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Love For Sale: A "Swipe" in Today's Online Dating

These days, I catch myself contemplating on important and difficult scenarios such as "to swipe right or left" on someone's online profile-- a very tricky question. Seems like a banal and superficial thing to think of; but in my experience, it usually marks a rather interesting or catastrophic encounter with a complete stranger in the hopes of finding a lifetime partner. Welcome to the world of online dating!

Look at this profile description for example:

"Educated, well-traveled, successful, and athletic..."

Seems like a complete package, right? Not to mention, the person is very attractive and confident. The only problem is that: This person is looking for real love, a serious, long-term commitment which has been an elusive thing to find these days in the sea of casual encounters and alternative lifestyles (i.e ethical non-monogamy, polyamorous dating) that flock the majority of dating apps. In addition, she happens to be in her late thirties and that she is not used in today's world of online dating etiquette (i.e online dating 101). I happen to know this person very well because, le voila, I am talking about MYSELF! It took some time to convince myself on whether I should share this part of my private and intimate life to the world for the fear of being judged, laughed at or even ridiculed. Either way, I am sharing this as a form of contemplative process and also knowing that I am not alone in this frustrating journey and hopefully, readers may learn a thing or two. However, by no means, I am saying that I am a "pro" at this subject as I am also navigating and learning day by day and I a firm believer that experience is always the best teacher and guide in life-- in general.

Where do I even begin? I have been involved in LONG relationships most of my life (almost 13 years with someone and 2 that lasted for a year) and the rest were series of dating stories and encounters that never really developed or materialized into something serious or longterm. Yet, some of these individuals became friends of mine and to this day; whom I am still in touch with. Most of my old dating encounters were people I have met organically: through a friend, a social event or public gatherings which made it easier for me since I have an outgoing personality (back in my younger, energetic days). Fast-forward to now, post-pandemic, where meeting people have been way more complicated and has forced me to ask myself the question of: "How do I put myself out there and meet people?"-- Given that I have been working from home and not really going out unless it is something essential or meeting family and friends left me no choice but to create an online profile and immerse myself in this (sorry to say) "whack-ass", crazy environment of online dating. I had to say, I was not mentally and emotionally-prepared for the rollercoaster it had and continues to offer me to this day. But how does one really prepare for it anyway? Food for thought.

Looking at online dating in a technological advancement point of view makes me want to say "wow" because whoever had the thought and idea that one would be able to browse and meet different people from all walks of life (even around the world, as an option) right in front of your phone screen with one swipe is still surreal to me at times, even if online dating has already existed before. I guess that until someone is in the game- he or she, will not quite feel its impact until an individual is already drowning or floating inside the aquarium of fishes vying for the biggest bait. Plus, the pandemic of 2020 (to which we are still living in its aftermath) did not really help at all meeting people in a natural way. People were dealing with lockdowns, quarantines and WFH routine that at some point; online and virtual dating provided that "escape" (for others who needed some sort of interaction and recreation) and an opportunity (for the ones who want to meet someone).

Though, just like anything and everything-- online dating has its pros and cons. In my personal experience and friends who I know who are also in their own personal journey, what I realized and have come to conclusion with is that one has to really know what their goal, aim or so to say what their endgame and intentions are. Whether it is to meet people for networking/friends, casual encounters or to find a long-term relationship; is something one has to be clear about. I found it very easy to get lost in this fast-paced exchange and sometimes one ends up paying for the consequences of things or details that were overlooked at. I have heard so many crazy stories from friends-- men and women alike of their crazy encounters in online dating. Some people even join for business purposes of "selling services" (which is another story and another topic that I will not elaborate on). There is also an essential point of making sure that one sets their boundaries of what an individual is willing to share and give in the "getting to know each other" stage as one may never be certain of people's agendas or ulterior motives-- It is a tricky situation of having a good balance between having one's guards and being able to give someone (a total complete stranger) the benefit of the doubt.

As for myself, there were instances when I felt an attraction towards someone but they did not feel the same nor reciprocated the feeling or when things are starting to get to a point where I thought we have a deep connection or understanding that suddenly they start to pull away, be distant or worst- start ghosting. Oh yes, I did not even know that term, "ghosting someone" which is the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication even existed until my online dating journey started. And yes, even for someone like me who is fairly emotionally and psychologically stable had sat down, sulked and even reflected at times and asked myself very difficult questions as to if I am approaching this (online dating) the right way or have I done anything wrong to get a specific result or even ask myself if I was good enough. These questions and realizations are very daunting and after awhile, when one takes a blow left and right, these feelings and sentiments accumulate and it is really an unpleasant situation because it is a feeling of defeat and rejection which no individual wants and it made me truly question my self-esteem and self-worth which is also a humbling ordeal in ways I did not imagine. When things do not go the way we want it to be, it can either be an epiphany and eureka moment of learning from a situation and growing from it or it could lead to adverse realities of an individual fully losing their worth, drowning in self-doubt and building an emotional wall that will be harder and more difficult factor and barrier when opening one's self to meet people.

On the flip side of the coin, while I am at times, still, a little apprehensive about this journey, I have written down things and reminders that help me everyday and, hopefully. readers will find useful. Truthfully, there is no set rules in dating-- it really depends on the individual and how one wants to go about it.

*Be truthful and be honest from the get-go: I always believed in being clear from the start with people I meet about what my intentions are (as mentioned earlier). I do not like wasting my time nor other people's time and I do not like to stir people from their expectations and if I am truthful, clear and honest from the beginning, then it paves a way for a concrete foundation of whatever type of relationship I would want to achieve.

*Be guarded but be open: Again, this is a tricky thing to do because finding the balance between the two can be really difficult. I always trusted my gut instinct and I am the type to ask for (trusted) friends' advise if there are things I am not certain of. I find it very useful to gather opinions and point of views from friends and draw my decision while being mindful that at the end of the day; I will do what feels right and what is best for me. This helps me navigate my feelings and seek objectivity and reason when it comes to any emotional terrain I am undergoing or experiencing.

*Enjoy the process and have fun: While going on dates can be exhausting and repetitive at times, once you have passed the chatting stage and decided to meet up for a date (whether it be a casual meeting or going out to a fancy dinner), is something that I try to make the most out of. At the end of the day, I tell myself that once I meet this person (chances are either there is chemistry and connection or not)-- I still get a chance to meet someone and get to know about someone's story (their life, their background, etc) that I can always learn from. As mentioned earlier, I had gone to dates where we did not have the chemistry to pursue a romantic relationship yet because of certain commonalities have built a friendship around it.

*Put your best foot forward, be positive and the rest will follow: What I have learned in life is that our energy and our aura is something that is truly important. If you think positive, most likely the results are going to be positive and if you already start the journey with a negative thought that chances are, it will also have a negative outcome. One can only hope for the best when they are meeting an individual (for whatever intention or goal an individual has), and that for every chance we take, it is a chance closer to finding that destination throughout this crazy journey of online dating.

Lastly, I really found writing this article to be a cathartic experience. Yes, I am putting and sharing my vulnerability out in the world and certainly cannot control how people will react to this article-- and yes, I have cried, laughed, cursed and shook my head on these crazy online encounters but whether one will agree or not, one thing I know is that we cannot possibly give up in finding one of the best things to have in life, and that is-- finding love, falling in love and being loved in return.

May the force and strength be with each and everyone in this online dating journey! Let the swiping and matching begin!

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Photos by: Larry Dorta

Makeup by: Laura Sanabria

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