Like any self-respecting millennial, I had been on and off dating apps for a while. Some experiences good, some not so good. But one thing was clear to me: I was suffering some serious dating app fatigue.
Since my last relationship ended 10 months ago, I had been going on dates from all the usual suspect apps, finding it emotionally taxing and exhausting. A lot of the time, you’re building a certain level of investment before you meet the person, only to find there’s not necessarily anything there when you meet up.
This new, shiny world of swiping we welcomed with great intrigue 10 years ago has transformed into that stale piece of bread we reluctantly toast when we have nothing else to eat in the house. It is the bleak part of modern dating culture that apps have contributed to over time, giving the subtle message that no date is particularly sacred and people are somewhat disposable because there is always someone else lined up.
It has also – unintentionally or not – chipped away at the normality and beauty of spontaneously meeting strangers and striking up romance in a public place. Dating apps have proven that anyone can get a date, but making a connection is a much harder feat.
From putting on offline dating events, I have been able to understand why I’m not alone in feeling done with dating apps. A lot of attendees said that any nerves they felt attending our events solo were outweighed by the state of their mental health. When it comes to dating habits, people are dating in unashamedly bolder ways because the stakes are higher – it goes beyond romance and dates; it’s about our wellbeing.
During lockdowns, single people were limited to dating apps and many experienced loneliness. At the best of times, human beings are crying out for connection and intimacy, and this feeling only became more tangible in the pandemic. Many people are now itching to move away from the experience of solo swiping on their couch.
Dating can be hard on the head and on the heart, so whether we’re single, casually dating or on the cusp of the “official chat”, looking after our mental health throughout the way we date is always a good idea, and this is the peace offline dating is giving us.
We’ve reached a strange place where we’ve normalised things like “ghosting”, “breadcrumbing”, “zombieing” and lord knows what other bizarre dating trends – which, let’s be honest, are all just shitty behaviours on to which we whack a cute, light-hearted name in order to excuse.
The message I keep hearing from our attendees is that people want to get back to a more mindful climate of dating, when it was a lot more fun, healthier and kinder.
Attendees explained that they had been craving a romance that feels simpler. One attendee said: “Whether I romantically meet someone or not, I always come away from the socials feeling hopeful about dating. When it comes to communication, there’s no games and no catfishing. It’s amazing to have a room full of fellow single people who are sick of a lot of the shit we see on dating apps. It feels like everyone in the room is breathing a sigh of relief that we’re taking things back old-school again.”
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Another reason why people are being led to find love in another way is the nostalgic return to pre-online activities. Not just pre-pandemic activities, but as far back as pre-MSN days – that way back. There’s a fundamental reason why we’re having a fixation with the Nineties right now. It’s more than just the love for its fashion and music; it’s a yearning for what was in many ways an uncomplicated time, including meeting people in matters of the heart.
The hunger we’re seeing for offline dating is part of a wider vibe shift. The spontaneity, the carefree nature of strangers chatting each other up, the goofiness and clumsiness that comes along with that brave act, which almost seems redundant these days in the world of painfully self-conscious calculated Instagram perfection that we’re bombarded with today.
We’re seeing only the tip of the iceberg with the new offline dating movement. It’s a new chapter of modern dating, but it’s also really a return to a more unpretentious, straightforward type of dating, and people are finding freedom in it.
With Bored of Dating Apps, we’ve organised hikes for singles, hot yoga, spinning nights, coffee meets, supper clubs, socials and trips to meet everyone’s desired Hollywood meet-cute moment.