Dates, I’ve had a few. And during my time on the UK dating scene, I’ve picked up a few do’s and don’t’s that have helped me to navigate it all a little better. Of course, when it comes to dating, there’s no one rule or formula guaranteed to ensure smooth sailing and love everlasting, because human connection comes in many forms and manifestations. However, being respectful, self aware, kind and open minded are essential to a healthy dating life and will guarantee you enjoy yourself a hell of a lot more.
Dating apps have changed the whole landscape of dating, making our attention spans shorter, enabling dodgy behaviours and presenting us with almost too many options to choose from. They can, however, be a life-enriching tool, if used in the right way. So, if you’re on dating apps, or considering whether to try them, here are a few tips to consider before diving in…
Before you match, do read the whole profile and try to be open minded. It’s not possible to judge someone on the basis of three photos and their ability to wield an Oxford comma. If you’d met this person in real life, you’d be focused on their smile, their treatment of you and their voice, not their use of spelling and grammar.
Don’t say: ‘child not mine’. It’s lame and suggests a fear of commitment, a lack of empathy and an aversion to responsibility. This may be a very accurate description of your personal flaws but showcasing these shortcomings won’t increase your match rate.
Don’t list your height with the suffix: ‘apparently that matters’. Physiology matters to many women so don’t be passive aggressive about a woman’s right to choose a partner that she feels attracted to on a biological, evolutionary level. Personal preference is something that should be respected and some women are into men that are taller or shorter than them for myriad reasons, it’s not just vanity.
Don’t list ‘dogs’ as an interest or suggest that you prefer them to humans. If you actually want to meet a human and start dating them, your preference for dogs won’t stand you in good stead. Plus it’s kind of creepy. Hashtag bestiality. Hashtag nodogo.
Do not get defensive, or worse aggressive, when someone changes their mind about you. Never, ever be critical of somebody because they have rejected you. Rejection is healthy, it helps us to recognise our self worth and yes, it sometimes hurts and makes us feel low or indignant. The amount of times I’ve been rejected by someone I believe I’m probably way too good for on a dating app? I’ve lost count. But would I retort by saying mean things about them or letting them know I thought they were punching above their weight anyway? Never. That’s cruel, hurtful and rude.
Of course, many people don’t feel the need to go through the motions of explaining why they don’t want a second date. They just go quiet. But I don’t ghost, on principle. Don’t ghost. Being ghosted feels the same as being told ‘thanks for the date, I had a wonderful time but I don’t think we’re right for one another.’ The only difference is the ghost. They’ve avoided feeling guilty or uncomfortable but those feelings are an important part of dating. That accountability, that propensity for emotion is what makes us able to be vulnerable with another person in the first place. So do the right thing and just give your match a ‘thanks but no thanks’ at the very least and be wary of closing yourself off to emotions that are an important part of the process.
Don’t be invasive with your questions, especially about sexual preferences and sexuality. Unless of course you’re using an app like Pure or Feeld, in which case at least ask how their day was before you open fire and ask for a threesome. According to the LoveHoney sexual happiness survey 8% of women in the UK are turned on by the idea of hooking up with more than one person at once and 22% of men fantasise about it. Make sure you’re not overstepping boundaries or offending people on more traditional dating apps and that you’re using the right ones for the type of dating you want to be doing.
Do be creative with your opening but don’t use chat up lines. ‘I’m going to Whole Foods, want anything?’ might have been funny in the beginning but come on, be original. Compliments are always a great idea and something like ‘you have the most beautiful eyes’ is always a winner over a dice-roll like ‘nice butt, sexy lady’.
Do focus on that person’s gifts and not on the flaws of other people. Telling a person that they’re better than all the other people on the app, more beautiful, less of a creep, not a slut with scary eyebrows etc. will not endear that person to you. Be suspicious of a potential match who tells you how great you are compared to all the other people they’ve spoken to. Criticising others and making value-based judgements about them? That’s a red flag.
Don’t tell the person you’ve matched with that they look like, remind you of or are similar to your ex. This won’t flatter them. According to the LoveHoney survey, one in four men fantasise about having sex with an ex. You don’t want to give your potential date the idea that you’re imagining them as someone else or that you’re weighing them up against another person.
Side note: if you’re hung up on an ex partner, being alone can be painful, but it’s essential to healthy recovery. The old adage that the best way get over someone is to get under someone else may be well accepted but it’s not always the best option for your mental health.
Do meet up ASAP. Sure online and app dating is great but real chemistry and/or having terrible first date stories is better. There’s no feeling worse than sending messages back and forth for weeks and developing feelings for somebody, then meeting them to find that you’re not that into them and must now dismantle your entire belief system, awkwardly reject them and head back to square one.
Do buy a drink for the other person. Not because your gender prescribes that you do so, but because it’s kind and romantic and will never go down badly. A purchase is a gift, whether it’s a drink, dinner, tickets to a gig or some cheesy chips. If you’re broke, suggest a cheap date like a walk around a gallery or coffee in an affordable spot.
Don’t judge people for gym, bikini, shirtless or other scantily clad selfies. These people are the selfless heroes of digital dating and are fully and unashamedly committed to the mechanics of the ‘try before you buy’ model. They are to be appreciated, always.
Lastly, and this one is obvious, unless somebody specifically asks you for one, don’t send out a picture of your genitals. Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below. Good luck out there, honeys.