Hook up apps serve a great purpose, connecting people who are geographically close to organise meeting for sex, outstanding!
With that in mind, it’s helpful to remember that many people use hook up apps for a variety of other purposes, some of them completely unrelated to organising sex.
Time Well Spent surveyed 200,000 iPhone users about their app usage, and asked whether individual apps made them happy or not.
According to the report, gay dating app Grindr topped the ‘unhappy list’ as 77% of users reported feeling regret after using the app.
Time Well Spent claims that the time users spend on the app is what’s causing unhappiness.
Respondents who claimed Grindr made them feel unhappy reportedly used the app for an hour or more a day. We know that our motives for using apps can vary hugely, and impact how much we use them at different times. For many of us however, spending more than 1 hour a day on apps can often be because we are struggling to find partners for compatible sex, or that we are spending time chatting to guys in different ways, sometimes looking for more than sex. Although there is nothing wrong with spending time getting to know guys on apps before sex, the culture around app use (especially Grindr) has grown to often prioritise sex and the more transactional nature of casual hook ups. Some of this is down to the technology itself and the experience of being able to scroll through often hundreds of profiles quickly, and some of it is that guys using it have often made it a highly sexualised space (think cock pics, graphic and straight-to-the-point sexual chat).
That means that if we are looking for friendship, validation, emotional support and visibility in different ways, we will not always be able to find this consistently in a space geared up for fun, casual sex and more instant gratification. Although this of course can be fun and really enjoyable if we find ourselves using hook-up apps for other reasons it can lead to a mismatch which will impact our ability to connect with others, feel safe and fulfilled as well as our emotional wellbeing overall.
If we are looking for friendship, are we lonely? If we are looking for validation, do we need to support our feelings of self-worth/self-esteem? If we are looking for emotional support/to feel seen, do we need to establish in-person relationships for this? Strangers have no obligation to treat us kindly, to support us when we are feeling down, are needing encouragement. Often our friends and other valued relationships can be important to invest in alongside app use, to allow us to get a range of needs met that are not always possible in apps alone. Building connections with people though other sources (work, social engagements, hobbies) can be vital to offset what we can’t always get through apps.
Another consideration when thinking about app use is our personal boundaries.
Thinking about how we speak to people, and what kind of language we are comfortable with in return. What things do we not feel comfortable with? What topics or interactions are ‘no-go zones’ that mean we would end a chat with someone. Having clear ideas about these points helps us to stay safe, and avoid unpleasant/unhealthy encounters with people who don’t make us feel safe and valued.
Being comfortable saying “No” is also essential. We are not obligated to have sex, as an example, with someone we have been chatting with. You might have been enjoying the chat, or just being polite. Chatting is not consent for sex, and sometimes people have expectations which we are not obliged to meet.
Thinking about the pics we send of ourselves is also important. Once we send a photo, we have no control over where it goes next. Although sending nudes is super normal and part of the way so many of us use apps, we can easily get caught in a situation where we might feel obligated to reciprocate when someone sends theirs, sometimes without being asked to. Again, being comfortable to say “no” is important, and in a reasonable world, should not be a deal breaker. Feeling pressured is not the right motivation for sending private pics.
Do what you feel comfortable with, and what you have thought about. If using apps whilst drunk or high leaves you feeling regret and remorse the day after, consider setting some rules for yourself to avoid sending messages you later wish you hadn’t. Hook up apps can be a great way of meeting guys and having great sex, but only when we feel in control of how they are used, and we have ways of getting our emotional and relationships needs met outside of these spaces alone.