Attention single (and formerly single) friends! Have you ever found yourself aimlessly swiping right on every Rick, Dick, or Nancy that comes across your dating app profile, even though you have no real intention of ever actually meeting up with them IRL? Heck, forget meeting IRL. You're swiping right on them without any real intention of even starting a conversation with them on the app. Yes? Yeah, same. If you haven't done this, good for you but, if you have, it looks like you're a culprit of the newest dating trend: "obligaswiping." What is obligaswiping, you ask? Allow me to explain.
Cosmopolitan's Carina Hsieh first coined the term in a piece published this past Friday. In the piece, she explains that she came up with the term "because it’s inspired by an obligation to prove to myself that I’m 'putting myself out there.' Really, I just want the cheap and easy route: a bunch of matches with hot guys I could 'totally date if I wanted to' but who I don’t care enough about to follow through." If you're a human being who has ever been single and swiping on a dating app, I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me with a straight face that you've never done this.
Hsieh goes on to explain the cycle that obligaswiping tends to work in. First, she said, comes the realization that you've been single while all your friends have been coupling off. Next comes the shame of being the only single friend and the subsequent attempt to rectify the situation by getting busy swiping on apps. For Hsieh (and you if you've ever done this), the sudden onslaught of matches brought about by the spike in swipes results in a loss of interest. According to her, by the time she gets the matches, she finds herself "too exhausted to try to volley conversation back with a stranger." Seeing the mass amount of matches in her inbox makes her feel like she'll simply never be able to get through all of them. Eventually she gives out her number to a few of the matches but a date never actually materializes. Finally, she swears "swears off dating apps for a month or two" and then repeats the whole process all over again.
Dr. Nikki Goldstein, a sexologist and relationship expert and author of Single But Dating: A Field Guide to Dating in the Digital Age, told Cosmo she chalks obligaswiping up to the common assumption that we, ourselves, are responsible for the feeling of loneliness when we're single. “[It] can shift that feeling of being responsible for being single,” Dr. Nikki tells Cosmo. “That way, you can rebut a friends’ comments with, ‘But I’m on Tinder and Bumble.”
In order to explain away forgetting about someone or straight up ghosting someone on an app, Hsieh said that she tells herself, “If they really wanted to talk to me, they would.” I mean, haven't we all been there? We want to sit back, relax, and have someone really go out of their way to show us just how much they really care. But can we really expect that from someone who knows nothing about us outside of our dating app profiles? “Waiting for the fireworks sets us up for failure,” Dr. Goali Auzeen Saedi, who has a PhD in Clinical Psychology, told Cosmo. “Although it may sound cliche, often the most enduring loves are quiet and steady. They build over time with trust and deep mutual love and respect.”
So, yes, obligaswiping is a very real thing, and yes, odds are many of us are guilty of doing it. But, hey, at least we know we're not alone. If you really are trying to break out of the habit, take Dr. Saedi's words to heart and don't expect fireworks right off the bat with a virtual stranger. Give them a real shot and see what happens from there. You might just find yourself pleasantly surprised.
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