I was late to the dating app game, because from the ages of 18 to 23, I was in an on-again-off-again (and on and off again) relationship. So when my ex and I officially called it quits (for the final time), I was actually excited to set up my online dating profile. All my single friends were on either Tinder or Bumble and, as a dating app virgin, watching them swipe left or right to a never-ending list of potential suitors until their thumbs were sore *actually* looked kinda fun from where I was sitting. Cut to today—many painful first dates and mind-numbing text conversations later—and I’ve joined the ranks of everyone else who hates these apps.
Now, swiping through scores of dudes feels more like a chore. And I’m not the only one feeling this way. A recent article published by The Globe and Mail cites how many millennials are becoming dissatisfied with the process of swiping for love. “Dating app haters say the impersonal and laissez-faire approach to connecting and communicating—combined with the ghosting, catfishing, fake profiles and no-shows—have made more and more people anxious and incredibly stressed about searching for love online,” the article explains.
I started thinking to myself: Maybe it’s time to switch up my approach. That’s when I remembered some advice I got from one, Noah Centineo—yes, *that* Noah Centineo—about love and dating.
While chatting with the beyond-dreamy 22-year-old in L.A. this past August during a press junket for Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I asked him—the internet’s boyfriend—what kind of dating advice he would give a single girl (read: me) living in a Tinder-crazed world.
Centineo got straight to the point, saying we should all basically get the hell off dating apps—whether it be Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, etc., etc., etc.—and put ourselves out there in more natural ways. “Go out. Go to a coffee shop and read a book, do things that put you out in the world. Don’t meet someone on the internet…Don’t seek that out,” he told me. “The world is a really big place. There’s like, over 7 billion people [out there].”
Adding to that sentiment, during an interview with Vulture magazine, the TV-actor-turned-Netflix-movie star went on to explain that these dating apps, though convenient, take away from making intimate connections. “We are from a swipe-right generation, and that just comes to, ‘Oh you’re cute, let’s hook up,’ and that’s that. Where is the actual, genuine connection that comes from spending quality time with someone?” he said. “I want to bring back proper intimacy, getting to know people.”
The problem, as Centineo points out, is that that using these dating apps can be grossly impersonal. A new article by The Atlantic delved deeper into that notion by talking to a number of dating app users—including 34-year-old Frannie Steinlage, who likened Tinder matches to a type of currency. “When you have however many people you’re actively talking to, it doesn’t even cross your mind that maybe I’m throwing something away a little soon,” she said. “There’s a whole new currency, and the currency is people. And if you lose one person one day, that’s fine—you have 500 others at your disposal.” Doesn’t get more impersonal than that, does it?
OK, so Peter Kavinsky has advice on *how* to find someone, but how am I supposed to find the *right* someone? The self-proclaimed “hopeless romantic” had an answer for that, too.
“I would say, figure out what it is you that like to do—something you truly enjoy doing and do that,” he told me. “And then, if you meet someone doing the same thing, and if you happen to hit it off, that’s pretty great because then you are going to meet someone that has the same interests.”
Backing up Centineo’s advice, a 2015 Pew Research Center survey showed that 64% of married couples agreed that “having shared interests [was] very important to a successful marriage.” And a 2017 survey by Report Linker proved “there are many other places single adults can find love” besides dating apps—with 58% of US singles saying they meet potential dates through mutual friends, 37% through outings to bars and coffee shops and 27% through shared interests—like hobbies, religion or sports.
Unfortunately, I don’t think binge-watching trashy reality TV on Hayu in my bed while going to town on a bag of popcorn (a.k.a what I truly enjoy doing) will help me find my future BF, but I understand what Centineo is getting at.
In an effort to take his advice, I actually wrote most of this article in a busy café instead of at my kitchen table, where I normally would. I didn’t physically go and spark up a conversation with anyone, but I *did* leave my headphones off for the majority of the time to make myself look more approachable (baby steps) and, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed the whole solo experience. The most refreshing thing about it was that I wasn’t alone in being alone. In fact, a majority of customers in the café were flying solo just like me. And even though I didn’t meet anyone, it was nice to know that it was at least a possibility. Because, let’s face it, the chances of me having one of those café meet-cutes you see in the movies are significantly higher when I actually drag my single butt there.
Putting yourself out there is *way* easier said than done, though. The fear of rejection can be debilitating and it’s been a major barrier for me. I was always envious of those girls who could just tell their crush that they liked them. Meanwhile I tend to keep my feelings bottled up inside. But chatting with Centineo helped me see that being rejected isn’t the end of the world—hell, even he’s been turned down once or twice in his day.
“I texted this girl once, her name was Carly and I was in middle school. And she just told me she didn’t like me,” he said. “I remember it was the first time that someone I was interested in wasn’t interested in me. But I moved on and said there isn’t anything I can do about that!”
Don’t get me wrong, I love being single. And just like Centineo—who told me back in August, “I know myself, and I am in a position in life where being in a relationship doesn’t really work for me. So, for now, that is where I’m at”—I’m not ashamed of it. I’ve learned a lot about myself in these past two years and am more independent now than ever before. That said, I still have days where I miss having that special connection with someone—especially now during cuffing season.
So thanks to Noah Centineo, I’m going to give going out and meeting someone IRL a real try—and who knows, maybe even say “hi” to the cute guy at the grocery store. Until then, you’ll find me swiping.
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