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[Lifestyle] Dating burnout: meet the people who ditched the apps – and found love offline


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When Georgie Thorogood’s date made a sleazy joke about “horsey girls carrying whips”, she knew it was time to make a hasty exit. After meeting Tom through a dating app in the summer of 2021, she had been hoping for some polite conversation over a few drinks, maybe some romantic chemistry if she was lucky. What she got was a two-hour rant about his ex-wife and some creepy innuendo. “I knew straight away he wasn’t for me. I politely told him I didn’t want to see him again, but he took the rejection really badly. I work in music communications and at the time I was setting up a festival. He started getting aggressive and telling me that I was destined to fail,” she says. “I don’t know how he could possibly know that, as he didn’t ask me a single question about myself all night.”

Her bad experience, which came after months of mindless swiping, was the final straw for Georgie, 40. “Not only did I find dating apps soul-destroying, I was also happy with my single life, so I decided to quit them completely and focus on that instead,” she says. “I found so many of the men on apps had serious issues, too. Another guy became abusive when I turned down an offer to meet for a walk in a remote location because it didn’t feel safe. You never know who people are online.” While Georgie acknowledges that people with emotional baggage aren’t exclusive to dating sites, she feels the apps give them a chance to hide their bad behaviour. “The problem is that you don’t have to reflect or make changes when something goes wrong – you can just swipe to the next person.”

By the autumn of 2021, Georgie, who lives in Essex, had thrown herself into work and was enjoying spending her free time with friends and family. Then, out of the blue, she met Mark Bamford, 50, who lives in London and owns a music tech company. “He was introduced to me at the British Country Music awards,” she says. “I was on the board of directors for the awards and someone suggested he might be a good sponsor for a festival I was working on.” The pair immediately hit it off and exchanged numbers. In January 2022, they went on their first date, in London, and a relationship soon developed. “When you meet someone in person, you know their vibe. He’s warm and engaging and we both like to talk a lot. He’s very easy to be with, but you don’t get that when you’re trying to communicate over an app,” she says.


Mark, who also dabbled in dating apps before meeting Georgie, feels the same way. “I didn’t have to worry that she was still on an app, swiping left and right for weeks, which made things more relaxed. Of course, people can multidate with or without an app, but I think that tech nudges you in the direction of temptation,” he says. “The scandal of apps is that the business model is the opposite of the stated goal. They need to get more users, not get people together. The more they attract people back, the more money they can make by selling data.”

The apps offer users a potential army of attractive suitors at their fingertips, so it’s no surprise that they become more picky. Claire Davis, 43, a personal trainer from London, stopped using them in 2015 because she hated the “shopping lists” of demands, as well as the lack of boundaries. “One guy told me he wanted children on the first date, which was really intense,” she says. “It was like he was checking off things he wanted in a partner. I’d recently had an ectopic pregnancy and him mentioning children so soon was such an uncomfortable topic. Because the apps are so disposable, he could just swipe again if he didn’t find what he was looking for straight away.”

She met her partner, James Davis, 50, also a personal trainer from London, in a pub, shortly after quitting the apps. “I had come out of a divorce and was a bit broken,” she says. “I’d vaguely known James years before, but when we saw each other in 2015 through some mutual friends there was a spark.” He was based in Ibiza and she was in Surrey, but it didn’t stop them from connecting. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted after my divorce, but because we met in real life I had the chance to work that out over time,” Claire says. “On a dating app, you only really get one shot.” Six months later, they became a couple and they married in 2017. They now run a health and fitness business in London.



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