How Dating Apps Add To The Pressure Of Being Single

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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.  

No matter how independent and happy a woman is, for some reason, it's often still assumed that she would rather be in a relationship than spend another day single. Add in dating apps to the mix, and the idea that you're not actively pursuing a relationship, from the comfort of your phone, seems downright crazy. But I can tell you that single life is by no means a state of purgatory where you're waiting it out until you finally find someone.

I'm single, I'm not on dating apps, and — guess what?— I'm really happy that way. Some people have trouble being on their own, outside the comfort of a relationship, but that doesn't mean you have to feel that way. I certainly don't. That voice in your head, or coming from those around you, saying you're wasting your time is false.

"Everyone around you is online. If they’re not coupled off and in a relationship, it feels like everyone is online dating," Samantha Burns, relationship counselor and dating expert, told Bustle during a Facebook live dating app for App-less April, a challenge to delete your dating apps for a month. "So it doesn’t give you a lot of room to feel that it’s OK to be single or OK to invest in your hobbies and friends and do other things. There’s this ongoing pressure that you need to be online if you’re not partnered off."

Here's how else dating apps put pressure on singles, according to dating and relationship experts.

"I think dating apps put you in a mode of constantly evaluating other people and comparing yourself to other people," Francesca Hogi, life and dating coach, tells Bustle. "Just questioning, did I say the right thing in that message? or is this person going to find me attractive enough? So it’s just that cycle of always scrutinizing yourself in a critical way." Take a step back and realize how awesome you truly are no matter what your relationship status is.

The person you project through your dating profile and the matches you see may not always be the true versions of each of you "The perfectionist profile is the issue with online dating because a lot of the time you put your best self forward," former Bachelor star and lifestyle and love blogger, Caila Quinn tells Bustle. "Which is great and amazing but its almost a wall and you almost feel guilty like you have to live up to this perfectionist that doesn’t exist."

If you've used dating apps in the past, odds are you've taken note of how many matches you were getting. "There’s always a tab count," Susan Winter, professional love and life mentor, tells Bustle. "So its a plus or a minus. Are you up today? Are you down today? Did they like you? Did they chat you up? Did they drop you? So that’s impacting our self-esteem."

First, if you do decide to use dating apps, it should be because you want to, not to please anyone around you who can't accept that you're happily single. If you are on an app, especially if your heart's not in it, the idea of dating can begin to feel like a chore. A sort of "duty dating" as Winter explains it. You're constantly feeling obligated to talk to more people and go on dates with matches you might not be that interested in.

And, if anyone asks the most annoying question of all: why are you single?, remember these words of wisdom from Hogi, "Being single is a choice for a lot of people. Being single is really a time for you to learn so much about yourself and have experiences and adventures that you couldn’t have if you were in a couple necessarily. Being single is a really powerful time and people should embrace it. You can love being single and still be looking for a relationship with someone. Those things can co-exist."

Dating apps are not the end-all-be all in relationships. Take the time to explore your interests and passions. You have your whole life to find a relationship, if that's what you want. Who knows, maybe you'll even find it offline too.

Check out the dating panel below for more dating tips:

Join the campaign and share your stories with #ApplessApril and ​by ​tagging @Bustle.