Deleting Your Dating App as an Act of Faith
Internet memelord Tank Sinatra made a cheeky post about now-Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle a few weeks ago. Piggybacking off the royal wedding hoopla, he compared an old photo of Markle looking like a deer in headlights with one of her and Prince Harry beaming and newly betrothed, sans-serif-ly stating something along the lines of “Life without Bumble / Life with Bumble.”
While memes aren’t generally thought of as fountains of truth, this one came across a little sticky. Harry and Markle were set up by a mutual friend, and Tank is in a paid partnership with the Bumble dating app, which already got flack for capitalizing on the royal couple’s engagement announcement last fall with a clever push notification broadcasted to its users. The meme has since been pulled from Tank’s Instagram feed.
According to DatingAdvice.com, one-fifth of current committed relationships began online, and 17 percent of couples who married in the past year met each other via an app. Online platforms also open the floodgates for those seeking casual encounters — in a survey of its readers, Esquire said 47 percent reported using Tinder for hook-ups.
Whatever your intentions, online dating works. But so does meeting people in your day-to-day life, and getting set up by friends and family. No matter your lonely heart or dry spell, no matter how many people tell you they found love on the Internet, opting out of online dating doesn’t mean you’ve taken yourself off the market, nor does it mean you’re not trying hard enough.
Efficiency & Expense
One of online dating’s accolades is that it’s efficient. You type out who you are and what you’re looking for, come across someone attractive and complimentary, and there you have it: a match. You banter, you charm, you set up an in-person meeting to see if those witty texts translate to real-life chemistry. If you’re lucky it does. More likely it doesn’t.
Online dating exposes you to a bigger pool of potential romantic partners, and in many ways dating is a numbers game. But high quantity doesn’t necessarily equal high efficiency. You spend time assembling and tweaking your profile, browsing, messaging, scheduling, then a few hours at an in-person get-together, all for the opportunity to assess chemistry.
If you meet someone in your day-to-day, you already have all the information you need to determine whether or not you want to date them. There’s no need to text extensively or buy someone dinner just to discover if you — or they — are interested. You might not meet as many dating prospects when relying on in-person encounters, but you’ll be far richer in time, energy, and money when you swap six pictures and a few sentences for eye contact and body language.
Real Life Has Merit
I’ve seen guys I know in real life on dating apps — guys I would have been happy to date, or guys I had already dated — but their profiles captured none of their in-person pizzazz. I saw one guy not long ago who I’ve had a crush on for years — had I not already known him, his single picture and vague sentence would have been grounds for a hard left-swipe. And of course there’s the inverse, when a beautiful charmer lights up your phone but materializes as a drab, creepy, and/or very different-looking person you are obligated to drink coffee with for the next hour.
For those who find dating apps gratingly two-dimensional, a courageous greeting at the bar or the store or on the sidewalk is a hell of a place to start.
Online dating can be a godsend for shy or introverted people, people with kids, and folks who don’t—or can’t—get out much. It’s also an ideal platform for those with niche-y romantic interests, for those who feel too different or specific for the mainstream dating scene, and for those who simply enjoy the process of connecting digitally. But if you loathe dating apps and have a reasonably active social life, there’s something to be said for pulling the plug. You will be happier — and more dateable — spending time doing the things you love.
“You’re not trying hard enough,” people say to those of us who are single and not swiping. “You have to put yourself out there.”
Bumble’s marketing team would like you to think this way, too, but I argue the opposite. If you want to meet someone in your day-to-day life, you have to keep your eyes open. You can’t be curled up on the couch six nights a week. And you have to be brave. You have to make eye contact, you have to smile, you have to say hello, you maybe have to find someone on Facebook after the fact and say how nice it was to meet them, you have to ask your friend or acquaintance: Hey, is that person available? Risk and vulnerability are required to make an in-person connection. For those who find dating apps gratingly two-dimensional, a courageous greeting at the bar or the store or on the sidewalk is a hell of a place to start.
It’s also okay if you aren’t trying hard enough, or at all. It’s okay to be without a significant other. It’s okay to be healing and coming to terms with yourself and what you want, or simply doing your own thing. If you are newly single, yeah, that’s the pits. The process of picking yourself up and putting yourself back together post-breakup isn’t glamorous, and sometimes it seems like the only salve for your loneliness is another’s close company. But eventually, someday, the heartache will lift and life is yours to enjoy again, on your own terms.
An Act of Faith
Online dating requires a lot of energy. It takes up brain space. And at a certain point, swipe culture infringes on your life. Instead of spending your minutes doing things that light you up, you’re tending to an app singing with new messages and matches. You’re out on a date with someone who bores you while your friends are at a show or enjoying a meal together. We’ve all seen that person out in the world, surreptitiously swiping while ignoring all the real live people around them.
Just as writing a personal ad, hiring a matchmaker, or signing up for OkCupid can be an act of faith, deleting your dating apps can be, too. Retiring from online dating can be a decision to be more present in the world. It is a reclamation of time and energy, of ease. It demonstrates optimism and trust in the future. It is deciding to believe that what you seek is also seeking you, and you’ll stumble upon it even without the beacon of your personal online billboard.
Amanda Bloom has work published or forthcoming in The Atlantic, Architectural Digest, The Rumpus, Storm Cellar, matchbook, The Cardiff Review, Spectral Lines: Poems about Scientists from Alternating Current Press, and elsewhere. She is a fiction editor at the New Haven Review.