I’ve been thinking a lot about online dating lately as the conversation has come up numerous times with my clients and in The Dating Cocktail Lounge. The thing is that no one really seems to like online dating. It’s almost as if dating online has become something we simply have to tolerate to date in the 21st century. So I came up with 3 of my personal rules for dating online without losing your sanity (or your confidence).
I was reading an article in my husband’s GQ magazine about mental health. Social media came up in the article and the author went so far as to liken it to cigarette smoking, noting that at one time smoking was the norm without much concern for individual or public health, and now it’s rare to see someone smoking in public.
He said that the same thing was currently happening with social media. That the personal wellness effects are only just beginning to be discussed, and what researchers are uncovering is that “it is almost impossible to be happy” in today’s world if much of your time is spent on social media.
That’s a pretty huge statement!
Bingeing on social media can lead to anxiety, depression, feelings of comparison, lack of confidence, and the list went on and on.
This got me thinking if that comparison is much different from online dating apps? Particularly the swipe apps?
We have to remember that there is us on the dating app, there are the people we are swiping on, and then there is this whole other party that’s kinda controlling the whole thing.
And that’s freaky when you think about it!
Not too long ago if you wanted to date online your options were pretty limited, and you’d have sites like Match.com who boasted the most marriages or relationships formed from their site. When I was 25(ish) I dated on Match.com and actually had a wonderful experience meeting wonderful people!
However, when I think about the swipe apps of today, and I ask myself what is the motivation of the companies behind the swipe apps, is it to have people connecting, falling in love, and eventually partnering up as possible?
This is what most of us want, right?
We want romance.
We want true love.
Sure, maybe some of us on the apps just want to pass the time or have a few casual hook ups, but the majority of us yearn for the kind of love we’ve seen in movies, or maybe that our parents had. The kind we know is real and tangible and possible.
The apps are revenue generating companies, and they lose revenue when you stop using their product. In essence, they make money from keeping you on the app.
I’m not saying that they are evil or anything like that. There are some good intentions behind these apps, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today!
But from my perspective as a Dating & Relationship Coach, the majority of what I’ve heard lately about online dating has been negative, and that’s kind of sad.
People ask me all the time, “Do I have to date online if I want to date today?”
The answer is no! You don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do!
There is always more than one way to get you to your goal.
In a recent podcast by Yoga Girl with Seal, Seal shared that decided not to text anymore. At all.
That blows my mind! He just made a decision one day that texting was out of the question. If he needed to speak to someone he would call them, or even better, Facetime them.
Seal went on to say that he believes communication has become broken only for us to fix it again and make it better.
I feel the same way about dating!
Perhaps dating has become a little broken. We could throw up our hands, claim that every guy (or girl) out there is just impossible, and give up on love.
But what if there’s another way? What if it’s up to us to fix it?
And the answer is actually a lot closer to home than we think.
In fact, the answer starts with us and only us.
Here are 3 rules that I came up with for dating online without losing your sanity, dignity, or respect.
1. Set Parameters
One thing about online dating that my clients have complained about is that it becomes boring and mindless. During any empty moment of the day they may find themselves flicking open the app and swiping through what feels like an endless sea of guys (until they start scrolling through the same guys).
This habit usually leads to feeling that there’s no one good out there, that online dating doesn’t work, or worse, to a lack of confidence because you’re not getting enough connections/the right connections/follow through with messages.
I recommend that everyone who wants to do online dating set parameters and boundaries for yourself. It is not a numbers game. It’s really not. You’re not missing out just because you missed a day or an hour of swiping.
Some of the apps have features where they will send you a limited number of matches per day and you can select one to follow through on. I think this is great!
Let yourself know how much time is a reasonable amount of time for you to spend on the app and then stick to that. You could allow yourself 20 minutes on the app once a day, at the same time each day.
2. Be Intentional
Intentions matter. You may have intentions for other areas of your life such as the kind of mother you want to be to your children, or how you want to show up at work.
Why not set an intention for online dating as well?
Maybe it’s to connect with wonderful new people while bringing mindfulness to the practice. Just implementing your parameters (20 minutes a day, every other day, etc.) will help with this a lot!
When you open up the app be really intentional. Take a few nice deep breaths and only do it in private when you have the time and space to do so. Think about what you want to get out of the session. Perhaps it’s that you want to thoughtfully respond to any new messages and that’s it. Maybe you’ve already been talking to someone and you want to set up a date with them.
I literally just came from yoga class where the teacher challenged us to set an intention and show up mindfully on the mat.
It’s not easy!
I find my mind wandering constantly, but being in that quiet space and having that intention always brings me back.
When we get onto our phones or computers we become so easily distracted that all of this goes out the window. So I want to challenge you to be mindful when you show up to online dating.
3. The Golden Rule
One of the first lessons we teach children is The Golden Rule. Remember that one? Treat others the way that you wish to be treated.
I find that almost all of my in-person interactions are filled with The Golden Rule. I treat someone with kindness and it’s reciprocated, leaving both of us feeling nourished and joyful from the interaction.
So much of that seems to go out the window online. The worst in people tends to come out. I don’t think it’s who they actually are, I think it’s a symptom of being online. People comment with rude things on blogs, Google ratings, or Instagram posts. Men (and women) say nasty things behind the safety of a dating app. People ghost one another by literally never picking up their phone or responding to a message ever again because they don’t have to face them in person.
My husband and I were recently talking about ghosting and recalling that during our dating days we never ghosted anyone or had been ghosted.
It wasn’t in our realm of possibility.
After hearing so many of my client’s horror stories I’ve even caught myself thinking “well romance is just dead these days”, or, “maybe there aren’t any chivalrous guys left”, or “dating sucks now”, from time to time.
But I don’t believe this at my core. I really don’t.
I just think the changes need to start closer to home than we think and that starts with the Golden Rule when online dating.
If you don’t want to be so hastily judged on appearances alone, make a point to stop quickly and negatively judging others.
If you don’t want to be ghosted, make sure you always follow through with someone you are talking to or seeing.
If you don’t want to be barely acknowledged in a message, put some thoughtfulness into the messages you send. Even better, set up a phone call or time to meet face-to-face.
True love isn’t gone.
It’s alive and real and lives in the hearts of those of us who believe in it. It’s even been said to be the only true purpose in life, and I believe we all have a natural desire towards it.
I’ll talk more about meeting people in real life in another post, but if you’re going to date online, know that at it’s core it’s about connecting with people who you may have otherwise never had the chance to get to know.
I’ve known many success stories of people who met their match online.
It just takes a little time, intention, and thoughtfulness, and I promise that if you embrace even just one of those three things as you move forward with your online dating journey, you may find that not only are your results different, but the feeling you have inside changes for the better.
In the comments below let me know which one you’re going to try!
Feel free to also write about any experiences (good or bad) you’ve had with online dating.
My private coaching is completely booked as I prepare for maternity leave. The only way to work with me over the next year will be in The Dating Cocktail Lounge. We’re taking new members this month and it’s only $7! Making it literally the most supportive, accessible group for single women out there.