See that picture above? That’s not me. That is my dating goal. Or one of them. Too lofty? Am I being unrealistic? Maybe. But I’m a cynical hopeless romantic. How that’s even possible, I have no idea. I don’t necessarily need happily ever after. Happily right now and for the foreseeable future would be great!

Alas, dating is hard. (Understatement of understatements right there.)

Knowing I had given up on Match – dating in general, really — a friend who seems to be hoping I’ll change my mind recently told me her sister met a guy through an app I hadn’t heard of before. It’s called Hinge.

It calls itself “The Relationship App,” and “A community of people looking for real connections.” The company’s tagline is “thoughtful dating for thoughtful people” and it believes it’s building the future of dating.

“Hinge provides an alternative to swiping by creating smart matches and natural conversations between people who are on the same page,” according to its webpage. “Hinge is where the next general is going when they’re over dating gams and ready to find meaningful connections.”

Check out its video about what it calls “The Dating Apocalypse.” Keep in mind it was posted two years ago. (Yes, I’m apparently late to the Hinge party, as I am with most things dating. #latebloomer #reallylate.)

The Dating Apocalypse from Hinge on Vimeo.

That sounds promising although not all that different from the biggies like Match and Bumble, both of which I’ve been on. They all promise a “connection” and something “real.” Those seem to be two of the big the dating buzzwords.

“What are you looking for on here?”

Willing to try pretty much anything once (emphasis on the “pretty much”), I downloaded Hinge and created a profile. Or at least started to. I haven’t finished yet.

Within a minute – literally a minute – I had my first life. Flattering, right? I’ll admit it made me smile.

I gave him to the go-ahead to text me, which he did promptly. A few niceties and then he hit on the inevitable question.

“What are you looking for on here?”

My answer was brief.

“Something real. You?” I was about to hit send when that little voice in my head, probably prompted by his calling me “baby” during said niceties, suggested a clarification might be in order.  Backspace, backspace, backspace, backspace. Add a sentence. Or whatever.

“Something real. Not a hookup. You?”

“Oh. Oops. LOL,” he answered. “A hookup.”

Very thoughtful. Not a game at all. Totally a smart match. I can’t really bach him because hey, at least he was honest.

“Sorry,” he said.

I wished him well with a breezy, “Have fun!” and a smiley face. (It was the exclamation point and the smiley that made it “breezy.”)

“You too,” he said.

Courtesy: SarcMark.com

And that was the end of that. Fastest “real connection” ever. That was sarcasm for those of you who missed it. I really which the SarcMark or something similar had taken off.

Hinge might not want to be about hookups, but that’s really up to its users.

There’s nothing wrong with hookups. They work for lots of people. But they’re not for me. I certainly don’t begrudge others their fun, though.

Still gonna give it a try

I finished my Hinge profile and I’ll give it a fair chance, although I haven’t quite decided what that means. Wanna check it out? There’s a video at the bottom of the page showing how it looks on a phone.

What’s novel about Hinge, to me anyway, is that there is no swiping left or right. You make a connection with a person by liking something specific in his or her profile — a photo (there are six) or an answer to a question (there are several prompts, but three are required).

The guy on the hunt for a hookup picked a photo of me kissing a dolphin, which at the end of my profile. Interesting choice. I certainly don’t look my best, but it’s a cute photo. Because hello! I’m kissing a dolphin!

Hinge encourages users to be straightforward with their profiles. The company lists its values as discerning, candid, open, bold and kind and those seem to be what the company hopes its would-be daters will embrace.

Keep that in mind when you look at my profile. It’s honest. No games. “I yam what I yam.” (Raise your hand if you heard Popeye’s voice in your head.)

Anyway, I’ve seen a ton of articles recently on the negative aspects of dating apps and the psychological harm they can inflict.

Hard on self-esteem

Such a piece appeared just yesterday on the New York Post website. The title is “Dating apps are ever-expanding pits of desirous despair,” and it was originally posted on an Australian website geared toward women. Its tagline is actually “with women in mind.”

Earlier this month, Time posted a piece on how dating apps might “hurt self-esteem.”

*raises hand*

My self-esteem is admittedly on the fragile side and I certainly have body-image issues on my own, but my experience with dating apps certainly hasn’t helped. They’re not the root cause, of course, but I’ve left them exacerbate my problem(s). (I can cop to plural on that.)

Look at me, owning my shit like a grown-ass woman!

Owning it doesn’t mean fixing it. I know I’m susceptible and I have to remind myself to take such negativity for what it is.

“…an object to be evaluated.”

“When we as human beings are represented simply by what we look like, we start to look at ourselves in a very similar way: as an object to be evaluated,” Trent Petrie, a professor of psychology at the University of North Texas, said in the Time piece.

Yup.

Petrie co-authored a 2016 study on how Tinder might affect users’ self-esteem.

The Time article also talked about how “dating apps may set you up for rejection.”

 

Again, yup.

I have enough insecurities about how I look without people who don’t even know me beyond an online profile being deliberately mean. I was the target for some extremely hurtful comments that came out of the blue on a dating site, unsolicited from men I hadn’t even “liked.” It stung.

I remember thinking to myself, “Well if these guys took the time to share their low opinions of me, how ‘disgusting’ and ‘obviously horrible’ I am and how ‘fat chicks’ like me ‘have no business being on’ a dating site, maybe there’s something to it.”

Cue the shame spiral. I let it bother me. Owning, but not fixing. Yet.

 

Thinking I’d try something different, I contacted dating coach. Two actually. A his-and-her service. I thought it might be an interesting story.

Their suggestion for my first course of action – they were in “rare agreement” – was for me to lose weight. We couldn’t do much else until that happened.

“It sounds harsh and it is,” they said. “But first impressions matter, and yours, as a heavy woman, works against you.”

Ouch! Talk about tough love. But they’re not wrong. I can tell you that from firsthand experience. Repeated firsthand hand experience.

 

And then there are the guys — yes, it’s happened more than once — with whom I’d set up an IRL meeting who literally took one look at me, made eye contact, and then shook their heads, turned around and left.

It leaves a mark.

As for the dating coach team, I’m sure they meant well but I ditched that story idea.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I haven’t quite figured out my next dating strategy yet. My current reply when people ask what I’m looking for in a man/relationship is, “Single is a must. Straight is negotiable. Beyond that … *shrug*”

OK, so that’s not entirely true. But close. I’m just not sure an app is for me.

 

OK, so not exactly ended, but it’s definitely been on extended hiatus until today.

Is there an app for introverted crowd-averse homebodies who color for stress relief, are mildly anxious, aren’t particularly touchy-feely, need their space, and love to read, take naps, and hang with their cat?

I’m really an awesome person. Once you get to know me. Just ask my cat!

As promised, here is a scroll through my Hinge profile. (No, the real thing doesn’t have music on it.)