If you are looking for more than a hook up or someone to fill an immediate void in your schedule, then you may be frustrated with modern dating. Many of my people who are looking for marriage (or at least a serious committed partnership), are struggling with the online dating scene because they aren’t finding meaningful connections. It’s common for many of my people to report feeling hopeless, frustrated and even completely burned out.
Does this sound familiar?
What’s interesting, is despite the high probability of being on the same apps, People who are looking for the same thing (deep connection) are still missing other like-minded singles. Match after match, date after date, People are feeling incredibly overwhelmed and often stressed out that they may never find what they are looking for, (or even worse, that it doesn’t exist!) How can this be?
“We, as a technologically sophisticated society are thriving with smart devices, apps and immediate access. As modern dating embodies all of these advances, we still may find ourselves lost and out of touch. On one hand, these advances give us the opportunity to confidently reach out to many people that we think we may not normally cross paths with; but on the other, it can stunt our ability to show up in an authentic way.
Another issue with online dating is that it has the impact to stunt our confidence in reaching out to people in person. There’s potential that you’re missing a genuine connection with that cute barista you see every Tuesday. Online dating also has potential to clog our perception of “what we really want” by instilling innate judgement on endless profiles, making the entire process dehumanizing and impersonal. Online dating may also leave you pretty lazy and you may not even realize how unavailable and closed off you are in person.
So here is what you can do to try to increase your chances of finding an authentic partnership without being completely de-stigmatized from endless dating profiles, games and societal rituals.
1. Be intentional, not habitual.
According to Market Watch, the average American spends 11 hours a day on some form of media! From our experience, how many of these hours are designated to social media or online dating apps? If you were to be honest with yourself, it is probably a lot. No judgement! But with that said, that much exposure to online profiles will make anyone de-stigmatized to the entire process.
Your brain starts to lose interest in the actual person in those profiles because the act of browsing has become less about looking for a partner; it’s become more of a habit.
Try setting intentional time to browse online profiles, rather than habitually swiping through endless profiles while at a red light, while on the toilet, in between meetings, while waiting for a friend to meet you for brunch, etc, etc.
By setting this intention (I’d suggest 1-3 hours per week; let’s say every Thursday) to browse through profiles with the intention to find a connection, you will actually be curious and open. Your eyes will be drawn to someone with a new perspective and you may even have the energy to actually read what these potential dates are saying or at least really try to see them for who they are trying to portray. By being more intentional while online dating, you may actually have the desire to meet with someone who you are actually interested in, verses someone who is convenien
2. Prioritize what you really want from a partner.
Do you feel pressure that “your time is running out?” I hear it all the time. That clock feels heavy for many singles and I can understand why. There can be a lot of anxiety around finding a partner, getting married and then potentially starting a family. This is especially true if you are like many Millennials who found themselves building their career first and then now in their early to late thirties feel nervous about their biological clock. You may find yourself nervous about the practical components to building an intimate life with someone, (i.e. “I need to have a baby realistically within the next 2 years, which means I have to meet someone today, get married by the end of the year and then get pregnant by 2020.”)
Understanding what you truly desire from a relationship may feel daunting, especially if you have told yourself that you aren’t allowed to be picky because you don’t have time to be.
Let’s say it’s incredibly important to you to find someone who has the same spiritual beliefs as you or who is intellectual; but let’s also say that you want to get married and have children. You may have found yourself in a predicament because you have yet to find someone with those spiritual and intellectual connections, but you have found someone who wants marriage and a baby. What do you do?
Typically, I find that by settling for those authentic desires in a partnership, will most likely lead you down a path of resentment and isolation. Just because it may be easier to find someone who is also on a mission to fulfill an important checklist in a timely matter, (than it is to find someone who truly gets you), doesn’t necessarily mean you should move forward with them.
You have to be honest with yourself about the things that you truly value in a partner and the things you really want or need from a partnership. If you want marriage and children, but it makes you stressed thinking about the timeline, please take a deep breath! This can all still be in the cards for you even if you miss a desired timeline, it just may look a little different than what you had envisioned. Just try to restructure your priorities of finding a genuine connection first and once you have cultivated a genuine relationship, discussing moving forward with “the next steps” will be something that both of you are open and excited to explore together, (even if they are difficult, easy, planned or unplanned. This is way more genuine *and possibly way more fulfilling* than just finding a person to settle down and check off a few important boxes with).
3. Ask questions that actually matter.
You may feel conflicted about having “real” open conversations in the first meet(s). However, I often hear clients discuss their frustration with not being able to find a meaningful connection with people they have been on 5+ dates with (or sometimes when they are even in a committed relationship with!) They are afraid to initiate meaningful topics or don’t know how to create a sense of connection based on values, life goals, world views, relationship goals; the sh*t that actually matters! Instead, many are having superficial convos about work-life balance, skiing or recent travel destinations… date after date, after date. These are also important, don’t get me wrong, but without discussing things that you desire from life, things that make you tick, things that make you passionate, things that you want from a relationship; you miss the opportunity to get to the core of this person (ie. potentially wasting your time). Important dating tips: If the two of you bonded from personal values from the very beginning, you wouldn’t find yourself struggling with trying to change them after you’ve become official.
4. Be mindful of your own stuff and where it truly comes from.
We all have baggage. We all have hang ups with emotions, needs, vulnerability, sex, intimacy, (etc) at one point or another. THIS IS NORMAL AND OK! Instagram portrayals of loving relationships aren’t always real and our perceptions of what sex, independence or intimacy look like can be very skewed. Not understanding ourselves and just trying to be a version of who we think we should be, has potential of masking our insecurities and fears, (and later being the cause of many break ups). So of course we can’t find genuine connections if we interacting with people as our facade self.
Being mindful of your own patterns and behaviors, as well as any past triggers and fears, can benefit you tremendously when exploring what you really want and need. Without exploring internally, you will most likely repeat the same patterns and find yourself attracting the same kind of people. Without understanding yourself to your core, you won’t be able to fully be vulnerable (emotionally or sexually) with a partner; and without understanding why you do what you do, you may continue to project (i.e. “I only date men who are unavailable!”), defend (i.e. “I can’t make more time because I work too much,”) and/or push away a potential partner who is really good for you.
My advice, go to therapy.
5. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE IN PERSON
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to feel confident when you’re on vacation? You lose your daily insecurities and allow yourself to be present, have fun and maybe even a little outgoing with strangers? Like, actual strangers. You might connect to people while traveling in ways that you don’t normally in daily life. One of the biggest things to recognize is how lazy technology has made us as a culture and realize the impact that it has on your dating/social life. You may find yourself uncomfortable with even just saying hello to the person sitting next to you in yoga class, but have no problem initiating an online flirt. In so many ways, this is the problem with modern dating. My advice isn’t to ditch online dating altogether, but rather incorporate the confident profile-vacation-self in real life as often as possible. What’s the big deal if you say hello to someone and they are not interested? The initial sting of embarrassment or rejection quickly fades, while the burnout of online dating may not.
One quick and easy challenge, start being mindful of how often you are sending the message of being “closed” in person. Are you smiling? Are you giving eye contact? Are you acknowledging others? Are you interacting? If not…. well, start there!
You can easily google “important dating tips” looking for information on how to find a more fulfilling connection, but unfortunately, you’ll mostly run into more superficial dating tips that only reinforce the problem or just aren’t extremely helpful. I hope reading these important dating tips have been helpful to you and your dating process!
What do you think of these tips? Leave your comments below.