It’s time to pursue more intimate, meaningful relationships in person

Though dating apps allowed me to explore my sexuality, they also pushed me to commodify myself

Tinder pushed me to present a specific image on my profile.

I’m in the throes of a hot, healing girl summer. 

Having both finished my undergrad and accepted an offer to the Master’s program of my dreams, I’ve been enjoying a period of limited responsibilities. Whereas I spent the early months of 2021 locked in my bedroom, my summer off has blossomed into a period of lake-bound evenings and enjoying the thrill of making small talk with strangers.

My position as a vaccinated woman has allowed me to pursue dating again. Although I’m relishing the ability to talk to people in person, I’ve also fallen back into the Tinder trap to meet new people.

I’ve been on and off Tinder since I was in first year. As a naive 18- and 19-year-old girl, I’d swipe through profiles of lanky engineers, varsity athletes, RMC students, and the odd boy visiting from out of town — secretly hoping that sparks would ignite and we would form a real connection. 

My period of hopeful first and second dates soon digressed into mediocre hookups. 

While I was lucky enough to meet a few guys whose wit complimented my own, the idealistic expectation I held towards dating apps quickly fizzled out. More often than not, my interactions felt forced and awkward. 

I’d accepted the reality of dating apps but maintained the habit of monotonously swiping on nights I find myself looking for a little extra company. I no longer swiped with the hopes of finding anything long term, but would throw up a profile when I’d feel inclined to explore. 

Tinder allowed me to pursue more casual romantic experiences, giving me the platform to enjoy flings, regardless of the brevity of the new relationships. 

As much as I now like to shit on the app, Tinder allowed me to explore both my sexuality and various romantic situations during my undergrad, that I’m not sure I would’ve been able to if I relied on meeting people in person. 

This summer, however, I’ve felt a shift in the ways I’ve been continuing to explore romantic relationships. I’ve found that my Tinder profile acts as a way of commodifying myself to
potential partners. 

The more I’ve used the app this year, the more I’ve felt like I’ve had to tailor my personality to present a specific image on my profile. The commodified version of myself appears relaxed, worry-free, and slightly goofy. In an effort to maintain the most desirable version of myself, I’ve filtered out the parts I’ve deemed ugly or undesirable. 

All of my hot takes would be toned down when I first met someone and I’d use my sense of humour to deflect any real negative feelings I had about anything. 

I was on an app designed to foster new connections, but presenting myself as consumable crushed the prospects of meaningful connections. 

I’m now prioritizing the healing aspect of hot-girl summer as we approach the latter days of the season. Emotional intimacy remains scary, but by focusing on the moments of even platonic intimacy I experience in my existing relationships, I’m hoping to feel more comfortable being vulnerable and honest in future relationships.

While dating apps will likely remain part of my romantic toolbox, I’m excited to pursue more opportunities for intimate, meaningful relationships in person. 

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