So... I cheated. No, not like that. I cheated in my quest for online dating downtime.
I'm the type of person who has tremendous amounts of willpower in certain respects and absolutely zero in others. Give me a work assignment and I'll stay up nights and weekends until it's complete. Put a donut down in front of me and I can turn it down (most of the time). I wake up five days a week and workout, rain, shine, hail or snow. But, for some reason, the inexplicable lure of online dating managed to defy me.
I think I genuinely lasted an entire week without logging on to any of the sites. But one night, I'd had a crappy day at work and couldn't sleep. I lay in bed, thoughts racing through my head. Just a little Tinder wouldn't hurt. My phone beckoned -- no implored -- me to pick it up and swipe. So I did.
The next day, my matches came through on Hinge and though for the previous week, I'd had a relatively easy time of simply not looking, that day, I said, why am I really doing this? What are my objectives and are they actually being met through my little social experiment? So I took a step back to really think about my experience and sort through my feelings about the whole thing. Here's what I deduced:
1.There are other single people out there.
As frustrating as online dating sites have the potential to be, at least they serve as a reminder that there are other single people out there. Many of my friends are married. Some have children already. It's often hard to remember that there are MANY other single people out there. And if nothing else, online dating reinforces this truth. So lying in bed amidst the late night craziness of my thoughts, it's sometimes nice to be reminded that there are others with whom I share in the solidarity of singledom.
2. It's good to have goals.
I'm goal oriented. Because of that, as a person who is genuinely looking to one day meet someone and settle down in a relationship, however futile online dating seems, it's at least action oriented. It's like having a job you hate and never looking for a new one. I'm a believer in actively pursuing something you want. I'd removed myself from the online dating pool because I wanted to feel better about dating in general. But the very act of being online at least reminded me that I was making a conscious effort to obtain my goals.
3.It's not easy out there.
My hope in going offline and firmly facing dating IRL was in the hopes of peeling myself away from my phone long enough to make a human connection. During my brief respite, I made a conscious effort to remove my headphones while walking in the street. To say yes to every party invite. To read actual (paper) books on the train (remember those) rather than my digital kindle. I surmised that by being physically open and available rather than hiding behind technology, I'd be more likely to engage with real people. It sort of worked. At the very least, it gave me perspective. I noticed how many people are obsessed with their phones. I know it's not rocket science but it's remarkable. Next time you're out with friends, look at how much time each person spends engrossed in their mini keyboards rather than interacting. It's part of the problem but I appreciated (briefly) trying to be part of the solution. I also did interact more with strangers. A man on the train asked me about a book I was reading. Another struck up a conversation with me at a coffee shop. Unfortunately, you can't pick and choose who you interact with in real life. And these guys weren't really my type. At least online, you can (sort of) pick and choose people who have the qualities you look for physically, personally and professionally. IRL? Not so much.
Let's be honest here. Tinder is fun. There's a reason so many people are on it. Swiping is addictive for a reason. It was engineered to be that way. And yea, it can be annoying as hell but it can also be super fun to send a message and actually get a reply. The stars may not align often but when they do, it's satisfying and exciting. Those developers know their stuff
I haven't been on a date in a few weeks. I've been communicating with some former online connections but timing has been off and dates never solidified. And to be honest, I don't really mind. I think the downtime has given me perspective and perhaps will even make me excited to go back online again soon. In the interim, it feels less like an addiction and more like an indulgence. And as with everything in my life, I'll keep doing it until it stops being fun. Either way, I recommend taking some time off yourself if you're feeling burnt from it all. It's always good to mix it up to get some perspective. I certainly did.