Gone feels really good.
This year feels really different. I’ve changed my career, my self care, my weekly exposure to public transit contaminants—everything. It was as if after my underwear drawer was finished, my soul needed something else to Kondo.
I have been on dating apps for 11 years, consistently. At any given time, there were between two and five dating apps downloaded onto my phone, and I probably checked one or two of them with regularity. For more than a decade I swiped through faces, sent messages, and engaged in all the typical activities one participates in when you date a piece of glass and plastic. If you’re curious, that rounds out to about 4,000 days worth of dating apps.
In my mind, in this house, we refer to dating apps as the Bucket Of Nothing. A place where time, effort, and hope go in and spit out jack shit on the other side. Regardless of the apps I’ve tried, the methods I’ve tried, or the energy I’ve given dating apps for the whole of 11 years, I have never once met a partner as a result.
I used to tell myself, “it’s not like the apps are preventing me from meeting someone, so why not use them?” It was just a little swipe-swipe on the couch every evening or every morning from bed before my feet had touched the withering hardwood. And in truth maybe the time commitment wasn’t a big deal. Maybe it was as distracting and mechanical as the way I now open Candy Crush instead.
I also used to tell myself that dating apps were a part of how I earned my living, and one can’t really write about single life without engaging in a major part of its modern version, can she? The fodder the dating apps used to give me, lord—the fodder! Who can forget the three bald men, or the courteous canceller, or mustachio? The Bucket Of Nothing is, at the same time, a well of inspiration.
But this year is different. There’s a lot more truth to 2019, I’m more inclined to take care of myself than I was before. The truth about dating apps is that they actually were taking up space in me, they were subconsciously reinforcing to me that nobody wants me, and in general they were born from the flames of hell and they have to go.
At the time of the Great Cull I believe there were four. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and Raya—which I wasn’t even on by the way, I was never deemed worthy enough to upgrade to member from eternal waitlist peasant—all promising to be better and different and all containing the same people and same overall mechanics and same cesspool world where all that ever happens is nothing much. I match, I message, and I never hear from men, ever. Nothing. Over and over again, for years.
So they went. One evening (or was it morning, time blends together when you stop accepting bullshit) I both deleted my accounts and uninstalled all of my dating apps. I don’t know where I summoned the will, I don’t know how that moment itself was the inspired one, but enough. I had tried enough, I had received nothing enough. More than a decade of let-downs trying to tell me I was the problem. I’ll never let binary code speak to me like that again.
It took mere minutes, and when it was done, there was a small voice inside of me that had been trained to think, “wait—this is the only way you’ll ever meet someone.” But there was also a louder, smarter voice reminding me how much room I just made in my life for so much more to come in, only one of those things potentially being a partner.
I used to think of the Bucket Of Nothing as a void, of my singleness as a void, of everything I didn’t have as a terrifying chasm making me feel like I too was little more than empty space.
It is a new year and there is no longer room in my consciousness, my subconsciousness, or my iPhone memory for dating apps. If it doesn’t serve me, if it doesn’t light me up, if I approach it with cynical dread and over a decade’s worth of disappointment, goodbye—and don’t ever come back.
It’s been a month and I can palpably feel that the spaces dating apps leave behind are not voids, and they’re not empty. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I have clear space that’s free of nothing, and full of potential.