Dating can be rough, and if you’ve been actively dating for a while (a little over a year in my case), it can feel like a slog. You use the same apps, go to the same bars, have the same getting-to-know you convos… and then, often, never see the person again. It can all feel like a never-ending episode of Dating Around. (That’s the Netflix reality show where one person goes on five identical blind dates, if you’ve forgotten).
Get On A Dating App — Or Try A New One
A lot of us like to complain about dating apps, but let’s face it, they work. A 2019 study found that straight people are now more likely to meet their significant other online than in any other way. And the same study found that queer couples are even more likely to meet through online dating — LGBTQ+ individuals were “early adopters of internet services for meeting partners," in part because they're a minority group who meet fewer potential dating partners through friends and family.
With all the dating apps out there, however, you might be using one that doesn’t work for you. Are you significantly older or younger than most of the app’s users? Are you polyamorous, but not using an polyamory-friendly app? Take some time to research which app might be the best fit for you instead of just choosing the first one that shows up when you google “dating app.”
Actually Read The Bios
If you’re using a dating app, odds are you’re primarily swiping based on photos (unless you’re using the queer dating app Lex, which is text-based). While attraction is important, this approach means that you might be twenty messages into a convo before you realise that they're looking for someone to join them hiking every weekend, while you’d rather head to the cinema and see every movie with awards buzz. And take a cab home. (Seriously, why does everyone on dating apps love hiking so much?)
“We’re all scrolling so fast these days, it’s easy to miss a gem," a Tinder spokesperson says. "If you’re looking for a new kind of connection in 2020, it might be time to slow your swipe.” Lift your swiping finger off your phone and take a few minutes to honestly evaluate the person's bio rather than just their face. (If their bio is blank, though, you have permission to left swipe STAT).
Look For A Partner In Activism
If there’s a social cause that’s important to you, include it in your dating app bio. Tinder data shows that mentions of climate change in bios increased 80% in the last year. You might have heard that it’s a bad idea to talk about politics on a first date — we say that if you’re passionate about politics, lead with it. (And that goes for dates you've met IRL, too.)
Make Dating Part Of Your Routine
Try incorporating dating apps into your daily routine, suggests Charly Lester, dating expert and cofounder of the dating app Lumen. “Set a specific time in your day to look at new profiles, and reply to messages,” he says. “Challenge yourself to reach out to three new people every day in January... who knows who you might meet.” The same goes for actually going on dates. Try deciding that every Thursday is your “date night”, or resolve to go on two dates a month.
Forget Your “Type”
Sing it: From now on, you ain’t got no type. “People tend to stick to their specific ‘type’ of preferred looks or style when it comes to dating," says Maria Sullivan, Dating Expert and VP of Dating.com. "By opening up your mind and grabbing dinner or engaging in a conversation with someone who you might not often gravitate to, there is a chance that you find that you connect with that person or are attracted to what their personality has to offer."
Go To New Places
Instead of going to the same bar for every first date, take some time to make a list of places you haven’t been to yet, but would love to check out. Then even if the date turns out to be a dud, you might get a new favourite cocktail bar out of it.
“If you’re able to weave dating into the things you enjoy, I’m a big fan of that,” sex & relationship therapist and TENGA brand ambassador Shan Boodram previously suggested to Refinery29. “If I’m already going to go to the sex museum, why not bring somebody along? I would have gone regardless; I enjoy the atmosphere, and if I don’t enjoy the person, it isn’t a complete loss. Centreing dates around places you want to eat and things you enjoy — one, the person gets the benefit of seeing you in your element, but also, it helps you avoid dating burnout.”
Take A Dating Break
Finally, if the prospect of going on yet another first date sounds about as appealing as a root canal, it’s totally fine to delete your dating apps for a few weeks or even months. "Your greatest likelihood of finding the healthiest relationship is when you're feeling the best about yourself," Rachel Sussman, LCSW, a New York-based relationship therapist, previously told Refinery29. Don’t date because you feel like you have to; date because you’re excited about the prospect of meeting someone new.