If you have access to the internet and a desire for romantic connections, I can almost guarantee you have attempted or considered online dating. We live in an easy-access, instant-gratification society, and online dating caters to both of those things. Why would we not utilize our evolved technologies to enhance our intimate lives?
However, most of us who have hopped on a dating app can all probably recall a few instances of matches gone wrong. It’s much easier on the heart and on the ego to blame the apps as the root of the problem or even say that the bad luck is due to an ineffective matching algorithm. But, with more than 30 million people on dating apps according to Statista, there is no way that all 30 million of us are terrible potential partners.
So, what is the deal?
Are all dating apps bad? No. Can we find positive connections on dating apps? Yes. But will every right-swipe be a prime candidate? Absolutely not. The interfaces of the most well-known dating apps are literally set up like a deck of cards. The graphics and the way we search through potential matches are extremely similar to gambling and therefore excite us like gambling.
We aren’t swiping because we are trying to get early-onset carpal tunnel. We are playing along because every time we swipe, we are given a new “card” from the “deck” of options showing what else the algorithm has to offer our love lives. We are just testing our odds at “winning” next time even though a lot of us don’t really know what winning looks like for us.
No worries, though. I am not telling you to go delete all your apps and give up on romantic connections. How successful your online dating life will be depends on how well you use online dating technology. In short: don’t get caught up in the game of it all.
I regularly say that your go-to online dating app is not “Build-a-Boo.” Just because you have access to download an app doesn’t mean you are ready to look for a partner, just like having a car doesn’t mean you should drive it if you don’t know where you’re going.
First, you need to know the culture of the app you are getting on.
If you are looking for a serious, long-term relationship, you want to choose a dating app or site with a small population or an extensive matching questionnaire process. This means more accurate matches but, more importantly, it also means fewer matches. Fewer matches means people are more likely to invest more time in you because they aren’t going to see you as dispensable.
If you are looking for something short-term, something without much commitment, or something without any expectations, you should explore an app or site that has a larger population. You will have more access to others, others will have more access to you, and there is less pressure because if one match does not work out, there are probably 20 more waiting in line.
Once you know where you are starting, you need to know where you are going. What exactly are you looking for? What qualities do you feel will complement your own? What values of a potential partner do you feel should be aligned with your own? In what ways would you want a potential partner to add to your life? And most importantly, what are YOU putting on YOUR profile to attract the type of person you desire? Because I promise you that putting “I like cuddling and long walks on the beach” in your profile won’t bring the human that meets your standards.
Keep what you’re looking for in mind while you’re swiping. You can’t deduce whether someone is good for you in the 1.5 seconds it takes to swipe from one profile to the next. Slow down and spend the same amount of time on someone’s dating profile as you spend on your crush’s social media page, and you’ll notice a difference in the quality of matches you get.
My first online dating exchange was in 2016 with someone I was very attracted to but who ended up being extremely toxic for me. I was 19, I didn’t know much about online dating (or dating at all), and I learned the hard way that online dating is a skill. My last online dating exchange was at the beginning of 2020, and that person is my long-term partner today. What changed?
1. I didn’t let the bad apples ruin the bunch.
2. I figured out exactly what I needed and wanted and held my potential partners to those standards.
3. I adjusted what I needed and wanted as I grew and my needs/wants changed.
4. I put into it what I wanted out of it.
The bad news? You will most likely run into bad apples and not-so-great experiences. The good news? Put intention behind your romantic desires and you will attract what you put energy toward. I’m living proof. What changes are you making to start writing your online dating success story?