Even though dating apps are most popular among Millennials, according to a recent SeatGeek survey of 1,000 singles, 95 percent would rather meet people IRL versus online or on an app. 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.
Even though App-less April, a challenge to delete your dating apps, seemed scary at first, there are so many ways my attitude on dating has changed since I deleted my dating apps. Initially, I thought it would be so odd not having that dating lifeline in my pocket or purse. After all, in a just a few minutes, I could be having "conversations" with several eligible bachelors — seemingly eligible, that is. As you may know, many people have different online personas versus their real-life ones. I'd say that's the main way App-less April has been a dating lifesaver: Getting to practice the art of meeting people (i.e., potential dates) face-to-face again, whether it's at a friend's party or at the grocery store.
"There's no better way to gauge attraction and chemistry than to be physically present with someone," Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle. "This increases your odds of making good choices on who to go on a date with. The most effective thing you can do to give yourself a confidence boost is talking to other people prior to approaching that person you're interested in. If you stop by a coffee shop before hitting the subway, talk up the barista. Smile and make eye contact with people as you walk to the station. The goal is to get you in a chatty mood and socially warmed up, creating momentum and making it easier to chat with whoever you'd like."
I always love Edwards' advice, and I've found the above is definitely true. Plus, meeting people IRL has many advantages, as well as cuts to the chase more than dating apps. Here are more ways that my attitude on dating has changed since I deleted my dating apps.
You know how it is — the one thing dating apps seem to deliver is an endless number of choices. But, since chances are slim you will have 100 eligible dating partners in front of you any given day IRL, by not using apps, there's more time to focus on the few people you DO meet in person. And, as a result, you can give them more time and attention than any one of your many dating app convos (which tend to get confusing — FAST!).
On apps, you know how you seem to have the same small talk conversations with most of your matches? Well now, by dating without apps, there's no need to have small-talk-conversation after small-talk-conversation. Instead, it can be taken care of when you first meet — at your friend's party, for instance — and then you can move on to more in-depth conversation topics the next few times you meet.
Whether you're dating as an extrovert or an introvert, when you're off dating apps, you may think you'll never meet someone IRL again, without first being introduced by a dating app. But — that's not true! As Edwards says, "The best real-life situations are ones you already regularly experience. From the moment you wake up until when you go to sleep, there are countless opportunities for you to meet someone — taking public transportation, at the coffee shop, at work, the bookstore, out at lunch, in the gym, at the bar for happy hour, getting groceries — the list goes on. All you have to do is take advantage of the opportunities that are already there."
I could not agree more. If you keep doing things you're naturally inclined to do, you're likely to meet someone else who's into the same thing(s). For instance, the other week, I decided to go to a bookstore alone on a Friday night — to look for books, not dating prospects. A guy started to ask me about a book I was looking at. Point being, you never know where you'll meet your next potential date. And even if you and the person don't actually go on a date, at least you practiced meeting someone IRL and realized it's not that bad!
I don't know about you, but when I used dating apps, not only was matching and messaging time-consuming, but the apps took up mental space in my brain even when I wasn't physically on them. Instead of stressing about what to message back to somebody, I can focus on myself, my friends, and other areas of my life — like what makes ME happy, single or not. I'm not tempted to check my phone constantly, and I'm not composing messages back to people in my head either (that I won't send till later, because you have to wait a while, right?!). "People with successful dating lives have fulfilling lives rich with hobbies and interests," Millennial Love Expert Samantha Burns, a licensed mental health counselor, relationship counselor, and dating coach, tells Bustle. "Sign up for a kickboxing class, take a guitar lesson, or study a foreign language. This will give you something to speak about with passion on a future date, which is a very attractive quality." Exactly. After all, you want hobbies aside from just dating!
Let's face it — many people seem to get cynical about dating, and fast, when they use dating apps. In fact, a survey of 500 singles by ReportLinker found that 54 percent of singles — and 63 percent of women — said they had a negative attitude about dating apps. After all, eventually everyone sounds the same, and how many small talk conversations, if you want to call them that, can you have without some people even responding?! And let's not even get into all the ghosting that goes on… So, imagine your life without all this added frustration — and you've got App-less April! Yep, it'll change your attitude and make you more positive about dating.
"You may automatically assume that dating is some kind of game or competition to be mastered rather than something fun and enjoyable," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, tells Bustle. "If this isn't checked, you can lose a sense of trust and the belief that two people can meet, like each other, and form a relationship in a natural, easy way. The best way of combating these bad habits is to truly be yourself and don't play games. Reach out to someone if you had a great date. If you want to be in a long-term relationship, let them know. Be yourself and be authentic, and you have a much better chance of making a true connection with someone." Agreed!
So, as you can see from the above, my dating attitude has definitely changed — for the better — since I deleted my dating apps. Just because App-less April is over next week doesn't mean you can't still delete your dating apps, either now or next month. Even though it may take some getting used to — like picking up your phone to check all your new online matches and messages, only to realize there are no apps to check — you can do it. Plus, the benefits outweigh the negatives. You'll see!