My Love/(Mostly) Hate Relationship with Dating Apps
Dating Apps in their many forms have been with us for over a decade now. The most popular of them all, Tinder, was the first dating app that I had ever downloaded after an awful breakup with my first serious boyfriend in 2016.
The reason? The saying ‘to get over him you have to get under someone else’ sprang to mind, and instead of moping around after a boy who didn’t want me anymore, I decided to find someone who did. I knew a few people at Uni who had met their partners on dating apps, so maybe this was the path that I was destined to follow…
Never in my life had I ever had this much male attention. I had messages pinging up on my phone every minute from a different man all calling me beautiful or using some cheesy chat up line that made me laugh. At 19, this was a new world that I didn’t even realise existed, and my confidence went from rock bottom to sky high in a matter of moments.
What I didn’t realise, was that at the age of 19, I had just learnt to put all of my self-confidence and worth into the validation of a complete stranger just because they were male.
Not that it was that serious at first. I just felt that I was finally living my life the way that I was meant to: spontaneous city girl who goes on dates and drinks wine.
But here is where the cycle started. Every time I was dumped, I found myself redownloading a dating app to feel better. I became a piece to a vicious game that I didn’t fully understand. But the urge to download a dating app was the only way I knew how to deal with a dumping.
The Vicious Cycle
My experience on dating apps has been unfortunate, and maybe that’s because I always had too many expectations. I wanted to meet someone who has similar interests as me and wanted a relationship, unheard of, right? I built a lot of my confidence on my attractiveness to men: the idea that I was ‘different’ or something they had never seen before. In reality, they didn’t care whether I was or not, as they only wanted one thing from me. A few dates down the line they’d either ghost me or tell me that they weren’t looking for a serious relationship and the cycle would start again. Find another man, date him twice then he would dump me.
Without realising it, dating became a hobby. At the start, I felt as though dating apps were a way to meet people with similar interests but I now see it more cynically – the only ‘interest’ that was truly similar was the search for a mate. Not a soul-mate, just someone to fill the gap until we did.
Dating apps can be fantastic if you have the right mindset. If you go in for a bit of a laugh with no expectations, then I guess you’ll either get what you’re after, or you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The difference is that for me, I expected too much too soon. I assumed that I would be swept off my feet by an incredible prince charming who would realise I was what they had been looking for their whole life. It usually ended in my trying to force someone to become my prince charming and they would run away, which is completely fair, because that’s weird.
“Dating Apps Are Not for Me”
I can’t deny that I still have absolutely no clue how dating apps are supposed to work. You chat to someone, date them then you get ghosted? How do people end up in long term relationships from dating apps when I can’t get a man to stay around for long enough to get a new haircut?
My last ex, who I met on Hinge, ended things with me after six months. I had really begun to believe that maybe this one was going to work. But it didn’t. And I gave up completely.
“Dating Apps are not for me” I declared, swearing that I would never download another app again. But the curiosity seeps in, the ‘what ifs’ start formulating in my head. The thought of easily getting over my ex by talking to someone else starts to become very tempting.
Although I am tempted, I am trying to remember that dating apps only provide me with short term happiness – that feeling of being attractive to someone. But the feeling doesn’t last because they don’t matter. I don’t need a random man to tell me I look pretty. And that’s not me being arrogant; that’s just learning to love yourself.
Setting Expectations for YOU!
I believe that it is good to have expectations. Maybe not the Prince Charming sort (also, have you seen Series 4 of The Crown, I definitely don’t want a Prince), but expectations for yourself. What does that mean? Well I’m still working it out myself, but I’ll give it a go:
I am only now realising that I barely knew myself before dating men who I expected to be ready for me. I didn’t even know who I was. I hadn’t spent enough time with myself, growing into the person I wanted to become, so how could I expect a man to be right for me when I barely knew who I was?
After many years of pain, not understanding why men would constantly dump me, I gave up on dating and the only other thing to do was to do things for me. Of course, there were bumps in the road: fancying my friend, a boy on my Uni course and just about anyone I made eye contact with on the tube. But something else happened too, I was learning to have standards. If it turned out that any of those people didn’t like me (shock: they didn’t) then it didn’t matter. Long gone were the days of me crying to a therapist about a tinder boy who I hadn’t even met (that happened). Gone were the days of sitting by my phone, waiting for it to flash up with a certain boy’s name (Okay, I have done that recently, it’s work in progress).
Of course, when you like someone, you can’t help but feel butterflies, excitement and occasional anxiety, but that’s normal. I’m ready to feel that at some point, but I’m no longer actively searching for it on an app. I’m happy just figuring things out. If a man turns up out of the blue offering me everything then I’m not going to turn him down, but for now, I’ve had too many heartbreaks and I’ve learnt enough to know that I don’t need anyone else in order to live happily.
I can’t deny that I do love a dating app, and the temptation to download them again builds every day. But recognising that I want to download them for the wrong reason (because I’m bored) is a starting point to stopping.
Good luck to anyone who’s using dating apps, and I’d love to hear your success stories or dating disasters! Either they’ll give us some hope, or we’ll know we’re not alone. Thanks for reading, and see you all next week!