With an illustrious dating app career of 6 years (on and off) to my name, here’s my advice for cracking the code and finding your groove in the jungle that is online dating.
“People on dating apps only want one thing.”
“It feels like a lot of effort.”
“The thought of meeting people through the internet is scary.”
“I keep getting ghosted”
“I’m too picky”
When the conversation turns to dating apps amongst friends, these are some of the comments that come up. And yet – ask any millennial who’s been single in the past 5 years and we’ve all swiped at some point.
It’s strange; for a generation that’s grown up defining significant relationships through “top friends” and becoming ‘Facebook official’, it seems there’s still a sense of shame around app dating.
I get it. Few matches materialise into IRL meetings. Conversations tail off. You’ve been ghosted. It can be isolating, and it’s easy to get discouraged.
BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY…
In my 6 years on and off dating apps, it wasn’t until the past year that I realised ‘hey, this can be kind of fun’.
Dating apps can be a tool to:
Learn more about yourself
Gain an insight into the kind of person you want to be with
Gain an insight into the kind of person you don’t want to be with
Hone the art of conversation
Become more confident in selling yourself
Have a grand old time
The below summarises why dating can be one of the most exciting projects you embark on:
Talking to a stranger allows you to be the newest version of yourself.— We’re Not Really Strangers (@wnrstweets) March 10, 2020
When you approach dating with the above in mind, the whole experience becomes much less daunting and more…playful.
So, whether you’ve got Hinge fatigue (it’s real) or you’re just dipping your toes into the murky waters of suitor seeking online – this is for you…
1. IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME
It’s easy to throw your hands up in despair and say ‘there is ZERO potential out there!!! no one is matching with me!!!’.
But what are you giving people to work with? In the world of app dating, your profile is crucial.
When there’s a bit of thought that’s gone into someone’s profile, it’s easier to engage with them. But it can be tricky to know where to start, so a bit of self discovery is key.
Questions to ask yourself before crafting your profile:
- What is my story? Consult friends if required. The more dates I went on, I discovered there were 3-5 elements of ‘my story’ that would repeatedly come up in conversation, so these went on my profile.
- Who is the kind of person I’m looking to date? What are their values and how do they spend their time?
- Which of my traits would be of value to the kind of person I want to date?
FOR A DEEPER DIVE INTO SELF DISCOVERY…
If you haven’t heard of sex educator & dating coach Shan Boody before, you’re going to be veeery familiar by the end of this. I credit a lot of my dating breakthroughs to her teachings in her book ‘The Game of Desire‘.
Shan advocates getting to know yourself as a starting point of your dating journey. It’s lengthy, but her Self Summary workbook is free and will blow your mind. From love languages to discovering your personality archetype, I defy you to not learn something new about yourself. Bonus – you’ll find your learnings from the Self Summary workbook invaluable beyond the dating game.
2. TAKE A CHANCE ON ME OR THANK U NEXT?
(^ both exceptional pop songs)
So you’ve crafted a compelling profile that showcases your wonderful self, and naturally the matches are flooding in.
But taking things from e-chat to IRL can be tricky business.
There’s a fine line between giving someone a chance and knowing when to say ‘thank u, next’. This instinct is best sharpened with practice.
I went through a phase of going on dates with pretty much anyone I matched with. Exhausting yes, but it was a crucial exercise in figuring out what worked and what didn’t – valuable information.
How did you spend your evening?
There are subtle cues you can look out for in that ‘talking’ stage. Without going in with ‘what is your emotional trauma and how are you actively dealing with it?’, I like to ask how someone spends their time.
For me, the kind of person I want to take spends their weekends and evenings taking care of themselves, cooking, reading or spending time with loved ones. So you can actually learn a lot from a simple ‘what you up to this evening?’.
Saying this, one of the biggest mistakes I see people make is getting sucked into back-and-forths that never materialise into a date.
As we all know, making a judgement on a suitor based on digital communication alone is complex. Digital chemistry does not equal IRL connection, so if you’re vibing with someone, it’s wise to take things offline as soon as you can.
The best way to do this (and this has never failed me):
Here’s my number, would be cool to get a drink sometime!
That puts the ball in their court and makes your intentions clear. *mic drop*
3. CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLE
“Dating is neutral…it’s neither good nor bad, it is simply what you assign it to be because – remember – you are in control of your reality.” – Shan Boody
The thing with human chemistry is; it’s horrendously elusive. You have zero control over whether you’re actually gonna vibe with this person, but the only way you’re gonna know is by meeting them. So, here’s what you can control:
The location: somewhere that’s not too out of your way (somewhere public and where you feel safe, obv).
Your expectations: this is another tricky matter, because of course you want to approach things with an open mindset, but when we put too much pressure on a date, we risk underwhelm and resentment for both parties. So, wear something that makes you feel glowy and confident, but don’t go buying a whole new fit. Don’t cancel existing plans to meet them. Do what it takes to remind yourself that there are plenty more matches waiting for you if this isn’t the one.
Your after-date plans: This is one of my favourite dating tips ever. Plan something nice to do afterwards. Run a bath, see a friend, pick up your favourite takeaway. It’s a comfort to know that regardless of the outcome of your date, you are still in control of your happiness.
So..what are you waiting for? Go forth and get matching! You future self is waiting to thank you on the other side…
RESOURCES & FURTHER READING:
- Sex With Emily Podcast – listen to any of her episodes on dating.
- Shan Boody – Read The Game of Desire!
- The three part dating series by the Bobo & Flex podcast. Listen to part 1 here.
- ‘How To Do Online Dating’ episode of the podcast ‘Nobody Panic’. Spotify link / Apple Podcasts link.
- Episode 112 of the podcast ‘Help Me Be Me’ on Dating Anxiety. Spotify link / Apple Podcasts link.