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Online Dating as a Latina

What It's Like to Date Online When You're a Latina and Your Family Doesn't Get Swiping Right

The last three guys I've gone on first dates with have all been introduced to me by a very close friend of mine: the Internet.

If I introduced a WiFi connection/love connection joke here, I'd probably be taking this one step too far, but credit where credit is due — dating apps are a wealth of potential. They're also scary as hell if you've grown up with certain preconceptions of what dating life is supposed to be like.

I am a straight, cisgender Latina. I grew up with a very straight-laced understanding of what dating meant — you find someone, usually within your immediate circle of people; you chitchat a bit, you're in a relationship, and then you're married and deciding whether you'll teach your kids English or Spanish first.

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At no point within the love stories my grandma told me did she for once consider that my way of finding eligible bachelors would be online, or that I would lean toward guys who only know one word in Spanish and it's usually bodega.

I can readily admit, though, that I'm way more afraid of paving my own path in the dating world than I am in my career. I'm fighting a couple more taboos here, because dating is an area where traditions run deep.

For one, as a Latina, I've been taught that guys do the pursuing. A dating app like Bumble calls for the exact opposite — with it, I'm the one who's in control of initiating an interaction. Online dating in general implies that, while I enjoy the chase, I'm also actively searching. (And I'm unashamed of that!)

There are other aspects of my life that I know will detour from the traditional. For instance, chances are that, when I do find myself in a relationship, I'll at some point want to move in with the guy. I'm ready for this to be a very awkward conversation for a family that expects marriage before sharing a living space.

On the other hand, I'm also ready for the conversations I'll have to have with any guy who's in a relationship with me about my family. As a Latina, family is a priority and, honestly, time consuming. A cousin is always having some kind of party, and your presence is not only expected, but also required. Any guy in my life would have to understand and be willing to make my tight-knit family a priority as well.

The mix of extremely traditional and unabashedly modern pretty much defines dating in the digital age, and me, to some extent. I'm all about swiping right and starting conversations, but this doesn't mean that family isn't first. I'm all for living together first, but I do want to get married. Dating in your 20s is hard, no matter where you're starting from, but just know that being Latina and all that dating in 2015 implies shouldn't have to be mutually exclusive things. It doesn't need to be more complicated!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO
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