‘Insecure’ reminds us of the existential dread of a dating profile

Why this week's episode of 'Insecure' triggered the serially single among us

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 06:  Actress Yvonne Orji (L) and creator/actress Issa Rae attend the HBO's...
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If there is one thing Insecure has done consistently for the last five years, it’s tell us about ourselves a bit too loudly. On the latest episode, Molly reminded us all of the existential dread of revisiting an old dating profile — potentially triggering for the serially single among us.

In the episode titled “Growth, Okay?!” Molly came face-to-screen with her own growth when she attempted to get back into the dating scene by dusting off her old online dating profile. As part of a ritual as old as Tinder, Molly updates her profile on the dating app The League, a matchmaking platform that weeds out the down-to-fuck singles in favor of successful people who are ready to enter serious relationships. Molly first joined the app in the first season of Insecure, and from the looks of the profile that flashed on the screen in the season five episode, it appears she hasn’t touched it since she joined.

Molly from season one was looking for a successful man who is physically fit, has at least one degree (although she prefers two), is looking for a serious relationship, and has no kids — with her capitalization of the latter insinuating that being a father is a red flag. Older and wiser Molly reads it and had to admit to herself she was being a bit too demanding back then. (And many viewers said the same as the episodes initially aired.) But, once she erased her prior expectations to fill in what she currently looks for in a partner, that blank text field gave her another, more difficult realization: she’s gone from wanting too much to not knowing what she wants at all. A simple dating app question of “what are you looking for” sent Molly spiraling down memories of dismissing ex-flame Jered in favor of the “vetted” League options before dismissing the latter for only being “good on paper,” and remembering she dated an Asian man while she admits to wanting to end up with a Black man. Figuring out what she wants to get from dating threw her for a loop, but it was nothing compared to seconds later when she had to tell potential suitors what they’ll get from dating her.

In a series of quick flashbacks, Molly remembers she hasn’t been the easiest to date. Whether it’s sending mixed commitment messages to Chris, finding superficial flaws in Jered, or holding onto grudges tighter than she did her actual relationship while she was with Andrew, the memories stunned her into an almost catatonic gaze. Growth inherently is bettering your past self, and that means coming to terms with your problematic old habits. While this one-minute scene is a great narrative device for Insecure to reflect on past seasons during its final one, it’s also a bold commentary on the unwanted epiphanies dating apps can inspire.

Dating is both a reflection of ourselves and the times we live in. By the end of 2019, 30% of U.S. adults had used online dating services, and 77% of adult online dating users had gone on a date with someone they met on one of those apps. Before you could swipe your finger a few times and find a match, the only reminders of your poor dating choices were Facebook photos you’ve probably deleted or untagged yourself from, exes you’ve exiled from your life, and those nagging-yet-fleeting memories of the time you left a date because they ordered a steak medium-rare. With online dating increasingly becoming the primary way people meet each other, we’re less likely to delete those decade-old dating profiles in the event real-life doesn’t match up with our expectations.

When you were fresh out of college, your dating standards may have not risen above someone having a car, a job, and being able to recite every line from Parks & Recreation. That surely changes after years of dating as an adult and growing into someone more worried about 401ks and homeownership than sweaty sex on a twin-sized mattress. But, just as Molly realized, even with all of her growth, her resorting to returning to the dating app reminds her she still doesn’t know what she wants. That’s a frightening epiphany for a woman who a year earlier in the Insecure timeline was considering settling to rekindle an old college fling because she felt she no longer had all the time in the world.

There are only eight more episodes left of the Insecure series, and by the end of this week’s episode, Molly was talking herself into taking more chances at the start of a first date. So, please check on your single friends — we’re going through it.