As we begin this new decade of 2020, it blows my mind sometimes to see and feel how fast the world around me is changing.
The experience I had as a little girl growing up is vastly different from the majority of children today.
I remember a time when cell phones were not something the average American owned and iPads were not even dreamed up yet.
I don’t think I ever saw friends who had the ability to watch movies in their family car or minivan. None of my friends had their own technological devices, it was just unheard of when I was growing up.
The pace of the world today moves so quickly and is rapidly changing.
One particular space that I think is changing is online dating.
While for quite some time there have been dating sites, much of the landscape of it all has changed even in the last ten or fifteen years ago.
I’m a thirty-four year old Catholic woman who has tried online dating at various times for about the last five to six years. Even in that short amount of time, I have found things have dramatically changed.
In some ways for the better, and in others, not so much.
What are some specific ways that online dating has changed recently?
Here are a few things I have noticed and experienced as I navigate the wonderful (and sometimes less than wonderful world!) of online dating as a Catholic.
1. Hookup culture is a real problem
I have definitely experienced hookup culture on secular dating sites like Match.com.
I had an incident where a man propositioned me for sex. There were several other experiences I had of men sending me suggestive comments based on my physical appearance.
It was both frustrating and disgusting to me.
A huge contributing factor to hookup culture is that our culture separates sexual intimacy from marriage, procreation, and the unification of spouses.
Sex is seen as just sex, without any connection to a commitment with a person through marriage.
Hookup culture affects how we view ourselves, the opposite sex, and our views and wounds around sexuality.
2. Sometimes it feels like you’re selling yourself
You have to have an interesting, witty biography that stand out from the rest.
You need seem mysterious, yet approachable; funny yet able to hold a serious conversation.
Let’s not forget the importance of high-quality appealing photos of yourself.
For me, online dating feels like I am trying to sell myself: Here is why I am so great. This is what makes me stand out from other women on here.
I have good awareness on these things for myself, but at the end of the day, it still feels uncomfortable sometimes. There is a balance to be found about showing up authentically as you in regards to online dating, but I think it takes time finding what that rhythm is for you.
3. Sometimes kindness and manners go out the door
One thing I have noticed in the last few years with online dating is that because your interactions with someone are not face-to-face, it is much easier to let things like decency, kindness, and respect fly out the window.
It is much easier to ghost a person behind a computer or phone screen.
It is easier to say harsh, mean, even cruel words to someone over a message on a dating site.
I had an experience once over a text exchange with a man last spring. I kindly declined him for a dinner invitation to a second date as I was getting some red flags that made me hesitant in further getting to know him. He responded back with the most vile, mean text response.
I was flabbergasted at how someone could treat another person in such a way. I completely understand that both men and women hate rejection, but you can still be kind and decent and respectful.
In 2020, it is much easier to throw out the ideals of how to treat people when it comes to how to engage with the opposite sex, handle rejection, and respectfully speak your own truth.
What will the realm of online dating look like in ten or twenty years down the road? Will it improve or could things go off the tracks in a new way? Honestly, I do not know.
One I do know is while one person cannot effectively change online dating culture, we as individuals, as Catholics can hold ourselves (and should!) to higher standards.
How do you think online dating is changing in 2020? What would you add to this list?