9 January 2017

Dating Diaries: See ya, Tinder

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that yesterday I did a bit of a caption word splurge and confessed to struggling with a few things in my life. If you don’t, then in short: I’m not happy, I want to make some positive changes, and I’ve deleted Tinder.

Whilst I’ll spare you an analysis into the inner workings of my brain (snore), I thought it might be of interest to discuss the last point: deleting Tinder. If it’s not of interest, you’re free to click away, look at memes and watch videos of cats instead. I wouldn't blame you, I'm a huge fan of both...

Last year I was into dating apps in a biiiiiiig way. Sure, I found them annoying, and admitted that maybe they weren’t for me, but still I proceeded to play the game. I know, it makes no sense. But…

Everyone else is on it. Or so it seems. Look through a ‘single’ person’s apps, and you’ll see Tinder, or Happn, or Bumble, or maybe even all three. It’s just something you haveYou might not be committed to it – you might be ‘kind of’ on it. You might not be swiping every night before bed, or whilst watching TV – but when you’re bored, you’ll probably go back to it. I felt like I should be on it. I felt like I should be dating. I should be meeting people.

And sure enough, when I felt twangs of loneliness, or I heard about a couple who’d met on a dating app and it had turned out great, I would go back to it. London can be an isolating city, and in everyday life you’re not necessarily mixing with people you’re likely to have a romantic future with. So yeah, it was my crutch. It felt like the answer to the problem.

I don’t regret using Tinder. I’ve had some funny conversations, encountered interesting people, and been introduced to some seriously cool places. I’ve been on a day trip to Whitstable, done shots in a gay bar, sipped Sauvignon Blanc in an underground vault… and that’s just the beginning. I’ve had fun.

But then there’s the downsides. It would make me anxious if I wasn’t going on dates. It felt like all my friends were in serious relationships, or had somebody in their life, and if I didn’t keep dating, I’d be left behind. I felt insecure. Because of this I’d invest too much emotionally in the people I met – my fault, not their’s – things would go downhill for various reasons, and then I had to go back to the dreaded Square One.

Square One. Oh god, was there anything worse? When you stopped seeing someone, and you had to go back to the swiping, the attempt at witty conversation. The operative word being ‘had’. No one was forcing me, but I felt like I had to keep doing it. Which is ridiculous, right?

It hadn’t occurred to me that I didn’t have to go back to anything. That I could break the cycle. Square one is a made up concept. In reality, you’re not going back to square one, not really. You’re moving on, and going forward.

I’d dismissed the idea that I was going to meet anyone offline. Which is weird. It’s like I’d been told so many times that it was hard to meet anyone IRL that I was convinced dating apps were my only option.

At the end of last year, I had a rocky end to a relationship. Something I thought could actually work. It didn’t. And I was gutted. I came into the new year desperate to go on another date in an attempt to move on, but going back to Tinder just made me feel worse. I hated it. I wouldn’t admit it to myself, but I hated it. And I hated myself for feeling like I needed to be essentially hustling myself for a date.

I met with a friend on Saturday to catch up, and she spoke about how she was planning to spend the year focussing solely on herself, and not worrying about dating. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. The idea seemed too idealistic and laissez-faire to me at first, but on the way home, something clicked.

Why was I worrying about it all so much? I’m 24, not 34. I don’t need to – confession time – spend half an hour before bed swiping through people, wanting to punch myself in the face. I care, sure, I don’t want to die alone – but I don’t care that much.

It’s an irrelevant stress. It’s a stress I don’t need. I need to work, to eat and sleep and spend time with my friends and family. I need to take care of myself. I don’t need to be swiping. I don’t have to be attempting to fill a night a week with a date. I don't need to be with someone.

And so, I deleted Tinder. It felt great. My housemates applauded me. I’ve joined the gym instead. My Thursday night – date night – will be spent with a gym instructor, because I’ve booked in for circuits (kill me now).

Deleting Tinder doesn’t mean I won’t date. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to meet people. I’m open to it. But I’m also open to doing everything I want to do, offline, like going to the cinema, sitting in a coffee shop and people watching, visiting an art gallery, or discovering a new market. Want me? Find me. But it won’t be through an app. You’ll just have to impress me face-to-face.

[I’m thinking of making Dating Diaries a thing, drawing on experiences, insights, things I’ve learned, etc. People don’t talk about it enough. xoxo]

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