Tinder. Bumble. OK Cupid. Plenty of Fish. Hinge. Coffee Meets Bagel. I’ve been on every one of these sites.
All I was looking for was a nice guy who loves Jesus. Ideally he would be handsome, come with a golden retriever, stand over six feet tall, and have a job. I felt confident flirting, knew how to crop my photos so I looked ten pounds thinner, but I never knew how to ask if he was Christian. Asking this question in person to someone I knew was awkward enough. So I was clueless on how to bring it up online.
When I first started swiping, I had a lot to learn. I knew from college that more times than not, the people you pursue turn out to be crappy humans. Or at least they treated people crappy. I quickly realized I was in uncharted territory. When you’re on a huge campus you have people everywhere who you can get an opinion from on another person. You might even know who they’ve dated in the past and how it ended. You’ve heard rumors about them. But when you’re online dating, you have nothing. Which makes meeting a stranger off the internet even riskier.
My experience with online dating has lead to some of my dumbest dating mistakes. I’ve sent naked pictures before to a guy I met on Tinder (I previously wrote about that mistake here). I met a guy on Plenty of Fish who brought a gun to our date. Don’t worry, I’ll cover that later. But I also met my boyfriend of a year on Bumble. He’s the bee’s knees. (Yup that’s a Bumble pun.) Point is, when it comes to dating apps, I’ve been around the block a time or twenty. I get you. I went searching for the same thing you are. And as crazy as some of my stories are, I believe it can work.
I had no idea how to navigate through online dating, so I messed up. A lot. I want to help you avoid the mistakes I made. So if you’re looking online for someone who loves Jesus, and not just for a hookup, listen up.
People With Shirtless Mirror Pics Don’t Love Jesus
Even if they say they do, and their John 3:16 rib tattoo is showing in their mirror selfie, swipe left. I swiped right on shirtless mirror selfie guy more than once. He usually ended up asking me to hook up (maybe the tattoo should have been 1 Corinthians 6:18). It’s likely he has a girlfriend and is looking for his side piece. Men, this applies to girls in bikini pics with Proverbs 3:5 tatted under their boob, too. There is no reason for them to be in a bikini on a dating site, other than to tempt you. But stop it there. That girl is hot, and nothing but drama.
We spend a lot of time crafting our profile. We spend hours contemplating our bio and photos. And we do it to show the best version of who we want other people to think we are. If someone is promoting themselves half naked, they believe sex to be their best feature. These people don’t give you babies, they are looking to practice making them.
Don’t Get A Penpal (This Is A Big One)
Do not spend more than two weeks talking to a person without meeting them. Just stop it. The worst that happens is you meet and it’s weird. Go home, pour a drink, and keep swiping.
I say this because I once ended up with a penpal. Multiple times we would try and meet, but one of us always cancelled. He knew my secrets, moved across the country, and still we talked. It went on for years. I felt close to him, which is why I ended up sending him naked photos. It felt like a way to be intimate since we couldn’t be together, and as I soon as I did it I knew it was wrong. He took a piece of me in that, one I won’t get back. I realized he was holding me back, even if it was unintentional. I told myself he would be my filler until I met someone real. But the problem is that I wanted him and wasn’t interested in anyone else. From it all, I learned it’s hard to get over someone you’ve never met.
You Have To Be Creepy
In my next life, I’ll be an FBI agent. If you give me a first name and ten minutes, I can tell you where they work and who they took to prom. Maybe that makes me insane—but when it comes to internet dating, it makes me smart. You HAVE to know what you’re walking into. It brings up my earlier point. When you know someone in the real world you have people you can vet them through. Even mutual connections can be a source. If you trust them, you trust the new person. But if you think they are weird, chances are you’ll think this potential date is weird too. You have people who can endorse your dating choices. But when you meet them online, you have to do it alone.
I went on one date with a dude from Plenty of Fish. I should have known it was hopeless when he showed up to our zoo date in a three-piece suit. We chatted about friends and family. Things were going well so we decided to get tacos. When he got in my car (ladies, never get in a guy’s car you just met), he told me he was carrying his gun. He went on about how much he loved his Second Amendment right, and then told me of all the times he has pulled it out just to get a reaction. I was terrified. I didn’t feel safe and wanted this to end. Being a decent person, I felt like leaving him on the side of the road wasn’t an option. Though it TOTALLY IS! (He would have been fine, he had his gun.) As soon as that date was over, I creeped him. He had pictures of his guns and several political agenda posts that troubled me. If I had JUST creeped the guy, all of this could have been avoided.
Because of this, three years later, I showed up to my first date with my now boyfriend knowing where he lived (I Google mapped it), where he worked (had a friend view his LinkedIn), and what bands and music he prefered. Too much? Maybe. But it’s something we laugh about now. However, do NOT tell them you creeped them! When they bring up their job, pretend to be surprised. Ask where they went to college—even though you know where, what years, and where they went on Spring Break. Be sneaky.
The Big Question: When To Bring Up Faith
All of that is practical advice that you should totally take. A situational question is when to talk about your faith. For me, it came up fast because the second question you ask after pretending to care about their day, is “What do you do for a living?” I immediately would have to answer, “I work for a church!” More times than not, that guy disappeared from my matches. Meaning, he thought I was a Jesus Freak in a jean skirt and a crochet net over my bun. I hated being immediately written off. But if they weren’t interested enough to ask me more about it, they weren’t interested in me.
I thought I would want to bring up Jesus to make sure they were following or at least intrigued by him. But once that happened to me, it was awful and I swore not to do it to another person. Story time: I once matched with a youth pastor. I told him I volunteered with students. I thought it would be this one-off thing, instead, it became the entire conversation. I found myself in this one-upping chat about who loves Jesus more. He asked me to go on a mission trip with him when all I wanted was for him to buy me a Dirty Shirley. Basically, don’t date that person either. If you hit it off online and like each other, go out. Ask them if they prefer ketchup or ranch. Jesus does not have to be everything you talk about. It doesn’t mean they aren’t serious about their faith, it just means they’re normal.
Advice: Bring up church. When they ask what you’re doing on Sunday say you’re going to get a beer with friends after service. Sneak it in there. Don’t make it this over the top thing. You haven’t even MET this person. So calm down.
I don’t miss online dating, but I do believe in it. It’s a minefield of apps and people you have to sift through. But the more you do, the better a person you’re going to find and the less time you’ll waste. Bringing up faith for me was always when it got awkward. But by doing these steps, you can start to know if they are following Jesus. That’s because following Him isn’t so much about talking about it, it’s about walking it out. See who they’re friends with. Do they have pictures of them volunteering? Do they post about how wonderful their mom is? Yes and yes? Go for it. Use your gut. You know who feels weird. If online dating feels like your arena, don’t be embarrassed to play in it. Be smart. Be willing to go on dates. And always swipe left more than right.