Dating apps as a student: 'I am not swiping to complete myself'


By Zoë Crowther, Students' Union Correspondent

Whether you like it or not, we are the first generation to enter an adult dating world revolutionised by ‘swiping apps.’ Perhaps this means that it falls on us to change the conversation about how to use them in a healthy and progressive way.

I'm potentially the worst person to offer any advice on this topic. By most accounts, nobody would describe my dating app history as ‘successful.’ However, labelling anyone’s dating experiences as ‘successes’ or ‘failures’ is precisely what we should not be doing.

When I tell family members or friends that I use dating apps, a common response is ‘at uni you must be surrounded by people all the time, why would you need to use an app?’ My reply: I don’t need to use an app, I want to.

Epigram / Zoë Crowther

It would be extremely problematic to have any form of dependency on dating apps. Behind the anonymity of their phone screens, users often behave differently to how they would in person, and it should never be assumed that everyone has your best interests at heart. If you treat dating apps as a chance to have fun and explore different places, you can then enjoy any emotional attachment which may or may not follow.

Dating apps can be an effective way of breaking out of the university bubble. It can be refreshing to have conversations with people who have varied and interesting jobs, while avoiding the inevitable awkwardness of bumping into matches in the library. However, there are times when coming into contact with the other side can give you an unwanted reality check.

Epigram / Zoë Crowther

The assumptions surrounding dating apps are an extension of the pressures placed on young people’s romantic and sexual lives. The core assumption is that there is a binary division between looking for a serious relationship and wanting to ‘sleep around.’ It is okay to fall somewhere in the middle, and sometimes the process of discovering what you’re looking for can be as enjoyable as finding it.

Of course you do come across people who only have one thing in mind, and sarcasm can apparently get lost in the post.

Epigram / Zoë Crowther

The anonymous author of a recent Epigram article wrote: ‘The biggest mistake of sleeping around, is sleeping around. You should be picky about the people you share intimate moments with.’

There are many issues with this statement: what is healthy for one person can be very different for another. If having casual sex or using dating apps is not for you, that is absolutely fine, but do not judge others for doing so.

Of course you should only interact with people when you feel comfortable, and should exercise your right to ignore, block or report matches who act inappropriately.

One repeated cliché is that before being comfortable with another person, you have to be completely comfortable with yourself. But is this really achievable for most students? University is a strange and transitionary time, often characterised by stress and uncertainty. Whether single or in a relationship, most students are still at the beginning stages of testing their limits and exploring their sexual identity.

Maybe we should start celebrating the fact that most of us don’t know what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. As long as you stay safe and sensible when talking or meeting with strangers, you can find that even if a date doesn’t ‘go anywhere’ you can leave feeling empowered, independent and content.

I am not swiping to ‘complete’ myself in some way. I am swiping because I don’t know what is out there, and this is just one of the many ways I can find out.

Featured image: Epigram / Hope Riley

Are you a serial swiper? Or are you lost in the era of the modern dating app? Either way - let us know!

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Zoë Crowther

Students' Union Correspondent