Tell me if this sounds familiar: it's 8pm on a Tuesday night. You're near the television, casually binge watching the final four seasons of Scandal; eating Smart Food in one hand and swiping through possible dates within the other. You want anybody who looks mildly cute, because why not? There's a 90 % chance that you are not going to initiate a discussion with these people, let alone meet them for any drink. At best, you just want a little bit of an ego boost and to seem like there's people you could date if you actually wanted to. You're actually lukewarm on dating these days, however the mindless swiping a minimum of makes you feel like you're trying. Sort of. In the end, didn't your pals just tell you just how you have to “put yourself too much there” more?
There's a word for this type of behavior. It’s called “obligaswiping.” Coined by Cosmopolitan writer, Carina Hsieh, she explains how she's an experienced obligaswiper. “I go on there with the aim of finding someone, really. But be it the result of crushed expectations from years of dating app experience, shyness, or just pure laziness, I never stay in it. When plans start being made, I'm fully bored and out of the door. I binge swipe and go super hard at Tinder or Bumble or Hinge for a few days after which immediately find myself either disgusted by my thirst or just bored.”
When explaining why she gets compelled to obligaswipe to begin with, Hsieh writes, “I swipe since i feel like I must, and then I stop prior to actually meeting up. I've jokingly called this behavior “obligaswiping,” because it's inspired by an obligation to prove to myself that i am “putting myself out there.” Really, I just want a budget and easy route: a bunch of matches with hot guys I could “totally date if I wanted to” but who I do not care enough about to follow through.”
Like Hsieh, I've also done my share of obligaswiping. I actually do it for the same reasons she mentions above. Like a single person I feel like I should. I also want to feel like I'm doing something about my singleness whilst not really doing anything. Also, swiping is fun. The way in which dating apps are set up, looking through potential dates feels scarily much like scrolling through your Instagram. What could it hurt to toss out some hearts & likes? (Also, taking a look at guy's selfies makes commercial breaks moderately less painful).
But as Hsieh highlights in her article, obligaswiping is more than simply an effort to quash boredom. Dr. Nikki Goldstein, a sexologist and relationship expert and author of Single But Dating: An area Help guide to Dating within the Digital Age, tells Cosmopolitan it’s all too common for singles to feel personally accountable for their own singleness. “Obligaswiping” is an response to that. “[It] can shift that sense of being accountable for being single,” Dr. Goldstein says. “That way, you can rebut a friends' comments with, 'But I'm on Tinder and Bumble.”
However, the weird aspect of obligaswiping is that it can feel just like (if not more) draining than actually dating. Rather than reinvigorating your dating mojo, it may dampen it further (and maybe even stop you from fully enjoying those Scandal episodes).
So, here's my solution: be as intentional as you can together with your online dating habits. If you aren't really within the mood to date, don't feel guilty. Disconnect out of your usual apps and have a much-needed break. Focus on yourself. Spend time with your pals. Do items that you enjoy. When your dating mojo returns, come back to the apps with a fresh group of eyes. There is no point being on a dating app if you don't actually wish to day anyone.
Secondly, don't feel responsible for your personal singleness. It doesn't matter what society suggests, being single isn't an issue that must be “solved.” Sure, you need to make an effort make new friends if you genuinely wish to, but “putting yourself too much there” can simply mean showing up for your life and nurturing other sorts of positive relationships while staying open to the idea of love — something that's far more easy to do when you are not staring at your phone.