Since meeting guys IRL has been a no-go for the past 11 months, Ive done what pretty much every 20-something did during the pandemic: I downloaded “the apps.” Whether we like it or not, dating apps arent going away anytime soon-and until Im vaccinated and down to date in-person again, Im just gonna embrace them.
But-one thing that always gives me pause on the apps is giving out my number to someone Ive literally never met before. Transitioning from a dating app convo to texting seems like a step in the right direction for a match I have a connection with, but theres so much personal info on the internet linked to anyones phone number (why can people find my address?!).
As someone whos binged too many true crime podcasts, I wanted to be extra careful. So I was happy to learn about TextNow, a phone service app that generates a phone number separate from the one linked to my SIM card. I had every intention of just trying it out for a week, but now that I’ve used it, Ill be keeping it on my phone for as long as Im on dating apps.
Why its a low-key solution:
To sign up, all I had to do was enter my name and email address. You can call and text just like you would with your actual number, and the app itself is pretty self-explanatory and user-friendly.
Since I dont leave my house much (thanks COVID!), Im totally fine using the free version of the app that requires me to be on wifi-though you can also opt for free cell service without using wifi, too, for $9.99. I was still able to pick my own phone number from a list, choose my notification sound, and customize a voicemail so if one of my matches
The setup took all of five minutes, and about an hour later, I opened a dating app and finally replied to the message Id seen way too many times: “Hey sorry for the delayed reply, Im not really on here much. Do you mind if I just text you?” Yeah, you know that message-cue eye roll.
I found that having a number separate from my actual phone number made me a lot more willing to move to texting. I gave this match my TextNow number, and other than our convo showing up green on his phone instead of blue-which could also just signify that I have a particular kind of phone-there was zero obvious sign that anything was up. I havent had messages fail to send, gotten weird spam calls, or seen any problems with the app that made it a hassle to use.*
The handy lil app made sure to include my favorite feature: a block button! Ive never been one to shy away from blocking someone who made me uncomfy, and when one dating app dude pushed his luck and said something not-so-cute, in about two seconds, I was able to make sure that he could never text or call me again.
At least I know that if a disrespectful man slides through the cracks and into my texts, he can be gone with one tap of a button-and without ever having my actual number. Adios, Chad the Frat Bro.
So basically, this is my logic:
While the pandemic isnt over, my days of giving out my personal number to unknown guys are. Using a separate app just feels safer, and hey, if I ever decide that a lucky someone should get upgraded to texting my *actual* 10 digits, the excuse is simple: “I got a new phone!”