18 Jul The best thing about dating apps is that you can delete them
I always think that using dating apps is a bit like drinking alcohol. If you’re feeling good, in and of yourself, then scrolling through strangers and starting conversations can be fun and exciting, making you feel dizzy and giddy, like after that first glass of fizz on Friday night. If, however, you’re not feeling so good, your self-esteem has taken a bashing, you’ve had one too many dickpics come your way, then it’s best to avoid it. In the same way that an early night can be much better for you than half a bottle of red, if you’re not quite feeling yourself sometimes it is best to duck out.
My experience of online dating (always Happn, occasionally Bumble, never Tinder or Guardian Soulmates) changed dramatically when I realised this, and namely, that I didn’t have to date all the time just because I was single. When I realised that I could easily delete the app for a few weeks, wipe away all the stress and strains of trying to find someone I fancied or fixing a date in a particularly soulless bar in Liverpool street, I began to feel more in control of the situation, as opposed to the other way round. Before I started taking regular breaks, I’d find myself opening dating apps and mindlessly scrolling though, like I do with Twitter or my Apple News feed – yet another reason to look at my phone. The thing is, these were humans, prospective dates, potential partners. But the addictive action of scrolling, and the thoughtlessness of opening and closing dating apps, meant I reduced those individuals to just images, as if scrolling through the ASOS sale while waiting for the bus.
With the breaks came a renewed focus on just me and what makes me happy. Brunch with friends, walks on the coast with my mum, talks, lectures and exhibitions followed by a glass of wine someone on the river. I’d read and watch the things I really wanted to. I’d only spend time with people I really wanted to. And crucially, when I’d decided to download dating apps again, the Friday fizz feeling returned. I wasn’t scrolling like a zombie, I had fresh eyes and the experience was instantly more positive. This was an active choice that I felt good about, in the right place for – not a bad habit that left me feeling hollow and alone.
I came off Happn (and drinking) for the whole of January a couple of years ago. When I logged back on, I felt calmer, happier, excited by the prospect of who I might meet, instead of bitter and exhausted as I had done by the end of the previous December. I opened the app to find a message from a handsome man called Ed. Reader, I moved in with him, and here we are two and half years later.
It’s easy to think we need technology for our lives to work most efficiently. But actually, sometimes what we really need is a break.