Part of the reason is because of the paradox of choice. When presented with all of the options a dating app offers, it’s often more difficult for you to make a decision because you constantly worry you could find someone better. If you believe there must be a richer, better-looking, funnier man out there, then you’re inclined to keep searching. Even if that means passing up a perfectly good suitor directly in front of your eyes.
So how do we put a stop to this vicious, paradoxical cycle? Logan Ury has some ideas. Ury is Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science and the author of How To Not Die Alone: The Surprising Science That Will Help You Find Love. She’s the expert when it comes to modern dating and relationships. Here are some of her top tips to help you find lasting love:
What Kind of Dater Are You?
First, Ury recommends determining your dating style. She’s broken down dating styles into three different categories: the romanticizer, the maximizer, and the hesitator.
Romanticizers are people who have unrealistic expectations about how love really works. They want the fairytale love story: The two of you reach for the same orange at Whole Foods, your eyes meet, sparks fly, and you just know he’s the one. Unfortunately, real love doesn’t work like that. Sometimes, there is no initial spark at all but feelings grow based on other aspects of your personality, such as shared interests, similar values, or a good sense of humor. Love stories are rarely fantastical in nature, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less wonderful.
Maximizers are people who have unrealistic expectations about their partner. They want him to be over 6 feet tall, make more than $100k, and play the guitar. Did you know that in the U.S. only 14.5% of men are 6 feet or taller? And far fewer than that play the guitar and make over $100k. Maximizers are drastically limiting their prospective dating pool. Ury believes humans are experiential goods, not searchable goods. Worth is derived from meaningful experiences with someone, not what someone looks like or how much money they make. You can’t shop for a partner the way you search for the best toaster oven on Amazon or put a person’s specs into your mental algorithm to determine whether they’re good enough for you.
Search for a partner who meets your standards, and once you find him, you stop looking.
Hesitators are people who have unrealistic expectations about themselves. They keep thinking they’ll only be ready for a relationship once they lose weight or make more money or have their life “figured out.” But the truth is that we’re never fully prepared for the things life throws at us, whether it’s a new relationship or a new job or a new child. One of the most exciting but equally terrifying things about life is that we’re all simply figuring it out as we go. Once you realize that, you can give yourself and others a lot more grace.
The common factor in all of these dating styles is unrealistic expectations – either about yourself, your partner, or romance in general. Ury points out that letting go of these unrealistic expectations should not be confused with settling. Instead, think of it as satisficing: you’re searching for a partner who meets your standards, and once you find him, you stop looking.
Stop thinking there might be a better man out there or that you’ll only be worthy of love once you lose 10 pounds or that you need a better love story to tell your grandchildren than “we both swiped right.” Few things in life ever work out perfectly, so if you keep waiting around for perfection then you might be waiting forever. Instead, you must adapt your dating style to the modern landscape. Here, Ury also has some tips for how to date successfully – both on and off the apps.
Expand Your Online Dating Filters
Ury recommends expanding your dating app’s search filters. That doesn’t mean you should lower your standards, but try expanding the age range by two years in either direction or widening your search radius to 25 miles instead of 10. It’s not about lowering the bar, it’s about being more open-minded so that you have a broader pool of prospective dates who still align with the type of man you’re looking for.
Invest in Your Profile
“Imagine that your profile is a billboard in Times Square,” Ury says. “It’s your first impression, and it’s really what people are going to judge you on.” Making changes and improving your profile will yield immediate results. Don’t be lazy and simply choose the first few pictures you can find of yourself. Instead, search for recent ones that you love. Make sure that the first photo clearly shows your face and have a full-body photo that accurately represents your appearance.
Use your photos to tell a story about you, your life, and the things you enjoy doing.
Use your photos to tell a story about your life and the things you enjoy doing. Show yourself hiking or cooking or at an event with friends. Answer the app’s question prompts thoughtfully and try to let your personality shine through instead of quickly typing out canned responses. You can’t catch a fish if you don’t bait the line, so make sure that your profile is as high quality as you can make it.
When you get a potential match, it can sometimes still be tricky to know how to proceed to the point where you have an actual date. It’s hard enough to make conversation IRL, and it can be harder over an app when you’re talking to a complete stranger. Ury recommends asking questions to get the ball rolling. It’s not a job interview, but you want to gut-check the person to make sure he’s someone you’re genuinely interested in and want to meet in person. A conversation is a two-way street, so focus on being interested, not just interesting. Make them feel interesting by being genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Get Off the App and into the Real World ASAP
Logan Ury might work for a dating app, but she’s also an advocate for getting off the apps as fast as possible. Once you establish a connection with someone, then set up an in-person meeting quickly. You don’t want to get into what Ury calls “pen-palling,” which is when you’re messaging back and forth a bunch but never meet up. Instead, chat for a bit so you can get to know him, maybe do a phone or video chat first, and then get that in-person date scheduled.
How To Find Someone in the Real World
People were dating and getting married long before cell phones, so don’t think of dating as only something that you can do on your phone. Ury recommends a combination of trying to meet people on dating apps while also still looking for love when you’re out and about. When determining what’s the best use of your time, focus on events that you’ll genuinely enjoy attending where you’re also the likeliest to interact with people. If you love to cook, maybe sign up for a cooking class. You should also ask your friends to set you up! There’s no shame in letting people know you’re in the market for a date.
Attend events that you’ll genuinely enjoy where you’re also the likeliest to interact with people.
Crafting the Perfect Date
First off, skip the small talk and focus on having an experience instead of collecting information. Info-gathering is not how you build a connection with someone, so instead, you should be in the moment with them and stay playful. Don’t be afraid to banter back and forth and be a little silly. Maybe you try out a couple of different food trucks and develop a fun rating scale for the menu items. Try to shake off the stuffy, first date stigma and have fun.
If you like this person, then make sure your date has a good ending. Ury explains that our brains disproportionately remember experiences based on the peak moment and the ending. If you have a date that’s not going well, you can take advantage of that rule and save it by ending on a high note. Order dessert, give them a compliment, or make them laugh.
Don’t Get Hung Up on the Spark
Sometimes you have a date and it goes great, but there’s no “spark.” Ury recommends still giving your date a second chance. There’s a reason that people sometimes go on to marry former friends, coworkers, or neighbors who they weren’t initially attracted to. “Attractiveness is based on first impressions of physical attractiveness,” Ury explains. “But as you get to know people over time, different people stand out to you.”
Try to approach dating with that same mentality and allow time for your prospective partner’s yet unsung positive qualities to shine through. Remember that the “spark” isn’t a foundation for a solid relationship. Many couples who have that initial spark still go on to get divorced. Love develops over time, and sometimes a slow burn is even better than an instant spark.
So are you a romanticizer, a maximizer, or a hesitator? Dating is hard, and we all have our shortcomings, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to repeat past mistakes. Learn from them, grow, and move on. No matter what your dating style is, hopefully, these tips will help you date more effectively in the future!
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