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19 Jul

How to navigate the world of online dating

Written by Kelle Salle

Image by @Ellessechar

I decided to give dating apps a try when I had been single for almost two years. It had taken me some time to warm up to the idea of online dating in general as I knew that dating apps didn’t have the best reputation, and I was hell-bent on meeting someone traditionally. I believed that was the only way anyone could meet someone because I was convinced that men on dating apps just weren’t worth getting to know.

At this time, I also had a love-hate relationship with my single status. After coming out of a toxic relationship, my self-esteem and confidence were pretty much non-existent, so holding onto my independence was my way of protecting myself. There were moments when I was happy being a single, independent woman, but there were also moments when I questioned my desirability and saw my singleness as something that needed to be fixed.

Adopting this mindset was doing me a huge disservice because when I first joined a dating app, I was determined not to meet anyone that was like my ex. That was all. I didn’t know why I wanted to date and I certainly didn’t have a list of qualities I was seeking in a partner – all I did was cast my net out wide and hope for the best, which I would not recommend. I think it’s so important to do a mindset check before you start to date because it isn’t always roses – you’ve got to be prepared for the good and the not-so-good. Resilience is everything. If you aren’t resilient, dating could potentially become a very frustrating experience.

Tinder

Tinder was the first dating app I joined and after a few weeks of talking to different people, I went on a date. When I was on this date, I couldn’t help but notice a complete lack of mindfulness on my part, and that was when I decided to take a break from the dating scene so I could work on myself. Inner work is never easy and it took some time to reflect on (and start to unlearn) a lot of the harmful ideas and beliefs I had about dating and relationships.

I returned to dating apps a few months before the pandemic and I can honestly say that the break was worth it. Fast forward two years later and I still use dating apps, if anything I’ve developed a bit of a love-hate relationship with them through the years. They are all great tools for connecting with (and potentially dating) a like-minded person but there have been moments where I have felt like a participant in an extreme sport. Forced conversations, cringy pick up lines, bizarre questions and even microaggressions – I’ve experienced it all.

Bumble

One of the first things I did when I decided to start using dating apps was not put all of my eggs in one basket. Each dating app will provide its own unique experience. What I like about Bumble is that women make the first move. You do the searching and when you match with someone you like, you have 24 hours to send them a message. I like this approach simply because women get to take pride in choosing the people that they like. Why wait for someone to take an interest in you when you can just shoot your shot? Society likes to make women believe that we should just sit back and wait for someone to take an interest in us, but Bumble challenges this outdated narrative, which is what I love about the app.

Hinge

If Bumble is for the woman who knows exactly what she’s looking for and isn’t afraid to get it, then Hinge is for the woman who loves to date with intention. In my opinion, the prompts are the highlight of the app. I think that the importance of taking time to read each and every prompt on someone’s profile shouldn’t be underestimated, because 9 times out of 10, they will tell you everything you need to know about that person and their intentions. I like to make full use of my prompts on Hinge so that it is clear what I’m looking for. Think about the qualities that you want in a potential partner and use your prompts as a way of getting the message across.

Of all the dating apps I have been on, I have to say that Tinder is my least favourite. Although it’s similar to Hinge, I think that the app does tend to attract men who are looking for something casual. If you are looking for something casual, then Tinder might be right for you, but the app does make it difficult to discern between who is on it to build a genuine connection and who is just looking for fun. If you are looking for a relationship and you want to join Tinder, spend some time reading what people write on their dating profiles. I think that another dating profile no-no is when someone hasn’t filled out their profile, and I’ve seen a lot of this on Tinder. If someone can’t take ten minutes to fill out their profile, I don’t think they are committed to the cause.

I haven’t found my person yet, so I’m still navigating the world of dating apps. As far as dating is concerned, all I want to do is navigate with ease, intention and resilience. Something I’ve noticed on a lot of dating apps recently are prompts that mention a desire to date or be with someone that ‘doesn’t take themselves too seriously’, which I completely disagree with because dating is all about finding out who you are and finding out who others are. Always take yourself seriously and as a wise man once said, trust the process!

Also Read: How to Navigate Dating as an Independent Woman