“Grandpa, how did you and grandma meet?”…..”Well sonny….we swiped right!” Not exactly what we’re used to hearing from our grandparents, but these types of Tinder-inspired love stories are very likely to be the reality as dating continues to go digital!
Dating has changed A LOT over the last couple of decades, and even more so over the past few years. Standard dating advice about where to meet potential love interests used to include meeting someone at a bar or being introduced by a friend. Even getting set up on a blind date felt somewhat exotic! But nowadays, almost all of our dates can be considered “blind” as more and more people are reaching for their tablets and phones to meet potential love interests on dating sites and apps.
A recent study conducted by PewResearch showed that about 30% of all adults in the US have used an app or dating website, with the majority reporting having a positive experience. Granted, those numbers fluctuate depending on age range and sexual orientation. While 48% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they have used a dating site or app, this drops to 38% from ages 30 to 49, and drops even lower for those ages 50 and up at just 16%. Usage in the LGBTQ+ community is significantly more prevalent, with 55% of LGBTQ+ adults reporting having used an app or website for dating at some point in their lives.
These numbers show an undeniable trend, especially when you consider a similar study done by PewResearch in 2013, in which only 11% of adults had used an app or website for dating. That’s an increase of nearly 20% over the past 7 years, and those numbers are expected to continue to rise.
Whether you are newly entering the dating world for the first time or you find yourself single -and ready to mingle!- again, online dating can be a great option, but getting started can feel overwhelming.
For starters, there are many different apps and websites to choose from. Options exist based on interests, sexual orientation, and even basic demographic information, sometimes forcing you to make decisions about what you’re looking for in a potential partner before you’re even presented with the options! The process of choosing an app or site can be exhausting on its own. And if that’s not enough, once you actually pick one, you then have to create your profile – a process that can be exciting and fun, but also overwhelming and stressful.
After picking a site and perfecting your profile, you may feel ready to hit the ground running, but well-meaning friends and family can complicate your feelings by voicing their opinions and causing you to think twice. Of course safety must be a big priority when it comes to dating – both online and offline – and it’s never a bad idea to make sure someone knows who you’re meeting with and when. But while there is certainly less of a stigma surrounding online dating than once was, there are still naysayers that may try to talk you out of taking the plunge. Whether they feel like it is not a good way to meet people, or they insist that the way they meet people or date is the “right” way and encourage you to follow suit, you should prepare yourself for push back now so it doesn’t rock your confidence later.
Are you ready to venture into the virtual world of digital dating? Here are six steps that will help you increase your dating success, both on and offline!
6 Steps for Success With Dating Online!
- Know what you’re looking for. Notice I said WHAT you’re looking for – not WHO! While you should keep a semi-open mind when fielding potential dates, knowing what your ideal outcomes are ahead of time will be extremely helpful in your search, and can help avoid unnecessary heartbreak. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a more casual relationship or looking for something more serious. But make sure you are dating the people who are looking for the same thing! Being honest with yourself is incredibly important here. You don’t want to find yourself changing to fit a mold because you like someone but they want something different. If one person is going in looking more for a casual or hookup relationship and the other one is looking for something more serious, nine times out of ten it will end with someone getting hurt. Clarity around what type of relationship you’re looking for will help you avoid wasted time or heartbreak while weeding out those that aren’t a match.
- Moving your relationship from online to offline as soon as you can. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to get to know someone and building your comfort level before taking it to the streets, but don’t wait too long! Meeting someone face-to-face is your best bet for determining if there is a potential for a real connection. Additionally, research has shown that the longer you remain online at the start of relationships, the less successful at transitioning to an in-person relationship you’ll be.
- Avoid excessive pre-Googling. Again, safety is paramount and there’s nothing wrong with doing a little due diligence, but if you feel like you want to look up your date before you go out, try and stick with just a basic background check – just enough information to feel help you feel confident in your safety. Going down the rabbit hole on your date’s social media can provide some insight, but ultimately this is a risky move early-on because it is so easy to take information out of context, and to make judgments on what you find. Let your first impression be of meeting them face-to-face, not a cringe-y meme you found on their social feed without context.
- Safety first! We’ve talked about this already, but cannot stress the importance of keeping yourself safe. Remember, there is always a chance that when meeting someone for the first time, whether you were introduced online or offline, that the first time will not go over the way you hoped or wanted, and you want to be as safe as possible. I don’t say this to instill fear in you, but more so to encourage you to have a plan. Let your friends know who you’re with, where you’re going, and when they can expect to hear from you again after. If your BFF is waiting for a text at 10 pm, and you’re still out and having a great time, let her know! There is nothing wrong with a little spontaneity, or one thing leading to another, but keeping a trusted outsider informed is best, and can also help you breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy your date a little less rigidly. Ultimately, do what makes you feel comfortable and safe.
- Be on the lookout for dating burnout. One of the downsides of online dating is the accessibility to vast amounts of people. Knowing that there are “other fish in the sea” is comforting when you’re on a not-so-great first date, but this knowledge can actually contribute to feelings of burnout. At times, this can even get so overwhelming that we end up just going through the motions rather than really looking at people as people. One way to avoid burnout is to set boundaries for use of your app. Instead of checking them constantly, set up dedicated time for yourself where you can check your messages and look to see if there’s anything new out there, and then cut it off before you find yourself mindlessly scrolling like you’re on a Facebook news feed or Amazon shopping list. Spacing out and limiting your dates is also helpful here. It will keep things exciting and prevent you from feeling like you’re on autopilot as you ask a different person the same getting-to-know-you questions you’ve been asking for 4 days in a row. If you are starting to feel burnt out, take a step back for a week or two and spend some time grounding and rejuvenating yourself.
- Be present on your date. Our phones can be a bit distracting when it comes to dating. This may sound counter intuitive as we’ve been talking about using our phones for dating, but when you actually get to the date, put the phone away! Being 100% present on your date will help you get to know that person better and guide better decisions as to whether or not you’re really connecting with that person versus continuously being distracted.
The reality is, there is no such thing as “one size fits all” advice in dating, love, or otherwise. Only you can decide if you want to give online dating a shot, and giving it a shot is the only way to find out if it’s right for you! Use these tips to set the foundation of your online dating strategy and increase your chances of success!
The dedicated experts at Solid Foundations have helped many individuals increase confidence and understanding of relationships, and our clients have successfully achieved their romantic goals as a result! Learn more at solidfoundationstherapy.com or give us a call at 630-633-8532 today!