Dating apps 101: How to make the most of (and actually enjoy) online dating
So, you've finally given dating apps a try — or another chance.
May it be out of curiosity, boredom, loneliness, or the desire to talk to someone new, dating apps have been dominating the dating scene since the introduction of Tinder in 2017. But using the apps during the pandemic is a whole new conversation.
As a reformed dating app enthusiast in the hay days of 2018 and 2019, Bumble was just a means to connect to fellow people my age, serving as a sort of bridge for our next in-person date back when physical distancing wasn't part of our vocabulary. Now, entire relationships could rise and fall in the online sphere — and that can be especially confusing to navigate when you're trying to get back in the game.
With Valentine's Day fast approaching, here are a few hard-earned nuggets of wisdom from people who've gone to and fro the wild world of dating apps.
To share or not to overshare
As much as it's tempting to share as many details about yourself as possible, a good rule of thumb is to keep things in the dark to make way for good conversation.
Bea, 24, advises utilizing your favorite recent photos of yourself, which include being in your best outfit, having good lighting, and showing off your hobbies if possible.
In writing a biography, Thor, 23, admits that "Not many people read the bios, but the ones who do will appreciate the effort you put in there."
Having your Instagram and Spotify accounts connected to your profile also invites people with the same taste like you, and leaves room for meeting like-minded matches.
Thor and Bea also had the same advice in initially keeping up appearances: "Keep your bio short but interesting... be mysterious but leave an impression."
Just looking for someone to talk to? Thor suggests maxing out the age and distance on the app's filtered recommendations, though that won't guarantee finding a lasting match right away.
The talking stage
Now that you've hypothetically matched with someone, the moment when you can finally talk is the place to see if your ideals and expectations align. Whatever it is you're looking for, remember to be transparent to avoid an uncomfortable situation in the future.
John, 28, said that it pays to be innately curious about your match: "It can help in the conversation, and you wouldn't want to talk to someone who's not interested in you in the long haul."
Wit also plays a huge role, as Thor puts it: "the wittier your opening line is, the bigger the success you may have in finding someone with the same sense of humor."
Though we don't condone stalking in any other form, Shania, 23, says it's important to do a bit of sleuthing on their dating profile so you can figure out what to bring up during initial conversation: "Everyone loves talking about themselves."
Shania also advises refraining from using the premade conversation starters that the app provides, "they’ve probably heard that a million times already."
One thing that makes dating apps get a bad reputation is the option paralysis that comes with having a number of people to talk to, but for Lala, 30, it's all about knowing when to stop.
"When you're in a dating app, it's normal to, as they say, 'collect and select' but if you meet someone you want to get to know more, it's better to focus so you don't get distracted," she shared. "It could be hard to do once you're used to dating apps, but the whole point of downloading them is to delete them anyway."
But remember, it's alright to change your mind
No matter how interesting someone is, if the conversation gets uncomfortable, disrespectful, or you simply want to stop talking to someone, almost all dating apps have the option to remove or "unmatch" the person from your chat.
Lala also recommends video chatting before meeting up to double-check if their profile is legitimate. When you do meet up, guarantee that you two feel healthy, don't have recent COVID-19 exposure, and not exhibiting any symptoms. Make sure it's also in a public place such as a mall or park with people around.
John says to always be wary posers. "If you're unsure of their personality, verify their social media. You can even request for a selfie with a weird pose if push comes to shove."
For Cruz, 22, whenever he would get in a conversation that would turn for the worst, unmatching is always an option. "I never thought that it would be a huge loss for me if I unmatched with someone. It's just like if you meet someone new in real life and you know your personalities don't align. It's not worth pursuing."
At the end of the day, you can always say no. Be as honest with the person (and yourself) as you can be.