Whether dating apps are causing a "dating apocalypse" or are merely the easiest way to get a date, there's no denying these tools have been total gamechangers in the dating scene within the last few years. And 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.
Before I began App-less April, Bustle's challenge to delete your dating apps for a month, I was completely dependent on dating apps such as Tinder to meet my romantic partners. My relationships ran the gamet from purely sexual to casual hookups. What I truly desired out of my romantic life was love and commitment, but because of dating apps, I was settling for casual sex. My desires never aligned with the people who I was interacting with, so even though my apps were constantly full of matches and new messages, I felt unsatisfied and empty. My physical, sexual needs were on some level being met, but my need for love and for someone to connect with me on a higher spiritual level was being totally untouched.
When I began this challenge, my initial feelings were that characterized by intense anxiety and fear. For years, I've relied on dating apps as my sole matchmaker. The ease of having my dating life readily manipulated at the swipe of my fingers had become all too comfortable for me. Not only was I relying on dating apps to at least give myself the impression that I was meeting my emotional needs, I was using them as a social crutch.
In real life, I felt shy and ridden with anxiety at the mere thought of introducing myself to new people. Behind the comfort of my phone screen, I felt safe. I could control who was doing the rejecting and initiating the conversation. The Tinder equivalent of "rejection", which would potentially be a match who doesn't message me back, didn't hurt with the same bite as it would in real life. "I suggest a break to my clients all the time," says 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."
Now that I have purged my life of all of my dating apps, I've had to adapt out of necessity in order to meet new people. In order to truly break from my toxic reliance on dating apps, I needed to develop aspects of my personality that have never fully manifested themselves before. During this challenge, I've been making an effort to attend public events and find other ways to form new relationships with people.
I have learned that the guys across the bar from me are actually happy to strike up conversation with me — and actually, they admire my boldness.
App-less April has pushed me completely out of my comfort zone, and it has taught me that my fears about my social interactions and rejection are unfounded. I've learned that the guys across the bar from me are actually happy to strike up conversation with me — and actually, they admire my boldness. The couple sitting across from me at brunch also is eager to make friends. From this challenge, I've learned that I'm perfectly capable of thriving in social situations as an independent woman.
Hiding behind the phone this entire time was a young woman who simply needed a push in the right direction to show her that she is lovable and worthy of meaningful, non swipe-based, relationships.