A story about using the digital world as a tool to enrich our lives, not diminish it.
Naturally, I was against online dating for a very, very, very long time. Then, I joined Tinder, met my now-husband on the app, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Speaking of history…
A brief history of love & technology.
Online dating is almost as old as the Internet itself.
The first online dating website, kiss.com, was established in 1994. Only a year after the Internet went public. Match.com, a dating website many of you might be familiar with, has been around since 1995.
This isn’t surprising. From the printing press to mobile apps, humans have always found ways to use technology to find love.
In 1870, The Matrimonial News became the first newspaper for singles. Men paid $0.25 (about $4.50 today) to place an ad, and women posted for free. By 1900, there were over 20 similar newsletters.
In 1959, a Stanford student’s class project became the first known computer dating service when an IBM 650, an early digital computer, determined similarities between 98 participants based on a 30-question profile. While there was little romance between the participants, the project became the pioneer of contemporary online dating services.
In 1965, Operation Match launched as the first computer dating service in the United States, and was used by more than a million people in the 1960s.
Since Operation Match‘s success in the 1960s, online dating has become increasingly popular. Online dating is now the second-most-common way for couples to meet. In fact, online dating is now responsible for approximately 20% of marriages!
Despite its historical and contemporary success, negative stereotypes persist relentlessly around using technology to find love.
Most people are surprised when they hear my husband and I met online, and on Tinder at that.
There are too many negative stereotypes surrounding online dating.
Online dating is only for hooking up. There are too many creeps on dating apps. Too many catfishes. Online dating is lame. It’s for people who can’t meet someone in real life. Online dating sucks. And, so on.
I, too, eagerly dismissed online dating for a very long time out of fear of dealing with the negative stories I heard from friends, acquaintances, and on the Internet.
A couple years prior to joining Tinder, I was on OkCupid for less than a day. After receiving over 20 messages in a matter of hours, I deleted my account as fast as I could. It felt… wrong. I couldn’t wrap my head around dealing with over 20 people interested in my attention, in a matter of hours at that. The thought alone exhausted me. And, who are all these people, anyway?
But, by 2017, it was as if everyone has moved on online to find and meet people. Without social media, and a graduate student in a small city in Ontario, Canada, I realized my options were very limited to meet someone the good ol’ fashioned way, in person.
Naturally, I complained a lot about it to a good friend of mine. After years of hearing me dismiss dating apps, my friend must have had enough of my complaints because she was very blunt about it this time around: “it’s 2017. People date online all the time. Get over yourself and try it.”
I got over myself. I created a Tinder profile. Very intentionally this time around. And, five months later, I met my now-husband and deleted the app for good.
After years of dismissing online dating as a viable alternative to find a potential partner, this is how I made online dating work for me.
Have a clear goal in mind.
Why are you on a dating app?
What exactly are you looking for on online dating sites? Is it a serious relationship? Is it a quick but a good time? Something in between?
This is the most important step in making your online dating experience much more successful and enjoyable than it would be otherwise.
There are simply way too many people, way too many interests, and way too much noise on dating apps to go into it undecided, unsure, and/or unclear of what your end-goal is. You will get lost in the sauce. You will waste your time. You will waste other people’s time. You will not have a good experience.
I signed up for Tinder with a clear goal in mind: I was looking for a serious, long-term relationship.
“Tinder?” People would say, “It’s for hooking up only. Nobody is really looking for anything serious.” I didn’t care. If literally every single person on the app was looking for a hook up, I could just delete the app.
Of course, I met my now-husband on Tinder. We were in a serious, committed relationship only a few weeks after we started dating. No, not everyone on a dating app is looking for a hook up.
Your bio is very important.
After your profile picture, your bio is the next thing people check for on your dating profile. There is so much power in your bio. It is a look into who you are as a person, your personality and character traits.
Here’s something important I discovered; tailor your bio to clearly communicate what you want and are looking for. You want to attract the people who are looking for what you are looking for. Your bio is a great place to do that.
Often, people tailor their bio to what they think other people want. This is a sure-fire way to attract the wrong kind of people and waste your, as well as their, time.
I had a one-sentence bio. It was a Nicki Minaj lyrics. Use your imagination, because I’m too grown to repeat it now.
It was tongue-in-cheek. It was witty. It was me.
My reasoning? Anyone who had the sense of humour to get it, and not take it literally, was someone I wanted to talk to. It filtered out a lot of people.
Their bio is important, too. If their bio doesn’t speak to you, then there is a high chance you wouldn’t mesh well with them. Sense of humor is something I value in a person. I focused on bios that highlighted someone’s sense of humour and personality.
I reached out to my now-husband because his Tinder bio tickled me.
Create a rule(s) to filter out the bullshit.
Dating online can really feel like being thrown into the ocean, without a life jacket.
Having a rule(s) can be the life jacket you need to stay afloat, catch your fish, and safely swim out to the shore. Yes, plenty fish in the sea, but what is the point if you don’t catch one? Or, two?
The above two tips I shared, being clear on what you want and creating a bio to attract the right kind of people, are great starting points to filter out the b.s. Those looking up for a hook up. A free meal. A marriage with three kids and two dogs.
Still, you need to create more rules, specific to your situation, to ensure a much better success rate and enjoyable experience.
My rule was to take it offline as soon as possible.
If we matched, talked for a few days, and there was no mention of meeting in person, I ended communication immediately. I saw Tinder as a platform to meet people, not a place to get to know someone and potentially date.
Hinge’s, a popular dating site, current slogan is “designed to be deleted.” This is a good rule to have as well.
All in all, dating online was an interesting, and fun, five-month journey for me.
I had a great time meeting people, going on dates, and finally finding my person.
Dating is a very complex endeavour, and online dating comes with its own challenges, but dating apps provide a great alternative to find and meet people.
Until next time… 🙂
If you would like to learn more, share your challenges, and get personalized advice on successfully dating online in a pandemic, I’m co-hosting a special Valentine’s Day workshop this Sunday, February 14 at 1:00PM EST. Dating in Captivity: Online Romance & Emotional Well-being in the Time of COVID with Christina Malecka, a Licensed Mental Health Counsellor with over 25 years of experience with change-making, group facilitation, training and workshop development. Tickets are $30.