How to Date S.M.A.R.T

As the dating apps become more and more popular with endless options and opportunities to meet new people, dating has become more or less a hobby or pastime.  And while swiping has made dating both easy and convenient, it has also become quite reckless.

Instead of being pragmatic and thoughtful, app users are typically swiping voraciously and making snap judgments about other singles in a matter of seconds. This approach is rarely effective, as many app users report going on a series of “bad dates” and having little “success.”

So, given the current dating culture and climate, how does one date with more intention? How does one date “smart”?  Lucky for you, I have developed this “SMART” dating method to help you date slowly, mindfully and in way that reflects who you are and what you want.

Self-compassion. Dating is not easy.  It requires an investment in time and energy.  And it is also not uncommon to feel disappointed, frustrated, or fatigued.  With that being said, it is so important to practice self-compassion as you date. Kristen Neff, Ph.D, a psychologist and pioneer of self-compassion as a practice, has identified 3 components of self-compassion: mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness.

  • Through mindfulness, try to recognize the impermanence of those feelings and thoughts that may come up us you are swiping, messaging or meeting up with a prospective partner. Have less judgment towards yourself and remember that even the “bad” dates and unpleasant feelings that come up are part of the process. They are fleeting and won’t last long.
  • By acknowledging shared humanity, try to remind yourself that there are other singles just like you that are also going through this same exact process. While you might feel alone, I can promise you that you’re not.
  • Through self-kindness, speak to yourself with love and understanding. Avoid blaming yourself or internalizing unpleasant or negative situations and experiences. Be your own cheerleader and tell yourself more nice things—you deserve all the love (both when you are single and in a relationship).

Mindful.  Be present. It can be so easy to get caught up in your thoughts and focusing on the unknown and uncertainty. You may have 99 questions to ask a date/prospective partner, but you don’t need them answered all at once. Try to enjoy the other persons’ company and get to know them without putting so much pressure on the date. Even if you don’t know if this other person is the love of your life (which is pretty rare to be certain of on the first date or first few dates), try and have fun. What do you two have in common?  Are you able to laugh together?  Try to enjoy the moment.

Authentic. Show up as yourself. Dating tends to create feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Many singles are focused on being “liked” or perceived in a certain way. A lot of people tend to create a dating persona, a persona based on social norms and expectations, rather than just showing up as their authentic selves. Instead of faking interests or trying to act like you “have it all together” (which is not a real thing by the way), be honest about who you are, what’s important to you and what you are looking for. Do this in your dating profile and during those first few interactions. If someone isn’t “into it” then they are not the right person for you.

Refined. Sick of the unsolicited advances, short-lived conversations and ghosting? Are you having a difficult time finding “quality” singles?  Date in a way that is more refined to weed out the “bad apples.” Be intentional and picky. Think about what you are looking for in a partner and what you value in a relationship. Create a “list”–make a mental list or write one down to reference as you date and hold yourself accountable.

Be intentional throughout the entire process and start by refining your search. Identify which app/service will best meet your needs or reflect your values and the qualities you are looking for in a partner.  Maybe you are realizing that you need more than just pictures and witty one-liners for reference. Maybe you are realizing the importance of shared beliefs or interests.  Maybe you are seeking deeper connection or compatibility in personality.

Here are some apps that have been designed to facilitate more meaningful connections:

  1.  Hinge, “the dating app designed to be deleted,” allows you to be specific in your preferences (i.e. education level, religion, family plans). It is an app that is backed by “relationship science” and has a team of experts including a behavioral psychologist that apply dating insights grounded in  research to help users make meaningful connections.
  2.  Match.com, the “pioneer” of online dating, allows you to create a comprehensive profile through pictures, free writing sections and elected preferences. To ensure the safety and “integrity” of their community, Match.com screens every picture and profile prior to it being published.
  3. Boo, is a new app that uses personality psychology and “the 16 personalities framework to match compatible personalities.” Following the completion of a 4-question self-administered personality assessment, this app recommends matches and provides advice based on compatible personalities.
  4. Coffee Meets Bagel is the “original anti-swiping app”.  This app gives you daily matches to eliminate the haphazard swiping and encourage thoughtful interactions and app engagement. They also help users create more “in-depth profiles” by having singles respond to evocative, open-ended prompts.

There are many other apps and platforms available including faith-based dating such as Christian Mingle and JDate. Take some time to research your options and determine which app or platform is right for you (because it does matter.).

Tactful: Have somewhat of a plan and take your time as you date. What’s the rush?  Again, be intentional with which app you use, what information you have on your profile that accurately reflects who you are and have a clear idea in what you are looking for or what your preferences are. Do not be afraid to share these preferences and ask the “hard” or “uncomfortable” questions as you get to know someone on deeper level.

Throughout the process, check-in with yourself. Ask yourself, “does this person/relationship make me feel good?”  Or, “Does this person embody the qualities that I want and deserve in a partner? Is anything significant missing?” Always remember that you can opt out of a relationship or “situationship” at any time. And alternatively, you do not have to make any commitment or serious decisions until it feels right to do so.

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