying with matching me up with strangers. One joked about how often she forgot that the guys she rated were real people, that she preferred to look at it as a game. I definitely keep that in mind when I make matches and only get brash offers for weird sex  in my inbox. The app is lighthearted, but I still over think it.

That’s where Hook-Up Stress Disorder really kicks in: there’s no real etiquette for these apps. Messages seem like a free-for-all and many people are only looking for a quick hook-up and any real conversation quickly peters out. I’ve over-thought replies or attempted a joke that just misses the mark, and I’d never hear from guys again.  But ignoring messages is acceptable, and even if I feel slightly guilty about doing it, I’d rather do that than lead someone on.

Users suffering from Hook-Up Stress Disorder look at these apps lacking intimacy and humanity that dating should bring. It’s easy to flick through a bunch of matches with a carefree attitude, but it does sting when you find out that your match doesn’t want the same thing you do. It also stinks when they use awful grammar and short sentences, but that might be clumsiness on tiny keyboards rather than a lack of humanity on the users part.

The more I used these apps, the more I realized that what I wanted probably wasn’t going to be from an app that people (even me) can’t really invest in. “Dating app rejection is relatively gentle,” Maureen O’Connor said in her New York magazine article about dating-app stress. “The time investment is minimal so the stakes are low; the humiliation is softened because you’re not face to face.” Maybe that’s why we’re not making strong connections. We’re not risking much. You’re not going by much to weigh that person, just a photo and possibly a small tagline. I think that causes a lot of the messages to be as shallow as a puddle in the gutter. If you’ve reached this stage, I call it dating-app disillusionment (insert DAD acronym joke here).

It’s an easy way to try to connect, but dating takes time and more involvement. If you want to use hook-up apps, more power to you. You just need to adjust your expectations and not let the stress get to you.