Dating in the digital age

By ANGELINA MARTIN

It’s a tale as old as time itself, but dating has never been a simple task. In fact, some would say that as time passes, dating becomes more and more difficult. With cell phone apps that let you swipe through endless potential partners and busy bars where no one’s true intentions are clear, navigating the dating scene in 2018 might be the most complicated it’s ever been. 209 Magazine spoke to four area singles who have both loved and lost in this digital age to see what it’s like.

Name: Lauren Farrell
Age: 23
City: Turlock
Occupation: Office assistant
Favorite love song: “Not in That Way” by Sam Smith

A longtime user of the cell phone dating app Tinder, where users swipe left (dislike) or right (like) to match with others who have “liked” them as well, Turlock resident Lauren Farrell is a firm believer that it is easier to be yourself online.

“I have experience where I’ve dated a guy I met on an app for a year, and I’ve dated a guy that I met at the bar for a year,” said Farrell. “The guy that I met on the app, I had a stronger connection with when we first started dating because we had talked for so long online. We already knew a lot about each other, so we had a lot to go off of when we first met.”

Farrell recently ended what she called an “awkward dating relationship,” where neither party was ready nor willing to commit at the same time. She’s currently swiping through Tinder to have fun, she said, but isn’t looking to seriously date someone – yet. While there are some challenges to online dating, like the chance of being stood up or guys that have the wrong intentions – both of which have happened to Farrell – it’s easier to break down any walls of unfamiliarity when chatting with someone on an app.

“I think it’s easier to be yourself or be the person you want to be online,” she said. “It’s awkward to tell people you met each other online, but once that initial awkwardness goes away the connection is stronger and you can be yourself.”

No matter who she meets online Farrell always puts safety first, letting her friends know where she is going (a public place, always) and also providing them with a picture of her date. Her dating outlook for 2018 is to have fun, first and foremost, but Farrell is always willing to give love a shot.

“I think it’s a lot bigger of a challenge than most people think it is. You meet a lot of jerks out there, but it’s also surprising how many guys actually want a relationship,” she said. “To seriously date someone, you’re dating with the end goal of marriage. I’m not ready to get married within the next couple of years, but if I end up in a relationship? I’m totally fine if that were to happen.”

Name: Frankie Tovar
Age: 29
City: Turlock
Occupation: Digital Content Manager
Best way to break the ice:
Tell a bad joke. If they laugh, they’re into you.

Turlocker Frankie Tovar has dating profiles across several apps like Tinder and Bumble, he said, but still prefers to meet potential partners in real life settings – a rarity among people under the age of 30. Having been in a relationship for most of his early twenties, Tovar downloaded the dating apps “out of curiosity” when he once again entered the dating scene.

“I have dating apps on my phone, but I wouldn’t say it’s a main mode of dating for me. Every once and a while I’ll log on and swipe right, maybe swipe left, but I’m not ever expecting too much out of it,” he said.

Most conversations Tovar has with women he’s met on dating sites are confined to the app’s chat room, and are often just casual small talk, he said. While he has had a couple of positive experiences with women that he has matched with on the apps, nothing long term has ever come as a result of those interactions.

“I’m probably more inclined to pursue a relationship with someone if I meet them in person rather than online dating. In meeting people in person, it seems easier to get to know somebody or gauge somebody. There’s nonverbal communication – just being able to look at someone and talk to them, you can get a better sense of who they are and what kind of person they are,” said Tovar.

In order to try and meet potential matches in real life, Tovar hits nightlife spots, jumping on stage for karaoke or chatting with friends by the bar.

“I also try to go to ordinary functions, too, because you never know where you might be able to meet somebody,” he said.

Tovar believes that people who are wanting to date, but may be too shy to approach people in real life can benefit from online dating by using the apps as a way to work on skills, he said. As for himself, he keeps his dating profiles active because, well, you never know.

“Now I just have them because it’s almost like everyone has it on their phone, and you never know, maybe I’ll get bored, go on there and end up matching with somebody,” he said. “I think that’s the hope more than the actual reality.”

Tovar also speculated on how far digital dating has come, and just how far it may go.

“This is definitely a new chapter in dating, as far as human history goes. I mean, who knows what the future is?” he said. “How long until one of these apps integrates video? Maybe one day we’ll be able to go on virtual speed dates.”

Name: Chanin Eradia
Age: 48
City: Modesto
Occupation: Nursing student
Favorite romantic comedy: “Sweetest Thing”

Long before Millennials were swiping left and right on cell phone apps like Tinder, a whole universe of online dating pools existed thanks to websites like PlentyOfFish and eHarmony. Those sites have now made the jump from desktop computers to cell phones as well, and since her divorce seven years ago, Modesto resident Chanin Eradia has sifted through potential matches on the apps in search of ‘Mr. Right.’

“A lot of people my age absolutely hate dating, but I don’t mind it,” said Eradia. “The word I’ve heard from men the most to describe women my age who are single is ‘bitter.’ People our age go into dating with a lot of expectation and prejudgment that there’s going to be baggage.”

Born and raised in Modesto, Eradia originally began online dating after her divorce in order to meet people from out of the area, she said.

“The last thing I want to do is date one of my friend’s ex-husbands,” she said.

There are also other benefits to using dating sites, Eradia added, like meeting new and interesting people she would never meet otherwise, and that most of her experiences have taught the her not to take herself so seriously.

“Sometimes there’s no connection, but I go on to be that person’s friend,” she said. “I’ve learned that it’s hilarious out there. When you go into it with an open mind and an open heart, that’s when the good stuff happens.”

Eradia has run into her fair share of snags while dating online, however, like an instance where the man she met looked nothing like his pictures, or the time when she was proposed to after just four dates. While each experience has taught her something new, she does admit that meeting people by chance in person rather than online can be much simpler.

“I think it’s probably easier to meet someone in person, and that’s only because when you meet someone online, you have to reinvestigate everything they’ve said online,” she said. “There’s so much fakeness out there and people are brave when they’re behind a keyboard.”

Name: John Murray
Age: 25
City: Stockton
Occupation: Fixed Asset Accountant
Ideal first date:
Something active, like hiking or racing go-carts,
that eases us into having a good time.

Stockton resident John Murray isn’t in a rush to enter a relationship, but two years of being single has the bachelor searching for something long term that can bring a sense of companionship to his life. Because of his busy work schedule, he’s signed up for almost every dating app there is in an attempt to meet potential matches, he said, but dating in this digital age has turned out to be a difficult task.

“Dating is definitely not what it used to be,” said Murray. “Some people just don’t know the words ‘commitment’ and ‘loyalty,’ unfortunately. It’s more common for a marriage to end in divorce nowadays.”

Murray has had awful experiences while meeting people through dating apps, like dates who look a lot different from their pictures or that act completely different from their online personas. He’s also been ‘catfished,’ he said, where a potential match uses someone else’s pictures for their profile.

“I just feel it is difficult to know someone through technology,” said Murray.

Murray has turned to online dating because of the number of hours he works. Since it’s dark outside when he leaves for work and dark again when he returns home, there just isn’t enough hours in the day to go out and meet people in real life, he said. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t his preferred method of dating.

“I usually like to be friends with someone before I want to date them, because I get to know their personality and traits I look for in a relationship,” he said. “It is very hard to find someone with the same morality, loyalty and commitment as mine. But I know one day I’ll meet someone.”

Murray believes that dating apps have exploded in recent years because of their convenience, and despite their shortcomings, he still has a positive outlook for his dating life in 2018.

“I’m single and ready to mingle,” said Murray.

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