There is no way around it. Technology has changed the way we date. A Pew Research study found that in 2013, at least one-in-five adults aged 25-34 years old had used a dating website or app. The upside to dating online, which no longer holds the stigma it used to, is that single people are exposed to a much wider pool of potential partners.
The downside is that while it may be easier to meet people, it seems harder to make a lasting connection. So what is a single person in the digital age supposed to do? Accept the dating landscape for what it is or quit dating all together? Here are a few strategies that may make the sometimes-exhausting prospect of dating a little easier.
Choose the Right App
Before choosing a dating app or site, be honest with yourself about your goals. Are you looking for a long-term relationship, a hook-up or something in between? The better you understand your motivation to date, the more likely you will be to find someone who is looking for the same thing. Understanding your motivations and also your personal comfort level will help you find the right app for you. Some of the most popular apps include:
Tinder — a widely used app that shows you people in your area and allows you to swipe left or right to reject or accept the person as a prospect
Hinge — similar to Tinder, but only shows you people who are friends of friends on Facebook
Bumble — like Tinder, but women must initiate the conversation and only have 24 hours to do so
OKCupid — can be matched based on compatibility tests or location swiping
Consider that the right app for you may not be a dating app at all. Using a non-dating site like Meetup.com or even joining an online forum or club will help introduce you to new people who share a common interest.
Meet Online, Date Offline
Once you’ve chosen the method, the issue becomes not how to meet someone online, but how to turn the match online into an offline date (or relationship, or hook-up, depending on your goals). In an article for Psychology Today, Ken Page, a New York-based therapist advises getting out from behind the screen and into real life as soon as possible. An article laying out modern dating rules for CBS News agrees, adding that meeting offline quickly is important and then staying offline while on the date is crucial.
A common complaint for many online daters is that because swiping and matching is so easy, the dates begin to feel disposable, too. To combat this, make the date special. Put effort into your appearance and plan an interesting outing beyond a quick drink or coffee. If the first date goes well, a small gesture like flowers or a bottle of wine on the second date can help express your interest and investment. There are no actual rules to dating. Be pleasant, don’t come on too strong and be open-minded to the possibilities.