4 months ago
Q&A: Answering Your Questions About Online Dating
It’s been exactly 6 years since my last Tinder date with my now husband. I actually had the most success with Tinder but dabbled with Match, Hinge, and there was a weekend on Bumble (it was just becoming a thing). It’s been a while so there are some questions I can’t answer because a. I’ve been out of the game way too long and b. there are details I can’t remember. I’m going to do my best to share my experience in online dating.
The most-asked question: How do you stay motivated to keep trying and avoid burnout with dating apps?
Ok, this is clearly a struggle for so many of you. I did not always stay motivated and there were times I took weeks or even months off. It’s this weird game – almost like scrolling instagram – except you’re looking through a rolodex of what appears to be kind of creepy guys. I don’t mean to be negative but if you’ve been on Tinder, you know that it’s mostly bad. But there’s hop! I met some really great guys on there who were honestly good guys, but it just didn’t work out.
I swiped left (which means you won’t be matched) most of the time. The burnout is real, and breaks are good for you. So the answer is, take breaks, don’t give up, but don’t push too hard, and never go out with anyone who posts a shirtless photo unless he’s maybe surfing.
How did you stay motivated enough to date during a “men are the worst” phase of your life?
I was on a Tinder break but was bored one night and downloaded the app again. I matched with Conor, thought he was really cute, stalked him online (or had a friend do that for me since his account was private) and he seemed like a normal guy. Since we had a few friends in common and I heard he was a decent guy, I was just like ok whatever. I’ll go out with him. Maybe being breezy and expecting nothing helped. I ordered tequila sodas and got a little buzz going. We talked for hours and then went to dinner. Such a fun night.
How did you stay positive? I feel like I only ever see total duds on these apps.
I think I answered this but I did not always stay positive. Sometimes, I was pretty doomsday. You know, the whole “I’ll never find anyone” thing. Wish the me I am today could talk to the me I was in my 20s and early 30s.
How did you handle disappointment?
Not well. There were times where I would meet a guy and be like OMG HE SEEMS SO GREAT but I was basing it off not much and built him up because he was what? Handsome and “seemed” nice? There was a guy I never heard from after our second date but instead of thinking “ok, he wasn’t for me” not hearing from him made me pine. I didn’t realize that if you meet a guy once or even a couple times, then he blows you off or shows you who he really is, he’s not for you. It’s not even about the specific guy – it’s a mix of complete exhaustion from dating, loneliness, pressure to get married and have kids, and pressure to not be “alone” so really, we just need to change how we approach dating and marriage.
It took some time, but I started to get stronger. There was this guy I was seeing before Conor. The story is so unbelievable but I swear it’s true. We dated for about 3 months but I didn’t see him often because he was a consultant and “very busy” which was code for he had a secret baby, soon to be ex-wife, and current girlfriend (not me, a whole other girl) that he never told me about. The craziest part is we were out to dinner at one point and he seemed weird. I very casually/calmly said I was looking for a relationship and that if he didn’t want one, we should probably just stop seeing each other – no hard feelings. I gave him the breeziest out and he was like “no I really like you and want to keep seeing you” and then bam.
How did you handle chatting with / seeing multiple people at once in the early stages?
If I liked someone enough to see where it was going, I wasn’t really seeing anyone else. That doesn’t mean the guys I dated weren’t seeing other people in the beginning but I’m not a juggler. Conor and I met on a Tuesday, he canceled a date he had with another girl a few days later, and we both deleted Tinder by the weekend. It wasn’t like “you’re the one marry me” but we really liked each other and wanted to see where it was going.
How could you tell who was worth meeting based on a profile?
If you can tell, I failed at this miserably. You never know how a conversation will go, if there’s a spark, if they’ll be fun or funny. If the person you’re interested in potentially getting to know can hold a conversation and seems interesting, nice, etc, and it feels worth meeting them, go for it.
How did you know when to stop seeing someone that wasn’t quite right?
I was really, really bad at this for a really, really long time. It took time, getting older, realizing my self-worth, and finding happiness outside of a man to get to a point where I could walk away when it didn’t feel right. In my 20s, I dated a guy who was absolutely awful to me, but I didn’t think I’d find anyone else and stayed with him for almost a decade. It’s so sad thinking about that, but makes sense when I look at how my parents treated me.
One guy told me he wasn’t sure he wanted to keep seeing me after a few months and in my 20s I probably would have cried. I liked him but just said something along the lines of “ok, I thought we had something pretty good but I’m not going to beg you to stay. If that’s what you want, alright” and I felt so damn proud.
There were a couple guys I dated that were really nice but just not right for me, so I ended those relationships (nicely, of course) right at the 3 month mark instead of dragging them on.
When and how do you have the exclusivity conversation?
This will probably be a very unpopular answer and the rules may have changed in the last six years. I guess this is more about finding out where a relationship is going, but I always wanted to know what I was spending my time on in the first couple weeks. It wasn’t about a label, but if things seemed like they were progressing, it was more about me finding out that we were both looking for the same thing, and knowing we respected each other enough to see where it was going. If you like someone and they like you back, I don’t think it’s a big deal to say I like you and want to see where this is going. If you’re looking for something serious and they’re not, this is a great way to rule that out.
How long were you on Tinder for?
Very on and and off in my early 30s. After my 30th (or so) until I met Conor 4 months before turning 33. Keep in mind during that time there were 4 guys I dated for 3-4 months each. That was always the breaking point for me.
How important is physical attraction if everything else works?
Looks are obviously not everything but there has to be something there, right? Actually, I dated one guy that I wasn’t really that attracted to and I’m not sure how much of an issue it was. He was a good guy (so sweet to me) but had some issues. We broke up after he drank a half a bottle of vodka at a bonfire and spoke to no one.
How did you find guys that were interested in actual relationships and not just hook-ups?
I did not always find those guys, but I was able to rule out the hookup guys pretty quickly. If you try to have a conversation and the guy seems nice (online or via an app) that’s the first step. If the person you’re trying to get to know says or does something sleazy, move on.
What made you say “this is it” and stop looking elsewhere?
We had something and we both knew it, so we deleted Tinder right away and wanted to see where this thing was going. I just confirmed that Conor had just gotten out of a serious relationship and was not looking for a relationship. I said, and I quote “you just couldn’t resist me?” and he said “uh huh.” So romantic. Ha.
How quickly did you know Conor was the one?
If I believed in “the one” I’d say pretty quickly. In the first few months I thought that this might really be something. I do believe we were meant to be together but I also believe that had we not met, I would have met someone else.
How did you know Conor was the one especially after how you were treated by your parents and a verbally abusive ex?
He was different. I saw how he was with his family, with me, and it was just…different.
Did you ever ask a guy out?
I’m sure I did but I can’t remember anything specific.
How did you filter/screen before a date?
If you can see that you have a friend in common, find out what you can. Use social media if you’re able – that’s not always possible. Are people sharing their instagram handles?
I’m 25 and feel behind. I want to get married and feel like I’ll never find someone with similar values.
I felt all of this so I get it, but you are not behind. You are exactly where you should be and spending your days thinking about the things you think will complete you and make you happy isn’t going to get you anywhere. In my 20s, I had to have a husband and baby by 30. I got married and had my first baby at 35 and wouldn’t change a thing. I wrote a blog post on this.