In April, I made a decision: I deleted Hinge. It was the last of the dating apps left on my phone.
In addition to Hinge, I’ve tried Tinder, Bumble, The League, and JDate and probably spent hundreds of hours scrolling through them hoping to find that coveted long-term relationship.
But I’m still single. And I’m so tired.
What at first seemed like a fun, low-stakes way to engage in the wild world of dating, turned into a frustrating and aspiring chore.
After five unsuccessful years, I will only be dating in the real world from now on.
I was late for applications.
I didn’t really dive in until 2017 when I decided to try Tinder for a month. I arranged two to three appointments a week for a month. At the time, this was all quite new and exciting. Who were these strangers making passes on my phone?
I decided to continue.
Over the past five years, I’ve had at least 50 dates with 50 different guys. I think I clicked with maybe five of them and ended up going out with two for several months.
If we consider the latter a success, that’s a 4% success rate – depressing odds.
That’s not to say that I think it’s impossible to meet someone good on a dating app. Today, online dating is the most popular way for heterosexual couples in the United States to meet, according to a 2019 study by researchers at Stanford University and the University of New Mexico.
But me, personally, I was not so lucky.
What I found on these apps instead was: frustration at all the wasted effort, fury that it rarely worked for me, fear that it would never work for me, and a general feeling of exhaustion professional.
I know I am not alone. Nearly half (45%) of Americans who used dating apps or websites in the past year said the experience made them more frustrated, according to an October 2019 Pew Research Center survey of 4,860 American adults.
While chatting with friends and reading various media outlets about modern dating, I discovered that people have all sorts of legitimate gripes: matches don’t respond, texts are ghosted, people get nude photos they don’t. didn’t ask.
To me, no matter how real a person’s photos, how accurate their description, or how serious they are about texting, no digital profile could ever represent a whole person.
He cannot even represent the majority of a person. Technology is too flat, superficial and limited in space to capture someone.
Also, importantly, these apps cannot predict chemistry. Only a meeting can give an idea of both what a person is and if you click.
What I discovered from dating these 50 app guys is that if I had met them in life before swiping or liking or texting, I would have known I was not not interested. I would have known there was no spark.
“Think of it as if you were going to play a slot machine,” says Devyn Simonedating coach and senior matchmaker at Three Day Rule, odds of meeting someone on the apps. “Do people win at slots? Absolutely… But how many times do people gamble without winning?
You can’t hurry love
At 36, I’m trying to be more intentional about how I spend my time. There is evidence of this kind of attitude improves well-being. And the more intentional I become, the less patience I have for optional activities that make me quite miserable, including online dating. They just aren’t worth it.
It’s been five months since I deleted the last of the dating apps on my phone.
Now instead of swiping and chatting with guys whose vibes I can’t gauge and meeting only to force a conversation, I catch up with my grandma or read plays or see friends hang out upright (“just for us” has been so good).
Life is not without regular frustrations (I had the Covid a few weeks ago, for example). But it’s devoid of the drudgery of scrolling through random profiles and sending meaningless texts and filled, instead, with activities and people I like.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m afraid I’ll never meet anyone after this move.
Uncertainty is a generator of anxiety, Russell Ramsay, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, told me once. And a life without a constant flow of “options” is nothing if not uncertain.
But I also put myself in more situations where I have the assurance of meeting people. I joined a writing group and took screenwriting and acting classes this year.
I created space for more in my life.
Whether or not these experiences put me in front of the man of my dreams, I am inspired and find joy and fulfillment in ways I had not realized.
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