Lent provides a very convenient time frame to give up some of our guilty pleasures. Whether it be a far too 'cheeky' in your Nando's obsession or finding your chocolate love affair has reached the next level. The next six weeks or so give even the non-religious among us a chance to prove we can withhold our most hard-to-break vices. That's why I have decided to clear my dating folder on my phone and kiss goodbye to my dating apps.
"Just find someone in a bar, like I used to back in my day" - those reassuring words from my parents that it will all work out in the end have been passed onto me at several points during the last few months. Back when they were dating, the idea of using a mobile phone to find a future partner would have seemed as bizarre as using said device to pay for a pint of milk in the supermarket. The constant harping back to the past with rose tinted spectacles may make television script writers a quick buck, however it is arguably true that those days in which us Millennials were never a part of, were easier to find true romance. Nowadays dating has become a game, an actual sport whereby points are allocated on the number of matches you get on your mobile phone. Dating today has changed from nervously asking someone in the office whom you've fancied for some time to commit to going for a drink to a world of online algorithms.
Take Tinder. Although this app has only been available since 2012 and was once described as the 'shallowest dating app ever' it has revolutionised how we find a potential mate. When I lived in London I would see fellow commuters suck up any free WiFi during the 15 seconds at a tube stop only to break the hearts of a person opposite them with the swipe of a finger. The app claims to have created more than 8 billion matches since it hit the market, with an average of 1 billion swipes every single day among its users. So many matches means that the opening line is absolutely key to drawing attention to yourself, although opening up with "my dad just died" is certainly one way to stand out from the crowd. Tinder recently found its way into glamour magazine, Marie Claire, which reported that if you are photographed with glasses on, it reduces your chances of matching with someone by 12%. Even as a proud member of the glasses community, I have not let such statistics get in the way of finding a match on Tinder or striking up a conversation on Grindr.
Both these apps offer the ability to connect with a pool of people that far outweighs the number of conversations you could have on an average night out. Grindr in particular provides a lifeline to many gay and bisexual men who live in remote communities and wish to reach out to other men. Over the past few months I have reached for both these apps in my attempt to find a potential partner. The thrill of a new Tinder match or bleep via Grindr provides a degree of spontaneity that has injected new excitement into the age old tradition of dating. Like many fellow singletons, my dating experiences have been varied to say the least. Having said that, I have met some very interesting people along the way. Although recalling one incident did result in me having to reassure relatives that my flat in Edinburgh is not in fact haunted after informing them that I had been recently ghosted. One of the biggest attractions of using apps is that they take the pressure off having to ask someone 'out on a date'. There's no face-to-face rejection, it's all done via a screen where any emotional outpouring can easily be masked with a light-hearted LOL or emoji.
However, I've decided to make a change and in ditching dating apps for the next few weeks, I have set myself a challenge that will hopefully allow me to unshackle myself from the addiction that can be easily found among some online daters. It's estimated that the average Tinder user will spend up to 90 minutes on the app each day. I am going to try and take back that lost time by channelling my energy into other pursuits. Whilst I may still roll my eyes upon being told to just catch the eye of someone whilst I sip on a drink in a pub, I'm going to take onboard the advice of my parents who've spent nearly a quarter of a century together, happily married.
I now have just under six weeks to learn the art of old school dating. So, this is crazy but here's my number so call me maybe?