For some people, dating apps are like an ex they just can't quit. The relationship is fun and promising at first, but eventually, things start to feel boring and predictable. They take a break. They get lonely. They get back together. And then the cycle begins again. Sound familiar? If you're someone who downloads and deletes the same dating apps again and again, then you've likely fallen prey to a dating trend I call vappcillating. (And if you've never heard of it before, that's because I invented it. You're welcome.)
A vappcillator is a person who vacillates between wanting the swipe life and missing the single life, so they're always downloading and deleting dating apps. People who fidget with their apps break up and make up with dating apps like it's their job.
The main reason people seem to vappcillate? Dating fatigue. Initiating new conversations and going through the rudimentary questions over and over becomes exhausting after a while, and sometimes, you need a break to recharge. "I get sick of conversations where you keep having a back-and-forth with someone but nobody makes the move to initiate a date," Kristin, 27, tells me. Rand, 27, feels the same way. "'Connections' are made and then fizzle out like that," she says. "They'll message me or I'll message them and either I'll get no response or we'll talk for a day (or less) and cease communicating."
For others, a string of disappointing matches might cause them to take a temporary break from dating. "I download the app for a week or so and get super frustrated by swiping left constantly and not finding people that I think are interesting or worth my time," Morgan, 28, says. "Then, months later, when I've not encountered anyone new and haven't gone on a date in a while, I decide it's time to 'put myself back out there.'" Mark, 27, agrees, telling me, "I get sick and tired of men acting like boys and run out of hope. But then I reinstall the apps again because I'm lonely, only to go through the same vicious cycle over and over again."
Some people think of apps as more of a game than a legitimate dating tool, so curiosity or boredom draws them back into the swipe scene every once in a while. "Sometimes I'll just make dating profiles when I'm bored or just want some validation," Hannah, 23, explains. Allie, 25, feels similarly, saying, "When I feel like I'm not getting enough romantic attention elsewhere or I'm bored, I'll dabble with the app. Once I'm otherwise occupied, I don't look at the app for a month or more and then return to dozens of messages and the comfort of random attention."
Others vappcillate because they're hung up on an ex or a crush, and they can never seem to find a match who compares to that person. "Personally, I am hung up on a guy, and so I think I compare everyone on dating apps to him and they never live up," Lauren, 22, admits.
Vappcillating isn't necessary a bad thing. For those who don't take dating apps too seriously, rejoining when they feel like they have the time and the interest to commit and quitting when they don't can be healthy. However, if you feel emotionally invested every time you download and devastated every time you don't find a good match, you may be doing yourself a disservice by vappcillating. As Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching, previously told Elite Daily, "[Online] dating is an investment of time and energy into someone else. If you’re not seeing a return on that investment, move on."
And if you don't think you could ever really form a legitimate connection to someone you met on a dating app, then you might also want to consider giving up dating apps for good. Your time is likely better spent meeting people IRL than swiping through matches you have no intention of pursuing. "Don't push yourself too hard," licensed therapist Nicole Richardson advised. "If [using dating apps] really doesn't feel good to you, don't do it."
If dating apps start to feel like a drain, delete or deactivate your profile. And if you wind up regretting your choice down the line? I think you'll know exactly what to do.
Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching
Nicole Richardson, licensed therapist