If you’re dating or been dating recently, you’ve no doubt come across the world of dating apps. They’re so common and widely used now, that even if we don’t want to use them ourselves when we date, we’re affected by them. They affect the way people pursue relationships in our culture. But we need to know how to best engage with them and stop them from ruining our dating experience.
I was speaking to a friend the other week who was telling me about the latest dating app she was using.
She said it was really good because while you do upload some pictures, you also need to share details/facts about yourself. Then you only get ‘matched’ with someone after they comment on one of these details/facts. So it’s more about making a connection with the person, and not just what they look like.
This is interesting because the people I personally talk to say that they don’t like the fact so many dating apps just focus on looks and the physical side. They want it to be about more than that. Or even want to ditch dating apps altogether because they can cause us to become shallow.
So many people use dating apps now
This attitude is coming across more and more in videos, blogs and articles as well. However, because so many people use dating apps now, if you want to date, you kind of feel that you need to use them.
My friend said this too. Dating apps are so common and normal, you don’t have a choice really, and the effects are plain to see.
For example, if you don’t want to engage with them but you see someone you like when you are out, the chances are they are using dating apps. This may affect the way they interact with you. They may prefer to talk online first because that’s their normal, meaning they won’t even attempt to talk to you face to face.
So sadly, you’re being affected by the dating app culture whether you like it or not, whether you use them or not, and so may feel forced into using them in order to find someone.
Let’s be honest, some people just see dating apps as ‘hook-up’ apps, even though some people on there are genuinely looking for a relationship. But they are all put in the same boat and the inevitable hurt and chaos ensue.
So what can we do, and what can I say to my friend and others like her to make sure we are using them in a way that helps our search for love, and won’t ruin it? I would say we will make a good start if we:
- Limit Our Time On The App
- Invest In Wider Fulfilments
- Stop If We Get Matched With Someone
Limit Our Time On The App
If we’re too obsessed with finding ‘a match’, and we find ourselves checking the app all the time, and even when we’re on dates we’re thinking about the next ‘match’, this can ruin the experience of dating.
We can place too much time, energy and hope into the app, and forget that a real relationship happens offline rather than online.
I would always say it’s good to limit the time we use them for. So we may say we can check it for an hour at lunch, and for a bit in the evening. But outside of that time frame we turn off notifications and don’t look.
We need to make sure this obsession isn’t something we’re allowing to happen
The pitfall is that apps now mean our pursuit of romance is happening all day every day. So we need to make sure this obsession isn’t something we’re allowing to happen (accidentally). By limiting our time, we limit getting too dependent on this intense online bubble.
Invest In Wider Fulfilments
The last tip naturally leads me to a point I have made many times before: we need to invest in wider friends, family, hobbies and interests.
Our fulfilment and our identity can’t be in our relationship status, or in the number of likes we get on our dating app. It needs to be in these wider pursuits, so that no matter what happens on our dates we know we’re loved and valued by those around us, and know we still find meaning in other things, before and after we find someone. (Read Top Dating Tip For When Your Relationship Become Official.)
Stop If We Get Matched With Someone
This final rule always seems the most controversial and hard to take. People can understand that if you start dating someone seriously then you stop using dating apps, but I think you should stop/suspend your use if you’re arranging to meet someone for a first date.
This may seem ‘wrong’, or extreme, because you haven’t committed to each other yet, haven’t even met each other yet, so why would you stop using dating apps (temporarily)? Who knows who else you could get a match with in the meantime?
Well, the truth is more isn’t always better. We all want to find that one person we can commit to and build something with. So it’s not really about finding lots of people, but the right person. And the apps can trick us into thinking the more the better because there is more potential.
It gives us the best chance by building good foundations
However, this mindset can distract us from the person in front of us. Instead of investing in the date and person we are with, we’re thinking of the other ‘potential’ dates we could have, which weakens the foundation (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)
If we’re pursuing a match, then focus on them. It may not work out, but it gives us the best chance by building good foundations.
The world we live in has apps and technology, there isn’t much point in pining for a ‘simpler’ time. And these things, like most other things, have the potential for a lot of good as well as a lot of bad.
Imagine if we used dating apps in a way which helped our search for love, instead of hindering it. We can start to do this when we: Limit Our Time On The App, Invest In Wider Fulfilments, Stop If We Are Matched With Someone. (Read Why The Phrase ‘Love Yourself Before You Date’ Is Being Misunderstood)
Do you think dating apps are helping or hindering? Comments welcomed below.
Originally posted 8/7/2019