My Month of Online Dating Detox

My name is Jamie and I'm an online date-aholic.

For the better part of the last eight years, I've dabbled on a variety of dating sites, sometimes one, two, three... or more at a time. Within the last year or so, I upped my game. It seemed like every week, there were new dating sites to try. And I couldn't help but eagerly sign up for each. It was like fad diets -- every type of site for every type of dater. Ones that connected you through friends of friends. Others that allowed you to date in groups. Others still that were based on nothing other than a shared religious preference.

What started as a fun, silly experience rapidly spiraled out of control. I was up to five dating sites. Gone were the days where you needed to log onto a computer to chat -- your phone was your direct line to Datesville. I'd hop on Tinder and go through 50 matches without thinking twice about it. Couldn't sleep? I'd hop back on for another 100 swipes. I'd hunger for my noontime Hinge matches like a junkie waiting for a fix. When I got my OkCupid weekly matches, I couldn't click the app fast enough to see whom they'd chosen for me. Once connected, I'd often chat with as many as 10 guys simultaneously. I was legitimately interested in some. Others, I really didn't care about -- I did it just to pass the time.

Every now and then, these conversations would end with a date. More often than not, they went nowhere. I'd talk to guys for weeks without either of us initiating any hangout. We were virtual pen pals, wasting one another's time with random texts at odd hours. It was fine at first. I didn't mind the silly nonchalance with which everyone seemed to dabble. But then I got fed up.

Two months ago, I started a new job. With the transition came a heaping load of responsibility, longer work hours and a greater strain on both my brain and my psyche than previously. My formerly bustling social life took a backseat as work took a toll. I needed more sleep to function at full capacity, so weeknight dates where I'd consume multiple drinks (rendering me slightly hungover the following day), were no longer options.

Dating requires a lot of energy, both physically and emotionally. It can be awesome. But it can also be draining. My former excitement at the prospect of weekly first dates gradually turned into reticence. I became more discriminating than eve r-- if I was going to go out, it better damn well be for a fun evening. So, a casual drink here or there seemed more like a burden than a perk.

I'd also recently decided that I was fed up with what can only be classified as disrespect from a number of these men. Conversations that started on a friendly note often took on more sinister undertones as sexual topics were broached prematurely -- if I've never met you, why would I want a dick pic? Or to talk about 'what I like in bed'?

I began to get turned off by these interactions (not a good sign for a person I've never even met and was considering dating). It became more and more apparent that men were on these sites for very different reasons than women. (Why join a dating site if you have no interest in actually dating?) Worse still, even when I did manage to make it onto a date, more often than not, the follow up text from them would be something along the lines of, "I'm not really looking to date but I'd love to hook up. You game?" Ugh.

And yet, in spite of the fact that date after date went by without finding people truly worth dating, I couldn't quit. I'd check the sites multiple times a day, getting more and more frustrated as I went. I wasn't getting what I wanted. I was being disrespected. And I couldn't stop.

So one day, after a long conversation with a close, wise friend who suggested that perhaps it was time to take a breather from online dating and try dating IRL, I took her advice.

I went for my morning run to think it over and by the time I got home, I'd mentally committed to going a month without online dating. That seemed like long enough to make a difference, but short enough that it didn't seem overwhelming.

The first day was rough. I missed the high of getting my matches. The thrill of connecting with someone. Those first butterflies when you start chatting with someone. But I wanted to give my theory a real shot. That if I wanted to meet someone worth dating, it wasn't going to start online.

Stay tuned for how it goes...