How to Date in the Digital Age
Between the chatting, the swiping, the super likes, and the emoji sends, online dating apps can feel a little like a game. Which is a good thing in some ways—online dating should be fun! Dating should be fun!
In the seriousness of vocation and purpose, it’s easy to forget that while God wants us to raise ourselves to a higher purpose and challenge us to be saints, he also wants us to laugh and flirt and smile and enjoy ourselves. Yes, God wants us to flirt. Appropriately.
Online dating apps can be thrilling if you let them be. Don’t turn them into a chore; an empty box on life’s to-do list that says “find a mate” between “seek purpose” and “achieve dream job.” Enjoy the excitement of having the world at your fingertips. You can meet interesting people from around the world, have intriguing conversations and discern what you are looking for in someone else all right in one place.
While dating can be fun, you should be weary of meeting strangers online. But don’t let the fear of online dating horror stories overwhelm you. In fact, there are a lot of things to look forward to. I’m here to help you figure out just how to find them.
Find the right online dating apps
As someone who has tried every popular online dating app out there, I can definitively say that not all are created equal. People date as differently as they do everything else. Just the same way that social media are all used for different things—Twitter for news, Instagram for images, Facebook for family updates or keeping up with high school friends—so are online dating apps.
We live in a secular world, so there are dating apps that attract users who are only looking to hook up or seek sexual gratification. Those are typically going to be the most common or popular ones you hear of, because that what sells in popular culture. Instead, seek out online dating apps that are intended for true and lasting connection.
Write the best bio
The only downside to having access to a sea of potential dates is that you’re trying to prove how interesting you are in just a snapshot. Here’s the great news, though: you are that interesting and wonderful! You just need to be able to write a bio on those dating apps that shows it.
Start by keeping it short. This is essentially an introduction. Just like in a face-to-face introduction, you don’t need to launch into your childhood memories or a detailed list of what you’re looking for in a mate—you just need to say hello and share something that can open a conversation.
Remember to keep it light. Let your personality shine through. Don’t be afraid to be a little silly, and to be unique.
It’s okay if your online profile on dating apps is a little vague. Don’t give away too much information. For as many good people you’ll meet, there will still be creeps out there. Avoid personal details in your bio and in conversations until you feel comfortable. If something feels wrong, trust your gut. Never continue a conversation you don’t want to.
But remember, keep things open. Starting a conversation is hard! Even online when you don’t have to approach someone the same way. To get the conversation going, put an intriguing question (that you have an answer to!) in your bio. Keep this light too. Nothing political or serious—favorite TV show or where to go in the world if you could go anywhere!
Don’t ask too many questions
It can be tempting to charge full steam ahead when someone is interested in talking to you. For a while, I would get so nervous that someone would be bored by my obsession with The Office or my stories about life as a copywriter. I ended up sharing personal stories and secrets in order to seem more interesting before we even went on the date.
“This way, he’ll want to meet me in person,” I’d think. Wrong.
Modesty applies to conversation, too. Slowly reveal who you are to another person, and keep big conversation topics off the internet.
It’s fine to share details of your life and stories that tell who you are, but save the important big questions for face to face dating. Reserve chats on dating apps or texting for light conversation and date planning. Everything else should happen in person.
Trust me here. You won’t regret waiting to share something face to face, but you might regret sharing something personal via text message. Especially if you’re left dangling waiting for a reply.
Use fun photos
Use fun pictures that show off your personality. Choose pictures that show off your hobbies, like reading, traveling, singing karaoke—whatever they may be. Candid photos are always best, but selfies can suffice if that’s all you have. To avoid all selfies, have a friend take some pictures of you doing things you love to do.
One thing to avoid is group shots. It makes it hard to see your face and your winning personality.
Remember that you’re making a first impression, and consider the kind of people you want to impress. Choose modest poses and outfits for your photos.
Ask for verification
Cat-fishing is a real thing. It’s a sad reality, but it is a reality. A lot of online dating apps have security measures set up—especially reputable ones—that have systems in place to verify the identity of the person you’re talking to. However, it’s always best to be sure yourself.
An easy way to find out is to ask to connect with them on a social media profile or ask if they’d like to video chat. However, I opt for social media connection first before I give my phone number. It helps to make sure the person has more than one photo, more than one follower or friend and other posts—these are a few things that spamming accounts typically don’t have.
In general, proceed carefully and trust your instinct.
Meet offline ASAP
Now that you’re interested in someone, it’s time to meet them in person! Online dating apps are awesome for making the initial connection, but building the relationship has to happen face to face.
There’s no need to go from casual texting to a full blown five course meal, though. Here are three easy, short date ideas:
- Meet for coffee at a local coffeehouse
- Meet up to go on a walk at a park (during the daytime)
- Meet up for an activity, like putt putt or pottery painting
Bring a friend
Notice all our date ideas specify “meet.” On the first date, don’t share your address to be picked up. Don’t go to a second location. Stick to one location with your own car to come and go.
If you’re not quite comfortable going solo, bring a friend or family member to stay close by. Ride there with them and have them sit where you can see them to help you make you more comfortable.
Even if you don’t bring someone along, it’s a good idea to send your plans and location to someone you trust who will know where you are.
Overall, remember that dating in a digital age is more fun than anything else! You have a chance to meet all different kinds of people with all different interests. Even if you don’t meet “The One” right away, you can make a lot of friends.
Forget any stigma you feel. More and more people are finding the love of their lives on online dating apps, so it is possible and probable!
Get out there!
By now I’m sure you feel inspired to jump right in. So give it a try. Download a dating app that you think might have what you’re looking for. Apps like Catholic Singles have compatibility tests designed to find a better match for you. And we’ve been around since 1997, helping people find what they’re looking for.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll even have a date by next weekend.
Erin is a Catholic writer living on the windy plains of Kansas. She loves reading, dark chocolate, sunflowers, and learning to cook.