How to Date Like a Millennial (And Not Suck At It).

I hate dating apps. For a solid year I avoided them all together and proudly announced that, “I would meet someone organically“, as if people were as available as non-gmo micro greens at Whole Foods. A year of solidarity later, I picked up the phone and downloaded that app.

After only a few days of swiping and sending (self-proclaimed) witty one-liners I realized that my anxiety in day-to-day life had increased tenfold. My traditionally uneventful commute, became a space for reviewing lines, regretful ruminating, and obsession over unexplained ghosting (a millennial verb coined to describe the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone in hopes they will ‘get the hint’).

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I’ll be real with you. This wasn’t the first time I had deleted, re-added, re-gretted, and re-leased the app back into the ethersphere (derived from the noun eth·er·net, refers to the intangible space of the internet of non-oral communication). I had done this many times.

The second time I deleted the app was after a particularly jarring ghost experience. After hesitantly deciding to try this thing again, I went on a string of promising dates with an age appropriate, employed, attractive, and laid back guy. The dates were above average and I couldn’t help but eagerly blab to all my pals that would listen. Any, “what’s new with you?” prompt would be answered with a, “so there’s this guy…”

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This elation became a rather embarrassing piece of road kill I had to scrape off the top of any follow up conversation. I would sheepishly admit that he ignored me out of the blue and watch their face twist up into discomfort. I deleted the app shortly thereafter in a cocktail of both disappointment and defeat.

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Fast-forward to present day. My single self was out with a friend. He was divulging in the dating details of the last few months. I listened intently while crunching on my appetizer, marvelling at his care-free take on the duty I took so seriously. “You should try it out again!” he smiled at me encouragingly and with that, my greasy thumb print clicked download.

After only a few hours of swiping through the app, it began to take hold of my mind again. It churned my stagnant pond into a whirl pool, twisting with hurricane damage-inducing potential. A promising guy asked me out and a feeling of anxiety coated my body; my stomach dropped, my breath grew shallow, and my mind dug for each and every excuse to turn it down.

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Maybe it wasn’t the app that was the issue, maybe it was me. Any opportunity for rejection had me hitting delete and retreat. Whether I was scared of being ghosted or more traditionally being stood up, it wasn’t a sign of the times, it was simply a sign that I was too afraid to put myself out there.

I decided that if I’m going to really give this* a shot (*any attempt at dating, in this case dating via app), I’d have to lay some ground rules.

  1. Take This Less Seriously.
    A friend gave me some sound advice when she said, “Why are you freaking out? This is supposed to be fun.” My eyes widened as if this had never occurred to me. I was seeing dating with trepidation rather than excitement. If you’re dating, remind yourself gently that’s it’s supposed to be fun.
  2. Make a Connection Not An Impression.
    In the world of dating via app, making a good first impression is a necessary condition to continue the conversation. Sometimes this impression-oriented system causes people to do more showing off than showing interest. Ask questions about them, and invest less time worrying about what they think about you.
  3. Don’t Take it Personally.
    Getting ghosted sucks, but at the end of the day, these people don’t really know you. You don’t know why they quit the conversation or connection, and there’s no use wondering. Letting ghosts roll off your back is an essential strength on dating apps. You’re awesome so don’t take it personally.
  4. Say No to Virtual Relationships.
    Dating Apps are a great tool, but they shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox. Your presence, your conversations, and your real-world dates are necessary pieces of the puzzle. Try to schedule a hang out shortly after you see potential. Dragging out a relationship online can create a false sense of connection. So get out there!

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Today’s Practice:

Do something that scares you. Identify an action, whether that be going on a date, applying for a new job, or trying out rock climbing, and walk toward the fear. Overcoming fear can lead to immeasurable growth.