And I always go out.
I am what you would call a typical late bloomer. I only went on a first date just before my twentieth birthday. I didn’t even kiss a boy before (there’s nothing wrong with that, by the way!). I’ll admit it right away – boys scared me.
My first experiences with dating were during the 2020 lockdowns, all from dating apps (and I’ll be honest…they sucked). My misadventures consisted of talking too much on Bumble or Instagram DM (the dreaded ‘conversation phase’), leading to an awkward date situated between one of many brief gaps in the lockdowns.
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It’s fair to say that my introduction to dating as an adult was unimpressive at best. At worst, it was downright crap. A year after using “the apps”, I was still painfully single (despite my best efforts) and feeling exhausted from dating. The endless sweeping grind made me feel uneasy, detached and extremely anxious. Oh, and I was casually sexually harassed almost daily.
On second thought, I can’t believe I’ve used dating apps for as long as I have. The easiest thing to do would have been to delete Hinge and Bumble and move on. This is the dilemma – my self-esteem was at rock bottom and I relied heavily on these validation apps.
I constantly needed people to tell me that I was “sexy” or “beautiful”. Those compliments provided me with fleeting moments of reassurance that would quickly dissipate, leaving me wanting more. The cycle found me slipping maniacally for months, resulting in nothing but unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
After a few months of shitty dates and talking stages, I finally hit the wall with dating apps. I had been in too many situations where I was in a guy who “didn’t know what he wanted” (surprisingly common and super annoying) and felt a little too hurt to continue. A friend pointed out that dating apps might not be for me (which was totally fine).
When I turned that around in my head, it made sense. I’m sensitive and quite shy, so putting myself in line to be judged by men made me feel vulnerable and in danger. It seemed like such a simple solution, it hadn’t really occurred to me before. So I did – and remove these apps felt like a weight on my shoulders.
As I pondered whether or not to delete, a combination of work, college, and friends (no more lockdowns) led to a very full and busy life. I went out often – on campus at university, working in a cafe or in a bar with friends. So despite the fact that I had deleted the dating apps from my phone months ago, my love life hadn’t stopped — it just looked different.
To me, dating now feels like meet someone organically and swap Instagrams, set a date and hang out. It’s cute, it’s fun, and it’s a lot less stressful. There are no long weeks of talking and trying to figure out what the other person wants. There is an understated simplicity to this.
In case you were wondering if the apps are hurting or helping you, I thought I’d let you know what helped me. Something that got me out without apps is my (newly in development) self-confidence. Having the ability to reassure myself when I feel insecure—instead of turning to men I barely know—has given me so much power.
Plus, I learned (and am still learning) to accept being single. Taking the pressure off of finding a relationship (i.e. more dating “goals”) has allowed me to just enjoy my dating life.
If you’ve had a similar experience, I recommend rethinking apps. I know a lot of people are thriving online, but I’ve accepted that dating apps just aren’t working for me right now. I spent my time feeling extremely insecure, anxious and sometimes in danger. I think it’s all worth it, as long as you feel comfortable and happy.
To learn more about removing dating apps, go to here.