By Suzannah Weiss. Photos: Stocksy.
As a socially awkward college student who rarely met dates in person, I found that online dating was one of the first places people ever validated me for my looks. All the matches and messages made me feel like a social butterfly, chatting up all the hottest guests at a house party—not the wallflower examining the host's bookshelf to avoid eye contact with everyone. I was asking out guys I'd never had the courage to approach in person because I'd thought they were out of my league, and they were actually saying yes. Obviously who you are is much more important than what you look like, but being told I was attractive when I'd never heard that before was a powerful thing—and online dating helped me tap into a new level of confidence.
I'm not alone, according to a LendEdu study. Of the 3,800 people, aged 18 to 22, the finance site surveyed, 44 percent says they used Tinder not to find sex or love, but for "confidence-boosting procrastination." That's compared to 22 percent who said they used it for hookups, and just four percent said they used it for relationships.
Though OKCupid was my first dating app, I used Tinder throughout my early 20s. I never made it past four dates with a match, and I rarely met up with anyone. But that didn't take away from the fun of lying in bed at night and reading messages from guys trying to impress me. I even had a sexting buddy for one exciting week.
Online dating can be an amazing way to get a nice confidence boost, but be warned: After around two years of it, I started to notice that even if my self-esteem got a jump with every Match and Superlike, I'd also start to question myself when I didn't. Was it my photos? My bio? Then I'd furiously swipe more to make up for it, and the cycle would repeat itself.
For me, online dating was serving the opposite purpose it originally did because I was using it in a way that I didn't need to anymore. I'd already proven to myself that I was a catch. I eventually decided to break up with online dating, and a few months later I met my partner IRL—someone my pre-online-dating self would have almost certainly dismissed as out of my league. In that way, my time on Tinder might have made it possible for me to approach him in the first place—even if I also might've overlooked him if I had been buried in my phone.
The moral of the story? There's nothing wrong with some confidence-boosting procrastination—as long as you don't procrastinate on building the kind of self-esteem that's not conditional on right-swipes.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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