There is quite literally an app for everything today—and dating is no exception. There are so many options: Hinge, Tinder, Carrot, Coffee Meets Bagel…
The list goes on and on. One thing most of these apps have in common is that they offer us a chance to get a snapshot—a quick rundown on the basic stats of a potential date.
What do they really tell us though? Aside from age, location, and looks there’s really not many details. While attraction is important, shouldn’t we be looking for a little more?
Think of dating apps like making eye-contact at a bar. Swiping right is saying, “Yeah, maybe you should come talk to me,” while swiping left says, “Don’t you dare.” In real life, we do the same thing, it just feels a little less obvious sometimes. For those of us who are a little more reserved or have difficultly overcoming shyness, it can be really helpful because you get that awkward “meeting” out of the way. Online dating can be really fun and a great opportunity for growth!
Of course, dating apps aren’t perfect or the solution to everything. Just like so many things, they can become a soft addiction: we become so enthralled with the idea of that rush of excitement we get on a first and second date that we become serial daters. Suddenly we aren’t really taking things to the next emotional level with any of our dates, so we’re stuck with a full calendar and a lonely heart.
So where’s the balance?
Know What You’re Looking For
Like most things in life, knowing the outcome you’re aiming for helps steer you in the right direction. If you’re really looking to connect with someone and take things to a deeper level (i.e. beyond one or two dates, or even into boyfriend/girlfriend territory)—be up front about it. There can be the fear you might turn away the “perfect match” (which we know doesn’t exist, anyway) by sounding too demanding or too choosy, or by laying out your wants and expectations upfront.
Don’t fall into this limiting belief. Instead, pay attention to your yearnings and be real about them. Ask yourself if you’re using dating as a crutch. If you’re failing to put your expectations on the line because you’re too vulnerable—if the relationship goes awry you won’t be able to blame it on the other person, because you were honest about what you wanted.
It can be challenging to be this honest with yourself, but let’s admit it: dating is about gaining experiences and really, it’s about also getting to know ourselves better. It’s about finding out how you interact with people and what strengths they bring out in you. It’s about expressing your yearnings and finding people who can meet those yearnings in a way that is enough for you.
What If I’m Not Looking for Anything Serious?
Maybe you just got out of a relationship or you’re in the middle of your own transformational work, and you’d prefer to keep things casual. You know what? That’s perfectly okay, too. Word your profile and interactions as honestly and genuinely as possible to convey what you want.
Sometimes saying, “I don’t want to get serious right now” can be read as, “All I want to do is have no-strings-attached sex.” Unless that IS quite literally what you’re looking for, you might prefer to say something along the lines of, “Just looking to get to know lots of new friends right now, so I’m not looking to take things to the next level.”
When you’re in a place of growth and learning about yourself, you might find that dating is part of that. You need to understand the ways you interact with different types of people and how they make you feel. It might not be about future long-term plans, but rather just about observing yourself over coffee with new people and understanding your reactions and where they come from.
One thing’s for sure: dating should be fun and interesting. It’s a time to work on your social and emotional growth and get to the nitty-gritty of who you are so you can really know yourself. That’s something anyone can swipe right to!
You’ll be able to read all about these ideas and more in Dr. Bob and Judith’s Wright’s new book The Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to Fifteen Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Closer. (Available on Amazon now!)
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About the Author
Monica is the Admissions Coordinator and Marketing Specialist at the Wright Graduate University. As the admissions coordinator and head of marketing for WGU, Monica oversees recruiting, student admissions, customer services and marketing efforts.
Blog post image courtesy Flickr user freestocks.
Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.