Swiping Left: What It's Like to Give Up Tinder

From researchers to friends to fuckboys, everybody loves to talk about Tinder. However, I had never read about an avid user —such as myself — actually giving it up. I decided to ditch the app for a month as a little social experiment on the self.

Illustrations by Lara Kingsbeer

Illustrations by Lara Kingsbeer

Forty days and forty nights. A period of cleansing and self-love. Whilst some people give up vices such as alcohol, smoking, and drugs, I’ve never been one for restraining myself of anything hedonistic (coffee, late nights, Drake). I thought I’d experiment by giving up Tinder– the app we all love to hate. As someone who came relatively late to the Tinder party,  I didn’t understand the hype. I’d be ‘playing’ (is it okay to treat this thing like a game?) on the app whilst binge watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Sometimes I’d even try to use it on my commute home, avoiding all possible eye contact in case I was sandwiched between two people I had ruthlessly swiped left for on my screen.

Frankly, after one too many shitty dates and make-outs, I was always left feeling dissatisfied at the thought that the app was the miracle of our generation. Believing that going out and experimenting with guys would help me find myself, I would wake up the morning after – alone –  staring at the ceiling and asking myself, ‘how did a swipe turn into this?’

In my last week before my Tinder purification I went on an ‘enlightening’ (read: boring) date in a highly rated hole-in-the-wall type place. Now don’t get me wrong, there was nothing bad about spending an evening with a perfectly nice man who was cute and kind but not quite mind-blowing. Once we did the whole awkward hug goodbye and to-kiss-or-not-to-kiss thing, it became crystal clear: Tinder can be tiresome.

So I decided to give up Tinder. This wasn’t a cliched attempt to get rid of men per se, but a chance to clear my head and get reacquainted with myself.

Here’s how the first ten days of giving up the app went:



Days 1-20:

I was feeling myself like I was on the set of a Beyonce and Nicki Minaj video. I wasn't going on any crappy dates or wasting time trying to find them. No longer was I coming home, feeling empty and wondering how many matches I could make in an evening (which can actually take time if you care about anthem choices as much as I do). I was getting the same buzz I had when I’d given up Facebook for Lent a few years back. Being partially removed from the hyperconnected world we live in is liberating. There was no longer a need for instant gratification from ‘matching up’ with with people in seconds.

Days 20- 30:

The change in my routine meant I had time to think more seriously about myself and laugh with friends about things other than dating. I threw myself into work and felt a strong sense of pride and independence in the strides I was making. I even moved house and was a total queen, lifting shit loads of heavy boxes back and forth over a weekend by myself (shame there isn’t an app modelled on Tinder for removal men). I was becoming more like the person I used to know during my pre-Tinder days, as I learnt that re-jigging my priorities meant I was focusing on me.

Days 30-40:

What the hell happened? I found myself developing withdrawals symptoms. I was kind of freaking out. My relapse at the final hurdle consisted of a) missing the attention and virtual flattery that comes with the app b) being slightly bored of reruns of Gilmore Girls c) SEX. Well, the lack thereof.  

I thought “my increased libido surely couldn’t be scientifically linked to Tinder,” but then I realised there was a subconscious link between how I felt about what the app could do for me and what I wanted. I realised that there were bits I did not miss about swiping right, like the bad dates and efforts in flirting. But, what I did enjoy were the casual hook-ups. Yet, did I really need Tinder to enjoy this?


Being a liberated, empowered and successful woman is something I’ve worked hard for. If I could simplify my life to the extreme, it would consist of: my family and friends, my work, my home, my book collection, cute plants and surprise, surprise, Tinder. It comes at the end of a list of things that have existed in my life for a long time, and that is both completely acceptable and means it’s important to some degree.

Giving up Tinder only reinforced things about myself that I probably already knew. The app isn’t what influences my identity, but using it as I please to feel in charge of myself and sexy is empowering  (it’s back on my iPhone next to Citymapper as I write this). Reaffirming your self-love is acknowledging all the things that make you happy and knowing when to quit the things that don’t. Taking the time to actually reflect on your values can be the most refreshing thing of all. For now, I won’t feel too disappointed if a little red flame pops up on my screen.

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Priya Shemar