5 Ways to Make Dating Apps Work for You
By Elena Simonsen
“To swipe left or swipe right- or not swipe at all?”
For many single Americans, especially young adults, this seems to be the question of the day when it comes to dating. According to a study conducted at Stanford University published in 2019, about 39% of heterosexual couples and about 65% of same-sex couples included in the study met online. Though some people are able to find healthy, fulfilling relationships on dating apps, many have expressed some sort of frustration with using these apps in some shape or form.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for singles to meet new people in-person, and as such, dating app companies reported a significant increase in the number of users in the year 2020. The purpose of these apps is to help people create and nurture romantic connections, and yet many people struggle to find the connections they seek on apps like Tinder. This brings up several valid questions, including:
Are these apps helpful in finding a partner?
How are these apps potentially ruining relationships?
Are there ways to use them that make people more likely to find a genuine match?
In this blog post, we explore the answers to these questions and more!
The Dangers of Dating Apps
“What if I get catfished?”
“Why isn’t anyone messaging me back?”
“Why on earth would someone say this to me? That’s so inappropriate!”
Here are just a few of the concerns that people often verbalize about using dating apps. While the apps do indeed greatly expand one’s options for finding a potential partner, the way that they are set up and the biases people have towards them do not always open the door to the formation of deep, meaningful relationships. Here are 5
ways that dating apps may damage someone’s ability to form a fulfilling romantic relationship:
1. Having too many choices can make it harder to make a decision
Because so many people use dating apps, there are just so many options when it comes to deciding who and where to invest your emotional time and energy.This can make dating feel overwhelming and more like a chore than something enjoyable, which then makes it harder to stay present in the dating process and develop meaningful connections with potential partners.
2. Dates become “disposable”
With so many choices, it’s easy to view people on dating apps as just another profile or entity. While swiping or talking to someone it’s easy to think, “Well if this person doesn’t work out there are plenty of others.” Or “What if I like this other person that I matched with better?” This approach can make it difficult to become fully invested in a person and enjoy dating them for what it is, because the focus shifts from building connections to just sifting through options.
3. Decisions are made based on limited information
When deciding to swipe left or right, the only information available to make a decision about a potential romantic partner is what that person has included on their profile. In reality, there is so much more to that person and their life that remains unknown until a conversation and subsequent interactions begin. Only having a small snapshot of who someone is can lead to making biased decisions about them as a person, which then makes it easy to swipe left on someone that could have potentially been a great match - or to swipe right on someone that isn’t a good match at all.
4. Dating apps can lower self-esteem
The way dating apps are structured can make it very easy for users to feel down on themselves quickly. Many people find themselves questioning why someone didn’t match them back, didn’t respond to their messages for a few days, or “ghosted” them entirely. Interactions like this can lead users to ask themselves, “what’s wrong with me that keeps others from liking me back?”
5. Safety concerns
Unfortunately, there are many “trollers” (people that cause harm to others on the internet for no apparent reason) on dating apps as well as people that intend to misuse the personal information available. . Because of this, dating app users may be vulnerable to incidents of sexual violence, stalking, or unwanted sexually
explicit pictures or messages. It’s important for dating app users to be wary of the amount and type of information that they share on their profiles, hold dates in public places, and keep loved ones in the loop on their dating whereabouts in case of an emergency as a means to mitigate potential safety concerns
Understandably, these issues may strongly deter people from ever touching dating apps. However, there is hope for those that want to use them! So let’s talk about how the apps can be utilized in a way that optimizes the chance of finding a great romantic partner.
How to Cultivate a Fulfilling Relationship Through Dating Apps
Many people use dating apps with the intent of finding someone with whom they can develop some sort of fulfilling romantic relationship. You might be thinking, but with all the challenges that you just described, how on earth is this possible? Well, here are 5 straightforward strategies that daters can use to find meaningful and lasting connections:
1. Know and be honest about what you’re looking for
Prior to creating a dating app profile, think about your “must haves” and “hard no’s” when it comes to desired qualities in romantic partners. Think about what goals you’re trying to achieve by using the app - are you trying to find a long-term relationship, or something short-term? A monogamous relationship, or one that’s polyamorous? Think about these intentions and desired qualities while swiping and be upfront and honest about them with potential partners.
2. Try to meet in-person or via video chat quickly
It can be easy to misinterpret someone’s text messages. By meeting someone face-to-face and being able to read their body language, it’s easier to determine whether there is sufficient chemistry, interest and compatibility to continue the relationship.
3. Learn from your dates
Treat each date as an opportunity to learn. Reflect on each date by identifying which aspects of the date were enjoyable and which weren’t so great. By doing this you can:
1. Become more aware of your personal values
2. Have a better sense of what you’re seeking in a relationship
4. Don’t take things personally
Ghosting, indecision, and insulting comments are all common on dating apps. Keep in mind that people engaging in these types of behaviors are likely struggling with their own insecurities - and are unfortunately projecting these on to you. Remember that these behaviors are not reflective of your level of physical attractiveness or worth as a person. Being turned down or ignored by other daters can be hurtful and those feelings of hurt are valid. But do not let these feelings of discomfort prevent you from continuing to search for the fulfilling relationship you deserve!
5. Safety first!
Be careful about how much information is included on your profile. Could a potential match locate you based on your profile? Be wary of giving out your phone number to other daters. Chatting within the apps can provide protection from unwanted pictures and links. Additionally, when meeting someone in-person be sure to meet in a public place, limit your alcohol consumption, and make sure a close friend or family member knows where you are going and who you are with.
By incorporating some of these strategies into dating app use, you will be better equipped to navigate the complex world of app dating - and increase the likelihood that you’ll find the best match for you. Remember to be persistent, patient, and kind to yourself and others while dating. Creating and maintaining a romantic relationship can be both difficult and rewarding. I believe in you and your ability to find the partner you seek!
Be Your Best Self & Thrive Counseling uses a holistic, non-judgmental approach to help you build an alliance with your mind, body and spirit that work together for your benefit. If you are looking for a therapist who is experienced in helping you to navigate dating relationships, Elena Simonsen is a clinician who can help you explore ways to cope. Book your free 15-minute session with her here.