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I was using dating apps to seek validation. When I deleted them, I was much happier.

screenshot of iphone deleting grindr
The author deleted Grindr and other dating apps off his phone.Courtesy of Gary Nunn
  • I used Grindr every day to see who was near me and get instant validation.

  • I realized I didn't like the person I was on the app and wasn't using it for the right reasons.

  • I deleted Grindr, and now I'm meeting people in real life. I'm much happier.

Four months ago, I did something that, in the modern age, and for a gay man like me, felt like packing up and retiring from relevancy: I deleted Grindr.

I didn't stop there. I deleted all the dating apps that had crept onto my phone. Tinder. Hinge. Scruff.

But Grindr was different. Grindr was a big part of my life. I logged on daily and needed to stop.

Grindr started to rule my life

Grindr is more of a hookup app than a dating app. Some people go on it looking for meaningful relationships, but for many, it's the quickest way to meet up for no-strings-attached sex with men close to you.

For years I felt isolated and excluded from the dating life my straight peers freely enjoyed. In the late '90s and early 2000s, I was terrified people would discover I was gay. I was convinced they'd ostracize me. I felt like I was the only person dealing with this. Gay people were routinely mocked. Having something like Grindr back then would've shown me that I wasn't alone and that there were others near me. I cannot stress enough how powerful that feeling of solidarity would've been.

This is also partly what made the app so addictive: It could tell me how many men were nearby, online, and horny. Sometimes I'd use it to meet a man for a coffee date, while other times I'd use it for a hookup. Before long, I was logging on daily.

I'd log on at work when I needed some excitement. If I went to a new place, the first thing I'd do — even before absorbing my new surroundings — was log on to Grindr. Inevitably, messages followed, and with messages came validation.

I'd log on in the mornings to see who was online even though I was busy getting ready for work. Then I found myself logging on discreetly at any moment of boredom, whether I was in a queue, waiting for a friend, or on the toilet, even though there was absolutely no way I was going to meet any man for a romantic or intimate moment during these times.

I realized the app made me behave in ways that didn't align with my values

I didn't like the way I acted on dating apps. I wasn't as expressive as I am in real life. I love words and proper, fulfilling chats. I also judged men purely on appearance and age. When I did want to meet someone, I became impatient. I hated answering "How are you?" I wanted them to cut to the chase.

I realized I was no longer using the app for what it was intended for: hookups and dates. I was now using it mostly for validation. When I didn't receive messages, I felt empty.

In 2022, Grindr released a "boost" option where a user can pay to go to the top of the grids of other users in their city for an hour. It was transfixing. I would get dozens of messages when I used it. I'm slightly ashamed to admit I spent over a hundred dollars on this.

I recently finished reading "The Velvet Rage" by the psychologist Alan Downs, which theorizes that gay men seek validation to compensate for the shame they felt growing up in a straight man's world. My Grindr use fed on this.

I knew I had to delete the dating app

My love life improved as a result of deleting Grindr. Without having it as a crutch, I was forced to go out and start conversations with men. I went on actual dates before or after hooking up. It felt healthier, and I was happier.

Admittedly, I've redownloaded Grindr at times, but after an hour or so I tend to delete it again to avoid falling into my old habits.

Grindr can be a great tool to meet people when you're traveling to a new city. If I could trust myself to use it to make connections rather than to seek validation, then I might consider redownloading it for good.

But until then, I'm ignoring the bright orange grid and silencing the iconic "brrrrup" notification sound to pursue a more old-fashioned dating life.

Gary Nunn is an author and journalist. Visit his Substack here.

Read the original article on Business Insider