This Is The *Best* Thing I've Ever Done For My Single Life

by Natalia Lusinski

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.

On April 1, I began participating in App-less April, Bustle's challenge to delete your dating apps for a month, and it’s the best thing I've done for my single life. Not only have I become more present in IRL situations, but I stress ~way~ less about dating — and what someone on an app may or may not be thinking ("Why hasn’t he written me back," "When will he write me back," "Was my message not witty enough," and soon).

"I suggest a break to my clients all the time," 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."

Guilty! Yep, I wasn't investing enough in myself. As a result, I wasn't clear about what I truly needed and wanted in someone. Dating apps became an addictive way to get external validation — look at all the matches! However, lots of matches does not mean they’re the right matches. I mean, if you ask any of your friends, they all probably have lots of matches. It's what you do about them, though. That said, this is why deleting my dating apps has been the best thing I've done for my single life.

By omitting dating apps from your life, you get to see who woos you in person: Is it the person you see reading to kids at the volunteer event you signed up for? Or is it the person sitting across from you in the bookstore, and you happen to be reading the same book? "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)."

Exactly! Do I want to date someone who spends every Saturday reading to kids? Yes! Do I want to date someone like the guy at the bar who's been drinking beer after beer in a short amount of time? No!

I thought I was social when dating apps were in my life. But, without them, you not only say "yes" to more in-person events, but to new experiences. Maybe you ask a friend to go to the new rock climbing gym with you this weekend, so you agree to go to a Meetup event with her the next. Plus, you never know where you will meet someone IRL. The answer is definitely NOT on your couch. "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."

Though you and I probably don't like to admit it, when we're dating someone — or dating lots of someones via our dating apps — our friends tend to fall by the wayside. But without those distracting apps in our lives, we have ~so much more~ free time, which means more time for ourselves, as well as our friends. Plus, if they're participating in App-less April, too, that means they're not distracted by their dating apps anymore either. A win-win. And now you can talk about way more things with each other than your dating apps!

If you add up all the time you spend matching with people on apps and messaging back-and-forth, not to mention the actual dating part, it ends up being a LOT of time. For instance, perhaps you match and message with people for 30-60 minutes per day. And if one first date is two hours, minus commuting time, and you multiply this by the number of dates you have per week, goodbye free time. And, you may have pre-date phone calls, too, anywhere from a half-hour to at least an hour apiece.

So, with all this non-app free time, I've used it to do more things I enjoy, from exploring new neighborhoods to eating at a new café that just opened. In essence, more me time means more time dating myself — seeing what I like to do and don't like to do, as well as see what I'd like to do more of. So, when it comes time to dating someone again, the dating activities and venue possibilities will be endless. Most importantly, I've been reminded that I'm happy alone. And if you or I cannot be happy alone, how will things go when someone else is in the picture?

Though dating apps can be tremendously efficient — you can match with someone, message a few times, and be on a date with them tonight, if you so choose — they also inadvertently add pressure to your dating life. After all, the whole point is to match, message, and meet up with someone. Annnd, friends are bound to ask you how it's going — the dating apps become endless conversation topics. But when you don't have dating apps in your life, a lot of the pressure is off. If you meet someone at your friend's birthday party this weekend, great. If you don't, great — you still had a good time and you went to the party to celebrate your friend, not to scope out every single person in the room. Like experts (and friends and family!) often say, you'll meet someone when you least expect it. And without apps in your life, that sentiment seems even more true.

Without question, when I stopped using dating apps, it was the best thing I could have done for my single life. Plus, come May 1, I'm not going to reinstall them. I've enjoyed the time off from them so much, what's another app-free month or two (or more)?

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