Life Lessons from Online Dating
Pictured with a gun, wearing a MAGA hat and a proud grin, with one foot resting on a freshly-killed, young doe; swipes left. Pictured in full collegiate athletics uniform, profile age 43, references the “glory days” of college sports and chances of going pro; swipes left. Pictured at his sister’s wedding three years ago, sporting an oversized rental tux from Men’s Wearhouse and the telltale, photographer's ‘PROOF’ watermark; swipes left. Pictured with a burner phone in a dirty-mirror selfie, standing shirtless in an even dirtier bathroom, #nohomo in caption; gently sets phone down; stifles an internal scream and searches ‘how to become a nun.’
Online dating is hard. Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Plenty Of Fish; I’ve browsed them all and the pool is as shallow as a dried-up puddle. I’ve come close to giving up and committing myself to #singlelife forever, when I’m reminded of real people I know who have found love online. I’m sharing what I learned from a recent conversation with one of my long-time, internet friends, Keila (IG @hellokeila), who met her now-husband, Jamal, on Tinder in 2017 and whose wedding hashtag #Tinder&Jesus (too cute, right?) reminds me that it is still possible to find love online. Read on for Keila’s life lessons for online dating and relationships, and listen to our full conversation on a special release of Schoolin Life Podcast here.
Don’t get caught up in “supposed to’s.”
When people suggested that she consider online dating, Keila would often dismiss them, not because of any stigma that online dating carried but because she didn’t think that online dating matched her lifestyle. “I was caught up in the idea that I was supposed to meet him somewhere in real life...while I was running, at Trader Joe’s or the bus stop, because that’s where I was.” This mindset is a common one for many people who feel pressured that their love story should play out like a romantic comedy, where you meet after the barista mistakenly swaps your chai latte with his caramel macchiato and y’all spend the rest of the day staring into each other’s eyes, marvelling how your shared love of the perfectly-crafted, caffeinated beverage brought you together. This might be your story and that’s dope, but it might be that y'all met on Tinder and that’s ok too. Don’t let the “supposed to’s” in your head keep you from a good thing.
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If you have to guess, the answer is no.
It might seem shallow to make decisions about your future life partner based on a few pictures and a couple of cryptic sentences, but Keila’s “if you have to guess, the answer is no” rule is one that’s easy to abide by. Let’s say you meet someone online, you hit it off, and while the conversation is fun and engaging at the start, it soon starts to dwindle. His responses take longer, his messages become inconsistent, and his interests seem more about pushing an agenda and less about getting to know you. You can wonder if his job demands all his attention, if he’s just not a good texter, or if he’s just a passionate guy who wants you to be informed. Or you can just tell yourself “You do know; the answer is NO and that is just fine.” Dating shouldn’t be all smoke and mirrors or a big guessing game. If it is, the answer is a simple no.
Your dating profile should be authentic.
If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it is that my dating profile is authentic. It gives a clear representation of who I am, how I live my life, and that my hair is never the same...lol. Keila affirmed the importance of this authenticity. “While there will be some form of interviewing when you first start dating, your profile should be a baseline of what you might be like.” The internet is an easy place to be fake with filters, captions and fabricated fun. Use your dating profile to tell your true story.
Intentions are important.
Are you looking for a one night stand? a husband? a weekend? (shout out to Sza) Know your intentions and make them plain. Kelia says that before she met her now-husband, she journaled “the top two things he had to be was intentional and consistent and he (Jamal) was those things from the beginning...he never made me guess.” Similarly, she says that Jamal told her early on that he was looking for a long-term relationship that would lead to marriage. This ensured that they were on the same page and they didn’t play the “let's see where this goes” game. It can be scary to say what you want out loud, without fear that it will turn potential partners away; but be bold. Keila knew that she didn’t want kids and hated to cook, but previous relationships forced her to compromise, feeling pressure from society that folding on these principles would be the only way to “get a man.” She says that it wasn’t until she met Jamal and told him these very things on their second date, that she realized “I am a person in this marriage too and I come into it as my whole, full self.” This realization reminded her that, standing in her truth, she was committing to the success of her marriage where she and Jamal were choosing each other and continuing to do so each day.
Let Jesus into your Tinder profile.
Keila repeatedly talked about how her faith played a big role in her online dating experience. She freely referenced that she prayed for what she wanted in her husband and that it must have been Jesus who swiped right on Jamal because his profile didn’t meet her general standards. This was challenging for me to process because I actively keep God out of my dating life. I figure he’s too busy protecting the world against 45 and California wildfires to worry himself with this part of my life, but maybe Keila is on to something. Perhaps I should make room for God in my Bumble account. Keila compared online dating to church. “You take from it what makes the most sense for your spirit.” Allowing my faith to play an active role in my dating life, might allow me and my spirit to get more out of it.
Keila and Jamal’s love story is inspiring and is a testament to the power of honesty, vulnerability, faith, and technology. If you are a fellow swiper don’t give up hope; you too just might meet your love online.