Welcome to the second edition of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Hunter McGrady's monthly column, "Hello, Hunter". Through this platform, Hunter will take a long, hard look at some of the most frequently asked questions she receives in her DMs and answer them candidly. Body positivity? You bet we'll cover that. Dating, relationships, sex, finding confidence in a bikini — she'll take care of all of that, too.
"What are your thoughts on dating in the digital age?"
My response to this question has many layers. Like anything in this world, we have to evolve with the times, and I believe that there are pros and cons to finding love in the digital age.
In today’s cultural landscape, we are inundated with all kinds of apps for dating, hookups, even meeting friends. Tinder, Bumble, Raiya, Grinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, E-Harmony, J Date, and even apps that aren’t meant for dating such as Instangram, Twitter, Snapchat...the list goes on... If you’re a farmer and want to date other farmers, they quite literally have a dating app meant just for you! We have truly thought of everything when it comes to dating.
The common denominator between all of us is that we all want to find love, or at least feel it momentarily. It wasn't that long ago that we would meet someone "in the wild" and wait by the phone for hours, if not days, hoping to be asked out on a date. Now? We swipe. We don’t have physical contact until we decide to. We essentially choose a mate based on who is the most attractive to us. We Google their name faster than we can say “hello” and “how are you?”, and we make assumptions on what this person is like before even hearing their voice. We envision their mannerisms and the way they look at us. You’re practically already buying a house and a labradoodle in your head, only to meet them and be completely let down and devastated.
Bottom line — if someone wants to see you, they will make time. You are a priority. Don’t forget that! My sister's now-husband literally flew across the country just to take her on a date. There’s no excuse!
Online dating can lead to a lot of letdowns. There are so many options that it becomes what I call the “revolving door."
One is coming in while the other is heading out and our heads are constantly on a swivel because we think that we may be missing something better. I believe it is time to focus our energy into building stronger, long-lasting relationships, instead of living life on the constant hunt for who’s next.
I have had people reach out and say they don’t feel confident putting themselves out there because they see the ubiquitous “highlight reel” others are portraying online and they feel they can’t measure up. The reality is that what is on social media is never a true representation of all that person is. We are all guilty of putting forth a more impressive version of ourselves, because let’s be honest, no one wants to hear you complain about your boss on social media. You don’t see arguments with spouses, bills that can't be paid or the tough mornings.
Although there are cons to online dating, there are also some wonderful benefits. There are so many options available that you are essentially able to weed out the good from the bad. Most sites match people based on compatibility, interests, and personality, and that way, you’re able to meet people you might not have crossed paths with in "real life." This is exactly how I met my fiancé. I never in a million years would have thought I would meet my person on an app — let alone Snapchat. He had been on a date with somebody who told him he should follow me on Snapchat. Then for three months, he followed me until he saw that I was in New York traveling from LA, where I lived, and had a few days off.
He took the chance to reach out to me and asked me to go to drinks. I responded, “Add me on Facebook!”, so I could see what he looked like and browse through his photos. After chatting and having pretty incredible banter, I said I would get drinks with him that Friday. I didnt set any expectations other than, “I’ll get a drink! I have nothing to do Friday night!”
I’ll never forget walking into a bar in the West Village and seeing him sitting in a corner. I saw him before he saw me, and I knew he was going to be my husband. My heart dropped to the floor of my Calvin Klein boots that were covered in snow.
We connected immediately and laughed about how crazy it was that we met on social media. We also kept reiterating that we caught each other at the right place, at the right time.
My suggestion for those who want to find someone “in the wild” is to go to places that you find interesting or have a passion for. For instance, if you’re someone who loves cycling, join a cycling club or go to spin class. It’s an easy way to connect with someone who already has a similar passion.
When you are dating, allow yourself to be vulnerable, candid, and honest. Dating apps, websites, and social media may not be the right venue for everyone. But as for me? I found my forever by dating in the digital age!
See all of Hunter's powerful photos from SI Swimsuit 2018: