Online dating & apps

5 Tips For Online Dating

Finding A Date

People enter the world of online dating for many reasons. Some think it will be fun, some reluctantly get involved, some do it because their friends do, others have heard positive stories and want to get their own one. Either way, people often enter this world not really knowing how to do it well. So here are 5 tips that will help you. 

I have written a few times about online dating. Especially about how it isn’t dating, but an introduction. It’s a chance to meet people, just like a blind date or meeting someone at a party is, which may then lead to dating and forming a relationship. (Read ) 

But how do you make good online introductions? 

How do we write a profile and approach online dating in a way that protects us? As well as giving us the best chance of finding someone we can form a great relationship with? 

5 Tips

While I have never used online dating, doing the work I do means I come across lots of research, positive and negative stories, and resources that can help guide people. As a result, I often give these 5 tips: 

  • Honesty Saves Time
  • Use Unspecific Words
  • Keep It Positive
  • It Takes Time 
  • Know What You Want 

Honesty Saves Time

Writing a profile is hard. Knowing what to put in and what to say in a message to someone wouldn’t come naturally to most people. 

But the starting point needs to be honesty. Exaggerating our skill set, or what we like to do, or lying about our features (most men online lie about their height) is a bad start.

It will mean that we end up getting introduced, and even dating people who we aren’t suited with. Which in turn will just result in wasted time and disappointment. By all means, put your best foot forward, but do it honestly. 

Use Unspecific Words

The next question would then be: so how do you put your best foot forward?

It’s really important to use unspecific words. The reason for this is because, sadly, we can easily make superficial quick judgments when reading profiles. So if we say ‘I love football’, or ‘I love cruises’, people can discount us if they don’t like those things. 

In order to keep our profile more approachable

Therefore, it’s better to try and keep it more general, in order to keep our profile more approachable. E.g. ‘I like sports’, or  ‘I like to travel’. These statements are still true, but they’re open enough to allow more connection points. Because someone may not like football, but they might enjoy other sports that you like, for example.   

Keep It Positive

The time that you take to say something is important (profiles with about 100 words get the most interactions), but the way you say it is even more important. 

Profiles with positive language get the most traction. Talking about your hopes for the future, what you enjoy doing and what makes you feel alive are the best things to talk about. 

Avoid giving demands, like ‘Must love…’ or ‘Must hate…’. Talking about what you hope the relationship will look like is fine, but being positive and talking about what fulfils you is vital. 

It Takes Time

All of this takes time, and the search is often for an indefinite time period which can be very demoralising at points. But sadly, there is no way to change that. 

Online dating isn’t like online shopping. You can’t just specify what you want and have it delivered the next day. Online dating involves time, emotional investment, meeting people and giving energy to the search. 

If we do approach online dating half-heartedly, or without giving it enough time, then we will be disappointed.  Which is why the next and final tip is so important. 

Know What You Want

Just saying yes to everyone is not a good idea. There are people in our work, at our church, in our social circles that we do not get on with. Or people who we like as a friend but would never date. The same principle applies online. 

We need to think about the type of person we want to get to know

We will not get on romantically with everyone. That’s why we need to think about the type of person we want to get to know.  The type of person we want to date, so we know who to say yes to and who to say no to. (Read ) 

Imagine If… 

There’s no perfect solution to online dating or finding someone, but if we or people we know are using online dating, we can at least prepare well for it. 

Imagine if we remembered: Honesty Saves Time, Use Unspecific Words, Keep It Positive, It Takes Time, Know What You Want. (Read I’m Single And Hate Dating, What Can I Do?)

What other good advice have you heard? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 14/1/2019

Who Else Wonders If Christian Online Dating is Okay?

Finding A Date

Online dating is still a question I get asked about a lot. Is it a good thing? Is it honouring God? How do you do it well? No doubt we’re asking those questions, or being asked those questions from friends and family. So it’s worth knowing: It’s an Online Introduction; The Type of Website Matters; Avoid Relationship Consumerism; Move Offline; and Face Reality.

(The following extract is taken from page 196-199 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

I was first asked this question by an old friend. I say ‘old’ because he was not only a friend from my past, but he was also a fair bit older than me, and looking for love. Some of you reading this have been single for a while.

If there’s no-one eligible to date in church, at work or in your social network, and you don’t fancy uprooting your life to check out another area, then how do you meet someone?

Not many things are exempt from God’s ability to use for his purposes

Why not embrace this modern tool for finding love and join an online dating website? It’s not wrong, is it? No!

Not many things are exempt from God’s ability to use for his purposes, and this includes meeting someone online. The real question is: how can online dating be done in a way that honours God?

Online Introduction 

However, before you log on, we would start by saying that online dating is not really dating as such. You need to realise that it is more about providing an introduction.

You can’t really develop an intimate relationship with a computer screen! It needs to move to face-to-face encounters for it to have the chance of developing into something significant. So ‘online dating’ is a first step to meeting someone, not an alternative to dating.

The Type of Website Matters

As you probably know, there is a wide range of dating websites. Some exist to bring people together who only want one-night stands. Some just ask surface-level questions and never delve deeper into you as a person.

Then there are some that ask dozens of questions that delve into your spiritual life, personality, and future hopes, and try to connect you with a suitable partner who shares your vision for life. Some websites do this really well, so we suggest you opt for ones that take seriously your commitment to search for someone who shares your passion for a God-centred life.

Avoid Relationship Consumerism

It’s obvious that you want to narrow down your search, and this will include making choices based on someone’s appearance and good answers. The problem is that online people-surfing can make it easier for us to forget that no-one is perfect.

Keep reminding yourself that a website only shows you people’s best bits. The reality might not always be the same as the profile on the screen. If you treat it as another way of being introduced to someone, then you’ll be more likely to put in the work needed to really get to know them.

It’s time to keep a healthy perspective

If you notice that online dating is creating a little bubble that bursts easily when the person you’re interested in doesn’t get back to you, or you discover that they are sharing intimate emails with lots of people they’ve met online, then it’s time to keep a healthy perspective on what online dating is: a way to meet someone.

It isn’t a shortcut to lasting intimacy with someone you’ve not yet met. (Read )

Move Offline

If we feel nervous around people, online contact can feel more comfortable than meeting in person. It’s always easier to meet someone face-to-face when you know you already have a rapport with them.

God made us for real interaction

Messaging, emailing, and texting are a good start, but it’s important that you meet and get to know the whole person. Keeping your relationship online can create a perfect breeding ground for fantasy to develop, where you fall in love with the person you think they are, rather than who they really are.

No advancement in human technology will reduce relationships to emailing and texting. We will always want more because God made us for real interaction – we need it!

So online dating must move to face-to-face dating, otherwise, we’re just setting ourselves up for failure. (Read What Should We Do On A First Date?)

Face Reality 

One of the great benefits of the internet is that it brings us into contact with more people in a week than our medieval ancestors would have met in a lifetime. But it does open us up to the very real possibility of finding someone great who lives 200 miles away.

Obviously, you won’t know if they can be part of your life for a while, and long-distance relationships can grow into the kind of relationship that you would move city for, but it is a question that must be addressed at some point.

It’s worth deciding before you sign up what you feel you will be able to cope with.

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

Imagine If…

This will by no means answer every question you have about online dating (May I suggest you read , it’s the shortest, most practical and best book on online dating I’ve read). But it will get us thinking about how to do it well, and take away some fear surrounding it.

Imagine if we could support people, or get support in this area, instead of keeping it an ‘online secret’. We need to start having open conversations about this, and help each other to do it well.

Is there still a stigma in your church about online dating? Comments welcomed below.  

Originally posted 5/6/2017

Online Dating: Transforming Or Just Tweaking Our Relationships?

Finding A Date, Interesting Research

Online dating is sometimes portrayed as the ultimate solution to finding our romantic partner. But many people who use it are still struggling to find someone. The brief history of online dating shows us that it has changed things, but not as much as we may hope or expect. When we realise this we can then use it in a helpful way. 

I really enjoy podcasts. I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting ones. From sport to politics, to business, to everyday stories, and everything in between. I came across one recently that looked at the first business to use computers to match people for dates, and then it charted a brief history of online dating.

It’s called ‘Operation Match’ and is part of the series called ‘Undone’. It’s 30 minutes long and really interesting. For example, it points out that online dating originally happened offline!

Operation Match

He was using computers to match people to go on dates

A student at Harvard university started the Operation Match business. He asked people to fill in a long questionnaire and post (as in stamp and envelope) in their answers. These would be fed into one of the world’s first computers at the university, and then after it generated matches the appropriate people’s names and telephone numbers would be posted back to you.

This was happening before the internet, but it really is the beginning of online dating. It was using computers and complex maths to match compatible people to go on dates.

It’s a fascinating podcast and I hope you listen to it when you get the time. There were a few things that stood out to me as I listened, and a few things I think we can learn from this brief history of online dating.

Then and Now

You hear the story from a woman called Andrea. She is currently on the dating scene. She cannot find anyone in her every day offline social circles and really wants this to change. Andrea turned to online dating many years ago. Unfortunately, it isn’t going well.

She says she is using all of the dating apps and websites to try and find someone. She is clearly getting more and more frustrated, she thought she would have found someone by now.

It can lead to marriage but that’s definitely not always the case

Another woman called Anita tells us her story about her dating journey. She dated in the 1960’s. Anita had similar frustrations to Andrea. She was going to parties, looking for someone to find a romantic relationship with, and it wasn’t happening. So she turned to the Operation Match business.

This did lead to a good date, and ultimately a marriage that has lasted 50 years.

These two stories are important because many online dating services (unintentionally) lead us to believe that computers and the internet can match us up with someone who is ‘perfect’. They can lead us to our ‘soul mate’. As we can see from these two stories, it can lead to marriage but that’s definitely not always the case.

I have always said that if I invented online dating I would have called it ‘online introductions’

It Found Dates, Not Spouses

I have always said that if I invented online dating I would have called it ‘online introductions’. It sounds boring and uninspiring I know, (which is why I’m not in marketing). However, I always say that online dating isn’t dating, it’s an online introduction.

We form romantic relationships in the day to day real life. Not with a screen. Don’t get me wrong, I think online dating is a good thing if it’s used well, but no computer will ever be able to make us fall in love. We still build a relationship offline, even if we meet online.

Interestingly, this Harvard student said this himself. He said the service was about finding dates, not spouses. It was a dating experience and not a mating experience. The podcast also mentions growing research that claims no computer can match ‘soul mates’. (Read Technology and Relationships: Swipe Left or Right?)

It cannot find out about an entire person or evaluate things like sense of humour. It can only suggest people you may have a good date with.

This was said and backed-up by one of the creators of one of the biggest dating sites today called OkCupid. He says the idea is to get you out on dates, it can’t do more than that (he honestly says this, listen to the podcast).

Back To Focusing On Looks

This is why, some argue, apps like tinder are on the rise. Many people and dating sites are putting less and less faith in the ‘matching formula’. This means we have gone back to the ‘party rules for dating’. By which I mean, you go to a party, if you like the look of them, then you start talking and getting to know each other.

The matching element is therefore reduced dramatically in some dating apps and websites and they become very visual and picture focused. Maybe only location or gender is used in the matching process.

Good Tweaks

It’s clear that online dating hasn’t transformed our romantic relationships, but it has changed them, and it can help.

It isn’t a solution to all of our romantic problems. It’s another way of meeting people

Let me say again, I’m a fan of online dating when it’s done well. I think there does need to be a good level of matching analysis done by the app or website, but there’s no guarantee it’ll bring us a match for life, or any match. It isn’t a solution to all of our romantic problems. It’s another way of meeting people. But a very good way to meet people we wouldn’t usually meet.

This came out strongly by the end of the podcast. Unlike before, when people could only go to parties or blind dates and meet people nearby, the internet now means we can meet more people than before. And we can decide the parameters. For example, the area they live, the age range., etc. The parameter isn’t just whoever came to the party.

It means we can be active as well. (Read my post about activeness here) you can join a dating site, start searching, and be involved. This is a good thing and can help us think through what type of relationship we want to build.

Bad Tweaks

we can still only fall in love face to face and not facing a screen

However, online dating, offline dating, dating then and dating now, involves lots of time, worry, nervousness and emotional energy. The bottom line is, we can still only fall in love face to face and not facing a screen.

The worry is that sometimes the perception is that online dating takes all of this away. But if we remember it can’t, and think about it bringing more introductions and getting us out there meeting people, then it can be a good benefit.

Imagine If…

Imagine if next time we use online dating or talk to someone about it, we remember it’s not online dating, but an online introduction. Online dating is just part of us building healthy, enjoyable romantic relationships.

What has surprised you, or your friends, about online dating? (Comments welcomed below) 

Originally posted 8/2/2017

Technology and Relationships: Swipe Left or Right?

Early Dating, Finding A Date

Technology has revolutionised our society in many amazing ways. With it has come some new attitudes and approaches to life too, like instant access to information and interaction with more people. It’s important to know how these new attitudes affect romantic relationships, and if they’re worth keeping or ditching. 

This issue raised its head when I was watching a tv program called ‘Married at First Sight’. It’s literally what it sounds like. People get married to a complete stranger that they have never met, but they’ve been matched through the power of experts, technology, and science.

The concept of the show is strange, but it’s fascinating to hear about why some people signed up to get married like this. What was a bit worrying for me though, was that many of them believed that technology and science can bring them their perfect partner.

This approach reminded me that technology has a profound impact on how we now approach life and romantic relationships.

Lots could be said about this, but I have said many time before that I do not believe in ‘The One’ myth, that there is one perfect person out there for us and all we need to do is find them (Read more in the introduction of my book for free now). 

I think that hinders us building healthy relationships and robs us of a better ideal and approach to relationships. (Read Unhealthy Relationship Expectations We Should All Know)

This show reminded me that technology has a profound impact on how we now approach life and romantic relationships. It’s worth thinking a bit about how some of these beliefs shape our romantic relationships in good and bad ways.

The Technology Affect 

We can list some of these effects, and say that due to technology, we can now:

  • Contact more people
  • Contact people whenever we want
  • Get information instantly

Contact More People 

Due to social media, webcams, the spread of the internet, apps, etc., we can meet and interact with more people than ever. Dating apps and dating websites mean we can talk with more people in a week than our great ancestors in small towns and villages probably did in a whole year.

The good thing in terms of romantic relationships is that you can meet more potential partners than ever. If you’re in a church with no suitable single people to date for example, you can now chat with people online that you wouldn’t meet otherwise.

The downside is that unfortunately, more people doesn’t mean more suitable partners.

If we think technology makes partner selection as quick and easy as online shopping, it can hinder us

Dating is exhausting, technology can definitely bring more introductions than ever before, but it cannot guarantee to set you up with someone suitable quickly. More introductions and more dates mean more possibilities, but more time and energy too.

This downside isn’t a problem necessarily, but it will be a problem if we think technology, dating apps and websites, will somehow deliver the perfect partner. If we think technology makes partner selection as quick and easy as online shopping it, can hinder us.

Contact People Whenever We Want

Another thing technology has brought is the ability to contact the person you like or are dating, whenever you want. You can send a text, email, social media message, give them a call, send a picture, face time, etc. As long as you both have a phone and a signal, you’re good to go.

This can be good, especially if you’re in a long-distance relationship for example (Read Can Our Relationship God The Long Distance?) or apart for a while because of work or whatever. It can mean you can still keep in touch.

The downside is, that this can create emotional intensity and investment before we are aware of it.

This communication, little and often, eventually adds up to lots of emotional energy and investment before we even realise it

Sending a text or picture takes a few seconds, but before we know it, we’ve sent six texts or so to the person we like or are dating or are married to, and checking our phones constantly for the reply, getting excited when they reply and worried when they don’t.

This communication, little and often, eventually adds up to lots of emotional energy and investment before we even realise it. This can become a problem. For example, if you haven’t made it clear you are an ‘official couple’ and the communication suddenly ends.

Get Information Instantly 

I remember hearing someone a lot older than me saying he saw a t-shirt with the words: ‘Go easy on your parents, they did their homework without google’. It’s true that things have changed a lot. We can now access so much information whenever we want through our phones, laptops or tablets.

We can, for example, find more advice on relationships now. More websites and online courses are available, (some good, some not so good) and there is more support out there.

But people are complicated, no two couples are the same

However, this instant access can make us sometimes feel that good relationships should be instant too. After typing ‘my’ requirements into an online dating app, the search results and ‘perfect partner’ should come quickly.

But people are complicated, no two couples are the same. Technology doesn’t bring quick ‘one size fits all’ relationship solutions because we’re all different and complicated. Problems and issues take time to sort out. Couples learn to grow together through those times, there is rarely a quick solution.

Technology: Keep or Ditch?

Technology is amazing. And whether you’re a technophobe or tech-expert, there is no going back. We’re in a technological revolution and it changes the way we communicate and impacts romantic relationships.

Technology and the attitudes it builds impacts every area of our lives. Knowing the effects, and knowing what elements are worth keeping and worth ditching, are important as we navigate through our modern romantic relationships.

Imagine If…

Imagine if we actively countered one of these negative effects that technology brings to relationships. If we committed to doing one of these things this week, it could make our relationships much stronger.

How has technology helped or hindered your romantic relationship?  Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 16/1/2017