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 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.
While discussing my near completion of Bustle's App-less April, a challenge to delete your dating apps for a month, with a friend the other night, he posed a question about my experience with the challenge that should have been easy to answer: What was my biggest takeaway from it? What had I learned?
I opened my mouth to speak, but despite feeling like I should have had an answer ready, I said nothing. It was a more difficult question to answer than I'd anticipated; not because I hadn't learned anything, because I had (a lot, in fact) but because I felt like a bit of a fraud telling him the truth.
The problem between myself and dating was never to do with the fact that I exclusively used apps — it was that I wasn't content being single, despite the fact I often said I was.
The problem between myself and dating was never to do with the fact that I exclusively used apps — it was that I wasn't content being single, despite the fact I often said I was. After completing App-less April, I feel like being single is what I need right now; in fact, I'd go so far as to say I think apps can be a great resource to meet people to casually date, just as long as you take them as just that: Casual, and a resource.
The truth is, just like we can't work or live the same way we did before technological advances like email and smartphones came into the world, we simply can't date like we used to anymore because these apps do exist — and that's not a bad thing at all. Before App-less April, I'd been in a place where I was putting far too much weight on the fact that I used them so often but still had no real connections to show from it, when I really should have been appreciating the fact that they allowed me to meet people I normally would not have come across at work or in my circle of friends, and how that was actually a good thing.
Because the internet has brought about a multitude of ways to meet people, Gen Y has been conditioned to believe there's always someone better than our someone out there.
This isn't to say that meeting someone IRL as our parents and our parents' parents did is impossible — it's actually how most people are still meeting their partners today — it's just that because the internet has brought about a multitude of ways to meet people, Gen Y has been conditioned to believe there's always someone better than our someone out there. We have the choices, and we have the freedom to do as we choose; these circumstances have allowed us time to feel hopeless about dating in a way our parents never had time to (not to mention time to make up new and fun ways to torture our potential romantic partners, like ghosting and breadcrumbing), but it's also allowed us time to feel like we have the freedom to find our perfect partners without settling in a way that, unfortunately, some of our elders never got to experience. It's a give and take, in a way — deeper pain than our parents experienced and deeper happiness than they experienced are mutually exclusive when it comes to dating in 2017.
Appreciating dating apps and seeing them in a whole new light isn't all App-less April did for me, though: it's also made me appreciate being single, more than ever before. In the past, as much as I hate to admit it, I think due to my struggles with body dysmorphia and anxiety, I was constantly looking for someone to make me feel worth the kind of love I wanted to feel, as opposed to giving it to myself and letting a significant other be a nice addition to my life. This is unhealthy behavior, and I see that now; I wouldn't want to be let anyone, especially some dude, have that kind of power over how I feel about myself and my life. I need to love being single and love myself before I let someone else into my life.
I'm not saying that deleting my dating apps for a month and learning how to really feel comfortable being single has magically fixed all my issues with body dysmorphia and anxiety, of course — that takes lots of time and lots of cognitive behavioral therapy — but it has helped me realize that those are things I need to address before I think about entering a serious relationship with anyone. There's a reason there are studies backing up the phrase "we attract who we are": If you're not fully at peace with yourself, you're going to attract people who are in similar places, and that's more often than not a recipe for disaster.
"I suggest a break to my clients all the time," says Ravid Yosef, dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "Sometimes our energy is what's attracting others and if we don't have enough self-care in our life or get obsessive with our notifications, we start looking for validations outside of ourselves. Which in turn attracts the wrong kind of attention."
I still don't know whether I'll return to dating apps right away now that App-less April is coming to an end, but I do think I will at some point; not to go about finding a partner (though if that happens naturally, great), but instead to meet people and just appreciate being a young, single woman. Because if I'm not appreciating it, how is anyone else going to?