I recently read that the brain shows similar reward responses to matches on Tinder, Soul Swype, Bumble, pick your poison, as it does to crack (which, interestingly, is the same as being in love). That we are basically addicted to matches, especially since they are on unknown and varied schedule system (basically it’s gambling, but for love or lust). I disagree my brain works this way. In fact, I’ve come to realize my brain is terrified of matches.
Perhaps, it isn’t in response to the match or app itself, but rather to what it represents, or actually fails to represent for me. Every match, every convo, every date so far, has been a failed attempt of my ability to build meaningful romantic connection.
Before you tell me something clichè or bad advice, like “wait until you least expect it,” “stop expecting anything and something will happen someday,” “God is working on your husband,” “and have you tried *insert everything I’ve tried, only short of wearing a sign around my neck every day and changing who I am completely to be with someone,* please first, try to listen with your heart and hear the hurt in my words. Imagine the pain that I (and many others) may feel from constant rejection or failed attempts at love. The days where we wish we could just give in and choose the good enough person, because that’s better, or the times we refuse the great person because deep down, we aren’t sure we it’s real. But mostly, remember what it feels like to always be picked last at recess, to not be liked, to try to do something and do it right, and yet, each time prove to be another learning lesson or outright failure. None of these things will kill you, they teach you character and resilience, but no one would deny that they hurt like hell to be repeated for several attempts. And then, perhaps, you can understand why this isn’t an appropriate time for a clichè or advice.
A match means another time to not get it right. To move too fast, too slow, to be not the right pretty, too fiery in wit and attitude, but too boring for nightlife, to not be enough, to be too hopeful, but obviously miss every yellow flag, to be jaded and completely unhopeful, for first dates with no sparks on either or both sides, to let down guys not for you, but with good hearts, to be potentially mentally abused, to be too hopeful (repeated twice), to let down everyone rooting for a relationship for you, to have to explain why it didn’t happen.
Most people say I put too much pressure on it. The reality is, I honestly don’t. I no longer swipe looking for love or something, I learned you can’t build homes out of people. Recently, I’ve been swiping with a dull numbness, occasionally feeling a spark, but not expecting anything, and that kills me at least as much as, if not more, than expecting nothing and going with the flow (which is a phrase I hate… not a dead fish, although I try). It kills me, and I suspect at least one other sensitive person like myself, reading this blog, because it removes the hope that has always sustained humanity from the equation, removes the hope of connection, which, that desire for connection, is a precursor for, building connection, removes the hope that things can always be magical and unexpected things can happen… and instead replaces it with a somber feeling that love and connection are not real or you must settle, and that you are wrong and silly for ever believing these things, or in the magic of life.
I have never, ever felt that I needed a man to complete me or make my life better. In spite of my many flaws, I consider myself a complete and whole person (perhaps a little bruised, but aren’t we all). But I do yearn for romantic love. (Spoiler alert: these two things are not mutually exclusive). And although matches, talking to someone I find attractive, and dates terrify me, I must not give into temptation to go with the flow… I must hold onto hope.