I am 27 years old and, to be honest, I have very little experience with dating. I was in a long-term relationship for 5 years from age 19 to 24. Then I spent years 25-27 doing some serious soul-searching about my personal health and mission in life (while also doing a good amount of traveling). I’ve spent some of those 3 years dabbling in dating, but never consistently putting myself out there and going on dates. This all changed in 2018.
This year, I decided I was ready for a relationship. I finally felt healthy enough as an individual to be able to give all of myself to someone else. I felt like I could be in a relationship with someone and not feel like I was relying on them to feel whole. Does that make any sense? Basically I finally felt at a point where I am fine with or without a relationship, and isn’t that the best place to approach dating from?
Anyway, this year I started aggressively hitting the online dating apps. I found this awesome app Hinge that really suits my personality and lifestyle. I also live in the San Francisco Bay Area which is the hub of the tech industry and therefore the hub of online dating. I started sending many messages a day and carrying out conversations with the women I matched with.
I went on a few dates and realized that I could actually get into this whole online dating thing. I even found a bit of a system. What was it? Really it was just to be my normal, goofy self without censoring what I said to try and get approval. A lot of the time I just said the first thing that came to mind and it often got a response. Just the other day I told a girl that one of her pictures looked like a toilet selfie… and she thought it was hilarious! A couple years ago I never would have dreamed of sending something weird like that. But it works because it’s me.
Anyway, I decided that my trifling success with online dating meant that I should really step it up and make a 30 day challenge out of it. Scale, ya know? Here was the challenge: Use all 10 of my Hinge “likes” every day and continue any conversations that I was having. This is more time consuming than it appears! I had to come up with 10 original things to say and then keep 5-7 conversations going at a time.
At first, I was convinced that this was going to net me MORE dates and more great conversations with women. I actually did the challenge for a full two weeks! But just the other day, about 2 weeks in, I realized that this “balls to the wall” approach to online dating was hurting me much more than helping me.
By looking at online dating as a habit instead of a hobby, it became clear that my conversations were suffering. Messaging someone back was now more of a chore than an exciting chance to get to know someone. Sending out 10 likes took time, so much time that my messages became hurried and oftentimes were lame or boring. I started getting less responses back. I was rushing to respond in conversations and soon realized that very few conversations were continuing past a few back and forth exchanges.
It was at this point that I decided to abandon this 30 day challenge. I think online dating is more of a recreational and social activity than an ironclad habit. If you’re forcing yourself to send messages and talk to people, it’s probably fair to say that you’re not having fun. And that’s what it really comes down to right? Having fun and getting to know interesting singles around you. That’s what dating should be.
My lesson in all of this is to take a step back and start having more fun with dating. Be a little more process-oriented than result-oriented. Yes, having a girl agree to a date is great. But what’s also great is the courtship process, even in the digital world! Getting to know someone and seeing if they’re a good fit is a beautiful thing. It’s the foundation of dating and relationships! And it should be a fun process, not a rigorous battle with your willpower to send more messages.