How Deleting My Dating Apps Has Helped Me Date With Intention

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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.

With App-less April over, the question is: Will I go back on my dating apps? While there are pluses and minuses to using dating apps versus not, I found that the pluses have outweighed the minuses. At the beginning, it was difficult living without dating apps — or at least the thought of them. They were like a dating security blanket — if I'm not meeting anyone at this party, I can always Bumble/Tinder/Happn/Hinge later. Yes, apps, give us ~endless~ choices, which I think is more detrimental than not.

"Connecting digitally gives us the illusion that we're in contact with a lot of people, but the human connection gets lost through email and social media," Raeeka Yaghmai, a certified coach, dating and relationship expert, professional opera singer, and CEO of Dating with Confidence™, writes for Bustle. "It's so important to interact with people around you in real life, so make an effort to hang out with your friends and family. This will help build your sense of community and support while dating, and it also helps you to ground yourself and to approach dating from a more secure mindset. (Note: Just make sure those you connect with are supportive and positive about your dating —avoid people who support any limiting beliefs around dating, love, and relationships.)"

As Yaghmai says, human connection gets lost, digitally speaking, which is another reason I don't want to get on my dating apps again now that App-less April has ended. Here are a few more reasons I don't want to get back on my dating apps again anytime soon.

No questions asked, when you're not on dating apps, you're looking at your phone less. A LOT less. And if you're not looking at your phone as much, you can look around more IRL. After all, your soulmate could be right across the room. But, if you were too busy swiping right or left, how will you ever meet him or her? "Treat dating like it's a social experiment," Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and author of the relationship blog, You’re Just A Dumbass, tells Bustle. "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)."

No doubt about it, dating apps are time-consuming. When you delete them, you'll see how much more time you have on your hands (literally and figuratively!). Not only will you have more mental space and energy to use on other things (versus what to say to this match or that match), but you'll have more time to connect with you — the person who matters most. Yes, that may sound corny, but it's true. You can do more of the hobbies you enjoy, or try out new ones.

TBH, I thought I'd miss my dating apps more. After all, I met my last few boyfriends through them (Bumble, Happn, Tinder, and Hinge), so I'm not against them by any means. However, it's been nice not to have to juggle several digital conversations at once, worry about being ghosted, or set up date after date in hopes that THIS ONE will be good. Overall, it's nice not to have to worry about the apps and all that's involved.

Being off dating apps means going on fewer dates, which is completely fine. As I said above, it allows you to focus on one person at a time (or a few) versus trying to keep track of what conversation you're having with which match. And what date is Friday and which one is Saturday? Plus, when you first meet someone IRL, it's like a pre-date, and you can eliminate them from your dating pool if you don't click. So, time saved for both of you. Plus, with dating sites and apps, there's a sense of urgency to get back to people — right now! You don't want the match to disappear or for someone else to win them over first with that clever response they wrote just using emojis! But with meeting people IRL, the match can't disappear, so to speak, if they're standing right in front of you at a party. ;)

Sure, it's easy to be dismissive with potential matches on dating apps — swipe left, swipe left, swipe left. You may have a valid reason, like the match states he/she just wants a hookup and you don't, or you may have a more superficial reason, like you don't like his/her taste in clothes. But when you're off dating apps and have more time to yourself, you naturally have more time to assess what you want in a partner. "Choosing a quality partner is one of the most important decisions we will make: we are literally inviting someone else into our lives, trusting, sharing, and being vulnerable with them," Yaghmai writes. "While on the journey to find love with a quality partner, every experience is an opportunity for learning more about ourselves and our needs in a relationship. Write down what you've learned, what you want to change and create, and most of all, who you need to be to create your love life's vision. Avoid outlining how tall or good looking they should be, or how much money you want your partner to make — focus on what you want to feel and experience."

I don't know about you, but I think Yaghmai's advice is spot on, especially the part about writing it all down. "When you come back to online dating after App-less April or however long you decide to take a break for, you'll be more confident in who you are and how you want to show up, as well as more accustomed to the feeling of there being a person behind that profile picture and text.

All in all, deleting my dating apps was a great experience. Though I may go back on them someday, I'm in no hurry for that someday to come. And, after all, who knows? Maybe by the time "someday" comes around, I'll have a partner I met IRL.

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