Recently the dating app Tinder gave January 8th, 2017 the moniker “Dating Sunday”. The first Sunday after New Year’s Eve is one of the most trafficked days of the year for those swiping left or right. It is no surprise that as the new year arises you are considering new paths, new resolutions and that new somebody, so I decided to put together a two-part series to help you navigate the complex terrain of the online dating.
“I’ve been online dating for a while and I’m tired of the endless messaging back and forth and having to come up with witty banter that never evolves into meeting up. No one seems serious. How do I actually meet people?” – Tessa, 29
I was at a dinner in Paris recently and everyone was exchanging those stories that never fail to captivate us: the “how I met my partner” fairytale.
One woman told a story about how when she was living in a fifth-floor walk-up, she threw a banana peel out the window that landed on a man’s head. That man walked five floors to return the banana peel and never left.
This narrative of charming happenstance is rapidly disappearing in the digital age where every interaction is curated in advance. With over 40 million Americans dating online, a fatigue has taken hold as a result of the endless swiping, messaging and communicating that it takes to reach the moment of setting eyes upon a flesh-and-blood human being.
So how do you negotiate the never-ending supermarket of people online and reinvigorate yourself so that you can find new opportunities for curiosity, playfulness and real-life interactions?
While online dating has proven successful, with millions meeting and marrying through these platforms, it is not the only path to connection.
It’s no mistake that in parallel to the isolating digital fortresses that we have built around ourselves, there is also a proliferation of festivals, dance parties and events where people gather, brush forearms and enjoy the presence of others. Open your eyes to the people that cross your path every day.
Challenge yourself to counter your discomfort and turn to the person who is smiling at you on the subway, in a café or sitting next to you on the airplane. The most banal chitchat – a snowstorm, the delayed C train, the breed of someone’s puppy – opens intriguing possibilities for interaction and real-life connection.
If you are particularly nervous about approaching strangers, think of a specific question or interest of yours that you want to raise to start the conversation. Remember, life is always unfolding right in front of us. Stay open to the surprises that it holds.
Online dating has become a form of entertainment for some – there is great appeal to the swiping, the heart-pulsing that jolts with the ding of your phone and the epistolary wonders of writing witty texts at 2am.
As evidenced by the question Tessa asks, this can quickly lead to frustration when you never actually meet in person. But Tessa may also need to ask herself if she is stalling. Delaying tactics, such as simmering or icing, detailed in this relationship chart, are easy online. They can happen for a number of inexplicable reasons – perhaps the other person is not actually serious about dating or they simply feel uncomfortable about meeting face to face.
Engage in the delicious play of flirting and teasing your potential date through words but also try accelerating the meeting process. Send a message to the effect of: “I love chatting online but I’d prefer to get on the phone, here’s my number”. A phone conversation will quickly tell you if you want to meet in person. If you prefer real interaction, set a time and meet at your favorite bar. You have nothing to lose.
Many people I speak to experience the initial sense of exhilaration that online platforms open up, which can rapidly evolve into frustration, boredom, and fatigue, even more so, feeling defeated when their expectations are not met. These feelings are true to offline dating too but the sheer number of options online can accelerate this exhaustion. But you are free to take a break. You have the agency to log out. Which doesn’t mean you have to stop dating – you can stay open to the possibilities of meeting someone at a concert, on a bus or on your way to meeting your friend. Be kind to yourself so that taking a break doesn’t feel like a failure, just a shift in your current approach.
A recently divorced friend of mine sent out an email to all his friends, letting them know that he is interested in being set up. As his friends, we are well acquainted with his likes and dislikes, the kind of people he would find attractive and his hobbies and interests. We care about his romantic happiness and are willing to play a part.
Send an email to your friends and ask to be introduced or set up with their friends. I always say to people when I set them up that I can’t promise chemistry but I can promise that they won’t be bored and wonder, what the heck am I doing here?
Let me know how your online dating is going. Are you tired, bored or exhilarated by the possibilities online? Or tell me the story of how you met your partner – whether it be in real life or via online dating.