Whether dating apps are causing a "dating apocalypse" or are merely the easiest way to get a date, there's no denying these tools have been total gamechangers in the dating scene within the last few years. And even though dating apps are most popular among millennials, according to a recent Bustle survey with dating app Happn of over 1,000 dating app users, 78 percent of women and 85 percent of men still want to meet people IRL. That's why for the second year in a row, Bustle is deeming April, "App-less April" and encouraging our staff and readers to delete their dating apps for 30 days and meet people the old-fashioned way: offline. With participants tracking their progress and tricks and tips from dating experts, we'll be helping you feel empowered to meet people IRL all month long.
I’ll admit it: I’m addicted to dating apps. Swiping through Tinder became part of my daily routine. When I’m making breakfast, I’m swiping. When I’m walking to the store, I’m swiping. If I’m waiting on line, I’m swiping. In the middle of dinner with a group of my girlfriends, I’m swiping. They won’t admit it, but I know they’re swiping too.
It’s completely mindless. I’m honestly not even really looking at the men. Yes, sometimes there’s a guy a with an adorable puppy that catches my eye, but most of the time I’m just on there because I want some confirmation that I’m indeed a desirable human being. Behavioral scientist and relationship blogger Clarissa Silva describes this phenomenon as “vanity validation” seeking approval through electronic likes, not life encounters. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. According to a LendEDU survey of over 9,000 college students, 44 percent of college Millennials use Tinder for "confidence-boosting procrastination” and only 26 percent are looking for hookups or relationships. The majority of us on dating apps aren’t looking for something real. Actually these dating apps sort of encourage this kind of mindless behavior.
Apps like Tinder are designed to be treated like a game. For every swipe right, it’s like you gained a point. Extra points if you have a Super Like from a hot guy or woman. “We actually get a spike of the feel-good chemical dopamine every time we get a text, message, online match, any type of social bonding — and it’s really addicting,” Camille Virginia, offline dating coach, tells Bustle. It's instant gratification at its finest (or worst).
So this month I’ve decided to give up dating apps for Bustle's App-less April challenge. I’m newly single and I’ve only been on dates with people I’ve met on Tinder. This month, I want to try offline dating. However, I’m finding myself hearing phantom Tinder alerts and blankly staring at my phone for no apparent reason. Here are some apps I’m using to keep myself productive and fulfill my urge to swipe.
Don’t freak out, but there’s a Tinder for dogs! On BarkBuddy, swipe through adorable pups in your area. Just like Tinder, each fur baby has its own profile with pictures and a short description. And best of all, they’re all adoptable! You can set up to meet IRL right in the app and see if you two are the perfect match. Maybe you can meet someone while walking your new buddy. Dogs are a great excuse to explore and meet new people in the neighborhood. Honestly though, who needs a date when you have a life partner that will give you unlimited cuddles and love you forever.
We’ve all had that moment when we tried to take the most Instagram-worthy photo ever, and then our phone says something like “Cannot take photo. There is not enough available storage.” Worst timing ever. Flic easily frees up space on your phone. It has a swipe app interface so you swipe left to throw photos in the trash and swipe right to keep photos. It’s an easy and fun way to manage your photos and delete those failed selfies you probably never want to see again. It’s great to swipe through when you’re killing time waiting for that coffee, so you extra data space to take a picture of that wonderful latte art.
Replace those endless hours you spent on dating apps by spending a few minutes everyday learning a new language. Duolingo is a free app that allows you to take language courses, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, and even Klingon if that’s something you’re into. Each lesson is like a game where you have to translate phrases, fill in vocabulary, and pronounce phrases. You receive points and trophies for each milestone. The app also allows you to chat with bots or join a club so you can practice speaking to other real-life users.
OK, so this is technically a dating app but switching on the Bumble BFF feature allows you to match with potential friends in the area. If you’re itching to swipe through profiles and meet cool people in real life Bumble BFF could be the solution for you. For those who’ve never tried it, it’s much less pressure than meeting a date IRL. The pool of people on Bumble BFF tend to be very genuine in finding new people hang out with. Plus, making a new circle of friends can open up the doors to meet other people with dating potential.
Looking for a running buddy? Swipe through Athleto to meet other sporty people who are looking for a partner to throw the ball around with or run a mile around the track. The app allows you to filter your search based on location, skill level, and frequency so you’re not stuck with a serious marathon runner when all you want to do is take a brisk walk around the park. It’s a great way to get a workout while meeting new friends and groups of people without the pressure of dating.
So if you're participating in App-less April or you're taking a dating app break, know that there's no shortage of fun apps to fulfill your swiping urges or help you meet new friends (and pets).