Dating apps have become ubiquitous across the country — in fact, they're actually more popular in the South and Midwest than they are in coastal cities. So it strikes me as odd that, when I'm swiping around on Bumble or Tinder, I'll still come across a person who will write that they're looking for someone who is "willing to lie about how we met." In my experience, this sentiment generally isn't a joke. I recently dated a guy who lamented how he'd really just like to meet a woman in the supermarket.
Regardless of how many millions of people use dating apps, it's still stigmatized — or at least considered less fairy-tale-like than meeting someone serendipitously. But according to relationship experts, this seemingly important detail isn't actually all that monumental when it comes to the happiness or longevity of a relationship. "The story of your relationship 10 years in and the story of how you last are far more important than the story of how you met," says Jessica O’Reilly, PhD, sexologist and creator of the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. "I think there’s a piece of romanticism, or even superstition, attached to the notion that how you meet lays the groundwork for your relationship."
According to Dr. O'Reilly, using dating apps is seen as less romantic than IRL meet-cutes, even by those who use apps regularly. "When [online dating] first came out, we saw it as a means for people who weren’t able to meet people in the real world," she says. "It’s [still] seen as a crutch." But why do we judge online dating so harshly when we're living in a world that's so hyper connected in every other way? Sometimes, people are just busy, or they're not the type who wants to sit at a bar and wait for someone to talk to, says Megan Stubbs, EdD, a sexologist and relationship expert based in Michigan. And that doesn't mean that they can't fall madly in love or have a romance-filled, fiery relationship with someone they meet online.
Why do we judge online dating so harshly when we're living in a world that's so hyper connected in every other way?
Aside from having a cute story to tell at a party, how you met your partner has very little to do with how you'll progress as a couple. "Here’s what matters: How you talk to each other, how you’re kind to one another, how you reach out to one another, how you respond to one another, how you invest in the relationship," Dr. O'Reilly says. Dr. Stubbs adds that it's important to ask yourself these questions: "Is this person a good person? Do they make you happy? Can you see yourself building a life with them?" Your answers will be much more illuminating than whether or not you met under the Eiffel Tower.
In my own experience, I've gone out with guys I've met in the supermarket, on subways, in parks, on ferry boats, in bars, and men I've met online. Where we first locked eyes had zero to do with how our relationship went. And, like many other (romantically inclined) people, I don't really have the time or energy to constantly be on the lookout for The One. "People believe in soulmates — that, out of 7 billion people in the world, there is one who completes them," Dr. O'Reilly says. "But at the same time, people don’t want to look online? That increases your odds! The chances of you meeting them in the meat department of your local butcher are very slim."