Online Dating as a Christian

True Life: I’m Christian and I Tried Online Dating

Online Dating as a Christian

(Note: This post specifically addresses dating apps for smartphones, not traditional online dating websites. I tried two online dating websites, but I couldn’t get past the tragically dated site designs and incompatibility with my iPad. I ended up abandoning both sites within a week of creating profiles. I also couldn’t into a certain Christian dating website that uses trite applications of scripture for marketing purposes.)

I honestly never thought a time would come when I’d write about dating apps. Whenever friends suggested I try online dating, I scoffed at them with wounded pride. I did not want to be that girl — the girl who gets labeled ‘desperate’ because she tries unconventional dating methods. But then I got over the stigma and my pride, and I decided to give online dating a try a few months ago. I knew I would be moving to LA, where my physically accessible Christian circle would be severely limited. So I thought I could use online dating to expand my network, even if the dates didn’t result in marriage.

I didn’t embark on my online dating journey blindly. I consulted scripture and researched various views in the debate surrounding the use of dating services by Christians. On one side, there are those who oppose the use online dating because they believe it fosters a shallow dating process and betrays faith in God. One the other side are those who think online dating could be another way for divine providence to bring people together. Lurking somewhere in the middle are those who are neutral, as they don’t see an inherent wrong in using such services to meet new people. I’m in the latter group. I think the use of online dating boils down to a heart issue: Are you using them out of desperation because you want to take advantage of the perceived control you have over your love life, or are you using them because you want to expand your network while trusting in God’s timing for potential relationships? For a long time, I would’ve used dating sites for the former reason. However, I finally decided to try online dating when I was in a place of relative peace with my singleness and accepted that my journey to marriage may be longer than I anticipated.

After a few months of usage, I’ve already received some valuable lessons. But first, here’s a brief lowdown on the apps I use:

Coffee Meets BagelCoffee Meets Bagel (CMB): This is a free dating app that sends you one curated match every day at noon. The process for a creating a profile is simple and leaves room for honesty and creativity. The app creators claim to use technology that match you with friends of friends, but I’m calling their bluff based on the overwhelming number of matches I’ve received with zero mutual friends. Questionable algorithms aside, there is one feature I love: the ability to narrow the match pool by religious beliefs. I checked the Christian box in the “bagel preferences” section, so I only receive matches who identify as Christian.

 

untitledHinge: I also tried this site because a different friend met her boyfriend through this app. This is another free friends-of-friends app that determines matches based on users’ Facebook friends, only Hinge’s algorithm seems to be far more accurate than CMB’s. Being able to see mutual connections, as well as receive my matches’ full names, provides enough information for me to be slightly confident my matches are not murderous psychopaths. Instead of sending one match at noon like CMB, Hinge sends a “batch” of 12 matches at noon every day. The process for a creating an online profile is easy, perhaps too easy and void of meaningful content (I was happy to be able to list my religion at least). This app doesn’t offer many options for narrowing the pool of dating candidates, so I was not able to limit my selection by religion. Consequently, finding Christian men on the app is like a treasure hunt that’s not so fun.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned thus far from my brief foray into this crazy world off dating apps:

Dating apps do not make dating easier.

If you’re considering online dating apps because you want to speed up God’s timeline for your love life — which is moving a little slow for your tastes — don’t even bother with online dating. Not only is that wrong-minded view indicative of lack of faith (I’d know; I held that view), but online dating only gives the illusion of making dating easier. Sure, there are larger pools of people to choose from, but the process of narrowing down those pools to worthwhile candidates is time-consuming — maybe even more consuming than traditional matchmaking and dating methods. I expended most of my energy clicking ‘no’ or ‘pass’ or swiping left every day.

There are WAY more non-believers than there are believers.

This is a clear example of how dating apps mirror dating in real-life. Most of the matches I received, particularly through Hinge, were great guys … who had little to no interest in Jesus. Against my better judgment, I went on two dates with a couple of guys who weren’t Christian. They were aware my beliefs, and seemed curious to know more. However, I eventually found myself trying to explain why I no longer drink, why I thought sex outside of marriage was sinful, and even why I won’t kiss on the first date or at any point during the dating period (I find that assumption comical, by the way. Do guys really think they deserve a kiss after paying for one meal?! As if!). The dates turned into Christianity 101 for non-believers, which is simply not ideal in dating situations. If you’re going into a dating relationship with the belief that you can evangelize your date, I encourage you to re-think that approach and consider more neutral opportunities for evangelism.

There are also many ineligible believers.

Here’s my mathematically precise breakdown of the 8 kinds of guys I encountered on both dating apps:

Dating Apps2

Perhaps the most disappointing but unsurprising conclusion so far is there are also many men on these apps who purport to be Christian, but they do not reflect their beliefs in their lifestyles. There were so many times I matched with what seemed to be a good Christian guy. Then at further inspection, I found several *recent* pictures of the guy posing (drink in hand) in a hazy nightclub setting with scantily clad women. *cue heartbreak*

Having clear convictions and standards is absolutely necessary.

Since there are so many opportunities for compromise with the large number of men who are not Christian or have little interest in serving Christ daily, I learned quickly that I had to keep in mind my values and standards for a godly spouse. I had to break out my list of non-negotiables for a godly spouse that I developed from studying scripture:

1) Zealous for serving Christ (Romans 12:11)
2) Constantly seeks wisdom of God (Psalm 1:1-5)
3) Capable of loving sacrificially (Ephesians 5: 25-28)
4) Hardworking (Proverbs 20:4)
5) Humble (Proverbs 29: 1, 23)
6) Calm, slow-to-anger (Proverbs 29:22)

When I didn’t keep those qualities in mind, I quickly fell into the trap of judging guys primarily by feelings and worldly standards (job title, income, physical apprentice, etc.). That’s also how I ended up on two dates with non-believers.

There are increased opportunities to meet Christian guys of varying cultural backgrounds.

This is the greatest benefit of dating apps for me. I love diversity and the idea of getting to know different people who share my love for Christ but maybe grew up in different cultural circumstances. One positive result of Hinge’s limited search capabilities is that it discouraged me from narrowing my pool of ‘matches’ by relatively superficial qualifiers like race or education level. If Christ is able to bring together different walks of life to form cohesive units for worship, he can surely do the same in romantic relationships.

My personal conclusions.

Overall my experience with online dating has been far less strange and terrifying than I expected. Wierdos abound, but there are plenty of gentlemen as well. Online dating has a lot of value, but I’m not sure it’s right for me. Sure, it is helpful to be able to evaluate someone before meeting in person. However, online profiles and even, ummm, extended research through Google and Facebook only provide limited information the essence of a person. I prefer to get to know guys with whom I have more personal context. I want to know a little about their character based on personal observations in neutral territory or through mutual friends who can attest to his beliefs and behavior.

I’m also notoriously bad at responding to texts and messages (my turnaround time falls within the 24-48 hour range). It was borderline overwhelming to receive emails, notifications, texts from multiple interested parties at once. I’m sure many guys think I’m a jerk because I didn’t respond to their (mostly) polite messages. Given the dearth of good Christian guys on both apps, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. I guess I’m an old-fashioned gal after all.

These are my humble opinions on dating apps. If you’re considering using an online dating service, I encourage you to do the following:

1) Seek God’s will and timing through prayer during every step of the process.
2) Have a clear understanding of the characteristics you seek in a godly spouse.
3) Don’t use dating apps during a period of weakened faith. You will not be able to circumvent God’s will by signing up for multiple dating sites.

If you have experiences with online dating, be it dating apps or desktop sites, I’d love to hear about them!

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The Comments

  • Avatar
    Krista
    11/07

    Another insightful post, Elizabeth! I have been looking for a similar blog for a while now and I’m so happy that I’ve found yours!

    While I know you mean the best in your ventures, I think you might be trying to narrow down your search too much. I know how hard it is to find good christian men now days. And while I agree that dating with a purpose to convert isn’t the best strategy, I don’t think you should ignore that pool completely. My husband and I got married this past August after 5 years of dating. He had always believed in God but he was one of those “it doesn’t matter what church you go to” types of people. Only in the past year has he converted to a New Testament christian. And I have to add, he has turned into the most inspiring, zealous christian and he just puts me in awe everyday. it saddens me to think there are christian women out there who wouldn’t give men like my husband a chance. After a lot of thought, I almost prefer it. My relationship with him is what helped bring another sinner to christ. Had I not given him a chance, he would still be lost.

    I know you mean well but i would like you to keep an open mind as you search for your help mate. I hope one day you can be as happy as I am and find someone that will help you grow closer to God.

    Keep posting!! 🙂

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Krista
      11/09

      Krista,

      Thank you so much for the support and sharing your beautiful story. It is very encouraging to hear how God used your relationship to open your husband’s heart. I’m sure your conduct played a major role.

      You’re right, it is so difficult to did good Christian men these days, and it’s possible I’m narrowing my search too severely. I will continue to pray for my help mate while keeping your advice and story in mind!

      God bless you dear sister!

  • Avatar
    Sarah
    01/22

    I love the pie chart! There weren’t any dating apps when I was doing online dating. I was still holding onto my blackberry for dear life because I didn’t want to let go of my actual keyboard. Touchscreens…? I was scared.
    I sat with some Christian friends who are single and we just went through a non-Christian app and kind of laughed at what kinds of pictures guys would post of themselves. It was crazy.
    My husband and I knew each other in real life, but when I saw him on Match, I sent him an email. It was just nice to know that he was looking and I was looking. Then we got married 8 months later!
    But even on the computer, the pie chart of guys I came across was pretty much the same.
    Sarah recently posted…Why I Publish Non-Dystonia PostsMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Sarah
      01/23

      Oh, I TOTALLY understand your reluctance to relinquish your BB with a keyboard. 5 million typos from autocorrect later, I still miss my precious BB with raised keys.

      Thank you for laughing at my pie chart! I meant for it to be slightly humorous but also a PSA for poor, unsuspecting Christian girls who decide to try non-Christian dating apps. As hilarious and frightening as the non-Christian apps are, I think the Christian ones are worse. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up post on that one day…

      The story about you and your husband is adorable! Thank you for restoring my hope in Match.com. 🙂

  • Avatar
    Rebecca Meskowitz
    06/10

    ThanKs for sharing your experience