I looked up and down the table at my birthday brunch last week. On the right, some friends were discussing their exciting travel plans. On the left, others had their phones pulled out and were pointing and giggling. They were on Hinge. I wondered, had I not been in the center of the table hosting everyone, which conversation would I be in? I feared it was the dating app one. That's when I decided I'm deleting my dating apps for a month.
I've been on dating apps for about three years, and I've seen the landscape on the OGs change, as well as new ones pop up every day. Since 2013, the use of dating sites and apps has nearly tripled among young Millennials, according to Pew Research Center. And even if they're not the top way people meet their significant others these days, singles are definitely on them, interested in them, and definitely talking about them. I started off with Tinder as my gateway to online dating, as many did, and then got into Hinge (woo friends of friends!), tried a little Bumble (women in control now, suckers!), and then jumped into The League (no creeps!). I never used dating apps for hookups, more for meeting new people, going on dates, and dating.
I won't deny the benefits to having been on them the last few years. Some of my best dates have been with people I met on dating apps. There have been times where the apps have been entertaining, boosted my confidence, got me back in the game, and made me excited about dating.
But, lately they haven't done those things. I used to think of them as a supplement to meeting people IRL, but they've taken precedence at this point. Right now, I have three dating apps on my phone, and they've been more of a source of frustration, eye rolls, and boredom. I've also found myself uttering the cliche I can't stand: "It's rough out there."
But, is it rough out there?
I've realized I don't know because I'm not really even out there. I'm on my phone. I've been on dating apps for pretty much as long as I've been single, so it's the only "dating scene" I know. Dating, to me, mostly exists on a screen.
So, I've decided it's time for a break. I'm calling it App-less April (#ApplessApril), and starting Friday, I'm deleting my dating apps from my phone for one month. We're not breaking up, just taking some time off to reevaluate things, and I invite you to join me if you're feeling dating app burnout and curious about what the dating scene is like without them.
Or maybe you're having a positive experience on them but want a challenge. You're invited to join, too. Hey, as the Spice Girls said, "Too much of something is bad enough." Then again, a few seconds later they also said, "Too much of nothing is just as tough," so IDK, you can be the judge at the end of the month.
If you're on the fence, here are five things that led me to App-less April.
1. I Don't Think These Messages Aren't Funny Any More
There was a time when weird or creepy messages were screenshot-worthy. Times when they dominated conversations in group chats. Now, I don't even think my married friends would find them funny.
2. I'm Rarely Meeting People IRL
Remember when I said I used to think of dating apps as a supplement to real dating (whatever that is)? I'm rarely meeting people offline. In the past year, I've gone on seven dates, six of which have been via dating apps. I don't even know where this one falls, so we'll call it a bonus one.
3. Everyone's Flaky — Me Included
Forget ghosting, something dating apps have made beyond easy to do, people also have incredibly short attention spans on their phones. It's not uncommon to be in the middle of a great conversation with someone online, maybe even make a plan to meet up in the next week, and then the convo drops off. Hell, I've been the one who's Houdini'd conversations.
I don't know why we do it — maybe we get bored, second guess ourselves, forget, let too much time pass, or move on to someone else — but we have nothing invested in our matches until we've met them. No matter how cute their puppy is.
If you feel like you're the only one not meeting your matches IRL, you're not alone: One-third of people who have used online dating have never actually gone on a date with someone they met on these sites, Pew says.
4. There's So Much More To Talk About
I'm not saying everyone on dating apps talks about them all the time or that everyone who's on them obsesses over them 24/7, because that's definitely not true. Most people I know are on them passively, but even that seems to have an affect on them. I'm definitely not tired of talking about dating, (it is my job, after all), but I am getting bored with discussing what happens on our phones (and not IRL) and hypothesizing about why someone on Bumble didn't answer a clever message.
5. There's So Much More To Do
A recent survey from online content platform Odyssey found that 83 percent of Millennials spend up to two hours per week on their dating apps. I'm not saying you could be saving the world during that time, but if you've been frustrated with them, that's a little extra time each day you could spend doing something that makes you happy.
I'll be updating you throughout the month, and feel free to share your stories using #ApplessApril if you're joining. Maybe I'll miss them, maybe I'll go on less dates, maybe I'll feel liberated, maybe I'll be less stressed, maybe my skin will look flawless and I'll look 10 years younger, or maybe I won't even notice a difference at all and re-download them in May. I have no idea. But here's to finding out!
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Images: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle (2); Screenshots; Mary Rabun/Bustle; Cora Foxx & Dawn Foster/Bustle; Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle