It’s no secret that I use online dating to get to know people while on the road, and location-based apps like Grindr are great in that you can easily get in touch with someone nearby – maybe in the same coffee shop or hotel for example. Nevertheless, I’ve discovered – often the hard way – that Grindr, Scruff, Tinder, or whatever app you like to use, can snowball into a monster that threatens to devour your every waking moment, regardless of whether you are using them to make friends or more-than-friends. That’s definitely not something you want to happen when you are fortunate enough to find yourself in an exotic location you may never visit again.
The truth is, Grindr is a comfort zone – that’s the reason why it was invented after all; to make the terrible task of striking up a conversation with a stranger in a bar or wherever more bearable – so the temptation is to stay in your comfort zone. When I realised I kept falling into the same rut, I decided to lay some ground rules…
Limit the Number of Apps
At one point I must have had 6 apps on my iPad. SIX! Any time I connected to WiFi I had a constant bombardment of messages (Kuala Lumpur was the worst – I was nearly reduced to tears); simply because of the number of apps I had running, and also the novelty of being very fair-skinned with green eyes. I found myself constantly switching in between apps, and convulsing at the percussive alert tones while I wrestled my way through the cumbersome amount of messages. Since my time in Asia last year I’ve cut the number of apps right back. What’s the point in having too many apps since 95% of users on one are on another? It’s simply a case of efficiency; all that time spent on reading messages is time that could be better spent doing… other things.
Never Have a Blank Profile
(Unless of course you are in a particularly sketchy country, in which case maybe it might be a good idea to take a break from Grindr) Why waste time communicating the same basic information? Seriously, there’s only so many times in 10 minutes I can deal with being asked “Wer u frm?” The essential basic information is on my profile (refer to photo), to show I’m a real person. I link to my blog, Instagram (because I’m not sending more pictures en masse over private messages), Twitter and blog Facebook page (definitely NOT my personal page) – the information is there and if people want to know more they can ask me. This definitely helps filter down to the people who are interested in you as a person, and not just your profile picture (which I would keep clean if you want to find some new friends). If you’re just passing through and don’t want to meet, say so. What if they don’t have/won’t share a face pic? It’s probably not a friendly, innocent drink they want to be discrete about.
Only Engage in Quality Conversation
I get that some people are shy, but on the whole I don’t usually reply to messages that consist of only “Hi.” Some would argue that it’s polite to reply, but how am I supposed to reply to that? If I replied to every “Hi” message I received, especially in places like KL, Singapore or London where there are thousands of users, I’d spend tedious hours just replying to those messages when I could be out having a proper face-to-face chat with someone over coffee. Even if I was to reply, how would I decide who to reply to? A message of no substance barely merits a reply of substance; unless someone looks particularly interesting/is a veritable DILF I’m not replying. This goes back to my previous rule. Likewise, if the conversation doesn’t seem to be going anywhere I tend to leave it; it doesn’t bode well for meeting in person. The best way to avoid this is to be upfront about what you are looking for (even if that is just seeing who is online), and then arranging to meet in an appropriate (SAFE) place if that is what you want to do.
Never Send Explicit Pictures
Because there are some body parts not meant to be Instagrammed…
Don’t Be Afraid to Block
This comes easier to some people than it does to me (I’m clearly just too nice). Whether it’s someone being overly persistent, not taking the hint, being rude, turning out to be a bit of a creep or just wasting your time, I think it’s safe to say you can legitimately make use of the block button. As they say: A block a day keeps the psychos away.
Minimise Useage in Remote Areas
Right now I’m in a pretty out-of-the-way part of India. Smart phone usage is only just picking up, LGBT individuals are not so visible and so awareness and use of online dating apps is not widely used. Even if I wanted to meet up for a cup of tea and some samosas, I don’t have much free time or a means of transportation to travel the 30-300 km I’d need to meet any of the users that show up nearby. That said, if I’m not going to meet anyone, I don’t need to turn on Grindr, so I don’t. Simple as that.
Turn off Push Notifications
Do you own your phone or does your phone own you? I guarantee you’ll spend less time on dating apps (or any other apps for that matter) if you turn of push notifications. Your battery life will thank you too.
The Cinderella Rule
Once in Singapore I stayed up to 3 am, juggling multiple conversations and in the end I gave up, going to bed over-tired and feeling very alone. After this I decided I’d never stay up till stupid o’clock again and implemented “the Cinderella Rule” where I would shut down Grindr, turn off all push notifications and go to bed when the clock struck midnight. I can safely say having a Grindr curfew has worked very well so far. It doesn’t have to apply to just bedtimes; why waste valuable sightseeing time looking for someone to online, when perhaps you might do a lot better just putting down the phone, grabbing your bag and going out to do something. I decided to do this in Hong Kong, turned off the apps at 9:30 am, headed out, made a friend in the queue for the tram to the peak, and ended up showing them round some of my favorite spots on Hong Kong island and having a good day overall. Sometimes you just need to know when it’s time do things the old fashioned way and limit your use of online dating apps, in order to find your prince.
So those are my ground rules to stop Grindr from taking over your travels. Perhaps you disagree with some of these rules. Perhaps you have some more of your own to add. My friend Tom (from Waegook Tom) suggested; “If everything is looking hopeless, just ‘take matters into your own hands’, then get on with your day”. It would be great to hear your thoughts, advice and ground rules too!