"Thumbing" used to be another way to say "hitchhiking." But in the world of modern dating, it has a whole new meaning. People previously used thumbing to try and get picked up — now thumbing is a dating trend that may be preventing you from getting picked up. If you're wondering why you never seem to experience those meet-cutes that people in rom-coms always do, you might have this highly common habit to blame.
According to Maria Avgitidis, a matchmaker and the founder of Agape Match who coined the term, thumbing is when you scroll or swipe on your phone out of boredom. Whether you're waiting in line at a coffee shop or waiting for your friend to meet you at a bar, it's hard to resist pulling out your phone and thumbing through social media when you're by yourself in public. It's an easy way to pass the time, and it gives you the "security of looking busy." There's nothing wrong with it. Pretty much everyone does it.
But if you secretly hope for a public meet-cute, Avgitidis suggests putting your phone away in public. In her opinion, staring at your phone is basically the equivalent of wearing a giant "DO NOT DISTURB" sign around your neck. "A phone can give a sense of security," Avgitidis says, "but the mere presence of it can create an obstacle" to conversations with cute strangers.
Though Avgitidis herself used to be able to chat up strangers with ease when she was out alone, she says doing that now is pretty much impossible. "If your friend goes to the restroom, we all take our phones out and thumb away until that person returns," she explains. "Because we're all guilty of this, we have eliminated a crucial part of spontaneous socialization."
It's pretty common to thumb when you're bored, but you might also do it as a result of feeling awkward or self-conscious when by yourself. Staring at your phone screen is a comforting way to appear less conspicuously alone. "I like to do things by myself, but I don't necessarily like to look alone," Alli, 24, explains. Christy, 24, agrees, saying, "I think I turn to my phone when I'm alone in public because it seems less sad to me to be alone and on your phone. At least you're doing something, not just sitting there."
Personally, I always feel as though the more attention I pay to my phone, the less attention other people will pay to the fact that I'm alone. But when you evade attention, you also discourage cuties from approaching you.
If you want that organic meet-cute, Avgitidis suggests resisting that urge to hide behind your screen. "When you're at an event, put the phone in your pocket or your purse," she says. "Push yourself to be present. Make it a goal to speak and connect with two people you've never met before."
There's nothing wrong with catching up on Insta when you have some downtime, but while you're scrolling away, you might accidentally miss the hottie checking you out. Practice striking up random conversations rather than pulling out your phone, and you might be surprised by the results.
Maria Avgitidis, professional matchmaker and founder of Agape Match