After the last date I went on ended up being a total let down, I got in a cab and immediately deleted all my dating apps: Tinder, Hinge, Glimpse, JSwipe, Happn and Loveflutter.
Let me explain: It was a Friday night, and I was minutes away from a drink with a woman who I had only seen in Instagram photos through the Glimpse app.
Over the course of the previous five days, I orchestrated this evening with nothing more than a few swipes on my phone and some text messaging.
Welcome to dating in 2015, where dating apps are the new digital matchmakers.
Dating apps, at their best, can connect you with people you’d never meet otherwise. And at their worst, they’re completely superficial.
Those of you who’ve tried your hand with online dating know this to be true: every date has the potential to be absolutely terrible, regardless of how well you think it will go based on the photos you’ve seen and the texts you’ve received.
This particular date was full of awkward silences, even though our text banter was fantastic. She was attractive, but it was obvious she was using photos taken of her years earlier. And who knows? Maybe I wasn’t who she was expecting to meet either.
The date lasted one drink, and we went our separate ways.
My experience finally proved to me everything that’s wrong with dating apps. And that’s why I quit cold turkey.
People use their best photos…from 10 years ago
I remember one woman I had a drink with that clearly curated photos from years prior and possibly used filters and angles to present herself in a better, more attractive light. She was by no means unattractive in person, but she didn’t look like the woman she clearly wanted potential dates to think she looked like.
This is the biggest risk of dating apps. We are presenting ourselves to a stranger based on the five best pictures ever taken of us.
It’s those pictures where the light catches you just right, your good side is in full focus, everything comes together in that magical moment that makes you think, “Wow! I’d date me.”
And this is fine! Of course we’re going to choose the best photos of ourselves. I’m guilty of it too. Why would we choose the worst? But if you’re featuring a photo of you from 2007, chances are you’ve changed in the last eight years. It doesn’t matter if the changes are good or bad; that’s all subjective. If you’re presenting yourself in one light and appear in the flesh in another, you’ve started off on the wrong foot.
“This is not the person I saw in the pictures” is not a good first impression.
Some people are just better at texting
It’s always a let down to have incredible texting banter with someone and then go on a date filled with awkward silences and pauses. Maybe we over-texted and used up all of the back-and-forth we would have experienced on the date.
Maybe we should have texted while sitting next to each other.
With texting, we can create the perfect message. We can obsess over every word. We can carefully plan out the time we choose to send a text and the time we wait to respond to a text.
Throw in a few emojis and give yourself a few extra minutes to come up with a real zinger of a comeback and everyone seems to have an amazing digital personality.
Texting also gives us the freedom to interpret language as we so desire, which often leads to serious miscommunication.
There’s no tone, no visible emotion and no telling what a wink face truly means. Throw in the fact that you’re texting with someone you’ve never met, and you have a recipe for creating, very easily, the “idea” of the person you think you’re meeting for dinner in a few days.
And usually, in our minds, these people don’t have flaws.
Our anticipation and expectations build, and we put ourselves in this serendipitous, rom-com spirit that often leaves us disappointed.
I was totally addicted
I’m someone who loves meeting women in real life, and I have no problem or fears doing so.
As many people around my age agree, dating apps provide a twenty-four seven outlet to meet people you would otherwise likely never meet, and they provide a streamlined route to a first date. Make the connection, chat in the app, move over to texting and set the first date.
I figured, if technology could increase the range of my dating pool, then God bless technology.
The options for new dating apps seem to grow each week. There’s the original juggernaut, Tinder. There’s JSwipe aka Tinder for Jews, Hinge aka not as creepy as Tinder, Glimpse aka Tinder for Instagram, Happn aka Tinder for people within 5 feet of you and Loveflutter aka the sophisticated Tinder. There are plenty more too. When you search “dating apps” in the Apple Apps Store you yield 3,077 results. I’m not the only one obsessed.
Opening one of these apps, it quickly becomes clear Las Vegas inspired the designers.
The sounds, the celebration when swiping “yes,” the pop up icons and fanfare after connecting with someone each create the emotional attachment of trying to get that next match.
Swiping “no” comes with the opposite attention: you failed, you’re not worthy, this person doesn’t like you. The only way one can get out of that shame spiral is to keep swiping “yes” until successfully matching with someone else.
I would wake up and look at Tinder. I would go to bed and look at Tinder.
I became addicted to the game.
I woke up and looked at the apps. Before I went to sleep, I swiped. Walking on the street I browsed.
A free moment at work and I grabbed my phone (sorry, boss.)
It became so bad I actually developed a pain in my right thumb; what I call “carpal-tinder syndrome.”
I found myself relying solely on dating apps to connect with someone. I started thinking, “With enough apps and a little bit of time, I could potentially have a date every night of the week if I wanted!” That seems way more enticing than going out with friends and hoping to connect with at least one stranger. The odds were in my favour when I used my arsenal of dating apps.
Cold turkey and not looking back
I quickly lost sight of the purpose of dating apps which was to increase the possibilities of finding someone who I could forge a serious connection with and give me a reason to never look at Tinder again.
There’s the catch: You’ll never find anything meaningful from a dating app if you aren’t looking for anything more meaningful than a date.
It’s been a month since I went cold turkey, and not once have I had the urge to swipe right.
Just because we have technology to find connections for us doesn’t mean there aren’t any in the real world waiting for us. My parents met on a plane. My mother missed her original flight, gets on the next flight, sits next to my father and 29 years later, here I am today.
Since going cold turkey, I’ve been on a few dates with women I’ve met in the real world. Coincidence or not, these dates have been more fun and exciting than meeting up with someone I was paired with digitally.
We forget, and I know I forgot, that meeting someone in person and mutually deciding to see each other again already means a connection worth exploring has been established. We find a spark that interests us, and the spark is real.
Not one that is manufactured in 140 characters or less.