This Is The Most Challenging Part Of Dating Without Apps

by Lindsay Tigar
Oran Tantapakul/Fotolia

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.

I didn’t quite develop carpal tunnel from dating apps (I’ll officially blame that on my career as a writer and content strategist) but over the years I’ve been a single woman in New York, I’ve spent more hours than I’d care to admit, aimlessly (and what felt like, endlessly) swiping, swiping, swiping. Swiping.

About a year ago, it hit me: I’ve spent all of this time online dating, but I haven’t really met anyone that I’m interested in. Sure, I had gone on a few dates that were pretty killer, but far more of them were arguably lackluster at best. I felt like I had given everything it’s fair chance — from Tinder and Bumble to Hinge and even Match — and still, online dating felt a lot like Groundhog Day — doing the same thing over and over again. Wasn’t I crazy to expect a different result, by definition, anyway? So I gave them up.

"I'd say taking a break from dating apps is essential, whether you're on a dating break or actively dating," Camille Virginia, Founder of Master Offline Dating, tells Bustle. "Dating apps aren't reality — lots of people don't even look like their photos, or completely lie about themselves, their interests, their relationship status, what they're looking for, etc. I say go for as long as you can without reinstalling the apps. Make it a challenge."

My dating life (and happiness level) are much stronger since giving up my dating apps. But that doesn’t mean that letting go of a crutch you held on for the majority of your 20s doesn’t come with setbacks. Here’s the hardest part about confirming that, yes, phone, I’d like to delete the app, all of it’s data (and hopefully, it’s karma):

I’ve never been a one-swipe-and-done type of girl. As much as I envy my friends who can approach sexuality in a far more casual way than I ever have, I haven’t used Tinder to hook up or to find a one-night stand. That being said —having a dating app means that, statistically, I go on more dates. And more dates — especially when they’re with guys I see going places — mean that eventually, I’d have sex. Or at least a little somethin’-somethin’ during a sleepover. Nowadays, I definitely don’t lock lips as often as I used to, but when I do, it feels that much more passionate — and meaningful.

Though it seems I spent far less time binge watching these days, when I do go an elusive night-in-for-one, complete with my favorite face mask and a glass of vino, I find myself yawning at the sight of Instagram. Or Facebook. Or my email. I know I should be unplugged and actually appreciating the precious moments of zen, but in actuality? I’m kind of bored AF. Before I deleted my dating apps, I used this time to swipe, and now I have to fill that space with….quiet. Yikes.

While we all say we have the best friends in the whole damn world, I truly do - and they’re all over. From New York and North Carolina to London and far beyond, we can text each other at any given moment and within a few seconds, I’ll be LOLing over my cold cut sandwich at work. While they’re still having swiping adventures worthy of comedic stand-up, mine are quite as disastrous anymore. It’s tough sometimes to listen along and nod intently, and when it comes time for you to share…. Well, you don’t have anything as entertaining to say.

The hardest part for me? Or second-hardest (see the last one below) — is dating less. In every other aspect of our lives, it’s instilled that the more you work, the more you gain — and while that’s true for careers and for exercise, it’s not quite the best strategy in dating. I used to think that more dates would eventually eat quality ones, but by deleting online dating, I go out far less. And thus? I don’t feel like I’m "putting myself out there" in the way that my grandmother suggests I should. But when I think really thoughtfully about it, I realize that the dates I am going on mean more to me and are more fun, than the charades I used to sign myself up for.

Sometimes stare at that Tinder icon in the App Store, wondering if I’m shooting myself in the foot by refusing to swipe. If he *is* online and I’m not there, will I ever find one another?

The optimist in me says that by following my gut — i.e., not being online to bring in the love — I’m more likely to meet someone aligned to my values. Or at least someone who hates app romances, too. Right?

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