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Are Dating Apps Lowering Our Standards?

Dating

It's finally Friday and I've just punched into work with my Starbucks coffee in one hand and the other smoothing down my edges one last time before settling at my desk.


As my computer loads, my mind wanders to the upcoming weekend. Should I get dressed up and go out, or make a face mask and finish off that $6 bottle of wine taunting me in the fridge? For a second, I picture myself sitting across from a man in a dimly lit restaurant, feeling as badass as Rihanna, while he caters to me before any waiter has the chance to. The thought vanishes as quickly as it came though, remembering that this is real life and in real life, I am single as a dollar bill.

This snap back to reality is made worse by also remembering that at any moment now, my coworker, Candace, will be bursting into my office to give blow-by-blow details of the date she went on last night. Part of my morning ritual begins with listening to her relive events of the night before, starting with the same preface each time, "So I met this guy on Tinder."

I brace myself in preparation for the roller coaster of anxiety I am about to have while she tells me she met up with a stranger, possibly slept with the stranger, and realized that she made a mistake by going out with a stranger.

Because more often than not, she finishes her recaps saying something like, "This is why I'm so over men and their sh*t."

This sentiment is echoed by frustrated, single women everywhere who put themselves out there only to be disappointed, embarrassed, hurt, or a combination of all three. From sliding into DM's and swiping left or right for a match, social media has definitely changed the dating game. Swiping through apps like OkCupid, Tinder, or Plenty of Fish, you'll come across dozens of suitors that you may not have encountered otherwise.

But are these apps making dating more convenient, or over-saturating our dating pool?

On one hand, it's optimistic to assume that you are increasing your chances at love by making yourself visible to a broader audience of men. A bigger pond, a wider net, a better catch, right?

Nope.

"When human beings are offered many choices, they're actually less likely to make a decision or selection," Michelle Jacoby, dating expert and owner of DC Matchmaking and Coaching, said. In fact, Jacoby said that having unlimited access to first dates in the palm of your hand can give you "Dating ADD."

In other words, the dynamic of breezily swiping through potential baes can quickly result in more impatience, more judgement, and less effort.

Where is the lie?

For anyone who has used a dating app, consider the thoughts that swirled around in your mind while you decided which way to swipe. Were you turned off by a corny quote they used? Were you unimpressed by their clothes, the quality of their selfies, or their surroundings? Did you see all the reasons why this guy isn't in your league, and swipe right anyway because maybe, just maybe, there's more to him than meets the eye?

In her studies, Jacoby also noted that this online dating trend produces a lot of first dates, but slim chance for many second dates. Several of Jacoby's clients have reported that they often experience ghosting from a date they met online, a complete disconnection from someone they thought they would speak to again.

To be honest, I am totally guilty of ghosting. No warning or explanation. I was one of those awful people who went on a first date with someone I "met" through an app, then proceeded to block their number and social media profiles without so much as a, "it was nice meeting you."

The guy wasn't even the creepiest or most self-absorbed person I had met, but, I couldn't silence the voice in my head that told me I shouldn't have invited a stranger into my world so easily. A few short conversations and two funny GIFs is all it took to forget my standards. If I continued to go on dates this way, would I lose sight of my standards and hopes for the husband of my dreams altogether?

Going out on more dates also means you are probably getting dressed up to spend your own money. Men who frequently rely on dating apps to meet women are less likely to pick up the check, and that's if he even offers to take you to a restaurant. Millennial men are shying away from the whole concept of sit-down dates, choosing to "just hang out" at your place instead because their expectation of you is already low.

They didn't initially have to work for your attention or your time, so they aren't going to work to keep it, either.

When Jacoby was dating online 10 years ago, she said it was common for men to send two- to four-paragraph introductions to spark conversation. These days, a simple, "Hey, what's up?" is expected to reel you in. Then, you're stuck staring at dry, three-letter "wyd" messages and you'll respond, depending on how bored you are, until you give up on the dead-end conversation.

My mom told me about fairytales, or rather, a time when chivalry and etiquette were as natural as checking your phone. My mom is a southern belle who I imagine has always had eligible bachelors falling at her feet, but she would surely disagree, saying that her skinny legs made her too lanky, or that her thick-rimmed cat-eye glasses made her look too nerdy.

Yet, none of those things stopped guys from treating her the princess treatment on date number one.

My mom never liked to go into great detail about the dates she went on before meeting my dad, but most of what she revealed sounds like this: if it had rained so much the streets flooded, her date carried her so that she didn't ruin her shoes stepping in puddles; if the floor was too sticky, he put his jacket down so that the surface didn't ruin her shoes; if her shoes were hurting her feet too bad to walk, he'd give his socks so that she didn't ruin her toes.

My mom would always underscore the ultimate flaw that diminished any chance they could get married, because that was the whole point of any date she went on – deciding if this man was worthy enough of to be called her husband. It's not that she didn't look to simply have fun sometimes, but she knew to keep her energy and personal space sacred.

Virtually every date she agreed to go on was an audition for a leading role, and without the proper qualifications, a man couldn't get the spotlight on stage for a minute.

Dating apps try to expedite your love life, but in the end, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to throw in the towel by the time the universe has sent The One in your path. As Black women, we sometimes get the feeling that our dating pool is already small and shrinking every day, but our love lives will not dwindle to nonexistence from being selective. Our energy and emotions should be protected, only accessible to those who have put in the effort to receive our vulnerability.

Discovering true love won't always look like a fairy tale Disney movie, but how many frogs are you willing to kiss before you find your Prince?

Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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