After spending the weekend swiping through Tik Tok and listening to people complain about their bad dates, I started compiling a list of very obvious mistakes they were making that led to the aforementioned bad date.
Let's get started.
Be patient- Something to remember is that, while chatting with you, there's a very high likelihood your match is also talking to someone else. By all means, enjoy the getting to know you process and feel hopeful. However, if you find yourself getting irritated because they don't intuitively know the right thing to say, remind yourself this person is essentially a stranger and that it's impossible for them to know you well enough to predict your reactions.
Don't get too invested, too quickly - It's important to realize you and your match might not be on the same page in the beginning. You might be ready and raring to go and they might be taking their time. When you start anticipating or expecting attention from someone you've only just met or chatted with on an app, that's the cue to take a step back. Try to keep yourself occupied with other interests that aren't dating-related so you don't get too caught up in the possibility of a new relationship. If you find yourself getting upset because it's taking them too long to respond or plan another date, remind yourself that not every moves at the same pace and that's okay. If the interest is mutual, you'll know it.
Don't text for too long - The goal of online dating sites and dating apps is to have dates. It is not to participate in weeks-long chats like you're Victorian lovers kept apart by disapproving parents. Dude. They just live downtown. The longer you communicate electronically without a face-to-face meeting, the less likely it is you'll ever meet. If they're on their phone, that means they can open that app at any time and start swiping again. Or they'll get too comfortable and say something they shouldn't. Or a false sense of intimacy will build and you'll develop such inordinate expectations you'll self-sabotage. There needs to be progression. App. Video chat. In-person date. That process really shouldn't take more than a week or so unless they communicate an extenuating circumstance that prevents them from meeting sooner. If they can't video chat or talk on the phone, walk away. That's usually a sign of a scammer or someone unwilling or unable to speak privately.
Know your league - A 2018 study determined people often message people who are 25% more desirable than they are. There's shooting your shot and then there's being unrealistic. If you find yourself frequently swiping right on people that don't swipe back or messaging people who don't respond, it's time for a Come To Jesus moment. Be honest with yourself. Are these people the type that would strike up a conversation with you at a party? If not, it's time to aim just a tiny bit lower.
Don't be overly-suspicious - Stranger danger is real. There's no doubt about that. It's not inappropriate to do a cursory Google search or use a Google Voice number in place of your real one. What's going too far is demanding access to their social media or playing Nancy Drew in order to piece together their identity then fall down a search engine rabbit hole. That level of paranoia will inevitable get in the way of you being able to get to know someone without second-guessing everything they say. Avoid dating until you can take most of what your match says at face value without suspecting you're being deceived.
Take care of yourself - If things aren't working out, I suggest limiting your swiping sessions. Don't quit completely. Don't take a hiatus. Sitting out of the game will only exacerbate your frustration and feelings of hopelessness. Instead, set boundaries and pay attention to your emotions when you're not receiving the results you want. If you start feeling bad about yourself because you're not getting any matches, it's time to close the app and do something else. Please understand these platforms are designed to get people addicted. When you make a match, you get a nice shot of the feel-good chemical dopamine. The reaction is so pleasurable people tend to keep swiping looking for another hit. If you become dependent on that dopamine fix and don't get one, you experience the emotional (and possibly physical) pain of withdrawal: the self-loathing, the sadness, etc. That's why you should walk away from the app after you make a match instead of continuing to "play" the game. The fewer bursts of dopamine, the less expectant (and, if you don't make any matches, disappointed) you'll feel.
Don't red flags - No bio? One photo? Horrible conversation skills? Obnoxious responses? Inappropriate questions? People don't become sleazebags out of nowhere. They always were one. If you experience even the slightest twinge of hesitation while communicating with someone, pay attention. Something they said triggered that response. You don't have to bail right away, but please don't ignore that reaction. If you experience another similar reaction, that's when you leave the chat.
Learn to read the (chat) room - If their enthusiasm wanes as the chat conversation progresses, appropriate your expectations. People should become more curious about you as you exchange messages, not less. If their reactions become lukewarm, stop responding. If they're interested, they'll make sure you know it. They won't risk being unmatched.
Work on your small talk - Those initial messages once you match are not for vetting purposes. Nor are they for determining compatibility. Rather, they are for establishing rapport, enough that would merit a video chat or offline face-to-face meeting. It is then that you can start gauging whether you and your match have common interests or compatible values and lifestyles.
Take the time to write a great profile - Your dating profile is your resume. You wouldn't dream of sending a blank CV to a prospective employer, so don't do that with potential matches. Open your bio with a unique, engaging thought. Write a concise bio. Upload minimum 3 photos. Fill out the prompts and basic stats. Make sure your profile provides a conversation starter. Make the effort. Finally, get a friend (or *coughcough* me) to give your profile a once-over to make sure you're not sticking your foot in your mouth and making the great first impression.
Don't try too hard - Don't go overboard in your first few messages. Don't shower them with compliments. Don't be too effusive. Keep it simple. Don't repeat information previously mentioned in your bio. A simple hello and invitation to check out your profile along with one sentence referring to their to prove you read it will suffice.
Know that things can change in an instant - Seriously. It's that easy to turn things around. The possibility of finding love is everywhere. Your experience on Tinder or Bumble on one day can be completely different the next. Keep going.
Believe - Believe that it can happen. Believe that they're out there, they just haven't found you yet. Believe you're deserving of love, because you are. Stay open to the possibilities.