When it comes to dating these days, I think Simon and Garfunkel nailed it when they sang: “hello darkness my old friend…” All my single pals and I over the years have found the same experiences time and time again: chat to someone online, start dating, then it all ends in tears a month or two later.
With dating apps we are almost all guilty of seeing people as disposable. Gone are the days of slowly finding out about someone through work or a friend – these days we expect instant gratification, and we’ll pass on someone in an instant if we think a better fit is just a click away. I’ve even heard stories of people having a cheeky Tinder swipe when their date goes to the toilet! And who says romance was dead?
A few of my good friends have found themselves single recently for the first time in a long time, and as somewhat of a connoisseur of (disastrous) dating, I thought this would be a good time to share some advice (am I Dua Lipa yet? “One, don’t pick up the phone…”). Here are my dating dos and don’t for the online age:
Do try several avenues of dating. I’ve written before about my experiences on Tinder and Bumble – a mixed bag to say the least! Personally, I’ve never been a fan of Bumble, whereas many women I know like it best out of all the dating apps.And don’t get me STARTED on Plenty of Fish. I recently tried JigTalk, which is certainly one of the more novel dating platforms, with jigsaw pieces covering potential matches’ faces and pieces revealing part of the photograph with every conversation exchange. Again, for some people this will be a great way to put the conversation first, while others will think it’s too much effort. Essentially, if one app or website isn’t for you, then don’t give up until you’ve tried a couple.
Don’t see dating apps as an opportunity to collect people like Pokemon cards. You’re on a dating site for a reason, so go and ask someone to meet for a drink! Equally, it’s important to remember that the faces you’re chatting with on these platforms are real people: this isn’t an excuse to let your inner troll out. Treat people with respect, and expect the same back. Why not plan something totally unique for your first date, such as a trip to an escape room, or a ghost tour?
Do take a chance and talk to people in real life. I know this will seem shocking, but not all communication needs to be via WhatsApp these days, and it is possible to ask someone on a date without swiping on Tinder. I’m an old-fashioned romantic at heart, and I think it’s really sad that we are too afraid of rejection to talk to people in real life. Would you rather tell your kids you met on a dating website, or during a meet-cute in the supermarket as you both reached for the same can of beans? Yep, beans. Proper romantic, me.
Don’t be someone you’re not. I used to always ‘tone down’ my style on a date, as I was worried my quirky look wouldn’t be attractive enough. Thinking back I’m like, ‘girl whaaaaat?!’ You want someone to fall for you, not a persona you are projecting. If they can’t handle you at your worst, they don’t deserve you at your best etc. etc. Just try not to be too crazy on date one: sharing your favourite baby names can wait.
Do be honest, both with others and yourself. If you don’t click with someone, don’t string them along – but be polite, of course! Equally, be gracious in the face of rejection. You’d be AMAZED the responses I’ve had when I said I didn’t want another date. Conversely, don’t try and force something that isn’t right. If online dating shows one thing, it’s that there is plenty more fish in the sea (and not just on POF), and you shouldn’t ever feel the need to settle.
Don’t judge people too quickly. With the whole dating-on-demand culture we have today, it’s so easy to discount someone instantly, or keep holding out for someone ‘better’. I’ve heard of people walking out of online dates immediately (or not turning up at all), and that’s not an acceptable way to treat anyone. However, it’s also not cool to be a catfish – using photos from five years ago is just misleading and will seldom end well. Snapchat filters are also a no-go. Sorry, gals.
Do make the time for people. These days we are all so busy that it can be difficult to make an effort or commit to plans with someone. Dating should be founded on mutual respect, so it’s about making an effort. Don’t be that person who only texts at 3am when drunk. Take time to get to know someone and enjoy his or her company.
Don’t let dating dominate your life. Meeting with new people can be great fun, and it’s an excellent way to explore new bars and other attractions in your city. You should never feel pressured to date or that you have to find someone. Online dating can be whatever you want it to be – a way to find hook ups, short-term dating or your potential future life partner (or so I’m told).
Dating is a minefield. Always has been, always will be. But as long as you treat people with respect and stay honest, dating can be one of the highlights of your twenty-something years before settling down. And if you need any more advice, agony aunt Alice is here for ya.
What are your top dating tips? Happy swiping, folks!
I was gifted some of the clothes in this post. However, all thoughts are my own.