I posted a few thoughts about the dating apps on my Instagram Stories on Sunday and got probably close to 100 responses in just a few hours, which made me think it might be a great topic for a blog post to get a little conversation going. Let’s start from the beginning…
I got Tinder in 2012, I believe. I was living in NYC at the time and it was way less taboo to be on Tinder there before it got popular here in Chicago. I was 22, a year out of college, recently single, and brand new to New York City. As I’ve mentioned a million times before, I only knew one person when I moved to New York! So Tinder couldn’t have been more fun for me at that time in my life. I had a laundry list of places that I wanted to go and things I wanted to do in the city, and Tinder dates were such a great way for me to kill two birds with one stone! For a while, my goal was at least one date per week. At the time, I was working my full-time marketing job, trying to grow my blog on the side, and trying to keep in touch with new-found friends, too. Some weeks, I’d go on multiple dates, some weeks I wouldn’t go on any. (And sometimes, two dates in one night, haha. I think that only happened once or twice though! 🙈) And this continued for probably two years!
As Tinder grew more and more popular, more apps popped up… All with a little bit of a different angle. First it was Hinge. Then Happn. Grouper. Coffee Meets Bagel. Bumble. The League. And probably a few others that I’m forgetting, too…
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but living in New York City for those three years wore me the f*ck out. I always tell people that I’m so glad I moved to NYC when I did… I was young, had much more energy than I do now, and couldn’t have been happier leading that crazy lifestyle. Until I started to get really burnt out… After working full-time at two different (and demanding) companies during my time in New York, running my blog practically full-time on the side, dating consistently, constantly networking and going to events, and a lot of travel (for both work and play) mixed in, I was truly exhausted by the time I moved to Chicago in 2015. I averaged about five hours of sleep (on a good night) and was literally burning the candle from both ends for those three (very full) years. I always joke that NYC years are like dog years… Three years didn’t quite feel like 21, but definitely felt closer to ten.
Life felt so much slower when I moved to Chicago, and I was back on the apps for the first year or so that I lived here. And then, to be honest, I just kind of hit a wall with it.
As we all know, my travel schedule has been insane the past four-five years. I traveled so much that last year I lived in NYC, and have traveled practically non-stop since I moved to Chicago almost four years ago! It made it impossible to try to date… You’re having this text conversation with someone, and interested in meeting up, but trying to figure out a time two weeks from now to get it on the calendar. Since you haven’t even met the person, it’s really hard to keep whatever ‘spark’ going when you have no foundation to build on, you know?
It all just felt too forced and too calculated! Not to mention, REPETITIVE. Small talk gets old, thinking of unique questions to ask gets old, trying to keep conversations straight with multiple different strangers gets old. I had been on the apps for FOUR OR FIVE years before I finally just deleted them about two years ago. And for what it’s worth, I’ve had much better luck meeting people in person in Chicago than I used to have in NYC!
But I want to put it on the record that I truly have nothing against the apps. I’ve been on some amazing dates and ended up dating some really great guys from them. I could write a book of all of my hilarious dating stories, especially while I was in NYC! And so many of my friends have met their now-boyfriends, fiancés, and husbands on the apps, too. They’re a great way to meet people you may have never gotten the chance to meet, especially with our increasingly busy lifestyles.
But here’s the thing… Your head and your heart have to be in it! Online dating is a time commitment, and requires a good amount of mental energy. And as is the case with most things in life, you get what you give!
When I finally decided to get off the apps in late 2016, I did so because I realized I was 100% just wasting my time. I was copy-and-pasting the same message to all of my matches. I was hastily responding. I was letting a few days go by before I was replying. I wasn’t putting in the energy to try and convey my personality through text and have thoughtful conversations. So obviously, I wasn’t having much luck meeting great people. I was entirely checked out, and it showed. To be honest, I didn’t even want to be going on actual dates. I would just get on the apps and swipe when I was bored, without any intention of putting in the effort or taking it offline. And if any part of you feels the same way that I did, I encourage you to take a little break.
I’ve been off of the apps for the last two years. Between my travel schedule and a whole bunch of personal stuff that we’ve talked about here and there, I just didn’t have the time or energy to invest in that area of my life. When I fractured my ankle and spent three months in a boot, that’s when I stopped. I didn’t have the confidence to show up handicapped to a date so I just got off the apps all together. (But I will say, that boot was the best conversation starter when I was out! I don’t recommend breaking bones, but if you ever want to borrow my boot, you know where to find me. I’m a size 8.5! 🤪)
Since I’ve been back in Chicago and have been catching up with friends these last few weeks, dating has come up a lot. A friend was telling me that your app profile is actually still on the app, even if you’ve deleted the app from your phone. I felt a little uncomfortable with my photos potentially still circulating on the apps, so I re-downloaded them all (Bumble, Hinge, The League, and Tinder) with the intention of going in and completely deactivating and deleting my profiles on each one.
But I’ll be honest, there have been a good amount of updates since I was last active on them and I was intrigued! Hinge now gives you more ways to interact and more questions to answer to get a sense of personality. I deleted Tinder, but decided to keep Hinge, Bumble, and The League and re-do my profiles… I updated all of my photos to recent pictures within the last six months (all of my old ones were from when I was 25/26 with bleach blonde hair and looking much younger than I currently do, haha #catfished), answered the questions, and made sure my preferences were up to date (aka: increasing the age range I’m interested in, haha). I probably spent an hour or ninety minutes cleaning them up!
But then the morning after doing so, I realized my head and heart just still weren’t in it right now, even if the apps look a little shinier and newer. AND THAT’S OKAY! I took a two year break, but I still just don’t feel like spending the time or energy on the apps, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow, next week, or later this year… If and when I do, I’ve got my updated profiles ready to go. But until then, I’m just focused on being intentional with my time. (And this goes for more things that just dating apps…) No more mindless scrolling or swiping. If it feels right to hop on the apps with the intention of chatting up a few people, I will. If it feels forced, I won’t. And that’s that.
Since I got so many great messages, I thought it might be a fun change of pace to (anonymously) share some of the responses I got on Instagram…
“I 100% agree!! I deleted so I can “do me” and see what happens from there. I kinda miss the random or funny convos with strangers because they entertained me but it’s more out of boredom and they ended up not even leading to dates or the dates sucked. It’s also exhausting thinking of convos just for them to dwindle away. I think it’s good to do a cleanse and remove them for a period of time and you’ll come back refreshed!”
“I was single for the past year (broke up with a college bf) and friends kept telling me to go on the apps. I had no desire. Zero. Then one day this fall I kept hearing positive Hinge stories, decided I was happy being alone and why not just give it a try. My first date ever via a dating app went so well and now we are dating. My point is, don’t go on the apps unless you feel like it! It’s true, you get what you give. You can’t force being excited to swipe! Keep them on your phone and if you feel the urge to swipe then do it. If you don’t, then don’t. Thanks for talking openly about online dating! It’s so normal now and I have so many friends who are burnt out. It’s not easy!”
“I feel this exact same way right now. I just can’t. I feel like that might change in the future, but I don’t think is worth it when you are not in the right mindset.”
“Delete! Best decision ever. And I actually pulled the plug after you posted the article about meeting people in person in one of your round ups. I never realized how much time I was wasting swiping and I am SO much happier. Yes, I wouldn’t have met a (very) few selection of guys that I am happy to have in my life, but was it worth it after swiping for years? Eh, probably no. Learned more lessons about myself than anything lol.”
“The best way to meet someone is through friends! I was introduced to my boyfriend at a bar, 10 years later we are still going strong. Focus on you and the rest will come!”
“I identify with this so much! Just don’t have the mental energy to have the same conversation over and over again with boring men when I could be spending my weekends having a guaranteed good time with my girlfriends.”
“Not going to lie, I was feeling the exact way you do! I gave myself one month off then got back on just Hinge on my planned day. And met my boyfriend exactly one year ago! The break was so mentally helpful! Just a thought :)”
“I just switched out my photos to vacation pics – nothing with me in them – that way I can always redownload and then just switch to photos of me. Seemed easier than starting completely over”
“Totalllllyyyyyy feel you on this. The more I swipe the more I feel discouraged ha it’s truly disheartening. Four of my best friend have met their husbands on tinder/bumble but it’s just not working for me! Gotta meet somebody in the wild I guess. (If only it was that easy…)”
“I feel ya. I downloaded Hinge at the start of the year so I could tell my friends that I was at least trying. Haven’t been on a single date and I find the whole thing so depressing. I’d rather just enjoy my life as is.”
“100% agree with you! I’m just not in the mental state, and that’s ok. We gotta do what’s right for US and remove the pressure there is to be dating all the time in this city.”
“No try for just a little! I’m same age, same (I think) struggle and you really never know!”
“Girl I feel you on this!! I’m the only single girl in my friend group at 31 so I feel the pressure. But honestly, I travel for work so when I’m home, I want to spend it with people I care about, not some random dude who I’ll probably never see again. Not to mention the amount of swipes involved to even come across one decent guy. Ain’t nobody got time for that ✌️”
“Literally hate dating apps, always feels like an extra job, but at 31 I feel a lot of pressure to be on and active with them. Love your attitude of fuck it and letting life just play itself out. A nice reminder that there isn’t just one way to meet people these days”
“OMG I feel you so damn much on this topic. I’m on the same boat, single AF, I’m 30, and I just CAN’T with the dating apps. And I find it really hard to put my reasoning into words, I just CAN’T haha! And like you said, if you’re mentally checked out and just not into it, then it won’t have a positive outcome anyway. But people sometimes don’t understand why I just won’t do it or why I don’t want to and I have literally no words, I just CAN’T 🤣”
“Girl I feel you so much with this!! I find dating apps to be a waste of energy or I just never can find one connection on them.I just believe if you live life to the fullest and be a good person, then hopefully down the road someone comes along and can compliment your lifestyle. It’s so hard tho when all my friends basically force me to go on the apps and “put myself out there” and I’m like but I don’t want to. It’s boring and I’m not interested.”
Have your two cents that you’d like to add? I’d love for you to leave a comment below and continue the conversation!