We all venture into dating more or less hopeful that maybe someday we will meet someone who is, if not perfect, at least a good match for us.
And we are all aware of how modern dating (AKA dating at the time of dating apps) increases our chances of failure because it creates that subtle belief that our options are unlimited and people are, therefore, interchangeable.
I am well acquainted (lucky me, eh) with this vicious circle and this is why I took the decision of interrupting the flow and signing off from all dating apps for the first time in many years, and here is what happened to me.
Dating apps have the ability to give us that immediate rush of excitement and satisfaction that releases endorphins into our system and makes us feel happy and excited.
If you have ever felt this way, you will know this is something we all crave, it’s the instant gratification that has become more and more important in the modern world (think about likes on Instagram).
So it makes sense that the first feeling we experience after we suddenly stop using dating apps is longing, we long the adrenaline rush that comes with the notification of a new match/new message.
We all like attention and going from receiving too much of it (and regularly) to receiving none at all, can be really unsettling.
So be prepared to have to fight the urge of redownloading your preferred dating app for at least a week after you decide to stop using them.
But I promise you, it gets easier.
This is probably the key part of the whole process.
We rationalise our need for a break from dating apps and we start to see the benefits of it.
In my case, I realised I was spending more and more time reading and connecting with the existing people in my life. And I also noticed the conversations I was having changed drastically: they went from being endless stories about previous dates/adventures to conversations about so many other subjects I have always enjoyed talking about.
Of course, some of those conversations shifted towards dating, but I realised they helped me exorcise the power my dating life was having over me. I found these conversations to be refreshing and eye-opening.
I also realised I was using my phone a lot less and I found some time to focus on other hobbies of mine; with that came the acceptance that I can have an exciting and fulfilling life even without the attentions of a new potential beau.
This may come as a surprise but, at some point, I started being scared of how much I did not miss dating apps.
Bear with me, please.
I know it sounds funny but I was panicking and thinking ‘what if I end up alone because I have become estranged from the most used mean of meeting new people?’.. not that irrational now, is it?
This phased lasted a while and, if I am being honest, this fear has a peculiar way of creeping up on me when I least expect it, but I have become better and better at pushing it away.
Now, even though elements of the first three stages will still in a way or another be present, they will not have daily occurrence.
They might not even have a weekly occurrence but habits are hard to die so they will take a while to fully disappear.
But at this stage, you have made peace with the fact that if things are meant to happen, they will.
We do not decide who and when, but as long as we keep an open mind what is meant to find us, will find us.
Now, I know that not everyone is the same and people process things differently, but it felt right to share the emotional rollercoaster getting off dating apps has been for me.
It is not an easy decision to make and we all have our reason for deciding to date (or not to). I just wanted to share my point experience in the hope it may be of some comfort and help to whoever is struggling with what I am jokingly calling “withdrawal from dating apps symptoms.”
And also, you can decide for this to be either a permanent change or a temporary break.
Regardless, if you decide to get back in the game, please do it on your own terms and not because of any pressure (be it peer pressure or societal pressure)!
Leave the FOMO back and enjoy your life, being it solo or with someone!