If you’re looking for love (or hookups), you’re probably using dating apps.
But are you doing it all wrong?
It turns out that finding worthwhile matches online requires more technique than just idle swiping.
If your experience of dating apps has been dead-end conversations, dates that never actually come to fruition, or IRL meet-ups that are lacking anything in the way of a spark, it might not be the case that the entire world of online dating is doomed to fail.
Instead, you might be making some common mistakes.
Ahead, relationships expert Neil Wilkie breaks down some pitfalls that many single people fall into when dating online – and shares what you should be doing instead.
Pretending to be someone you’re not
You might not be a full-on catfish, but are you being totally yourself?
Any kind of fakery means relationships are set up to fail. After all, how can you develop real feelings for someone when you’re not sure if they like the real you?
‘As Mark Twain said, if you tell the truth you don’t have to remember what you said,’ says Neil. ‘Be proud of who you are and then you will find the person who will love you for being you.’
Looking for someone perfect
Neil tells Metro.co.uk: ‘We all have dreams about meeting the perfect partner. The person that all our friends will be amazed by and jealous of.
‘This is nice to dream of but the reality may be disappointing. That perfect look may take hours to create or require a lot of narcissism. The amazement and jealousy of friends may also be toxic.
‘Why not, instead, look for someone who will love you and who you can have a sustainable, loving and fulfilling relationship with? Someone who is beautiful inside and out. Someone who loves you and your imperfections.’
Having a lengthy list of qualities a match needs to have – whether that’s green eyes, being 6ft tall, or definitely not a Gemini – will cut you off from people with real potential to make you happy.
‘All life is a compromise,’ says Neil. ‘Focus on what is really important to you, the non-negotiable values and then filter carefully. A few inches here and there may not be so important when you focus on how they make you feel.’
Playing with other people’s emotions
Don’t be a dick – it’s bad dating karma.
Neil says: ‘Online dating is a playground where people can fall over and get really hurt. It is unfair to be disrespectful of others and trample over their emotions.
‘If you just want to play; don’t. Get your kicks elsewhere.
‘If you are serious about finding the love of your life then call out the players.
‘If you connect with someone who is not right; be honest and gentle with them.
‘Treat others as they would like to be treated.’
Expecting instant results
Try not to get disheartened if you’re not immediately flooded with right swipes and messages.
If you go online expecting immediate validation, you’re likely to be disappointed – and might end up leaving dating apps entirely as a result.
Have more realistic expectations and understand that these things take time.
‘If you are still sitting there after a year and have had no response then you are either on the wrong site, your photo or profile are not hitting the spot, or your matching criteria are too narrow,’ notes Neil. ‘Maybe there just aren’t any 6’ 1” billionaires with a six pack in the UK?
‘Be patient, persistent and regularly fine tune your profile and ideal match.’
Giving up too easily
We’re sorry to say that using dating apps isn’t all rainbows and roses. There are going to be some rubbish experiences, from terrible chat to getting ghosted.
Neil suggests: ‘See this as a journey where you have the opportunity to meet new people and have interesting conversations. Who knows, there could be a book to come from all of your experiences.’
Not responding to messages
‘That is rude and inconsiderate,’ says Neil. ‘How do you feel when you have seen your ideal date and messaged them and get no response? How many times have you logged on, full of hope and been disappointed by the empty inbox?
‘If the answer is no thanks, tell them gently, quickly and clearly. Avoid being rude but if there is feedback that you can give that will help them in their journey, do so.
‘If they have gone to all the effort of meeting you face to face and arranged a nice venue and meal, don’t leave them in limbo. Tell them thank you very much but you feel they are not right for you.’
Taking it all too seriously
Dating is supposed to be fun. If you’re finding it’s leaving you drained and despondent, take a break to recharge.
Learn that you don’t need a romantic partner, it’s just a nice added bonus to life.
Make sure that you’re able to treat online dating with a lightness and a
Seeing it as a destination, not a journey
‘So, you want to meet Mr/Mrs/Ms Right, get married in a pink castle and have the perfect married life,’ says Neil. ‘You want that now, or at worst tomorrow.
‘Do you really want that, or do you want a fascinating and fun journey where you will learn a lot about yourself, other people and the world of relationships?
‘Take your time and enjoy the journey.’
Not being clear on what you want
This is key. When you don’t really know yourself and your priorities, you’re going to seek out all the wrong people and have unfulfilling romantic experiences.
Neil tells us: ‘If you know what you really want, you are much more likely to get it.
‘Take time to reflect on the sort of life you want to have and how you want to be feeling. Then make sure your profile shows this and look for the people who want something similar.’
Neil Wilkie is a relationship expert, psychotherapist, author of the Relationship Paradigm series of books, and creator of online couples therapy programme, The Relationship Paradigm.