Being in a brand-new relationship comes with so many awesome benefits: getting to share new experiences together, having all those getting-to-know-you conversations, and just generally feeling the warm and fuzzy vibes of a new relationship. But thanks to modern dating, there's a pretty good chance you met your new boo on one of the dozens of dating apps out there, which leaves one serious question looming over both of you: when should you delete your dating apps after you start seeing someone?
According to a recent online survey by ReportLinker, six percent of people who are in a relationship are still registered on dating apps. While that percentage might seem small, it's nonetheless a reminder that dating apps have complicated things for singles trying to find love. When you get so used to swiping — on your morning commute, during your lunch break, at the gym — it can be hard to think of it as something other than a game or procrastination tool. "[Dating apps] have made online dating accessible and mainstream, but also more casual and entertainment-focused over relationship-focused," online dating expert Damona Hoffman tells Bustle.
While there's nothing wrong with using dating apps as a form of entertainment, it gets tricky when you meet someone you actually click with. You might feel uncomfortable knowing your new partner probably still has Tinder installed on their phone, but you might also worry that, after only a handful of weeks together, it's 'too soon' to define the relationship and ask them to delete their apps.
"Even if you're not swiping on your dating app, keeping it on your phone represents intrigue and opportunity and the presence of them on your phone can breed mistrust in your relationship," Hoffman says. "The apps should be deleted at the time you decide you are exclusive and you agree that you are not going to be dating anyone else."
Every relationship moves at a different pace, and there's no "right" or "wrong" time to become exclusive (if you want to be exclusive, that is). Even if things are still new, it's never too early to form good communication habits, and one way to do that is by having an open, honest conversation about boundaries and expectations. If you're in a new relationship and have been itching to hit 'delete' on all your dating apps, here are five tips to help your DTR convo go smoothly.
1Talk At A Time When You're Both Relaxed
You don't necessarily need to spring for a couples' massage right before you have the talk, but it's still a good idea to approach your partner at a time when neither of you are stressed, irritable, or preoccupied. Don't tack this conversation onto another issue mid-argument, and don't ambush your partner post-sex when you're all cuddled up and lovey-dovey. Choose a neutral time and place to have the conversation (like during a walk in the park on Sunday afternoon) so you'll both have clear heads and will be better able to articulate your thoughts.
2Don't Have Predetermined Expectations
I know it can be tempting to have an imaginary conversation with your partner to calm your nerves before the main event, but if you spend hours thinking things will play out a certain way, you're almost definitely going to be disappointed with the actual results. "The best way to communicate about the issue is to begin with expressing your point of view without the expectation of a particular result from your partner," Hoffman says.
3Clearly State Your Point Of View
This part is crucial: don't beat around the bush. If you know what you want moving forward, express that to your partner in words instead of dropping hints that they may or may not pick up. Preface the conversation by saying something like, 'I'm really enjoying getting to know you, and I want to make sure we're on the same page about our relationship going forward.' Then try to relax and have an open dialogue with your partner.
4Ask Your Partner How They Feel
Don't just get so caught up in expressing your feelings that you forget to take your partner's feelings into consideration, too. "Rather than saying, 'We're exclusive so you have to take your dating apps off your phone now,' I recommend phrasing it like, 'If we are going to only be seeing each other, I am going to take my dating apps off of my phone. How do you feel about that?'" Hoffman says. "One approach invites a response and an emotional conversation, the other begins with a demand and could cause the partner to resist and rebel even if there is no issue."
5Set Boundaries — And Stick To Them
The only people who can decide what boundaries are right for your relationship are you and your partner. It doesn't matter whether you decide to delete your dating apps for good and move forward as an exclusive couple, or whether you agree that exclusivity should wait a while longer — all that matters is that you communicated your boundaries, and you trust each other to stick to them.
"Using dating apps when you are in a new relationship can harm the connection because the fantasy of being with Mr./Ms. Perfect Profile can be more alluring than the process of learning to communicate and grow into a real relationship," Hoffman says. "But trust me, as an online dating success story myself, a real loving relationship is worth dozens of unrequited swipes." It might not be easy to take the leap and have this kind of conversation, but part of a healthy relationship is learning how to communicate and work through issues, even early on.