I would like to take a break from speaking to the heteronormative and monogamous focus of online dating. If I am to be honest about the inspirational forces presently arising in my own life, I can say that an understanding of human relating and even the intentions behind the use of online dating platforms is becoming increasingly expansive. Online dating is, fundamentally, about building relationships. The new connections we forge by means of the online network aide us to fulfill some need to relate with other people, though the intention is not always one of sexual or romantic gratification, nor is it an implied search for “The One” or a life partner.
There are times when I am active online and times when I step away to pursue other spheres of my life. These days, I have returned to the online dating world with the specific intention of developing my ability to connect deeply with women. It is not necessary that these connections be romantic, sexual, long-term, or to result in a committed bind of exclusivity in any sense. Rather, it is about opening myself to co-create deep, honest, and meaningful bonds with other female embodied beings. Online dating has become a useful tool to reach this end because it opens the door to a very specific social landscape: it is a place for individuals who are actively creating space for connection to easily find one another.
People who have the time and energy to build new relationships can certainly be found offline, but it is the implied readiness and availability of all users to invest in another person that makes online dating a useful tool for simplifying our search for meaningful connection. These websites are comfortable and trustworthy spaces for anyone looking to connect, which means we don’t have to carry sensitivities around whether or not a person is available to incorporate us into their routine. Instead, there is the ease and relaxation around trusting that if someone is online, they are there because they are available in one way or another.
It could be any number of circumstances that draws someone towards the world of online dating: a search for a lover, community building in a new city, and exploring sexuality to name a few. Calling it “online dating” is not even entirely accurate by this point in time. Social media is evolving rapidly to reflect social needs and to offer solutions. So what advice can I possibly offer to such a broad spectrum of uses? In this case, I seek to support the themes of flexibility and openness that are arising in my own use of online “dating” platforms. When we come across a profile from someone who is seeking something opposed to our own ends, we do not need to allow quiet, judgemental thoughts (confession: when I was younger, I definitely did this when I saw someone seeking a fling).
By recognizing the complexities of human relating and the sheer variety of ends these platforms can lead to, we open ourselves to possibility. We relieve others or ourselves of the pressure to create relationships that are the result of cultural pressures. We can begin to release the programmed need for a single partner and we can step away from an assumption that connections creative via online dating must include an element of sexual energy. What happens if you go on a first date with romantic intentions, but then realize you aren’t actually attracted to that person? Well, it becomes easier to accept the relationship for what it naturally wants to become, and this allowance may even serve some people to feel more confident in communicating what they want or do not want.
As we are receptive to the vast potentialities of social media, we become flexible with what we can form with someone online. Who knows, this flexibility and acceptance may even help us to find what we are truly looking for, which is not always what we at first believe.
As stigma is released around online dating, as these platforms continue to evolve, and as more people sign up, online dating is expanding beyond the meaning of the word “dating”. Social media has opened up the door to fulfilling ourselves by means of authentic connections of all types. I am beyond grateful to have access to a tool that offers so much abundance and possibility.