In every non-platonic sense of the word, I have gone without love for almost a year now. This has been one of the hardest journeys I’ve ever endured, but it’s also been one of the most necessary and rewarding.
My desire to feel loved by past partners was so strong that it eclipsed my well-being. As a result, I struggled quite significantly with codependency and feelings of insecurity. This was especially true in my last relationship. When it ended, I had to start treating myself with more consideration and kindness.
To hold myself accountable, I decided I would refrain from seeking out any romantic connections for the time being. Since then, I haven’t gone on any dates. I’ve abstained from all forms of intimacy and refused to long for anyone.
Maybe closing myself off to love entirely was an overcorrection, but I couldn’t risk going through another situation where I would have to question my worth. Being open to love means potentially subjecting yourself to cruelty from others, which is terrifying to me.
Instead, I dedicated myself to my studies and creative passions and focused on strengthening the platonic relationships I already had in my life. I found a new appreciation for literature and writing, grew closer to my best friends and learned how to love myself.
But it’s spring now, and the change of seasons has reignited my desire to allow love into my life. I’ll admit that being single has become a bit boring, and with my confidence at a steady high, opening back up to the possibility of desire didn’t sound like the worst idea.
Instead of prolonging my isolation, I sought advice from my friends and therapist. After a few weeks of deliberation, I downloaded Hinge and put myself out there again.
My brief time on this dating app has gone quite the opposite of how I hoped it would. This whole adventure has been quite difficult to navigate, and I do not know if it has been worth the stress.
The first challenge I ran into was curating a profile that appealed to other people, which prompted a lot of introspection. Will I be taken seriously even though I’m a student? Does this photo make me look hot and interesting? I am hot and interesting, right?
Once I was satisfied with the version of myself I had created, it was time to send it out into the wild. I’ve grown more comfortable with my vulnerability, so I was optimistic about how my interactions on the app would go.
Unfortunately, I haven’t really enjoyed talking with people on Hinge. Communicating through text is a major source of anxiety for me, so my interactions on this app caused certain doubts to resurface — ones detrimental to my self-assurance.
Of the few conversations I’ve had, most of them stalled out the second I started showing any serious interest. This left me feeling uncertain about trying to open up in the first place. Was I even worthy of the attention of others?
I suspect these concerns stemmed from the impersonal nature of apps like Hinge. Having a face-to-face conversation with someone is much different than chatting over messages. This divide allows for discussions in which mutual interest can be absent. I’m not suited for this style of interaction, and it made me wonder if I had nothing of value to share with others.
I was mortified to see how easily my self-worth was eroding by being on a dating app. It was slightly crushing to think I was failing to sell myself and everything that makes me who I am. Given all the work I’ve done to get to a point of stability in my daily life, I knew instantly that this train of thought would not be sustainable.
With finals approaching, I think the best move is to delete my Hinge account and stay off dating apps for the foreseeable future. It’s been nice to yearn again, so I’m glad I found the courage to seek it out.
What made my experiences on Hinge tolerable was the realization that I wasn’t alone in putting myself out there. If other people are brave enough to create a profile and declare their desire for affection, then I shouldn’t feel embarrassed about doing the same.
If I’ve learned anything from this experiment, it’s that I’m able to identify red flags in other people much easier now. I’m no longer willing to compromise my standards when they arise. I also better understand my boundaries and how to uphold them on dating apps.
Yes, I would like to be loved by somebody else, but I don’t need it at this moment. In the same respect, I also don’t have to completely shut myself off from the possibility of love.
For example, I believe my love from my friends is just as valid as any romantic form, which has made my life a lot more pleasant.
In the past, I think I was too desperate for love. As a result, I spent a lot of time in friendships and relationships that damaged my mental health, and I often thought the lack of kindness I received from others was my fault. That is a mistaken belief I refuse to repeat now.
I know my worth, and if it takes longer to find someone who can appreciate and respect that, I’m willing to wait however long it takes.
Until then, I can provide the love I want for myself, and that is all I need.