Apps: the Dating Challenge of the 21st century
Nowadays, it’s common to choose partners through mobile apps. Navigating these is not always easy, though.
Since the apps are so visually focused, it’s a temptation to promote your most appealing physical features, as you might on Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram, instead of trying to offer a more in-depth profile. “People tend to put the most superficial version of themselves online,” says sex and relationship researcher Kristen Mark, Ph.D.
Browsing through such lightweight profiles can be confusing or even exhausting. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to find a quality partner, with a little help from the experts’ advice below:
1. Determine your goal
Are you looking for something long term, a casual affair, or perhaps just a male friend to hang out with sometimes? It makes a big difference. “It’s okay to be very specific and put it out there that you like cats, you want to date someone who lives within a 15-minute drive of where you live, and you will not date a cheater,” says Charlotte, Virginia sex educator Walker Thornton.
2. Shorten your wish list
The Internet is full of “perfect guy lists,” some of them unrealistically along with dozens of “must-haves.” Instead, Los Angeles sexologist Shan Boodram recommends making a list of only five requirements.
She explains, “These are five standards that a person must meet in order to be considered high-interest.” But even if you whittle your list down to five attributes, don’t expect to actually receive more than three, according to Dr. Ty Tashiro, author of The Science of Happily Ever After.
3. Find your seduction style (or not)
Experts have identified many different ways to approach a potential partner: as a charmer, a seductress, a coquette, a tigress, and more. Psychotherapist Ken Paige, the author of the book Deeper Dating: How to Drop The Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy, has a different piece of advice: don’t act or play games at all.
Instead, clearly show your interest, and deploy kindness and thoughtfulness. It will take you farther than presenting yourself as someone you are not.
4. Capitalize on your past
You may consider the past as full of heartache, but there might be a lot of learning opportunities there. “It’s always possible to learn something from a past relationship, even if it’s just, ‘I never want to experience that again’,” says couples consultant and coach Lesli Dares.
“Every relationship we’re in moves us closer to the one we want if we’re willing to do some reflection.” Maybe he taught you how to be a better person. Or maybe he just taught you how to roller skate. No matter what it was, learn from it, and use it for future relationships.
5. Get the right attitude
Boodram says that people often tell her that “dating is trash.” However, she says that “in reality, dating is neutral.” In other words, dating is neither good nor bad. It’s what we make it. To get a better result, online dating expert, TED talker, and futurist Amy Webb recommends using optimistic language.
“In my experiment, I found that certain words (“fun”, “happy”) made profiles more popular. Talk about what excites you, or paint a picture of a really great day that you would want to be a part of. Would you date you?”
6. Avoid searching for perfection
Dating apps purposely put their most attractive and successful members front and center. This is a marketing technique. Don’t believe that you actually have endless options on the app.
In fact, the search for perfection can lead you to waste valuable years, as Lori Gottlieb outlined in her best-selling book, “Marry Him: the Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.” If a man has most of what you need, but less than 100%, lock him down as yours, Gottlieb strongly suggests.
7. Choose apps carefully
Some apps are more tailored for relationships or marriage, while others are just for having a good time. Some are even customized for religious, political, ethnic, hobby or kink preferences. Thornton states, “Some are really made for hookups; some are made for relationships; some are for people who just want to have casual sex even though they’re married.”
8. Meet offline!
Don’t forget the offline world. There are plenty of mutual interest clubs, from hiking groups to advocacy organizations. Meeting men in real life gives you an opportunity to judge their real personalities over time and in real-life situations.
You might also come to find an attraction to a man in a way that you wouldn’t just by picking him on the basis of an app photo––something that Gottlieb discovered in her own dating struggles.
Whether online or off, there is a whole new dating world open to us women. But, even so, succeeding in that world needs more thoughtfulness than ever. Know your app, know your values, and know your direction.
Most of all, as elite dating expert and author Evan Marc Katz has often written, keep in mind that Prince Charming might come in an unexpected package.