Online Dating: Giving Up Altogether?

Here’s everything about giving up online dating altogether:

Whether or not you should give up online dating is entirely up to you.

If online dating is failing to help you achieve your aims, or if it is leaving you feeling less happy than before you started, then give it up.

If your overall experience feels positive and has left you happier, then keep at it as long as you like.

So if you want to learn all about quitting online dating, then this article is for you.

Let’s jump right into it!

Online Dating: Giving Up Altogether? (Everything to Know)

What Constitutes Online Dating? (4 Types)

Let’s all pause for a minute.

The question of the day is actually a pretty big one, and it’s extremely personal.

I’m going to get pretty deep into a lot of different ideas; the entire purpose is to help you think about the question and come up with your own answer.

In order to do that, we need to all be on the same page at the beginning.

I’m confident that you know what online dating is.

You have your own entire concept in mind, and it probably applies to things you have tried—if not fully invested in. 

But, the idea you have in mind won’t match everyone, so I’m going to spend a few minutes laying out some ideas of online dating for the sake of consistency.

Online dating consists of a few different concepts and applications.

It absolutely applies to dating websites and algorithms (like eharmony).

Online dating also involves match-up apps (like Tinder).

I’m going to go even farther than that.

Online dating can also consist of social media interactions, online gaming, chat room conversations, and any other mechanism that you use to meet people online and arrange a date.

That’s pretty broad.

In order to do it all justice, I’ll need to flesh out some of these ideas a little more.

#1 Dating Apps

There are more dating apps than I could ever hope to name in a single day.

Tinder is probably the most famous, but Grindr, Bumble, and OkCupid come to mind.

The big distinction here is that I’m grouping matching apps a little differently from the more old-fashioned match-making algorithms.

Those two things sound similar, so let’s talk about why they’re different.

Modern dating apps are all about providing users with as many possible viable matches as possible.

If you’ve ever scrolled through Tinder, you get the idea.

These apps usually aren’t trying to help you find your soulmate.

They’re just trying to help you make introductions.

Apps that focus on the numbers game go in this category.

Anything that is focusing on the quality of matches over the quantity goes in the next group.

#1 Dating Algorithms

Again, this is my own made-up category.

I’m just trying to distinguish between an app that gives you as many swipes as possible and a tool that tries to really help you maximize the value of each match.

This is more of the eharmony approach (although plenty of companies work in this space).

Ultimately, using these algorithms is similar to using dating apps.

The major difference is your own set of expectations while using the tool.

For the most part, expectations are higher with dating algorithms, and that can be a mixed bag.

For some people, the higher expectations make it easier to spend less time on the app because you’re not just grinding through match after match.

For other people, the increased expectations put more pressure on how they use the app, and that can create negative feelings.

This is a great opportunity to see how the nature of the dating mechanism can bear a large impact on how you feel about the whole thing.

#2 Social Media

Some of you might want to argue with me about this, but I’m including it anyway.

Social media is used for a lot of different purposes, but there are plenty of people who use it to try to enhance their dating prospects.

The old phrase of “sliding into DMs” seems to summarize the concept pretty well.

If you’re scoring dates through social media, then that counts as online dating, and there’s a specific reason for that.

Social media communication is ultimately very similar to online dating communication.

Until you meet in person, the mechanisms of talking are the same.

So, if there are problems with online dating, they probably extend to this aspect of social media too.

None of this is to say that online dating is always bad or that you absolutely need to give up social media.

The point is that some people have problems with these internet tools, and when that’s the case, it’s important to be able to identify and remedy the problem.

#4 Others

The truth is that social media isn’t the only online dating alternative across the internet.

You can use online gaming to meet people and try to start dating.

You can do the same with forums, online communities, chatrooms (especially something like Omegle), or anything else that helps you meet strangers on the internet.

Again, this is all about how you feel about everything.

If it’s possible to have a bad relationship with a dating app, it’s also possible to have a bad relationship with any online tool that you use to meet people.

That’s what we’re really exploring today.

Why Are You Online Dating? (6 Reasons)

All of that covers what I consider online dating.

Whether you’re spending half of every day swiping on an app or just occasionally DMing people on Instagram, you’re part of this online dating world.

Naturally, the amount of time and energy you put into online dating is a major part of whether or not you need to give it up.

If you only spend an hour a week on this stuff, you’re probably fine.

If it consumes your thoughts all day every day, there might be a problem.

To better explore when online dating is in fact a problem, we can consider motivations.

People use these tools for a lot of different reasons.

I’ll cover the most common, and that can help you think about what you really want from your experiences and whether you’re having a good or bad time with online dating.

#1 Searching for Love

Not everyone on dating apps is looking for marriage, but that sentiment really did help launch the concept.

Originally, people were having trouble meeting viable long-term romantic partners, and dating algorithms stepped in to try to help.

But today, a lot of people are on these apps for something less committal.

I don’t know what applies to you, but I want to cover the basics.

If you’re on dating apps to try to find a serious, committed relationship, then you’re on a very different trajectory compared to a lot of other users.

If the apps aren’t helping you find what you’re looking for, then maybe they aren’t for you. 

Again, I can’t make this decision for you, but I would suggest that finding a life partner is the hardest task for these apps to accomplish.

#2 Getting a Date

If you’re not taking online dating so seriously, then maybe you just want to get a date.

It doesn’t matter if the relationship turns serious or not; you just think it’s easier to meet people and make dates using the apps.

If the apps are working toward that end, then maybe you don’t need to give up on online dating.

As long as the process doesn’t come with a bunch of negative feelings or regret, then you might be in a good spot.

After all, the apps shine when it comes to introducing lots of people to each other.

If you’re getting dates, and you’re comfortable with the outcomes of those dates, then you don’t really need to give up online dating.

You only really need to quit when you can identify some way that the apps are bad for you.

#3 Wanting to Hook Up

Some people use apps to get dates and meet people.

Others have a more sexually focused agenda.

That’s up to you, but if you’re in the group of people who use apps to find sexual partners, then let’s talk about that for a minute.

If the apps are good for getting dates, then they’re probably also good for helping people who want to hook up find each other.

If you’re really just about the numbers game right now, then online dating is probably the easiest way to fulfill that lifestyle.

The advice here is the same as above.

Unless the apps are making you unhappy or bringing you to harm, then you’re fine.

If, however, you’re not happy with the way things are right now, then keep reading.

I’ll discuss some of the most powerful reasons to abandon online dating a little later, and I’ll give you some alternative options.

#4 Making Friends

Online dating isn’t always about romance.

You could use the apps to meet people who have things in common with you.

From there, maybe you can make friends.

If you’re using the apps with no romantic agenda, then things are a little different.

These apps really can be good for making friends, but the way you go about things matters a lot.

It really boils down to how you interact with your friends.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with having friends who you only talk to online, but you need some face-to-face friends too.

If the friends you make on the apps are people you actually see in real life and cherish, then there’s probably not an issue.

If you’re slowly replacing in-person contact for online friends through apps, then take a pause and really think about whether or not that makes you happy.

It’s not that online friends are bad.

It’s that online-only relationships can’t fulfill all of your needs—even in terms of friendship.

#5 Getting Any Social Interaction

Now, we’re taking the concept of online friends and generalizing.

Instead of using apps to make real, lifelong friends, you might just be making online acquaintances.

In this case, it’s more likely that you’re sacrificing in-person social moments for online ones, and that can easily drift into problematic territory.

No one can tell you exactly when online dating becomes a problem in this context, but it’s something to consider with a healthy dose of caution.

If you feel like you’re getting good social interaction, then that’s fine.

If you’re feeling lonely and trying to compensate with online dating, then that can easily lead to a downward spiral.

Proceed with caution.

#6 Seeing What Happens

The last category I want to discuss is a group of people who don’t take online dating very seriously at all.

You’re playing with the apps just to see what happens.

You don’t really have an agenda.

Life’s an adventure, and this is just one more chapter in the book of your life.

With this mentality, you’re less likely to develop an unhealthy relationship with online dating tools, but no one is completely immune.

As long as online dating remains fun and interesting and harmless, knock yourself out.

If you start to notice negative associations with the process, then consider moving on to the next adventure—one that exists in the offline world.

Should You Give Up Online Dating Altogether? (4 Questions to Ask Yourself)

We’ve made some progress.

Now that we’ve covered the essence of online dating and discussed the most common reasons that people do it, we can get into the real decision here.

Should you give up?

The answer to that question, obviously, depends entirely on you.

But, I can walk you through a few ideas that might help you flesh out your own feelings on the matter.

I’m not here to convince you of anything.

I’m just trying to provide resources to help you figure out your own mind on this.

Odds are, you came here because, deep down, you’ve already made a decision.

The questions below are going to help you identify that decision.

#1 Are You Fulfilling Anything?

You use dating apps and/or other resources for a reason.

Do they leave you feeling any sense of fulfillment?

Have you met people you really care about?

Are you better off for the experience?

Is it enriching in any way?

If online dating is making you happy, then you don’t need to give it up.

But, if that were the case, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now.

If online dating isn’t providing you with any identifiable, positive value, then stop wasting time on it.

I’ll discuss ways it can be harmful a little later, but we really don’t have to go that far.

Even if the experience is neutral for you, it’s a waste of time and energy if you don’t benefit from it in some way.

#2 Do You Have an Alternative?

This one is pretty easy.

If you have other means to meet people, get dates, or otherwise replace whatever it is you gain from online dating, then you’re set.

There’s no reason to fight with online dating tools.

Do your thing.

But, if you don’t have an alternative, then this is a little more complicated.

If online dating is just plain making you miserable, then you should probably give it up.

Really, though, it’s more of a mixed bag for most people.

So, I’ll put it like this.

If a part of you feels like you would be better off without online dating, then seek out alternatives.

I have some suggestions in the last section of the article.

#3 Is Online Dating Harming You?

This is arguably the most important thing for you to consider today.

There are undoubtedly people who have a healthy relationship with online dating.

It’s positive in their lives, and they don’t need to seriously consider this question.

But, for a lot of other people, online dating isn’t clearly healthy or positive.

The truth is that it can fall into a lot of internet social traps.

Instead of getting positive social connections from the dating apps, you actually feel more isolated.

It won’t be true for everyone or every instance, but if you are getting overall negative results from your online dating experience (as in the whole thing just makes you feel worse), then you should consider giving it up entirely.

That simple decision can do you a lot of good, especially if you replace online dating with some type of in-person social activity.

#4 Are You in a Committed Relationship?

On a completely different note, plenty of people who use online dating resources are in committed relationships.

If you’re in that camp, then there are some serious questions to ask yourself.

Some relationships are open.

If that applies to you, then you can try talking to your partner(s) about why you’re interested in online dating and if there’s a healthy resolution for those feelings.

If you’re in an exclusive relationship and you want to engage in online dating, then there are probably some issues that need attention.

Going through with online dating before you address those issues isn’t going to help anything or anyone.

Are There Good Alternatives to Online Dating? (4 Options)

We’ve established what constitutes online dating.

Then, I took you on a journey through the various reasons why you might want to give up online dating.

But, you’re never really going to walk away from it until and unless you have better options.

That’s what this section is all about.

It’s still up to you whether or not you’re going to quit online dating.

But if you’re leaning in that direction, then there are plenty of other ways to meet people.

Please keep something in mind.

None of the suggestions below are guaranteed to help you find your next romantic attachment.

Instead, these are focused on increasing socialization in general.

From there, it’s up to you and the fates.

#1 Church

This might be a weird thing to see first.

I’m definitely not here to promote any religion over another.

That’s not the point.

Instead, I’m pointing out that about 85% of the entire population of the world identifies with some kind of religion.

If you subscribe to a particular faith, then church can be a great resource for you.

Going to a church that aligns with your faith can help you find like minds.

It’s a great place to meet potential partners who already share some of your fundamental values.

Even if you don’t make a romantic connection, a healthy church can be a great source of social interaction, and that’s still important.

#2 Social Clubs

Not to worry, there are plenty of social resources that have nothing to do with religion.

If church isn’t your thing, you can steer into something that is your thing.

There are so many different types of social clubs; I’m only going to cover a handful.

You can look into local sports like a kickball or softball league.

If you’re more of a gamer, then a D&D club or something comparable would be great for a little social interaction.

You can join a book club, a martial arts class, a hiking group, or anything else that sounds promising.

What matters is that you are interacting with people in person and you actually enjoy the activity.

Beyond that, things can develop organically.

#3 Classes

Classes present another opportunity for social and romantic connections.

You can go all in and enroll in a college.

If you’re a little less gung-ho, you could take a local cooking class or a fitness class at a gym.

You could even do a wine and painting class on Tuesday evenings.

In this one case, you can browse social media to see what kinds of classes, meet-ups, and other opportunities exist in your area.

Then, get off the devices and go meet some people.

#4 Volunteering

The last major alternative that I’m going to suggest today is volunteering.

Once again, the options are vast.

Volunteering is a great way to interact with people, and it can be so rewarding too.

While working in a soup kitchen will certainly have you interacting with a lot of people, it’s not the only option.

Habitat for Humanity gets you outside and working on projects with a lot of people.

Even working in an animal shelter will put you in social situations with other people at the shelter.

Think about what actually matters to you, and then see if you can do volunteering towards that end.

You’ll meet people along the way, and you might even make a life-changing connection.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

    View all posts