Toxic Behaviors To Look For When Online Dating
There I found myself once again – the girl who swore up and down that she was done with online dating for good – downloading and trying out another dating app. Why was I compelled to do this again?
There were so many reasons. Firstly, pure boredom. Secondly, the feeling of rejection or of not being enough, which I normally get after logging off Instagram and seeing all my other friends coupled up. And thirdly, honestly, just the petty desire to be told I am pretty or likable, even if it’s by a guy I don’t know and would never go out with.
Every time I opened up yet another dating app and went through the process of vetting candidates for my potential mate, I could never put my finger on why I felt so hollow inside, why after a day or two I would inevitably close my phone and delete the app. I don’t know if you are thinking about trying out online dating or if you have in the past, but today I want to talk about some real harms that can be associated with online dating. Some real dangers we can find ourselves slipping into if we are not careful.
Before we go further, I just want to state that I am a pro-online dating person. I think that it is a great way to meet people, and I have gone on plenty of nice dates with people from online apps. However, as I have gone further and further into my 20s, I realized that I was starting to treat dating apps in an unhealthy way.
I started to use dating apps as a way to boost my confidence after a hard day or to cheer me up. I started using the apps as a way to make myself believe that I was worthy of being in a relationship.
But I wasn’t seeking God for validation in those areas when I turned to online dating. I was putting my worth in the hands of people I didn’t even know, who didn’t know me enough to tell me my value. How easily I forget that the God of the universe is literally sitting beside me begging me to notice Him when I am swiping through those apps.
So today, let’s go through some of the negatives of online dating so we can make sure that we are at our healthiest and best selves when we put ourselves out there to meet someone. If you see these behaviors I am including below and they make your insides squirm and twist, you might not be in a position to be online dating.
I want to tell you that it’s OK to not be in a place where you're ready to date someone seriously. There are so many reasons and factors that go into why someone is or is not ready to date. The idea is to be able to evaluate yourself so you can make the best decision for your emotional health when the time comes. So without further ado let's get into some toxic behaviors we can fall prey to when online dating.
It can trick us into believing that appearances matter more than they do
Listen, I am the first person to be open and upfront about the types of guys I can’t date simply based on their appearance. For instance, I really can’t date guys who are shorter than me. That might make me a hypocrite or too picky, but we all know that we have certain physical body types we are more drawn to and ones that we aren’t.
However, with online dating, the person’s picture and appearance play a much bigger role than if you met someone in real life. That does not mean that you should date someone that you don’t find attractive; however, I think that judging people based solely on their appearance is not a great way to date, either.
Think about all the guys you have met that you weren’t that attracted to at first. Then, down the line, as you got to know them, you realized they were much more attractive than what first met your eye. Or what about the guys you have liked, but refused to show your friends their social media profiles. Could that be because they were hopeless with taking a good picture?
There isn’t anything wrong with desiring to date a guy you find cute and attractive, but as we online date, we need to be sure we aren’t ruling out perfectly normal guys because of an idealized version we might have in our heads. And it’s important to read over someone’s whole profile before swiping right on them.
1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” In much of Scripture, God talks about loving and desiring things that the people of this world find weird or outdated. Yes, you need to be attracted to someone, but looks will fade. You will be stuck with that person’s soul and heart forever; don’t get so wrapped up in looks that you forget to look for those more crucial parts.
It can distort how we view our worth
The number of people who have swiped right, liked, or matched with us on our profiles shouldn’t determine how we see ourselves. It can be a huge confidence boost to log in to an app and see that 10 new guys have liked you. The problem is, a lot of those guys might not be the kind of man you are looking for, so you may feel discouraged if you aren’t getting as many matches as you imagined you would.
Maybe you thought it would be easy to meet someone online, but the people aren’t matching with you as quickly as you thought. Just like you can judge someone online based on a snap decision, odds are people are doing the same thing to you, too. So, even if we are getting lots of matches, that doesn’t mean they are always authentic. It doesn’t matter how many boys swipe right on you if, at the end of the day, they aren’t the kind of guys who share your same faith and values. But, on hard days, we tend to forget about this. We sign into an app just to see cute boys and see if they will like us too.
We can start to base our worth on our appearance or the few witty lines we write in our bio, when in reality, everyone is so much bigger than their online dating profile. You are more than just the number of guys that match with you. You are worthy of love and a relationship regardless of whether people choose you or not because Jesus decided that a long time ago (1 Peter 2:9).
He wants us to focus on shaping our inner character, to grow in the fruits of the spirit, in patience, in the way we speak, and in the way we present ourselves to others (Galatians 5:22-23). An awesome profile picture might attract guys, but your character and the values in your heart will be what keeps them there. Make sure that as you date online, you don’t get stuck basing your worth off of the number of likes or swipes you get. Instead, work on the things that you can change about yourself that truly matter: your inner beauty.
It can give us an unrealistic view of relationships
I have read my fair share of bios over the past couple of years of online dating and I can tell you the one thing that people inevitably put on their profiles. Without fail, people will say something about finding someone to relax at home with and binge watch Netflix together. At the end of the day, we want to find someone we’re so comfortable with that we let them see us in our pajamas.
But dating doesn’t work that way. Getting to know someone, either online or in real life, takes a lot of time and effort. You can’t just skip to the part where you’re cuddling on the couch. You have to work on getting to know each other, having awkward dates, and asking deep questions. I think dating apps can trick us into thinking that all we have to do is swipe on someone’s profile and boom, that person will be our new significant other.
But real life, unfortunately, doesn’t work like that. Relationships in all aspects – including friendship – take time and effort on both ends. Don’t let online dating fool you into thinking that you can spend 15 minutes a day on an app and you’ll suddenly be catapulted into a new, thriving relationship. We live in a fast-paced society, but no matter how innovative or efficient we become, relationships are still going to take real human connection to lead to something real and worth fighting for.
It can lead Christian girls to settle
There are many options on dating profiles to describe your faith. You can say that you are a Christian in your bio and you can even choose whether or not others see this in the rest of your profile. When I started online dating, I was so naive. I thought if someone said they were a Christian in their bio, then they really took their faith seriously.
As many of you who online date know, that isn’t always the case. Just because someone marks a box doesn’t mean they share the same level of commitment to their faith. It can be hard to find out the true nature of someone's faith until you have a face-to-face interaction with them.
As someone who has gone out with plenty of “Christian” boys who didn’t seem to align with my values, I know how easy it can be to just throw in the towel. It’s easy to convince yourself that it's OK to date someone who barely goes to church or knows God but doesn't go out of his way to make Him a priority. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I know that it might seem like all the good Christian guys are gone sometimes, but let me assure you they are not. You may worry about finding a guy serious about his faith who you actually want to be with, but you can. Though it seems like no big deal to date someone casually who isn’t a strong Christian, it is.
My faith is the most important part of who I am. I don’t want to diminish that part of me or refrain from talking about that with a guy because he finds it uncomfortable. Compromising in a relationship doesn’t mean tuning out parts of who you are so you’re more compatible with each other. You can find some great Christian guys online, you just have to be patient.
Good Christian guys are something you are going to have to search for. People wouldn’t make marriage such a big deal if it was easy to just marry anyone. Don’t sacrifice key parts of yourself to get a boyfriend, especially not your relationship with God.
Waiting can seem tedious now, but God has you in this season for a reason, which you will probably thank Him for later on. I never heard of anyone in the Bible, or in my own life, who was upset in the long run that their timing didn’t prevail over Gods. He knows what He is doing with all parts of us, including, most importantly, our hearts.
Do you have any advice for Christian women who are online dating?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel resides in Lancaster, Pa where she is a Digital Marketing Specialist. A recent graduate from Grove City College, Rachel hopes that her articles can help girls through hard times in college and also as they transition into the real world. In her spare time, you can find Rachel reading, hanging with her small group, exploring cute cafes, and longing for the ocean. You can find more of her writing at christiangirlcode.org.