I’ve known for a while that I should take some time off from dating sites and apps, so when Bustle's App-less April rolled around, I was all in. The general guidelines were simple enough: fully commit yourself to a dating platform cleanse for the month of April, and give your love life and single-self a much needed reboot. It’s not like I hadn’t attempted this before — many Tinder binges ended in me swearing an oath to myself and all that was still sacred in the dating world to get off the app for good — but it wasn’t long before the little flame icon disappeared from my phone that it was right back to its comfy spot on my home screen.
The mind was willing, but the flesh was weak. Or something.
But when I decided to commit myself to App-less April, I promised myself that I wouldn’t give in to the temptations of endless possibility at my fingertips, if not for myself, then at least for the sake of journalism. What I never expected was that I wouldn’t really miss them at all. In fact, a life without being prisoner to my dating apps felt weirdly liberating, and I soon began to realize I embraced my single status a lot more when I wasn’t constantly trying to rectify it. At this point, it’s pretty safe to say I’m considering not re-downloading my apps once the month ends, because the things I do miss in no way outweigh the things I don’t.
There’s a reason this one is number one on my list, because as most people who have ever had the pleasure of swiping know, it’s one of the most rampant and least pleasant experiences all dating apps/sites have to offer. Now that I’ve gone app-free, I no longer have to deal with random men in my inbox making comments akin to online sexual harassment. Does this mean I’ve done away with all unwelcomed and unwarranted come-ons and comments? Absolutely not. Nor do I blame the app for being the reason behind all of these uncomfortable online encounters – it’s not the platform after all, but the individuals who choose to use the platform that way. But the lack of offensive bombardment is really, really refreshing.
Second only to sexist, unwelcome messages is ghosting, one of dating apps’ most common issues. Whether it’s never hearing an initial response from a new match, or actually going out with a person to never hear from them again, ghosting will always be an ever-present possibility when swiping along. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout this month, it’s that ghosting had a tendency to make me question what was wrong with me rather than the person I was talking to. Taking a step back, though, I began to realize it wasn’t me at all. It was just something that happened. Way too often.
3. Awkward First Dates
Awkward first dates are a necessary evil even without dating apps, but I’ve found that with these apps, first dates were even less bearable than usual. I mean, what can you really talk to someone about for an hour when your total communication before only consisted of passive pleasantries, and your latest TV favorites? Yeah, not so much.
4. The Endless Monotony Of Swiping
I’ll admit it; I’ve fallen into the trap of not taking dating apps seriously before. When you’re swiping along, it’s difficult not to feel the possibility of something better being out there. And with something so instantaneous and thoughtless, I usually didn’t make my swipe-right decisions on anything other than superficiality. Nothing very worthwhile was coming from that, and I knew that if I wanted something meaningful, I needed to break that cycle.
5. The Constant Awareness Of My Singledom
As sad as it is, it took me a while to realize there’s nothing wrong with being single. Nagging mother aside, one of the biggest reasons I couldn’t accept that simple fact was that I was constantly trying to rectify it. When I was on those apps or sites, my end goal was to find a steady, fulfilling relationship, and the further I got from it, the more hopeless I felt that it would happen for me. The moment I decided to cut myself off though, I started to realize that the single life wasn’t so bad. In fact, there was something to be said for letting things happen naturally, and allowing yourself to live your life all the while. When I was no longer harping on the issue, it no longer seemed like such a problem.
6. Conversations That Seem To Go Nowhere
Yes, getting to know someone takes effort, but when you’re not face-to-face with someone, that difficulty increases tenfold. I had some conversation starters in my back pocket – it’s always a good idea to read their profile, and take some ammo from there – but there was never a guarantee it wouldn’t lead to a dead end anyway. And don’t get me started on the peeps that think they can get anywhere by starting with, “Sup.”
7. Hits To My Optimism
The endless streams of ghosts, crappy comments, and people not taking things seriously really has a way of making you feel like good prospects are slim. Before starting these apps, I was the picture of a romantic optimist. I believed in the power of true love, fairy tale endings, and all that sugar-coated nonsense, but after tackling apps I became a grizzled dating veteran who had just seen too much. All optimism I had had for my romantic prospects suddenly began to vanish, and I more actively believed that finding someone truly decent wasn’t in the cards for me. Yeah, that’s utter crap, and I see that now, but only when I distanced myself from things.
8. The Superficiality Of It All
Anyone whose ever entered the swipe game knows that it doesn’t take much to find a person at any given time, in any given place. But with an endless stream of people at your disposal comes an ease with which to end things. As a result, it’s hard to find something that will last. Though it’s not entirely possible (we all have that friend who met her S.O. on Bumble, after all) it’s extremely difficult to find a like-minded person you want to go for the gold with. Even with the latest updates that help you get to know someone outside of their three profile pictures, we usually make our judgments instantaneously. Technology can be great, sure, but maybe dating is one of those things that really isn’t meant to be so easy.
Want to join App-less April? Share your stories with us by using the hashtag #ApplessApril and mentioning @Bustle.
Images: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle; Giphy (1-3,5,7, 8) Caroline Wurztel (4); Liz Minch/Bustle (6); Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle