Dating apps — are they worth it?
I moved to Melbourne around two years ago. I was lonely and sad, having just left a relationship. I was also going through many changes — a new city, a new flatmate and a new job. It was all getting to be a bit much.
Then my flatmate suggested I go on Tinder. Of course, I had heard about Tinder but I had never used it before, having been in a relationship for three years previously. I said to her: “maybe I should wait until I’m over my break-up” and she said: “that is precisely the reason you should go on it!”.
So I gave it a try and as you could probably predict, I got hooked. I tried several dating apps at once and seemed to be on them all day, when I wasn’t working or socialising.
My eyes were getting tired from looking at a screen all day and the swiping became like hypnosis. The dopamine high of getting matches and messages from cute guys kept me going through my difficult time of settling into Melbourne.
I started going on dates and had some very interesting experiences. I met a guy who seemed single and carefree and then when I met him, I found out he was married with three kids and was dating to distract himself from his cheating wife.
One night, I met a guy who was cute and funny but I found it concerning that he was constantly going to the bar to order drink after drink and smoke cigarettes outside. Against my better judgment, I met up with him again. He turned up to the date drunk and I knew that I should have trusted my instincts about him.
Despite these less than ideal experiences, I kept persisting with the dating apps. I learnt what it meant to be “ghosted” and “bread crumbed”. I was shocked that people could behave so badly. I could feel my self esteem diminishing and my mental health was suffering.
I wondered if it was possible to meet someone in real life but when I spoke to friends about it, I would get the same type of response: “people mainly meet online these days — you just have to be patient”.
There were times that I took breaks from the dating apps, when I couldn’t stand swiping any longer . I felt that I could breathe more slowly and think more deeply but the loneliness remained, so that at some point, I would reach for my phone again and go on Tinder or Bumble or OK Cupid to get my fix and feel good — however temporary that was.
When I was in my 20s, dating apps didn’t exist. When people wanted to date, they would use RSVP or Oasis or go speed dating. I used all of these avenues and sometimes met my partners online or at events. I didn’t feel addicted to those sites. At that time, they were not available as apps, so I was only able to read and answer messages from my laptop. Often I wouldn’t hear from matches for days and they might not hear from me for a while and that was okay then.
Now things have become very instant with dating apps. Matches expect quick responses and may “delete” or ignore you if you aren’t quick enough to reply. They know there are hundreds of other people they can talk to on the apps. Dating apps have made the world of dating very disposable, impersonal and disheartening. But there’s still a silver lining to dating apps — the chance to talk to people you may never meet in real life, which may lead to love, romance or an amazing friendship.
After almost a year and a half of on-again, off-again use of dating apps, I finally met the right guy. I was on the verge of giving up on the apps for maybe the fiftieth time, when a handsome guy called Dave contacted me one day. I was very attracted to his photo and started chatting with him.
Soon we had our first date and felt an excellent connection and chemistry. One year later, we are still together. So all I can say to you is this — don’t give up on your search for the right person. Although dating apps can be a good (although frustrating) tool to meet that person, don’t discount the possibility that you might meet someone randomly on your walk, at your local cafe, at your office or the pub or even at a party.
I am relieved that I am no longer using dating apps — I was addicted and wasted a lot of time on them. But do I think they’re worth it? Yes — because it led me to my loved one.