While traditionally people gave up sweets, drink, or even the fags, for Lent, Roisin Burke abstained from a more modern-day pleasure ... Tinder
I’m a self-proclaimed bachelor with no interest in marriage, kids or settling down and moving to the suburbs.
So as you can imagine, for me, the ingenious invention that is the popular social media dating app Tinder was an absolute godsend.
I have been an avid user of the app for a couple of years now and I have few complaints.
It is a quick, safe and easy way to meet new, interesting people from outside of your own circle.
I have dated tradesmen, doctors, nurses, farmers, students and office workers and even made a few friends that I hope to keep in my life for many years to come.
But I’m a busy woman and my one issue with Tinder is that it can be addictive and time consuming.
There is an ego boost with every match, a tingle of excitement with every new message, and a thrill of adrenaline with every first date that keeps you prowling the site late at night looking for a rush.
So, in the spirit of Lent, I decided to delete Tinder from my phone and forgo online dating for 40 days and 40 nights.
Jesus would be so proud.
It started apprehensively. Pancake Tuesday was spent feverishly swiping left and right hoping to make a few matches and quickly progress to WhatsApp before having to abstain from the almost endless supply of men available at the touch of a button.
The next few days were touch and go, I had a blazing row with a tinder match that led to us going our separate ways and another tinder buddy moved to Dublin.
Soon I was down to one romantic interest and boredom quickly ensued.
At the start, I found it hard to keep off Tinder. It is just so damn easy to meet new people and have a thrilling first date instead of staying in on a Tuesday night. I missed developing relationships with people and learning about new personalities, but it has to be said I did find myself re-immersing in friendships that had become somewhat neglected in my fast-paced Tinder swiping lifestyle.
In the grand scheme of things, tinges of boredom were a small price to pay for the time suddenly available to me to read a book, do some writing or just hang out with friends, more than a few of which commented how nice it was that I was not always on my phone.
And so my abstention seemed a good idea at the start, but after seven days the full effect of my cold turkey started to hit me.
Without the constant ego boost of matches and messages I began to feel a sudden and profound dip in self-confidence.
I began to question myself, physically, emotionally and mentally. Questions I never asked myself, like Do I REALLY like being single? Should I change my look? Would I be better off in a relationship?
I went from strong independent woman to lonely, insecure mess in a very short space of time and frankly, it was a bit frightening.
I tried to fill my time with extra work, friends, running, but nothing would hit the nagging feeling that something was missing.
And I suppose that is because there was. My cushion of emotional support had disappeared. No attention, no affection, no litany of compliments and continuous flirtatious banter.
I had always been aware of the superficial nature of my ‘relationships’ and because of that I had never for a moment expected a lack of male companionship to be an issue in any way. But the fact is, whatever form the affection had taken, it had been present and without it, I felt like a lesser person.
There was some acting out in response. I began to flirt shamelessly with people I normally wouldn’t consider in a romantic manner.
There is the guy in my local shop that now knows my life story, a fella from the gym who probably thinks he is in with a chance, and one or two friends of friends who got a lot more attention than normal on recent trips to the pub.
There was a part of me just counting down the days left (all 25 of them) until I could return to my beloved Tinder, but there was also a much more rational, sensible part of me that realised this was probably good for me and would benefit my character in the long run.
At the end of March, with two weeks to go, I think I began to see the light. I wasn’t dating anyone, but I wasn’t lonely either. I had hit a sweet spot and it felt good.
I was not completely devoid of male attention either. There was a single tinder match still flickering — a faint flame and one or two newbies picked up in the real world, who had piqued my interest.
That said, it was hard to avoid the odd blast of boredom, combated in a litany of manners which unfortunately failed to prove profoundly successful and I would sometimes catch myself staring at a silent phone, as if pondering what to do with it.
However, I did have more time on my hands for other things, perhaps more important things; Family, friends, work and hobbies.
My marathon training definitely went up a notch and I was reading and writing twice as much as I would normally have been.
I was more engaged in the minute by minute, less distracted and more focused and all in all, less stressed.
Forgive me for sounding like an old fart favouring the ancient art of a pen and paper over technology and efficiency, but the point I am trying to make is not one is better than the other, but rather that balance is key.
I will return to Tinder with all the enthusiasm and fervour of a child let loose in a candy shop, but I hope to hold onto the sentiment that it is not everything.
There are other ways to meet people and perhaps better ways to build relationships than swiping right on a duck-face selfie.
Tinder is quick and convenient, but I have to admit there is still a bit of craic to be found in an old-school pick-up.
There is nothing better than catching a smile in a coffee shop or throwing caution to the wind in a club.
In terms of getting a thrill, you can’t beat meeting someone new and trying to figure it all out without the safety net of Tinder, where everyone is on the same page — well, same book anyway.
The new age has opened many doors in terms of socialising and interacting, but let us hope that we all remember how to hold our own when the wifi is down.
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