Healthy lives for young people
Relationships, Staying Safe Online

Online Dating: Emmie’s Story

Emmie, 22, shares her experience of dating apps and how her relationship with them has, at times, been toxic but how they have also given her the opportunity to explore her sexuality and find partners.

When I deferred from university to prioritise my mental health, I moved back in with my parents. I was ready to recover, but didn’t take into account how far away all my friends were going to be. Everyone was dotted around the country and the distance between me and all my friends caused me to feel incredibly lonely. I had no clue how to deal with the loneliness I was experiencing, so I turned to dating apps.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting to get out of dating apps when I downloaded Tinder for the first time. My mind-set was focused on using dating apps for fun. Hook-ups, friendships or even something long term were all possibilities for me, and this filled me with excitement.

However, my first experience of dating apps went from fun, to a form of validation I couldn’t live without.

Something as simple as knowing another person had liked my profile massively boosted my self-esteem. But if I had swiped right on someone and didn’t get a match, I felt deflated and began to question my worth. Over time, I realised I had formed a toxic relationship with dating apps and was using them for all the wrong reasons. I deleted them all off my phone and told myself I would only reinstall them when I was confident enough in myself to not seek validation through likes.

Returning to dating apps once I knew I wouldn’t base my worth off ‘likes’ from strangers was one of the best choices I ever made. I discovered how fun dating apps could be.

There are always going to be people on dating apps who send you messages that make your toes curl and cross your boundaries, but whenever this happened I would un-match, or delete the message and made sure to block people who crossed the line.

Decluttering my messages on dating apps and filtering out people who overstepped boundaries lead to some amazing conversations and super fun dates.

I felt comfortable meeting up with people I had been messaging on a more regular basis had enjoyable conversations with. I think we all know the golden rule of dating is to always meet the person in public first, which I always did. I became more confident with setting boundaries with people I went on physical dates with and if the atmosphere of the date I was on felt off, I’d be upfront about it. It’s great meeting new people, but if the vibe isn’t there, don’t force yourself to sit through awkwardness.

Dating apps also gave me the chance to explore my sexuality. I had always been open about being queer and my bisexuality, but as a teenager I found it difficult to connect with others within the LGBTQ+ community, especially in a more dating sense.

If I had had dating apps growing up, I would probably be a lot more confident in my own queerness.

I found it fun exploring the layouts of various dating apps too and going from Tinder, to Hinge and eventually trying out OkCupid lead to me meeting my current partner, Lewis. We’ve been together for around 4 months now and we both have dating apps to thank for that.

There is a lot of negativity surrounding dating apps and I can understand why they’re not for everyone and how they can be harmful. But for me, dating apps and online dating have given me a lot of memorable nights, new friends, a chance to discover my sexuality and a relationship I am immensely happy in.

You can find Emmie on Instagram at @lowlibclub

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