Online is now the most popular way couples meet in our dating app age. Millions of us have found love, with some having “Tinder babies”, since the app launched nearly a decade ago in 2012. Countless other sites and apps followed, covering every imaginable dating niche. Dating app fatigue, however, is also on the rise.
If you’ve been diligently searching for “the one”, you’ll know that many low-barrier-to-entry apps have become synonymous with commitment-phobic hookup culture. A Google search of the terms “Tinder” and “hookup” exposes an online industry built around casual dating success. What’s more, dating app KPIs (like number of active users, or hours spent online) often misalign to their users’ ultimate hope of rendering them obsolete.
As a dating coach, I see many singletons associating dating apps with the near-inevitable negative experiences the sheer number of online interactions can bring. Home screens are cluttered with icons promising love; calendars and inboxes are littered with disappointing dates.
Two years of a global pandemic have exacerbated dating app fatigue; as work, social life and entertainment moved even more online. After all, humans crave in-person connection. A 2020 MIT study found that our longing for social contact after periods of isolation is actually neurologically similar to when we feel hungry for food.
Online dating can also feel like the opposite of falling in love with a trusted friend. We’re immediately thrust into a presumed romantic interaction with people we haven’t met and barely know about. This lack of groundwork can feel invasive, inappropriate and overly-presumptuous. As well as disappointing if romantic feelings are unreciprocated.
It’s normal to feel disheartened when online dating isn’t meeting your expectations. After all, per the equation Mo Gawdat shares in his book “Solve For Happy”:
There are two dating optimization routes you can take: one to consciously improve your online experience; the other to boost your chances of meeting someone offline. Here are a dozen practical tips to do either or both.
Dating apps only have to work once when you’re looking for the right partner. Here are a few ways to speed up the process:
As a dating coach, many of my clients have found long-term partners on apps like Bumble, Hinge, Match and Raya. These seem to attract a higher proportion of people with hearts set on finding love; and it makes sense. There’s a higher barrier to entry for dating apps where users must put more time, creativity, money or vulnerability into designing their profile. This screens out people who can’t be bothered with more effort to find a partner than it takes to order a pizza!
If you don’t want someone who primarily values your salary or boobs, perhaps don’t make them your profile’s main focus. Get clear on the kind of person you want to date, and create a profile with them in mind. You’ll attract someone who is looking for you too if you show (a positive version of) the real you. Share an honest bio about who you are and who you’re looking for. Include at least one clear headshot and full length picture, and photos that represent your life, personality and interests. Ask a close friend for feedback and to check if your profile really feels like “you”. Be inspired by other profiles you resonate with.
The last two years made video first dates more widely acceptable and normal. You can check your compatibility with their vibe without spending a whole evening doing so (or even leaving the house). Also, keep your ideal partner in mind during your first date. Don’t feel bad for being picky about who you meet up (or match) with. After all, a bad date is often more demoralizing for your search than no date. Note also whether you’re making choices to meet in person from a lack mindset, rather than an abundant inner knowing. Remember it only takes finding one compatible person from the dating pool to have a great relationship.
There is limited, but often crucial, information on someone’s dating profile. If someone can’t make eye contact with a camera; uses disrespectful opening lines; or spends their free time doing things you wouldn’t dream of — consider swiping left. Notice the feelings that come up in your body when you connect online or on a subsequent date. Then trust your intuition! For more convincing: think of times you had a strong gut feeling you did or didn’t listen to, then remember what happened. You can check out this guide to making intuition your superpower.
Just as you might do with news or social media apps – to prevent overwhelm or mindless scrolling. Perhaps set a limit for the maximum time you will spend swiping per day. You could schedule 10-15 minutes to catch up on potential matches in your calendar — with reminders for start and finish times. This can help you put in the hours to find your partner, but without getting dating app fatigue.
If you’d prefer to meet someone offline, or want to supplement your online dating, here are some proven ideas to put luck in your favor.
Firstly, get clear on the type of person you want to date: their personality, physical, social traits, how they make you feel and spend their time. Then think of five friends or acquaintances whose judgement you trust. Ask if they know anyone like the person you are looking for, who they might introduce you to. My coaching client created a video sharing 10 partner traits she was looking for, and 10 facts about herself. She found her man. You can share an email, video or voice note about the kind of partner and relationship you would like with friends. If they think of someone: prepare a short bio, social media link and a few photos of you to share.
Also, make the effort to spend more time with new friends or friend groups, to widen your social circle. This can be particularly helpful if most of your friends mostly hang out with other couples; or you’ve had the same friends for a long time.
It can be inappropriate, against the rules (or even illegal) to date someone at work . This is especially pertinent if one of you has power over the other’s career. However, due to the potential closeness of relationships formed, meeting someone special through work is also common. No-one wants to feel uncomfortable from drunken flings or unwanted advances at the office they to go to every day. Staying clear of immediate workplace relationships can be a good idea unless: you are willing to potentially leave your job; think there could be something significant there; and are sure feelings are mutual. It also helps to look slightly further afield to the people your career is less closely connected to (e.g. at a networking event or co-working spot).
Getting out of your social comfort zone by going solo to events, members clubs or classes can make us more approachable and open to meeting new people. You’re more likely to meet people you click with doing hobbies you enjoy. Fun things make us joyful which, as well as being amazing in its own right, also makes us more attractive. What’s more, having a happy, fulfilling, full life already, sets you in good stead for a healthy partnership. Why not make use of the free time you have when you’re single to do more things you’re passionate about? Ask friends for recommendations or Google to find out what’s going on locally that you could get involved in.
I met my current long term (and awesome) partner travelling. With a holiday romance, there are risks that you don’t actually live in the same country, or that strong feelings from an exotic location don’t translate to your home life. However, people often spend their free time on vacations in locations and doing activities that feel aligned to them. The people who we share these in common with are likely to travel in compatible ways and places. We also tend to feel happy, unburdened and open-minded on holiday, as well as more approachable to new people. You can combine new hobbies with travelling by searching for trips, retreats, adventure holidays that might attract fellow like-minded friends and potential partners.
Being mindful, or non-judgmentally present to our surroundings in the here and now, can make us feel calmer and happier. Sounds simple right? So often we stare at our phones (or become engrossed in our worries) when we’re alone in a coffee shop or walking around. Noticing who is around us; being open to eye contact; flashing a smile; or being able to say a simple “hi” makes us much more likely to connect with new people. Our level of observance and open mindedness affects how likely we are to notice and take chance opportunities that come up. Richard Wiseman’s book “The Luck Factor” even explains these qualities in seemingly “lucky” people and how to emulate them.
Not solely for meeting someone of course! Borrowing a friend’s dog or getting your own (if you’ve been thinking about it) can help you meet more fellow locals. As someone who loves pets, I’m biased here, but hear me out! Dog walks get you out of the house (where other people are). You become more conscious of your surroundings and even feel happier and healthier. You are also more likely to attract other people who are animal-friendly too. Photos of you with a dog on your dating app profile even make you more attractive to potential matches!
I hope you have more ideas to use dating apps happily and productively, reduce dating app fatigue or to find love in person. If you want more help with your dating life: you can contact me here for bespoke 1:1 dating coaching; and sign up here for my latest free monthly content (if you are someone naughty who hasn’t already)!
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