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.
When I first made the decision to try out Bustle's App-less April challenge, I did so with trepidation. I've used dating apps as my sole means of meeting potential romantic partners for the past few years. In response to people who would ask me why I needed to use dating apps, I bemoaned the difficulty of meeting people in real life. Dating apps, I reasoned, were much more convenient and straightforward. On a swiping-based dating app, I felt like users were making snap decisions based on appearance alone — and anyone who matched me or messaged me I could be sure was interested in me. Real-life interactions simply didn't provide that certainty. They were encumbered by vulnerability and the terrifying risk of rejection. Additionally, I told myself that dating apps were full of thousands of possibilities, so I was bound to meet my perfect match someday.
"Dating apps may increase the number of people we’re exposed to, but this isn’t necessarily in our best interest," Dr. Emily Morse, a sex and relationships expert and the host of Sex With Emily, tells Bustle. "With such a surplus of matches, there’s no incentive to stop looking for the 'next best thing.' We’re never satisfied, so we keep swiping, which stops us from letting anything develop. Out in the real world, there aren’t as many opportunities to chat someone up, so we put more effort into those interactions and feel more grateful to have had them. And when we try harder to accomplish things, we feel better about them overall."
As I take a step back and gain perspective, I realize how much dating apps gave me a skewed perception of dating and of people.
Dating apps became a toxic fixture of my life that crept their way into my everyday routine. Between classes, I opened my phone and swiped right and left on my prospective matches. The process became monotonous, almost mechanical. My notifications were constantly inundated messages from people defined only by their name, age, photos, and a 140 character description. Without fail, my interactions were brief and lacking any substance. They all felt transactional, and I knew that each of my matches was talking to several other people. We were all playing the same, superficial game — swiping right to see what else is out there. My Friday Tinder date would be followed by a Saturday Tinder date with a different person but the same exact structure — meaningless, awkward conversation followed by hooking up. I was trapped in an endless cycle of instant gratification.
My detox from dating apps has given me the time and mental space to reflect on my emotional needs and desires and how dating apps align with them. As I take a step back and gain perspective, I realize how much dating apps gave me a skewed perception of dating and of people. I've taken a great effort to push aside my insecurities and fears and to attend public events and venues. I've started engaging in conversations with new people and I'm working on forming new relationships.
I never again want to lose my curiosity and I never want to stop experiencing those wonderful butterfly-like feelings.
My actions and intentions have been directed towards attracting positive energy and love this month. I now see that my real-life interactions are filled with butterflies and excitement. As I walk up to introduce myself to a new man, I can feel my mind brimming with curiosity. I feel intrigued by watching his body language, seeing the spark in his eyes has he introduces himself. I love watching his face light up as he talks about his passions and interests. Dating apps never gave me these feelings. My matches were all just names behind a screen, completely depersonalized.
App-less April has pushed me out of my comfort zone and thereby fostered my personal growth. I used to be occupied by meaningless interactions with people through my phone screen on a daily basis. But now, my day is filled of beautiful possibilities of the amazing, intellectually-stimulating interactions that I can engage in with new people. I've detoxed from dating apps and I will never go back. I seek to engage in meaningful conversations with depth and emotion. I never again want to lose my curiosity and I never want to stop experiencing those wonderful butterfly-like feelings.