Swipe left, swipe right, roll eyes, and repeat. Girl, the wild world of dating apps is a strange place. On one hand, dating apps are a really cool way to browse a catalog of allegedly available people who may be good for the night or a lifetime depending on “how things go.” On another hand, dating apps feel like a trip down the rabbit hole into some weird Alice in Wonderland-esque universe where nothing makes sense. After what I’m realizing has been years of swiping, fishing, matching, hinging, meeting, dating, and failing, I’ve finally implemented some boundaries and standards to keep the weirdos at bay (thank God). It may sound silly, but I stopped entertaining people for the sake of “what if.” You know what I mean: “what if he’s a nice guy?” or “what if these are just really bad angles in all of his pictures?” I gave up on wondering what if and dealt with what was. Most importantly, I stopped giving my number out on dating apps.
After years of swiping, fishing, matching, hinging, meeting, dating, and failing, I’ve finally implemented some boundaries and standards to keep the weirdos at bay.
Frankly, I’m not comfortable with a bunch of strangers having my phone number. It’s important for me to maintain my boundaries and also protect my privacy. Giving my phone number feels like I’m handing out invitations to my private, more personal life. I don’t think men I don’t know should be able to know me in that way. Honestly, I’ve regretted giving my number out too quickly. Some people are only out to collect numbers and others have no serious intentions anyway. Giving my number out too quickly has sometimes made it difficult for me to discern the interest from the creepy. It’s hard to rid yourself of creeps once they have your number. I’ve experienced people I’ve blocked calling from different numbers. If I’d just left them on the app, ridding myself of them would have been a lot easier. Still not convinced? Before you fire off—hear me out.
1. I limit people’s access
We live in a fast-paced, instantly gratified society where we all feel entitled to each other at the click of a button or the status of a delivered text, but no ma’am. Failing to give my phone number out allows me to limit not only who has access to me, but how much access they have. Setting this boundary means that only those I’m comfortable with will have immediate access to my time, energy, and attention. Everyone else will need to wait until I check my apps. I think it’s important to note that none of my app notifications are turned on either. I will see them when I see them. Limiting those distractions and setting this boundary helps me to remain focused on what’s most important to me.
Unfortunately, a stranger from the internet ranks pretty low on my list of priorities. Until someone earns relevancy in my life, they have none, just as I should not have any in their life. If a connection is there and interest grows, getting to know them will become more important and relevant to me. I think it’s a misstep to allow strangers from the internet to have that much space in your life. Yes, we are searching for our mates, but let’s not forget these people are literal strangers until proven otherwise. The desire for a companion should not completely throw you off your axis to the point you are allowing every person who swipes right an opportunity to be with you. And let’s be honest: many of the folks who end up in our inboxes are uninteresting, oddly sexual upon first swipe, or looking to line their cellphones with numbers they don’t intend on calling. We deserve better.
2. There are so many other means of communication
We’ve got Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, dating apps, letters, smoke signals, and pigeons for goodness sake! Thankfully, we’re living with brand-spanking-new technology that allows us to remain connected through something other than a phone number. Many apps offer video and voice chat right through the app. If a man asks for my number (and I’m interested in getting to know him), I offer to chat through social media, email, or the app we’re on. He either will get with it or get lost. If he gets lost, that saves me from days, weeks, or months of emotional chaos and mental exhaustion trying to interpret “mixed signals.”
I can almost hear one of you asking, “Well, how are you going to go on a date if you don’t give him your number?” or “How are you supposed to get to know each other if you never talk on the phone?” I’ve got answers for you. I stopped giving out my number because I realized moving the conversation from the dating app didn’t make us any closer or progress the budding relationship any faster. In fact, it just led to a thread of text messages and missed phone calls until we fell off faster than we swiped.
3. Setting a boundary helps me see people clearly
Failing to give out my number has shown people’s character very quickly. Those without boundaries don’t want you to have any either. When I fail to give a man my number just because he asks for it, it allows me to see how he handles rejection and boundaries. There have been and will continue to be men who curse me out, ghost me, or try to slyly (or forcefully) manipulate me out of my boundary all because I politely declined. I didn’t need them anyway. Then, there have been men (and will continue to be men) who understand my boundary, respect it, and operate within it. Just that fast, I’ve eliminated some people who didn’t deserve me from my dating pool. Yes, there are plenty of fish in the proverbial dating sea, but I don’t need more fish—I need better ones.
They say doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity. After years of operating without boundaries, I’m implementing them now. I don’t want a random text from a guy from Tinder in six months just because he’s bored; I want something meaningful. Everyone has their own dating strategy, and this is mine. Even if you don’t agree with my boundaries, it’s important for you to examine what your boundaries are. What has worked for you? What hasn’t? Your dating strategy should support your emotional wellbeing, as well as protect you from people whose intentions you aren’t sure of. My dating strategy helps me to feel in control, empowered, and safe. So, I’m sticking to it.