While at an outdoor beer garden last Friday night, my friend Abby dared me to delete the dating apps from my phone. You can meet people in person, she reminded me. Just look around: There are men everywhere. She challenged me to meet one new person a week — no left or right swiping — until the end of the year.
Challenge accepted, Abby.
After all, what are these apps doing for me? They’ve introduced me to people I could meet through friends and acquaintances; reconnected me with people I’ve already met; bored me; sparked conversations that never led to meetups; or made my phone buzz with aggressive comments. While I know that plenty of people meet and marry after connecting on a dating app — or just have a lot of fun — I could do without the swiping and texting with strangers for a few months.
As much as the Internet reminds you that there are millions of singles out there! it can also be disheartening when, amid all those potential matches, none of them click in real life. I constantly tell myself — and others — that just because there are lots of single people on the Internet, those aren’t the only singles out there.
When chatting with someone you just met at a bar or cafe, at a party, on your commute or in line at the grocery store, you don’t know right away where he went to school; how old he is; or if he even dates women. The answers to those questions might doom a potential match, but for a few moments, I’ll take that uncertainty over all the preconceived notions of what a person may or may not be like, based off a few photos and some stats on his life. I know from experience that I’m much less likely to rule someone out based on age, occupation or appearance when the interaction starts in person than when it starts online.
I’m not swearing off online dating, but a break could be healthy. Because, let’s face it: The apps are boring me.
So at the bar on Friday night, I deleted Hinge, JSwipe, happn, Bumble, OkCupid and Tinder off my iPhone. Then I promptly introduced myself to a group of two guys and a woman. After a few minutes they invited me to join them for a game of corn hole. I went through the basic get-to-know-you conversation with one of the guys, while we congratulated and berated each other for our good and hilariously off-base beanbag tosses. I don’t know if I’ll see him again, but it was much more fun than a text exchange or a first date might’ve been.
I headed home, thinking: I can do this. I’m looking forward to it.
But I am keeping the Bumble date I already scheduled for this later week.