The Smart Woman’s Guide to Online Dating

Dating ain’t easy but I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most calm and together person in the world; putting yourself out there to have your heart-broken is never fun.

If dating wasn’t tough enough, now we have online dating apps, which has made dating, love and relationships even more complicated than it was before (who would have thought that was even possible?!).

According to a 2013 study, approximately 1/3 of married couples in the United States met online. The study led by Jon Cacioppo of the University of Chicago’s Department of Psychology reported, “The Internet may be altering the dynamics and outcome of marriage itself.”

If you’re currently single and actively dating online, you already know how tough it can be to wade through all the profiles of potential partners. You also know how unbelievably frustrating it can be trying to interpret someone’s text message, i.e. “does ‘later’ mean later today or later in the week or see ya later???” You can easily spend an entire evening trying to analyze an emoji.

While it’s impossible to make the man or woman on the other end of that phone honestly explain to you what, “see you later” means, you can approach online dating in such a way so that you stop wasting time on someone who has no potential and invest in those that do.

Here are 4 online dating tips I learned from a great book by comedian Aziz Ansari and NYU Sociologist Eric Klinenberg called “Modern Romance:”

Dating apps have nothing to do with “dating”

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache if you stop seeing online dating as dating and start seeing these apps as more of “an online introduction service.”

In 2012, Eli Finkel of Northwestern University along with a team of 5 psychology professors published a paper in Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Based on their research they found there is no algorithm that can accurately predict whether two people will make a good couple.

That’s right. The fact that you and the “possible love of your life” both enjoy racquetball and “Breaking Bad” has nothing to do with whether or not the two of you will connect once you get in the same room.

“The brain is the best algorithm,” according to Human Behavior Researcher and Author Helen Fisher, PhD, “There’s no dating service on this planet that can do what the human brain can do in terms of finding the right person.”

As you scroll through all the people who “swiped right” on your profile, remember that this is only an introduction and whether or not they like dogs has little to do with how well you’ll hit it off.

Keep text exchanges to a minimum

This has been the number one complaint I’ve heard from my clients about online dating – the endless back and forth texting with potential dates. Not only does it waste time, these text messages aren’t helping you determine if this person is right for you or not.

According to Helen Fisher, “the answer is to avoid reading too much into any given profile and to resist the temptation to start long online exchanges before a first date. There’s only one-way to determine whether you have a future with a person: meeting them in person. Nothing else can give you a sense of what a person is actually like, and whether you two will spark.”

There are a lot of women that may argue that they want to get to know someone first before they meet them in person. I understand the need for safety but my guess is that you’re probably not scheduling first dates in a dark alley.

If after a few text exchanges you don’t feel comfortable with this person, get off text and schedule a time to talk over the phone. If after that phone call, you still don’t feel comfortable, move on to the next person.

Invest your time before you say no

One of the most challenging aspects of online dating is the endless bounty of new potential loves 24/7.

We want every date to be mind-blowing. No one goes into a date saying, “I hope this guy bores me to tears” or “maybe she’ll insult my life plans.” We always go in with the hope that maybe, just maybe, this could be “the one.”

The problem is one date doesn’t tell you enough about another person. You know that you’re a complex, multi-faceted individual that can’t be completely understood after a couple of hours and a non-fat latte.

That’s a big difference with online dating; because there are so many options out there, when you meet someone that doesn’t wow you immediately, you’ve got so many other choices that moving on to the next person on your list is too easy.

Next time you go on a date that was pretty good, go on another. If that one goes well, go on another. Don’t just go for coffee, drinks, movie or dinner. If you really want to get to know someone – go on a tandem bike ride. You’ll learn more about this person by going on a bike ride or for a hike. You’ll learn more than you ever would from just eating dinner.

When you meet someone special – hold onto what you’ve got

Once you meet someone really special, someone that makes you laugh, someone that introduces you to new things, someone who makes you smile when they text you on your way to work, hold onto them.

“In today’s romantic climate, many people are plagued by what we will call ‘the upgrade problem,’” according to Ansari, “singles constantly wonder whether there is a better match, an upgrade.”

It can be tough, especially if you live in a big metropolitan area like New York or Los Angeles, to settle down because there may be someone (literally) right around the corner that may be “just a little better.”

You’ve been through a lot to finally meet someone that you really enjoy spending time with, don’t keep looking over your shoulder, whomever is there is not worth your time.

These tips are a great start to get you moving in the right direction with online dating. But remember that statistic from earlier, that 1/3 of married adults met their partner online? Well that means that 2/3, the majority of married people, met other ways!

Tinder and Bumble are not your only options for finding love. Go volunteer, play sports, get out and walk your dog (or a friend’s if you don’t have one), and tell the people you know that you’re looking so they can introduce you to that cute guy at work.

Don’t forget that there are other options for finding love because, while you’re head is down looking at your phone to swipe, you might miss Mr. or Mrs. Right as s/he walks right by you.

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