3 Things I Secretly Miss About My Dating Apps

As I enter the halfway point of Bustle's App-less April Challenge, it's becoming clear to me that taking a break from dating apps isn't quite the utopian experience I anticipated. Just a few days ago, I was riding the high of my decision, and I felt confident that the immediate relief would easily bring me through — and maybe even extend past — a month free from swiping. Maybe this is simply a case of looking at Tinder through rose-colored glasses, but there are a few aspects of online dating that I actually miss. I'm not feeling sentimental enough to forget all of the negative parts of dating apps, so there's definitely no countdown clock ticking down to midnight on April 30.

How could I so easily forget about the guy who cancelled all of our dates one hour before we were scheduled to meet, or the one who kept messaging me different sex positions that he'd like to try before we even told each other our last names? This break from dating apps is conflicting what I know is true — it takes lot of swiping to meet someone I'd want to spend even two hours with — and the updated, maybe not-so-accurate version of what online dating is really like. That said, while I believe that deleting my dating apps is the best decision for now, I occasionally find myself looking at my phone, itching for a new Tinder message.

1. You're Not As Emotionally Vulnerable Online

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There is a certain confidence in asking a guy out on a date that only emerges when I'm safely behind my phone screen. When there's a clear indication —"It's a Match!" — of mutual interest between both parties, it's easy to ask if the other person wants to spend time with me IRL. A non-virtual date request? Not so much.

The other day, I made eye contact with a guy at the crosswalk for an entire green light — definitely a live and in-person right swipe. How did I respond to such a seemingly obvious indication of interest? Well, there was no smooth, confident greeting from my end. Instead, I quickly rushed passed him, and listened to my friend, who witnessed the exchange, proclaim my idiocy for several blocks.

My excuses for not speaking up were exhaustive: what if he had a girlfriend, what if he was just checking out my impressive amount of post-workout sweat, or what if he had been really attempting eye contact with my friend? The possibilities were endless, but none of them ultimately mattered. It was the fear of being emotionally vulnerable without an escape route of blocking a match or deleting a ghoster's number that left me frozen. If he were to reject me, it would be directly to my face, and there wouldn't be any screenshots to send to my friends to analyze. I may miss the security of the "Want to grab a drink sometime this week?" text, but it's time to challenge those insecurities and take advantage of the opportunities beyond my Tinder radius.

2. There's Always Someone To Talk To

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Ever since deleting my dating apps, I have spent considerably less time on my phone and replaced those minutes (hours?) previously spent swiping with positive 'me time.' From the productive — reading more books, deep cleaning my bathroom — to the not-so-productive, there isn't a lot of time during the day when Tinder even crosses my mind. The only time that I feel its absence is right before bed, when my best friends are curled together with their boyfriends under the covers and not replying to my less-than-thrilling texts.

I'm not alone in this: Tinder reaches its peak usage between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Motivations for signing on may differ, but the visual cue of an empty side of the bed (or, realistically, a side of the bed holding most of the contents of my closet) pushes me into swiping-mode. Thousands of flirtatious local men available at my fingertips, all from the comfort of my own bed? Count me in. Rather than let that wave of loneliness tempt me into breaking #ApplessApril, I acknowledge its presence and indulge in offline activities that always elevate my mood: re-reading my favorite books, listening to guided meditations, or spending extra time cooking a special dinner.

3. The Glimmer Of Hope Each Match Brings

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When you've been in the online dating game as long as I have, it's hard not to sometimes feel jaded by all of mankind. People play games, feel comfortable sending "Are you interested in a one-night stand?" texts to strangers, and show up to first dates blackout drunk. Yet, there is still something special — beyond the simplicity of swiping and ease of having a city's worth of dating options in your hand — that has me missing dating apps, just a little bit.

When I've first met guys offline in the past, the connections have been made thanks to the confidence booze brings, and they weren't based on anything other than superficial attraction. On Bumble or Tinder, I'm far more inclined to swipe right on someone who has a shared mutual interest or a photo from a city I've visited. As my friend explains, "These similarities allow for glimmers of hope that propel your imagination. Oh, he likes the Rangers, too? We'll go to games together. With our kids." The same swipes that bring about exhaustion can — maybe with distance, or a shift in perspective — spark an excited curiosity about what new possibilities hold.

Right now, I'm not sure if I will actively jump back on the dating app train when this month is over. Am I pro-swipe or anti-swipe? Well, it's clear that it all depends on the day. One thing is for sure: I am grateful that the #ApplessApril challenge is making me far more mindful about my romantic behavior and how I approach dating, online and offline.

Want to join App-less April? Share your stories with us by using the hashtag #ApplessApril and mentioning @Bustle.

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Images: Fotolia; Giphy; Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle