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Ask Billie: “I’m so sick of dating apps – how can I meet people in real life?”

Written by Billie Bhatia

Sick of swiping right? If you’re done with dating apps, you’re not alone. Billie Bhatia helps a reader who is hoping to meet new people the old fashioned way.

“I have been single for two years now. I’ve mostly been dating through apps, but I’m getting so sick of them. The conversation is either dead and fizzles out before we meet or I’ll go on a couple of awkward dates that winds up in a mutual ghosting. I feel like I’ll never meet anyone with potential these apps, but can you even meet people to date IRL anymore? Any advice?”

If I had a pound for every time some has asked me if I’m on “the apps” (side note: why is it always people that skipped the Tinder era who refer to them as that?) I would have an entire Bottega Veneta wardrobe. And if I had an additional pound for every person I swiped right for but made zero connection with, I would have a Loewe accessories wardrobe to match. Dating apps are hard work – they are ego-bruising, brain-draining and once the novelty of swiping wears off, not that much fun. 

A few years ago, I sat next to a colleague (who is a good friend, so she won’t mind me telling this story) at a previous magazine I worked at. I was scrambling around all day, running about like a headless chicken, and she didn’t move from her seat all day – both hands on her phone holding it so close to her face it was practically balanced on the bridge of her nose. After wanting to say something all day, I finally blurted out: “Oh my god, what are you doing on there? Don’t you have work to do?”

To which she replied, “Billie, this is work. I’m currently running Bumble, Tinder, Raya, Happn and Hinge. That’s a full-time job, so I just don’t have time for any other work right now.” She was right – the apps are all-consuming. You have to be dedicated to even come close to seeing results, and even then you aren’t promised success. So, back to your point: I’m over them too. 

Even the thought of going on Bumble and having to come up with witty opening lines or watching a montage of someone’s narcissism on Raya to comment with something enticing is just exhausting. (OK, that Raya comment was mean, but the montage videos give me the ick). And I say that as someone who isn’t particularly dedicated to them. So, if you have been engaging with them at a much higher level than that, you’re probably at dating app burnout.

One of the biggest problems with dating apps is that often, just as we are about to quit them, we latch on to a success story. Because when we do reply to the “On the apps?” question with an exasperated “Yes,” people in relationships then take it upon themselves to regale us with a story about that one person who is now married to their first ever Tinder match. Well, good for them! But if there is anything I took away from He’s Just Not That Into You, it’s that I am most likely the rule and not the exception. And the rule is this: the reality of dating on apps is ghosting, dry chat and sub-par dates.

In my frustration with the apps, I deleted them all and declared that I am ditching them to meet people in real life. For the drama (and some support), I even dropped this line in my WhatsApp groups: “I’m done with dating apps, they are dud. I am going back to organic dating and meeting people in real life. I’m way funnier in real life anyway. But you all need to be my wing-women now, OK?” 

Now, I don’t think you should necessarily follow in my exact footsteps here because I haven’t dedicated too much time to this, but I can tell you that my friends got behind me and I had much more fun than I’ve ever had on the apps.  

Dating apps have this weird hold on us, as if we won’t be able to find love (or a hook-up) without them. And it’s just not true. I think that we are really just used to hiding behind technology. In the same way that young people are terrified to pick up the phone and make a call in the workplace, it’s ingrained in us that we can’t strike up a conversation in person. But what did we do before apps? We met people in real life! We deliberately knocked into someone at the bar to get their attention and make conversation. If the conversation went well, you had a drink, swapped numbers and life continued. If you didn’t, you made a snap decision to part ways without the guilt of ghosting and the laborious task of maintaining mundane WhatsApp chats until you finally go on a date and you both realise you wasted your time.

My advice for your dilemma is to stop overthinking it. If you do decide to ditch the apps in favour of meeting someone in real life, don’t put pressure on yourself to have met five potential partners by the end of the first night. I’m a firm believer in things that are meant to be. For me, apps weren’t meant to be. But even the chance of a real-life meet cute? That’s something I can wholeheartedly get behind and I think you should too.  

Ask Billie anything on Instagram @stylistmagazine

Images: Getty

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