Left. Left. Ooh, right. Left. Over the last several months, I’ve been swiping left and right, looking at countless mirror selfies and dudes holding giant fish, reading cheesy pickup lines, and engaging in late-night flirty text conversations. Why?
Meeting new people was one of my main reasons. Moving to Orlando knowing almost no one, I really wanted to familiarize myself with new faces. I love getting to know people—their backgrounds, likes and dislikes, dreams and career goals, and what they like to eat. And to be fair, I met a lot of interesting people when I was active in the dating scene. There were guys I met who were in the military, and classmates whom I never would’ve talked to otherwise. Some were ambitious, some were lazy; some were born-and-raised Floridians while others came from a completely different country. Getting to know people and all their differences is one of the things that made online dating so interesting.
But going out to meet strangers from the internet comes with risks. Luckily, I’ve never encountered any pedophiles, serial killers, or catfish—but you never know. So always be extra careful and attentive when dating.
Being a newcomer to the Orlando life, I also really wanted to explore the city. While meeting new people, I got to try new kinds of food, visit art museums, see some famous landmarks and historical places, and go to touristy points of interest. One of my favorite dates was downtown—we had ice cream and went up the Orlando Eye, which is the biggest Ferris wheel in the nation. I felt like I was in a scene from a romantic movie!
Another reason I turned to online dating was to gain new experiences. As a full-time college student who worked from home, I rarely had the time to try new things. Online dating was a way to unleash my social side and have a little fun. Throughout my dating phase, I experienced a lot of first times—I had my first kiss, lost my virginity, and got high for the first time—and got to explore and experiment with my sexuality a bit.
Not all my experiences were great, though, especially when it came to exploring my sexuality. As a novice with a lot of inexperience, I put myself in situations that I was uncomfortable with. I was new to the dating scene and new to sex, so I didn’t know what I was doing. When you try online dating, it’s easy to get lost in those exciting moments when you’re with your partner. Remember to educate yourself, be aware, and speak up! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with expressing how you feel, and you have the right to do so. If they don’t listen, they’re not worth pursuing.
Finding romance was an obvious motivator, too. I’ve never been in a relationship, so I chose to use online dating as a way to explore my options and see what I liked. It might sound like an unfair game, but that’s what dating is in real life. You go on a date and if you think you hit it off with them, you should pursue it further. If not, then thank u, next—am I right?
In my experience, there were a lot of dates that turned out to be unsuccessful because they either were only looking to hook up, were emotionally unavailable, or simply had commitment issues. But everyone’s different, and everyone has different reasons to go online dating. It’s just a matter of finding the right person with the same intentions. Healthy relationships come with a lot of trust, forgiveness, solid communication, and great sex. Despite the rollercoaster that is dating, I eventually settled into a great relationship with the best boyfriend. (I love you, Paco!)
At the end of the day, online dating really was a learning curve that helped me discover more of myself. Before online dating, I felt like a different person with a different perspective on life. I was a hopeless romantic with the ideal relationship and the ideal guy. But after experiencing all these different kinds of dates and meeting all sorts of guys, going through the pain of losing a potential relationship and being heartbroken, I learned that life moves on. I learned to pick myself up and carry on walking, because there’s so much more in life to discover and experience.
So if you want to try online dating—why not?