Dating apps are wild these days. Think of any type, aesthetic, dating must-have or total dealbreaker, and there will probably be a dating app specifically catered to it – or filtering it out. There’s POM, which sets up couples based on their music tastes, 420 Singles, for the weed-lovers, and even Singles With Food Allergies, which I hopefully don’t need to explain.
Having a personal shopper for romance that lives in your phone and filters out the shit is nothing to be sniffed at, on the face of it. But sometimes the abundance of dating apps – and the people who are waiting inside them – can be a bit much.
Last year, dating app Hinge saw a huge influx in sign-ups and the founder shared that users were taking dating more seriously than ever, perhaps due to all the separation we endured in the pandemic. People love love again! But on the flipside, research from Badoo said 78 per cent of daters are experiencing dating burnout.
If we’re more in love with love than ever, but can’t get our head around how to find it online, where do we go from here? Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Decide whether apps are really right for you
Modern matchmaking is primarily done on the good old World Wide Web, hence this study that found that around a third (32 per cent) of relationships started between 2015 and 2019 first bloomed on a browser. With that in mind, a lot of us – especially Gen Z and millennial folk – presume dating apps are the be-all and end-all.
But other research suggests that a lot of couples still have IRL meet-cutes – a fifth of Brits have found romances in the workplace, for example. So, if dating apps aren’t for you, you don’t have to press download. You can opt out and search for your matches elsewhere, even if your mates are pestering you to get over your ex by setting up a profile. Match-spot in the park, the club, or even your local ice rink, the world is your oyster. We don’t recommend the supermarket, though. Have you seen Fresh?!
But if you do fancy scouring the singles market from the comfort of your bed, sofa or toilet without lifting a finger (well, just one, for swiping), these tips will help you get the absolute best out of it.
Pick your apps wisely
Like we said, there are now thousands of apps to choose from, and if you’re not putting any effort into selecting the right one for you, you might not get anywhere. Laura Buckley, Matchmaker at personal dating service Secret Alchemy, tells THE FACE that those choosing a dating app need to ask themselves: “What do you want? Are you looking for something casual? Or are you looking for something serious? Are you looking to find someone who has a specific kink that matches yours?”
Where you are in life also determines the right app for you. “A quick Google search tells you that Bumble’s average user age is under 34. And 85 per cent of Tinder users are male,” explains Buckley. “So you’d need to ask yourself whether you’re going to find what you’re looking for on that app.”
Be honest – with yourself and your matches
Once you’ve got the right app, it’s time to curate an accurate portrayal of yourself with whatever your app has to offer. Not to make dating about capitalism, but this is essentially marketing (and that’s probably why so many people hate doing it).
You can add photos of you and your mates, your favourite songs and even your core childhood memories, if you fancy getting deep fast. Don’t stress out. Literally everyone is shit at writing dating app bios, so we asked a pro for some tips.
“Give something specific about you in your profile to start conversations,” says relationship therapist Charisse Cooke. “It’s hard getting in touch with a stranger and saying something that will be interesting and able to give you both an opportunity to put yourselves across in a good light. A lot of dating app users say they feel like they read the same profiles over and over when searching, so put forward those details that are unique to you.”
Be clear with matches about what you're looking for
When writing your bio or striking up a conversation with a match, be clear about what you want (or don’t want) from a partner. It’s better to get that out of the way at the beginning, so miscommunications don’t end in tears, or worse, ghosting and resentment. Add a quick line about whether you’re after a hook-up, fling or long-term relationship. Honesty’s the best policy and all that!
Even if you’re not sure what you want from dating, you can literally just say that. Lots of your potential partners will be in the same boat. It could even make for a conversation starter from mutually unsure-but-open-minded matches. There’s no need for game-playing or concealing the truth in 2022.
Fill out everything on your dating profile
Back when I matched with my partner on Tinder in 2017, there was only space for five photos, a short bio, an “anthem” (the song you played most, basically) to market yourself to other singles. That meant you had to be a teeny bit superficial and mean when making your matches, relying on just a few details to make your decision.
But now, apps have options for everything from videos to voice notes. And with all these resources at our fingertips, a skipped prompt is the mark of a lazy person, or someone who just isn’t taking the dating game seriously. Whichever vibe you’re giving off, neither’s gonna get you love or lays.
Set boundaries and be realistic
Tess Ridgeway, psychotherapist at mental health enterprise The Mind Map says those using dating apps should adopt the attitude of “meeting someone will be nice, but I don’t need it.” Try not to put too many conditions on who you meet. They don’t need to like bowling just because you do. You’re looking for someone to complement your life, not replicate you.
That said, it’s important to have some boundaries in place so that if anything makes you feel uncomfortable you can simply end the contact. “Be transparent about your expectations,” advises Ridgeway. “Keep it light hearted and open minded. Be honest – and respectful. Everyone deserves respect, whether they’re your type or not.”
Be open minded
By no means should you ever settle or allow someone to cross your boundaries, but keep in mind that your “type on paper” may not end up being your person. Last time I was in the dating pool, I was looking for a woman to have a casual situationship with, but I Tinder-matched a man who I quickly moved in with and got engaged to. Match mix-ups like this happen all the time. After all, you’re not an expert on it all, are you? You wouldn’t be reading this article if you were.
Keep conversations non-generic
If you’re looking for a monogamous relationship, the whole point of having a dating app is to eventually delete it. So if you’re liking one of your matches enough to want to get coffee, make an effort to have conversations that naturally move the two of you off the app and into real life. As Cooke says, “Flirt with intention. Ask questions. Move away from boring daily updates to funny stories and playful banter that can spark connection. This is far more likely to translate into an in-person date sooner with a little bit of established chemistry.”
Remember that rejection is not a reflection of you
Dating apps are a great tool, but they’re not a substitute for real life contact, which means they’re not for the faint-hearted to use for quick validation. Keep in mind that just as you have your own specific, perhaps slightly odd, criteria for what makes a good partner, so does everyone else. If you get rejected, it’s not because you’re a shit person. Try to not take things too personally. People are judging you on very little and matching with someone doesn’t guarantee compatibility.
And most importantly, remember that dating is supposed to be fun. When the excitement stops, so should the shopping around – at least for a little while. The single life is a fun one. Don’t let it become consumed by dating like it’s a job. You can take a break when needed and even set yourself limits for dating app usage to avoid burning out or getting wrapped up in rejections.