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.
Back when I dated using dating apps, my love life was different. But now, during App-less April, Bustle's challenge to delete your dating apps for a month, instead of being glued to my phone wondering if Guy A, B, or C wrote me back — and what they said! — I'm not concerned about my phone at all and have it put away for hours on end instead of envisioning hypothetical messages from as-of-yet invisible guys.
"Deleting your apps is the first step," dating coach and certified matchmaker Francesca Hogi tells Bustle. "But if you don't change your other behavior, you're unlikely to meet dates offline." Hear hear, right?!
Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and author of the relationship blog, You're Just A Dumbass, has a similar sentiment. "Without apps distracting you, it's time to think about what you really want. Treat dating like it's a social experiment," Silva says. "It really IS. When you are out in public, treat dating like you are collecting data on what you want and don't want. See what combinations of qualities and characteristics better complement you. Don't treat dating like it's a job interview or, when in public, treat it like you are online (approaching everyone to see what sticks or avoiding connecting)."
I love the above, especially Silva's last line — I mean, could you imagine if you or I approached every single person as though we were swiping, quickly dismissing them for this reason or that?! On a related note, as a result of App-less April and meeting people in person, I do not dismiss them as easily as I might have on a dating app. Below are additional ways that being offline, dating app-wise, is changing the way I date.
When people use dating apps, they tend to become ~addicted~. Trust me, I was one of these people. As Bustle's Sex & Relationships Editor, Michelle Toglia, states in this piece about deleting her dating apps, when we're using dating apps, we use them A LOT. "I looked up and down the table at my birthday brunch last week," Toglia writes. "On the right, some friends were discussing their exciting travel plans. On the left, others had their phones pulled out and were pointing and giggling. They were on Hinge. I wondered, had I not been in the center of the table hosting everyone, which conversation would I be in? I feared it was the dating app one. That's when I decided I'm deleting my dating apps for a month."
Hence, App-less April was born back in 2016! And, similar to what Toglia writes above, let me say that, without having the dating apps in my life, I'm not tempted to check them every five minutes (erm, seconds!) to see if someone wrote me back. If you try App-less April, you'll see for yourself!
Like I mentioned above, when you're on a dating app, it's ~way~ easier to dismiss someone based on something small and insignificant, like you didn't like the brown shirt a guy was wearing in one of his profile pictures. SWIPE LEFT. But when you meet someone IRL, their sense of humor or personality can win you over even if they're wearing that brown shirt.
Let's be real — it gets confusing AF to keep track of all the messages popping up in your dating app inboxes, right?! You're past surface conversation with Person A, yet you’re still in the middle of initial getting-to-know-someone messages with Person B. And then there's People C-Z — and that's just on Tinder. Then there are Bumble matches and Happn ones and… you just want to scream! Perhaps you even inadvertently start to ghost some matches, because you only have so much time in the day to write everyone back.
But with App-less April, less IS more, and you can put more time and attention toward Person A — and Person A alone — or Person A and Person B. Plus, chances are, you can get to know each one better and more in depth versus juggling several people on dating apps and definitely dropping a ball here or there (or several).
I thought I was social when I had my dating apps, but without them, it turns out I'm even more so. After all, any time I'd previously devoted to my dating apps is now more time to go out IRL, whether it's alone to a used bookstore or to meet friends. By doing more me-centric activities, I've been meeting more potential dates who naturally have things in common with me — such as the aforementioned used bookstore. So if you stick to hobbies and activities you like to do, you're bound to meet like-minded people while doing them.
"The biggest advantage to meeting potential dates in real life is getting to experience their vibe right away, which is something no online dating platform can deliver," 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. There's no better way to gauge attraction and chemistry than to be physically present with someone."
Not only is App-less April great for meeting possible potential dates IRL, but it's also great for meeting people in a platonic way. Camille Virginia, Founder of Master Offline Dating, agrees.
"I say go for as long as you can without re-installing the apps," she tells Bustle. "Make it a challenge. Push yourself to meet people offline as you simply go about your day. Humans are social creatures — we need in-person interaction with each other in order to feel fulfilled and connected. Dating apps and social media give us a false sense of that connection; it's making us think we're being social when we're not — we're not experiencing other peoples' actual energy. If you're shy, start by complimenting other women. Those thoughts you have of 'Ohhhh, I love her scarf!' that we tend to keep to ourselves — say it out loud to her without hesitation. Then, work your way up to saying 'Hi' to people you're not attracted to. Eventually, after working your social and conversation skills like a muscle enough, you'll be interacting confidently with those you're attracted to and start getting dates in real life, from the airport to the grocery store!"
The biggest way App-less April is changing the way I date is that it's NOT making me miss my dating apps. I mean, think about it — a dating world with less ghosting and breadcrumbing. Granted, it can still happen IRL, but without adding dating apps to the mix, it can happen less. Plus, all the endless choices dating apps provide people with gets overwhelming. I'm finding that the more I live without my dating apps, the less I miss them — so much so, come May, I probably won't reinstall them at 12:01 a.m. on May 1 as I initially thought.
All in all, I'm grateful for the way App-less April is changing the way I date. Being off my dating apps gives me more opportunities to be present in person, and more often. And the best news? You still have time to try App-less April for yourself.