Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel… dating apps and the concept of meeting your life partner on one can seem confusing and overwhelming.
Should you feel weird or be embarrassed that you’re using dating apps?
Does using a dating app make you seem desperate to meet someone?
Does using a dating app mean that you’ve failed at real-life dating and you’re a sad, lonely single who needs to look online?
I believe the answer to all of these questions is a hard NO. And no, it’s not just because I happened to meet my now-husband on a dating app.
I had just turned 24, was working in a job that I enjoyed and had a great group of friends and a loving family. I wasn’t desperate to find “the one” ASAP but I was frustrated with the dating process.
For me, the chances of meeting someone who…
- I was physically attracted to
- Had a personality that I found attractive
- Shared the same faith as me
- And (here’s the kicker) also wanted to date me….
at my local bar, coffee shop, gym and even at church, were not proving successful. “Meet someone at church!” they all said. But really, how is that supposed to work? Do I stand up and announce that I’m single and would love an invitation to coffee from any eligible bachelors in the congregation?
“Wait for them to find you…it always happens when you’re not looking!” I believe this is also poor advice. If I would have continued to sit and wait for my perfect match to arrive at my door with flowers by total chance, I would not be married.
And then there is the bar scene—I would have taken Indian food and a night of Cary Grant movies alone on my couch every night rather than endure one more night of single-and-ready-to-mingle bar-hopping.
And I know that I wasn’t alone. Research within the past few years has found that “the quality of relationships that start online is not fundamentally different from those that start in person.” And 59% of respondents to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey said dating apps and websites are “a good way to meet people.”
Suddenly, it’s become normal to respond to the “how did you meet” question with “on a dating app” and receive little to no surprise or judgement—instead of the formerly-popular eyebrow raise and “Oh, how interesting,” slightly judgemental response.
People aren’t just finding casual dates on their phones, they’re finding meaningful relationships. But just like in the real world, how you carry yourself, how you communicate and what your intentions are, really matter.
So, if you’re looking for swiping success, I’ve outlined a few key factors to consider. That being said, each experience and journey to finding love is different. Even if you’ve followed the “best practices” book to the tea, dating apps might be, or not be, for you. But I do encourage you to try. Because I still think back to what my life would look like had I not downloaded an app, paused, and then swiped right on my husband’s profile.
1. Assess yourself and the kind of attention you are looking for.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock, Inc., Used By Permission.
This is an important step in the process. Are you lonely, feeling rejected, unattractive or unwanted? No judgment, we’ve all been there and it’s not fun. But creating a dating profile and starting to swipe from a place of insecurity and sadness presents the temptation to seek affirmation, attention-seeking companionship from online dating that is fleeting and insincere. Assuming that you’re looking for a meaningful relationship, you want to start from a healthy, happy place.
You’re not desperate for love.
You’re not seeking attention and affirmation from the opposite sex to mend the wounds that someone else inflicted.
You are worthy of love.
You are confident in the kind of partner you want in your life,
You are willing to wait until that person comes into your life without lowering your expectations.
Assess where you are. And if you’re not ready to find and explore the type of relationship that you deserve, don’t start swiping.
2. Seek quality over quantity.
Ok, now you’ve taken the leap and are on the app. So many profiles to pick from and it’s so easy to start judging and swiping! But remember, it’s vital to put quality over quantity when it comes to your interactions on your app. The dangers of over-swiping are actually real.
Keely Kolmes, a California psychologist who specializes in sex and relationship issues says people may falsely equate swiping with a personal connection. “It almost gives people a sense of having done something they haven’t actually done,” Kolmes says. “It feels like they’ve reached out to a lot of people, but they haven’t made the effort to actually go out and meet somebody, which is really important.”
Kolmes recommends creating your own set of self-imposing rules that encourage you to take your matches out of the app and into the real world.
“Have a system. How much are you willing to engage with somebody before you actually meet and make it real?” Kolmes says. Don’t get trapped in endless conversations on your phone with countless candidates. Get the information you need, assess their potential and then meet in real life to see how that potential plays out in the real world. If it’s not right, move on.
3. Expand your expectations.
This may seem like strange advice when I just emphasized the importance of setting standards and only engaging with someone who meets your criteria for a potential partner. But I am not telling you to lower expectations on everything on your list, like shared faith or similar interests.
However—even though you imagined your potential partner to be tall, dark, handsome and practicing law in a successful law firm— if you wait for him to arrive on a white horse, you might be waiting for a long time and miss out on someone so much better than him.
Give people the chance that you would hope they would give you. When I swiped right on my now-husband, it was after almost swiping left and losing him forever. He was not necessarily my “type” at all—he had a giant beard, tattoos and lived deep in the city. I was a former ballerina who lived in the suburbs teaching preschool. But he also had a profile that talked about the importance of his relationship with Jesus, and for that reason, I decided to give it a chance.
Now, I won’t let him shave his beard even if he wants to. And his left arm would seem totally naked without the tattoos that each represent a story that I now know and appreciate. It’s funny how we evolve and change, isn’t it?
4. Be straightforward.
Being straightforward about what you’re looking for may open the door to rejection when it comes to dating apps, and that’s ok! Don’t let the number of interest messages you receive and matches you acquire become a game, competition or representation of your worth. Be honest about what you’re looking for on your profile (within reason of course—no need to list the number of kids you want and what their names will be) and if that scares off potential users who are looking for something different, so be it! That’s a good thing. You only want one person, the right person. And they won’t be scared by your profile.
Most importantly, don’t let an app take control of your life. A dating app is a simple tool that can help you potentially meet someone special—nothing more, nothing less. You might still meet the person you’ve been waiting for in your local coffee shop or in the seat next to yours on a plane. Be confident in who you are, happy with you are and open to exploring what life throws at you—even if it’s on a phone screen.