Last week I was out for dinner with my girlfriends and as usual the conversation turned to our recent dates. Some were good, some were bad and some were very, very ugly. But what they all had in common is that we had met these potential dates online through the various dating apps now taking over our phones; Tinder, Happn, Bumble, Hinge...the list goes on. It seems new ones are popping up every day, with different ones for different needs but each promising excitement and the potential to lead to something more. Since 2013 the use of dating apps has nearly tripled amongst young Millennials and we spend on average two hours a week on dating apps ( from recent survey form online content platform Odyssey) so no wonder this obsession led Bustle, the entertainment and lifestyle app for women, to launch App-less April ( #ApplessApril), encouraging women to delete dating apps from their phones for one month. It seems we have become consumed by these apps and lose track of what we are looking for in a relationship so a month off appeals to me as a time to re-evaluate what we are looking for and how to go about achieving these goals. Dating apps, at their best, can connect you with people you would never meet otherwise but at their worst they are completely superficial. So after countless bad dates, awkward silences and disappointed journeys home... I decided to go App-less.
Here are a few things that led me to App-less April.
People use their best photo....from ten years ago
One guy met a year ago had clearly airbrushed his photos and used filters to make himself look younger (and better looking!) He was still attractive but immediately I felt betrayed. Maybe I was being too sensitive but I felt my photos were honest and that I was led to believe my date was something that he wasn’t. If he lied about this, what else would he lie about? The risk here was that on a dating app we are presenting ourselves to a stranger based on the best pictures of us. Of course we aren’t going to choose bad photos but if they are from a decade ago, you start off on the wrong foot. At least with real life encounters what you see is what you get and there are no surprises.
The chemistry is there...until you meet
It is always a letdown when you have a great conversation with someone over text or email and then when you meet there just isn’t that spark. I met a guy on Match.com a few years ago and we had been emailing back and forth regularly for a couple of weeks. He was funny, kind and seemed to really listen to what I was saying and respond carefully and attentively. However in person, we just didn’t click and after one drink headed our separate ways. I learnt from this that it is important to meet early on so as to not waste time messaging someone and also to prevent the miscommunication that a carefully composed text or well chosen emoji can lead to. There is no tone, no emotion, no body language over these methods of communication, only in person can we really see how we feel about someone and also stop the disappointment with all that anticipation as we know early on if we fancy them or not.
It becomes addictive but not productive
I have realised that I am solely using dating apps to meet men. When I wake up I am checking my various apps and if I am waiting for a bus or in line for a coffee I am constantly checking the apps, seeing who is nearby and who is around for a drink after work. It seems I don’t engage with the people around me, perhaps the man smiling at me at the bus stop or the neighbour I say hi to every morning. As the apps provide me with, potentially, a date every night of the week, it takes the effort away from going out and having to connect with a stranger randomly. But this detracts from the romance and the spontaneity of catching someone’s eye in a bar or accidentally bumping into someone and it leading to conversation. Our digital matchmakers are, arguably, killing traditional romance. We also end up using the apps for our own reassurance, seeking matches and likes in return for actually having a conversation with someone, using it to boost our confidence or even just for entertainment.
Cold turkey and not looking back?
I think I had lost sight of dating apps and how their purpose is to increase the possibilities of finding someone who I could forge a connection with. I think you won’t find anything meaningful from a dating app if you aren’t looking for anything more meaningful than a date. So far I have done fairly well being App-Less. I deleted Tinder and haven’t gone back. I occasionally use my Happn just to check in and see if there are any potential dates there. However I have found that I recently got chatted up by a lovely barman who gave me his number and at an event had a great conversation with a group of young men about dating apps and how they also find them superficial and disappointing. Meeting someone in person and wanting to see them again shows a mutual connection and it is not manufactured by swiping right.