Monday, August 18, 2014

Tinder, Match, eHarmony... OH MY!

"I don't feel like picking a girl up at a bar."

"I always seem to meet a guy that is completely wrong for me."

"It is such an easy hook up."

"They didn't look like their profile picture."

For those familiar with the online dating scene these thoughts may hit all to close to home. When it comes to trying Plenty of Fish or the recently popularized site Tinder, everyone seems to have such high hopes. 

Sure they take the "going out to meet someone" concept out of the equation and match individualizes based on personality, interests and relationship goals, but is this potentially causing more harm than good? This is in no way discounting the healthy and long lasting relationships that have bloomed from online dating, because there are many. Nor is this claiming that online dating is bad, in fact it helps many people connect with individuals they wouldn't have in the first place. 

For perspective sake, could pre-matching individuals be handicapping us by minimizing the real life challenges presented while trying to connect with someone in a less constructed social environment?

Sure, that sounds like a hypothesis for a politically correct research paper, but the real question is "Why does this generation need online dating so bad?" 

Reasons I have heard so far:
"I don't have enough time to go meet somebody." (very popular one)
"I am not good at hitting on women/guys at a bar."
"It takes all the middle stuff out."

Online dating has its purposes, but the perspective I would like to provide you with is how to use online dating principles to improve your non-online dating love life. 

Proximity Principle

Put simply, things that are closer to each other tend to stay together, get grouped together, and form interpersonal relationships. Tinder uses this technique quite wonderfully by searching for potential matches in your area. To steal some of this effect and apply it without an online dating profile, find local hang outs and places of interests. This could be a coffee shop/cafe, restaurant, parks...etc. Whatever it is, if it is closer to where you work, live, or typically hangout the likelihood of seeing the same people more then once will increase. 

So you don't want to share your entire life and baggage on the first date or even first encounter but you do want to create a genuine connection. Online dating allows you put some of that information out there for others to judge whether or not it is in sync with their beliefs, values, and priorities. What you need to do is find that middle ground between "What time is it?" or "Great weather today" with "How many ex-girlfriends/boyfriends do you have" or "I would love to have kids". There is a time and place for this. Offer a little information that creates a small amount of vulnerability and let them know you are human. For example, when I first started dating my wife I told her that I grew up the middle child of two sisters and that is most likely why I am able to handle "chick-flicks". I could of been judged on this but instead it was a source of humor and connection.

Regardless of your dating goals, it is more than okay to establish "non-romantic" relationships. In the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers found that couples who value their friendship over other aspects of their relationships report greater romance and sexual satisfaction over couples who look to their partners mostly for sexual gratification. Take the time to get to know somebody and establish a foundation to build off of. Sex is one aspect of a relationship and is popular thing for couples to focus on. If you meet somebody out, focus on building a genuine connection and not simply a physical one. 

I hope you are able to find these 3 principles useful in your 
search for that special somebody. 

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