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Dating at 30: Why Dating Apps Don’t Work and What to do Instead

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Dating apps are growing every single year. But just because they’re there, does that mean you have to use them? What are your other options? Dating at 30 might not be where you want to be and you might be wondering why dating apps don’t work and what to try instead.

Why Dating Apps Don’t Work and What to do Instead

Dating at 30

Alright, if you want to get technical, I am 31, but hear me out. Dating at this age is not at all what I had in mind. Life’s funny like that, isn’t it? The things you don’t picture happening, happen and the things you said “that’ll never be me” to, are currently you.

I never thought I’d be on a dating app. Back in my early 20s I had hopped on Plenty of Fish (anyone remember that scummy site?), invited some dude I had never met previously TO MY HOUSE (sheesh, the crime junkie in me now is appalled and very relieved to be alive), sent him home and never spoke to him again. I also never used Plenty of Fish again. Or any sort of dating site. That is until after my divorce years ago.

I got divorced about 3 years ago now…4? No 3, in 2021 our divorce finalized. I had been dating this great man I met through a friend. We dated for about two years, after that I tried dating apps but just stuck with Hinge. I attempted Bumble and it felt borderline icky to me. Hinge felt the best and I had some nice dates that never went anywhere, another that did lead to somewhere (though I won’t even get started on that), and then a couple of scummy dates that made me realize the dating app game was not for me.

Dating in your 30s is rough. In my opinion anyways. I know what I want, I know what I like, all I’m asking is for someone who is on a similar level. That isn’t to say I want someone rich, but I want someone who is working towards something, who can communicate, knows what they want, who has a similar spiritual foundation and is willing to be vulnerable and emotional. It’s a green flag for me if you’re doing some sort of self-growth or have been/are in therapy working on yourself. I think these things show that you are self-aware and working towards self-improvement. I do these things and I’d like a partner who values that too.

I think it’s extremely important that single people relish and thrive in their singledom. Then, when they do find their partner, they aren’t reliant on that other person to be the source of their motivation, success, happiness, etc. It’s perfectly natural to lean on someone every now and then, but you can’t put the pressure on someone else to manage and fulfill your own emotions.

But how, during this busy fast-paced culture we currently live in, can we possibly find someone like that? Dating apps? Maybe. I don’t think I will find that there though. Let’s talk more about dating apps and why I don’t like them.

Why Dating Apps Don’t Work

First, I’d like to call out some of the dangers of dating apps. We’re all aware of the dangers in online usage as a whole, you never really know who people are on the other side of the screen. But can I just point out that Elizabeth didn’t meet Ted Bundy on an app. She met him in a bar (or club?) like people used to do on the regular. You never really know who people are in general, but I do believe social media and online dating has heightened that aspect even more.

Additionally, Bringham Young University “analyzed the records of nearly 2,000 sexual assault victims from 2017 to 2020 and found that 14 percent of the attacks occurred at the first in-person meeting after connecting on a dating app.” People targeted those with mental illnesses and it was reported that those attacks from online encounters were even more violent.

When it comes to online dating, there is very little, if any, type of vetting process. Which I think is terrible! I can tell you the typical precautions, don’t share personal information, be aware of your surroundings, meet in a public, crowded space. But have you thought about things like making sure they don’t follow you home? Watching to be certain they don’t tag your car? Have you considered they might have a buddy watching from across the street ready to surprise you from behind as you walk back to your car? I have heard some wild stories (again, crime junkie), including a sex ring operation where a guy flaked on their date and his buddy (whom the woman was unaware of) was at the bar asking if he can keep her company since her date bailed. Yeah, it was an entire constructed plan. Ya’ll, you don’t think it can happen to you until it does. I urge you, take a friend. Propose a double-date or ditch him (or them or her, we’re all-inclusive here). My point is, it might not be “all that common”, but it’s far too common for my taste.

Dating apps don’t work because they weren’t constructed to. Think about it. If dating apps were successful, those companies would lose money. They want you to keep coming back to the app. They aren’t designing them for you to find the love of your life, a good person, get married, and delete the app for good (no matter what Hinge claims).

People get on dating apps for convenience, superficiality, and so that people can hide their true selves behind a screen or filters to keep their demons under wraps. I am not knocking every single person on the apps because I know there are individuals who are in it for the right reasons. But our society has programmed impatience and perfection into us, that we wouldn’t get in the real life.

Dating apps do not encourage someone to be real, raw, unfiltered, and they certainly do not encourage long-lasting relationships. Think about this, dating apps are designed to be fast, convenient, and superficial. Long-lasting relationships require patience, depth, communication, and hard work. Dating apps are fine to find short-term, casual relations but they don’t work (usually) for long-term, successful relationships.

I know there will be people who say “Well I met my wife/husband/partner on a dating app and we’ve been married for 10+ years with 6 kids.” It does happen, I’m not saying it’s impossible, and congratulations to you! That’s awesome. For the rest of us, let’s discuss some alternative ways to date.

How to Date without Dating Apps

Let me start with reminding you of getting confident in your singledom. What I mean is that I want you to focus less on “dating” and more on you and what you enjoy doing. Try to find a new hobby or a side hustle that you just really love.

Personally, I read a lot. I hopped on Bumble BFF and have met a bunch of amazing women, two of which have become some very close friends. I teach kettlebell classes and work on my business. I also hone in on my self-growth and have begun doing some international solo traveling. Look, I am loving my life. I am very ready to add another person to it to share in my experiences, but right now I am working on myself, I volunteer and am growing in my relationship with God. When it’s the right time, someone who is running as fast as I am will cross my path. That’s where I want you to get as well.

Stop focusing so much on specifically dating, and start focusing on living. That person will drop into your path once they have evolved to meet your level in this life.

If you don’t believe me, maybe this will entice you. Think about other places where people meet people. Gyms, bookstores, church, networking events, through friends, volunteering, coffee shops, local events, etc. Okay, so each of these things, plus what I’ve said I am focusing on with myself, I have the potential to meet someone at one of my classes, when I am shopping for a new book, at a networking event for my business, during volunteering, when I am experiencing my community at a local event, even as I continue using Bumble BFF and growing my friend group. Do you see my point?

Stop pausing your life for an app and start living your life for yourself. If you’re busy doing what you enjoy, you won’t be waiting around feeling bad that you aren’t meeting the “right one”. Plus, if you meet someone during doing something you love, you already know a little bit about them and are ahead of the game!

Don’t give up on love, give up on dating apps designed to see you fail. I hope this helps and I’ll keep you updated on when I find love!

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