Over-the-Shoulder Dating App Dilemma
Brande gives a script to a letter writer who accidentally saw dating apps on her guy’s phone…three months into dating.
Q. I’ve been dating a guy for around three months and things are going great. Literally ZERO problems in my mind. Something happened the other night that kind of upset me, though. We were hanging out at his place and he was on his phone looking at Instagram. As he was closing the app, I saw that he still has three (!!!) dating apps installed on his phone. I assume he’s using them if they’re still there.
I deleted my dating apps about four dates in, once I realized I didn’t have interest in seeing other people. We haven’t had the “exclusivity” talk though — I guess I kind of assumed that was implied since we’re spending so much time together? Now I’m really unsure though, and I feel very uncomfortable bringing it up. I don’t want to scare him off by “telling” him to delete his apps, but I’m not sure how else to communicate my shock and discomfort at the fact that he’s still using them at all.
How do I deal with this?
Georgia R., 29, Austin, TX
First things first: when it comes to dating it’s never safe to assume anything. I’ll spare you the cliché phrase about what assuming makes out of you and me, but I will tell you this scenario is a perfect example of another oft repeated phrase when it comes to relationships: communication is key.
Don’t assume because this guy still has multiple dating apps on his phone that he’s actually active on them. I had a couple left on my phone after hanging with only one guy for months last year just in case I got the urge to dip my toe back in that digital water. In fact, more than half of Hinge Members say they continue to use dating apps in some capacity while they’re dating someone they have feelings for — even though they have no intention of actually meeting the person in real life.
We weren’t exclusive, so I was free to do as I pleased, but I also had no desire to use them. They were just there, kind of like those built-in apps phone providers don’t let you delete. One day, though, I realized the apps were taking up valuable selfie storage and rid myself of them without thinking think twice. Their initial presence had nothing to do with how I felt about who I was casually seeing, and their deletion was just practical.
That being said, it’s also not wise to assume this guy isn’t still active on these apps, especially since you haven’t had “the talk.” Just because you were ready by date four to stop looking elsewhere doesn’t mean he’s ready at month three. And just because you see a few apps on his phone doesn’t mean he isn’t totally ready to be your one and only. The point is you don’t know, and instead of getting yourself worked up about “maybes,” you need to address the situation head on.
Here’s what not to say: “Hey, I was peeking over your shoulder the other night while you were on the ‘gram and saw you’re still using three dating apps. WTF?” This is unnecessarily accusatory when the apps could be innocent.
The real issue here is intention of exclusivity – deletion of the apps should automatically follow if you’re on the same page. The majority of men and women — 58 percent and 61 percent respectively — expect to have a conversation about deleting their apps*
Next time you’re together, say something similar to the following: “I really like you and I’m not interested in dating anyone else. What do you think about being exclusive?” If he feels the same way, you can easily slip in a casual, “Cool. Now I can delete these dating apps,” remark for good measure. This sets expectations and ensures there won’t be any late-night side scrolling on his end.
An additional bit of advice: make it a point in this relationship and any others to make a habit of talking to your potential partner about what you want from them. There are going to be much harder conversations down the road, and these talks will go much more smoothly if you approach them from a position of asking questions and expressing how you feel versus accusing and demanding. That type of behavior will scare a guy off much quicker than simply saying, “I think I’m going to delete my dating apps because I don’t want to see anyone else. What do you think?”
*April 2017 survey of Hinge users
Brande Victorian is the creator of Be-Enough.com where she chronicles tales of love in the time of weight loss along with other musings of her health and wellness journey. She also serves as Managing Editor of MadameNoire.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Send questions to Brande at firstname.lastname@example.org.