How did you start your day? Coffee? Shower? Maybe you woke up early for a workout. I woke up early, too – to do some swiping.
Every morning, I lie in bed for 20 minutes, mindlessly sifting through an endless stream of smiling men patting tigers on their exotic holidays.
My days begin and end with dating apps, but the weird part is that I haven’t actually been on a date in about a year. Honestly? I’m not looking for love.
A survey found nearly half of millennials like me are now using dating apps to seek out “confidence-boosting procrastination” instead of romance. I can relate to this; I’m looking for a kind of validation when I browse dating apps, not a relationship. The ‘ding’ when you match with someone you’ve swiped right to feels good. You impressed someone out there (even if they only looked at you for a millisecond). It’s a validation for your ego; knowing that the hot surfer swiped right on me gives me a little boost.
A survey recently found that among the 26 million daily matches that Tinder claim occur on the app every day, only 7% of male users and 21% of female userssend a message when we get a match. Apps are increasingly losing their original purpose, with users aimlessly swiping without intention.
Relationship coach Sara Davison says: “It has become accepted behaviour, and part of single people’s daily routine. You can do it from your sofa with no makeup, wearing your pyjamas, with no effort, and no cost to anyone. Most people are on at least two dating apps, and flicking through them has become a quick, easy mood-booster for when people are feeling low and unattractive.”
I used to be the most proactive person you could hope to meet on Tinder. Back in 2012 when it launched, I was newly single. I would message matches, making date plans within a day and meeting up the same week. At one point I was a five-dates-in-five-days type of gal. It was madly fun – but exhausting.
I had a few six-month-long relationships in that time, but dating culture began shifting around me. Subsequent years saw the rise of ghosting, breadcrumbing, and unsolicited dick pics, and I gradually lost my enthusiasm for engaging with other humans. It all got to be too depressing. And boring. And predictable.
Potential dates either asked for a tit-shot within a few messages, or would disappear just when I thought things were going really well. Or, on the increasingly rare occasions where we’d actually arranged a date, they would cancel, stand me up, or (worse) bore me all night. As everyone got used to treating each other as disposable, I did too.
I used to suddenly stop talking to people midway through a conversation, or ignore their messages. I would never treat my friends that way, but I didn’t think of these potential dates in the same way – they were just faces who occasionally made my phone screen light up. Looking back, I’m ashamed of the way I treated them.
But, though I’ve now given up on meeting anyone from a dating app, I still use several of them compulsively. I’m addicted to the magic of swiping. People-watching is always fun, and when those people are all single men you can watch from the comfort of your own home – well, that’s even more fun.
Getting the ‘ding’ when I match with someone feels like winning points in a video game. It’s a time-killer in front of the telly when I’m bored (I have woken from a trance-like state many a night, realising I’ve wasted two solid hours swiping, with no idea what just happened on Doctor Who). Every ‘ding’ also contains the possibility of a person who might actually be all those things you want: kind, smart, nice to your dog. It’s a way to daydream without any of the downsides.
When I’m idly swiping rather than going on dates, I don’t have to make any effort or try to be my best self. I never have to worry about disappointing someone, about showing up looking a bit older or a bit fatter than my profile picture suggests.
But the creeping sense that this behaviour is damaging my mental health is becoming impossible to ignore. Chartered clinical psychologist, Dr Jessamy Hibberd, agrees it’s time I address my addiction – because that’s what it is.
Don’t Miss: 5 Dating Conventions That Women Killed