Words by Valerie Dittrich
My parents met in a grocery store. Not while they were shopping—while they were working.
My mom worked in the produce section and my dad was a grocery clerk, lugging stock. This was in 1989, when there weren’t any smartphones or dating apps and you actually had to go outside to meet people.
For me, meeting people isn’t easy. It’s not like I’m quarantined to my apartment—I’ve sat in many cafés, shopped in a hell of a lot of grocery stores and studied in full makeup at 10 p.m. on a Friday in the library more times than I can count, just in case. I’m on campus at least five days a week, I go to parties, and in strokes of desperation I read books in public parks looking cute. Then I wait for a gentleman to sit next to me and tell me how much he loves the book I’m reading—isn’t that how most rom-coms start? But it hasn’t worked out yet, at least not for me.
In the meantime, I’ve used dating apps. Every day I swipe through at least 30 guys named Matt. The most interesting thing about Matt is that he’s seen The Office and has a dog and yes, I can meet the dog, “if you agree to let me take you out ahaha.”
On the rare occasion that I do meet someone from one of these apps, it’s ended in me either getting my feelings hurt, or resolving to never text the person again. So even when I do meet people, they’re not the right people.
So, how do you meet the right people? People who really want to get to know you?
The thing about dating apps is that they’re convenient—they’re easy and require little to no effort. But real life? Real life is hard. Meeting someone for the first time, knowing nothing about them and essentially starting from square one is hard. No one likes things that are difficult, so we take the easy way out. On top of that, things move fast and our generation likes things that move fast. We’re used to our internet connections loading immediately and we expect dating to be the same.
But relationships take significantly more time and effort, and people don’t come and go at the swipe of your thumb. What’s worse, dating apps makes you believe there is always someone better out there—the perfect person, even when we know that perfect people do not exist. We’ve forgotten that building a healthy, long-lasting relationship takes more than eight to 12 seconds to develop (which yes, is the average attention span of millennials and Gen Z, respectively).
I know that dating in the modern age is possible. One of my friends didn’t even have to leave her apartment to meet someone—she met her ex by walking out of her bedroom and finding a man on her living room couch, (he was a friend of her roommate’s). Two others have met their partners at work, and another through mutual friends.
I even know someone who had their now-boyfriend approach them while they were studying in a coffee shop downtown and ask for their number. Just like in the movies.
For all of them, love came around when they least expected it and when they weren’t looking. Maybe I should stop searching, swiping through hundreds of photos of guys with dogs. Maybe I just need to wait.
I don’t understand the inner workings of the universe and how it makes these things happen just yet, but I’ve made peace with the idea that meeting someone who is worth it takes time and patience. I may not find the person for me on a dating app, but I will find them one day. In the meantime, the occasional swipe on Tinder or the odd message on Hinge can fill the time.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll bump into the love of my life in the produce aisle of the grocery store. A girl can dream.