Deleting dating apps changed my life in six months

By on July 16, 2022 0

Six months ago, I made the decision to indefinitely delete my dating apps, which I had been using on and off for a decade. Nothing dramatic or terrible had happened. I didn’t date someone so toxic that he completely denied me dating. In fact, Patrick, the Hinge guy I was dating just before I deleted the app, was kind, smart, and in many ways what I’d look for in a partner. In fact, it was for him that I deleted Hinge and Bumble, my go-to apps at the time, earlier this year. Because I had lost the desire to “chat” with several people at once – who even has the time? – and I figured I could always re-download the apps if we ever had to break up.

But after a few months (and an honest but disappointing conversation), it became clear that we just weren’t in mutually compatible situations to continue dating. As often happens with early romances, we crumbled rather than imploded. But there was also something moving about it; the time I had invested in getting to know someone I would never see again. Shared memories that no longer had a home. The secret hopes I had had for our immediate future as a couple: planning trips, spending Sundays together, sitting on either side of the sofa or lying in bed reading our respective books in a comfortable silence (am I the only one who has this as a romantic fantasy?)

When we stopped seeing each other, I immediately felt the familiar urge to download the apps again – as I had done time and time again, from time to time, over the past decade since the launch of Tinder in 2012. But I resisted — and instead chose to process the disappointment I felt at losing the thing-that-could-have-been-a-thing. I felt better after a week or two. But I had had a revelation. I wasn’t necessarily going to find another Patrick right away. I should be back on the dating apps for a while, kissing some frogs… and what effect would that have on me?

What I realized was that there was an opportunity cost for every Sunday I spent sweeping; the non-starting dates where I spent my Thursday evening; the month or two I spent dating exclusively. Not so much because it kept me from meeting ‘The One’. It was a factor, sure, but I wasn’t just potentially missing a Big Love. I regularly missed out on a Great Life: traveling; reading; learning; maintain relationships of all kinds.

I gave IRL connections a chance

At first, I decided to channel my dating app hiatus into focusing on real-life romantic relationships, and it was a rewarding exercise. I reconnected with my Mr What-If, someone I had dated the year before, “giving things a chance” for a few weeks before realizing we were right to end things the first time. and heal my weak regret in the process. I called up a DJ I had instant chemistry with at a bar and stayed in touch with ever since – we had a few fun dates. Nothing finally went anywhere, but I felt like there was a greater level of mutual respect and communication, because the foundation of our relationship with each other was more than pixels. You know that old proverb, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? I would say a connection made in person is worth two on an app. Eventually I stopped putting pressure on those relationships with the opposite sex, wondering if theyAs me” loved me. The reason I was able to do this I think was because I was no longer used to spending hours sweeping alone while waiting for a game (or not). Over time, this abstinence had helped me heal from addiction to romantic “wins”—the ups and downs, the feeding of my ego, and the gamification of my heart. I spent an evening flirting with an event photographer, then a man I met unexpectedly during a 24-hour layover at the airport, without even trying to analyze whether these relationships were more than friendly on their side. For once, I didn’t care. Eventually, I decided to take a conscious break from the whole thing. Which brings me to my next point…

I developed an abundance mindset

When I think about the relationships in my life right now, my worries aren’t “He didn’t text me back?” or “Are we going to match”? Without that immediate, pressing feeling of the next romantic prospect, my mind is more likely to wander to the people I love the most and feel excited about – how they are or our future plans together. I’ve always been lucky to have friends and family that I can rely on and have intimate and fun conversations. And it’s only been for a few years that I’ve been enjoying it. Such is our societal fixation on romantic relationships that for a long time I didn’t see the love that was always there. Recognizing that, my overflowing cup, I’m not fixated on the text I didn’t receive, I gratefully celebrate the amount of love in my life. Likewise, I live in London, a big city full of dynamic people; the events are back after the pandemic and since the world opened up, I have traveled a lot too. It was by capitalizing on these social opportunities that I remembered that there are so many wonderful people in the world. This is in direct contrast to dating apps, where you filter until it feels like you’re browsing the same three people over and over again, leading to a scarcity mindset. Now that I’ve looked up from my phone screen, the world seems bountiful again.

I plan more strategically

I used to leave most Thursday nights open, in case I could plan a date for then (I realize that’s the premise of the new dating app, Thursday, but I was in ahead of my time). Likewise, in the early days of dating, one or more parties (and in a heterosexual relationship this is almost always the woman) will likely leave “just in case” room in their weeks or weekends, for the person they are seeing. In my experience, this has often led to disappointment when that person i) isn’t free (fair enough) or ii) never suggests meeting up, so you end up in a weird tussle where you don’t don’t want to offer it Again (just, some people aren’t planners, but it’s always nice when both parties pull their weight). Anyway, with those two things off the agenda for a while, I’m planning my weeks with real, concrete plans, just the way I like them. And it’s fabulous.

I learned conversational Spanish

So this one will take a little explanation. I realized that dating app technology, like many apps, is built around video game technology: with a system of “rewards” based on satisfying colors, sounds, and notifications that get you hooked. Anyway, I wasn’t about to try to outsmart a software engineer from Silicon Valley (although by the way changing your phone settings from color to black and white box reduce addictive effects). What I decided to do, however, is to replace my addiction to dating app technology with one that might serve me better: DuoLingo. For the first month or so without dating apps, every time I grabbed my phone and instinctively scrolled to where my dating app was, I encountered my DuoLingo app instead — and it spurred a daily practice of Spanish. I’ve now learned just over 2,000 words, which means I’m well on my way to conversational Spanish (which they say is 3,000) and I’m one-tenth of the way to fluency , which is calculated at a minimum of 20,000 words. Will it ever make it easier to meet a cute Spaniard? Maybe – watch this space.

I have traveled to five countries

Having abandoned the (erroneous) idea that a simple right swipe could change my life, I let myself travel once again without fear that it would take me away from the prospect of meeting someone, or developing things. with someone I only dated for a week or two. As a result, I have seriously exercised my travel wings this year, visiting five countries: Spain (Valencia and Barcelona), Italy (Florence), France (Bordeaux, Colombia (everywhere) and Abu Dhabi. Some of these trips are for work , others for fun. But one thing is for sure; I would never have pushed myself to take them if I was on dating apps right now.

I read more than ever

Throughout my dating years, I think a lot of what I was looking for was the excitement of getting to know a person – first, the romantic hope of a first encounter, then taking the layers of someone and getting to know them in a complex way. At times in my life when that hasn’t been possible (namely, as a shy teenager, or during sexless times like the Christmas holidays or, say, a global pandemic), I’ve turned to the books for the same enthusiasm. Because in the same way that you invest in getting to know a partner, you invest in a character – it’s not a cliché to say that you really fall in love, and so often the best love stories are also written in books. And even though I won’t hide forever in this world of escape, I enjoyed reading wonderful novels like Chemistry lessonsWhere Cleopatra and Frankenstein, and consider it a way to keep my footing safely in the romantic world. Because you might regret dating someone who ghosts you, but you’ll almost never regret reading a novel.

I’m glad to meet someone again

Over the past few months, I’ve been happier than ever. I’ve been through situations I might once have struggled with: attending weddings alone, eating solo at romantic restaurants full of couples. I don’t freak out about missing The One anymore because I realized that the biggest fear was missing out on My One Life (which, right now, I’m living to the fullest).


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