As a three-year veteran of swiping left and right, I am finally ready to take a break from dating apps. I thought walking away from all my potential matches would make me feel anxious or hesitant, but instead I just feel...relief. It may seem strange to be grateful for an #ApplessApril, a month-long challenge to delete your dating apps, when all my relationships since college began with right swipes. Thanks to Tinder, I've had an awesome summer fling, a cinematic first "I love you" in an airport terminal, and many long nights spent flirting over drinks. So why would I want to say goodbye for a full month?
It might have something to do with the countless forgettable first dates, that time a guy picked his nose the entire night, or the 2 a.m. requests to meet strangers at their apartments. Even with all of these misadventures in modern romance, I never before wanted to take myself out of the dating game. It's too easy to keep swiping when a new boyfriend could be just around the digital corner. And yet, that same stream of endless possibilities that used to thrill me now leaves me exhausted. A community was just what I needed to give me the courage to sign off. And while I'm initially relieved to delete my dating apps to focus on strengthening my friendships, it may be a long month without "It's a Match!" to greet me each morning.
After a bad breakup at the end of last year, my first instinct to try and get over my ex was to download every dating app on the market. Knowing that there were thousands of single New Yorkers in my position made spending weekend nights alone in my apartment watching TV in sweatpants a little less lonely. No one who swiped through my carefully curated photos of the best version of myself — a social, pizza-loving world traveler — would have guessed that I barely left my couch for weeks.
I knew that it was wrong for the approval of random strangers to mean more to me than the unconditional support from my friends and family, but I didn't want to stop swiping: the next match could always be better than the last.
It's a little embarrassing to admit, but the rare times that I felt good about myself during that period were from interactions on Tinder and Bumble. An unexpected match with an attractive guy would briefly pull me out from under the cloud of sadness, and it validated my future dating potential in the most superficial way possible. At the time, I knew that it was wrong for the approval of random strangers to mean more to me than the unconditional support from my friends and family, but I didn't want to stop swiping: the next match could always be better than the last.
After the fleeting glow from a witty text exchange faded, the positive feelings about myself did, too. I tried to reclaim some of that validation by loading my schedule with fun things I loved — dance classes, spontaneous concerts, and happy hours — but I was left unfulfilled. It wasn't until I called my Thursday date by my Friday date's name that I considered swiping through all of New York's eligible bachelors may be to blame. I knew that something had to change.
As a serial dater, there hasn't been a lot of time in my adult life when I wasn't balancing a serious relationship with friendships, work, and my own interests. This could finally be the time that I made myself — and what makes me happy, confident, and energized — the priority. A refresh button, of sorts.And really, if I took myself out of the dating app market, what would I be missing out on? The small chance that a match would lead to a great first date, maybe. Beyond that, I could only see what I would gain: time to actually grab brunch with the old friends I've re-scheduled for months, friend dates with "friends of friends" who I've secretly wanted to move into the "real friends" category, and a chance to reevaluate how much weight a swipe should really hold.
It's a week into App-less April, and the instant feeling of relief that convinced me to join the challenge is still strong. I have been on two dates with matches from before I deleted the apps, but now is the first time that I haven't had a first date on the calendar in months. That's OK, though — I have a new friend date scheduled for next week, and there's only a small chance that she'll pick her nose.
Join us for App-less April and share your stories by using #ApplessApril and tagging @Bustle.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.
Images: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle