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3rd December 2023

Let’s take accountability: Why do we use Hinge for validation and never for its purpose?

We ask why using Hinge has become a quick way of boosting our self-esteem and lost its original purpose as a dating app
Let’s take accountability: Why do we use Hinge for validation and never for its purpose?
Credit: Priscilla Du Preez @ Unsplash

Words by Kate Dening

I sit in bed scrolling aimlessly through social media until I reach a point of dissatisfaction. I have seen enough posts on Instagram, I have answered all my texts, and now it is time. Usually, this part of my day happens at 6pm, once I have finished everything important. Routinely, day after day I open Hinge to see who has sent me a like.

Nine times out of ten I am disappointed. But usually there is one, just one. We text back and forth for a few days. I am trying to time my replies so that I seem interested, but not keen. I reach the stage where I have decided that I need to step it up and ask them out.

This normally goes something like: ‘We should definitely get a drink some time! Let me know when you’re around?’

The reply usually says: ‘Yeah sure that sounds great! Maybe Southside or something?’ (one of my prompts says that I like tequila).

Then radio silence.

I go through all the effort of conversing with someone, knowing I am unlikely to ever actually meet them. But I do this time and time again like it is some video game I am addicted to. I have spent three days meticulously planning how to seem cooler than I am, just to avoid eye contact in the Main Library for the rest of the year.

The follow-up to Hinge conversations always seems to be the library interactions, never the date we spoke about. Every time I see a Hinge match, I feel completely dumbfounded that the person I knew to be at the same university as me actually is at the same university as me. What do you mean you exist outside of your Hinge profile?

Something about Hinge doesn’t feel real, I think that that’s part of the attraction. It makes the real process of dating feel silly and unserious because this person isn’t really real until you see them in the flesh.

Given I am in my final year, and time is running out to meet the love of my life at university, I have taken it upon myself to reflect on my dating habits over the past couple of years and ask myself where I am going wrong.

Why Hinge, and what can we change?

Hinge is an effortless place to seek romantic connections. We have all heard of various success stories from friends of friends. But these people made it through the first stage. I’m wondering why so many of us treat Hinge like a form of social media, with the intention to find out who fancies you and never with the intention to date.

So, Hinge serves some self-validation purpose. It validates me in that I am willing to date, and that I can make it happen. However, the universality of this self-validating process of Hinge creates more issues for the people wanting to make it past the first stage. Until we stop self-validating, we are stuck in the rabbit hole of three-day conversations and awkward eye contact.

We need to stop feeling like Hinge likes are the only way we can be assured of our attractiveness, and ask ourselves questions. My friend Georgie tells me, “At some point, it’s almost like you’re bored into loving yourself.” Ask yourself why you are seeking out someone else’s validation and how it is fulfilling you.

For me, this began by filling my time in a way that wasn’t centred around romance. I’d keep myself busy with friends, and we’d talk about all the reasons that our relationships with each other were the most important part of our lives. We lean on each other for advice, for reassurance and for having unserious times where we’re hysterically laughing like nothing else exists around us. I soon came to realise that these will forever be the most important relationships in my life.

It was through my friendships, and these open and honest conversations about self-validation with myself and others around me, that I noticed it was right in front of me. I was validated by the mutual love that my friends and I had for one another. This slowly transferred across to the love I have for myself and the desire to check my Hinge account slowly disappeared.

When you’re entangled in the desire to date and find romantic connections, it can feel like nothing else will fulfil you in the same way. As much as your friends tell you that you are better off without someone and that you don’t need anyone else, it does take some time to believe them. But I urge you to really check in with yourself and fulfil the urge to self-validate before you start dating. The person you date should only ever add to your life, not fill some hole in it. You are absolutely always good enough and the friends who love you will tell you that enough times before you start to believe it.

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