I’ve had a very specific post in mind that I’ve wanted to write for quite some time, but recently got a reader question via email that I thought was just perfect. So here we go!
First off – thank you for what you do. your blog is my first stop every morning and I greatly appreciate your attitude, outlook and perspective. I’m 33 and single and you have been such a positive voice and a wonderful reminder that it is OKAY to be single! (I’m also equally obsessed with clean skincare and I really just feel like we’d be dear friends!)
So my question is – you have spoken about online dating a few times, and i find it SO intimidating! I’ve tried it a couple of times and hated everything about it – from creating a profile, to awkwardly messaging strangers, to the uncomfortable first date.
I would love your advice on all of those things – even your thoughts on how to have a positive mindset about it!
Okay, let’s discuss! I have a lot of feelings and a lot to say (but also thank you for the kind words and for reaching out)!
It may be easier in my shoes as I am pretty sure I don’t want kids. You never know, things could change and maybe one day I will be in my forties and really want one. In that case I will either try to have one biologically or adopt one. Right now though, kids are a HARD no and aunt life is the best life. For me. (PLEASE no judgements/comments on my stance here; we don’t have to all want the same things; that would be SO BORING!)
So that definitely makes it easier from a timing perspective but also harder in it’s own ways (Most men I meet want children, and want them sooner rather than later.)
I think not rushing, and not being under the gun to meet someone to start a family and have babies by XYZ date makes it easier to stay positive. The bar is high and will stay high, and I have a life that I really like. IF it felt like my life were missing this huge thing and I were looking at babies the way I look at kittens and puppies, it would be much harder.
I recognize that.
That being said – I still feel like I have something valuable to say that everyone can benefit from. Or at least I hope. I’m going to be brutally honest (as I always am) and give a bit of tough love as I want this post to actually be helpful.
If you had told me ten years ago (when I was 27) that I would one day be 37 and single I would have had a complete conniption. Like, lost my mind and dramatically stayed in bed for days. Being over 35 and “alone” would have been my literal WORST NIGHTMARE. I placed a lot of weight on my relationship. And when I was 29, 30, 31 and in a committed relationship where I thought I had met “the one,” I was definitely v v smug. I’d look at my single friends and say the sort of stuff I hate hearing now. “Don’t worry you’ll find someone,” etc etc.
SO yes, I have been on both sides.
I’ve been the smug coupled off friend. I’ve also been the puddle of a mess of a friend who was so heartbroken she couldn’t eat. There are a lot of Graces that you don’t know because you read this blog, where I don’t talk a lot about this stuff. While I do share a lot with you, I also omit a LOT. So I think it’s easy to look at me and where I am in my life now and think I’m this positive, perennially happy person and that isn’t true.
The single girl in the city caricature, if you will. The reality is that there are ups and downs, and lots of them! I give you this background so that you can understand – it didn’t happen overnight, and of course there are times where I am like “WHAT THE H*LL THIS TOTALLY SUCKS.” But honestly, mostly yes, I am very positive. So today we will talk about that.
I think something happened to me when my longtime ex and I broke up
Losing him was my worst fear, and when I lost him, in a way, having my greatest fear come true made me a little bit fearless. Don’t get me wrong. It totally sucked at the time. Honestly, I didn’t think I would recover. I cried for months. I thought at times I would die because my heart just hurt so much. But time heals everything and without all that dead weight (sorry kidding sort of haha) I started to really succeed in my career.
Rather than staying in and eating takeout on the couch with him, I got out there and networked. I worked my butt off at my blog and ultimately left my day job to pursue what had been just a fun project full time. Things started to really fall in place for me and I can’t say that would have happened if we were still together.
The first step doesn’t have anything to do with dating.
Build a life you are proud of and excited about. On your own. I wrote a post about how to be single last year and it went viral. So please go read that post before you even download a dating app or talk to a guy at the bar. This is the most important step.
I’ve always been really proud of my life but for me it wasn’t until we did our live show at Caroline’s and started booking other live shows that I became a lot more confident. It was this amazing feeling of “Wow, I’m really onto something that people seem to really like and am just so proud of what I am doing.” Confidence doesn’t come from being the hottest person in the room – or the funniest – or the smartest, or whatever.
There will always be someone funnier, smarter, prettier, richer, more charming, etc. than you.
BUT I like who I am and when I want to do something I will work my butt off to make it happen. That is where I get my confidence from. Not from being the prettiest or the cleverest but from knowing that I can do pretty much anything if I’m willing to work for it, and knowing that I will always land on my feet regardless of whether I am single, in a relationship, (or just embarrassing myself on stage).
The live show was my big a-ha moment and we are all different and you will find yours from something else. I think it’s just about knowing your worth and believing in yourself and knowing you will be okay with or without a guy. Work on your own confidence and love your life – the rest will follow. I don’t have any anxiety that I won’t meet “my person.” I know I will, it just may take time. I also realize that my ideal relationship might not look like someone else’s ideal.
Choosing an app.
My friend Jess had a very funny post written about why she hates Bumble. If you listen to our podcast you know I am not a huge fan of Bumble either. I really think it’s encouraging laziness in men (and feeding their egos having all these women chasing them down – my male friends admit to this too). Not my app of choice.
Hinge has been my favorite app so far. It’s the only one I have. I feel repetitive saying this but the reason I like this is the questions + prompts. I feel like you can very easily get a sense of someone’s personality, sense of humor, and overall world view. It’s also a LOT easier to have a conversation as it generally gives you something to talk about.
I also like The League but it’s a little slow moving. Also at one point they told me I had gone through everyone in New York and started giving me people in Philly. LOL. So I deleted it.
And does anyone even use Tinder anymore? Serious question!
I was not accepted by Raya, but am good with that – I went on a friend’s to see what the hype was and it felt v. pretentious. Also I would be SO STRESSED if I had to set my photos to music. I’m bad at music!
Creating a profile.
I got asked if I use professional photos on my profile. NO!!! Never. My dating app photos are all iPhone photos, mostly candids that friends have snapped, or pics from trips.. I would probably swipe left on someone using professional photos which is why I use iPhone photos. I’m also of the mind that I want to look worse in my photos than I do real life, so that the guy is pleasantly surprised when they meet me. I don’t want to show up on a first date and have the person be disappointed.
I’d recommend making sure you have one close up of your face, one that shows your whole body, and then use the rest of them to show your personality. Maybe you love yoga, so something of that. Maybe you are silly so something goofy. Or, maybe you love to travel, so show photos of your adventures. Skip the sunglasses when possible!
Reaching out + The First date.
The reader above references “awkwardly messaging strangers” and “uncomfortable first dates.”
I hate both of those things and try to avoid either.
Honestly I don’t really reach out. It really depends on your personality type. Reach out if you want to and are good at initiating conversations but I personally don’t really have a lot of interest in being the initiator or chasing someone. On Hinge I might “like” someone first, leaving a comment on one of their photos if they say something funny but I almost never message the guy first. This is totally a matter of personal taste – do what makes you comfortable. (It sounds like the reader above feels uncomfortable reaching out, so I would tell her:”like” all you want, but let them message you first.)
As for the first date, keep it simple, stress free, and low pressure. It shouldn’t be uncomfortable. I like to start with coffee or a quick drink. I look at a first date as a screener and a chance to meet someone new and leave it at that. No pressure. Sometimes that coffee or drink turns into more drinks or a meal but I really don’t like committing to dinner or a big activity with someone I’ve never met. That’s when things feel awkward and stressful. If you are feeling stressed about it, try to just look at it as a meeting and remember that if you’re not having fun you can leave. Try not to put too much pressure on things.
Before going on a date I’ll make sure to have read the news that day and I will think about the book, movie, and/or TV show I’m really into right now so that I have something to talk about should the conversation stall.
Staying Positive While Online Dating.
Okay THIS is important! We can’t change the apps (or maybe you can – if you are reading this and have a better idea, I’ve been saying forever that someone needs to find a way to create IRL experiences of the apps), but we CAN change our attitudes. And that’s been my whole take on it. If I feel like my attitude is getting negative I take a time out. The dating app will always be there. But if you have a negative attitude you probably are going to have a bad experience. (There’s also nothing wrong with taking a break, deciding to work on meeting people IRL or just taking a general dating time out. I once took three months off of dating after realizing I was only meeting lunatics – I met someone I really liked right away after.)
I personally only use one app at a time. Otherwise if feels like a job. (It’s probably harder as a social media person – responding to dating app messages can feel like responding to DM’s – oof.)
The apps are pretty cool when you think about it. They give you access to so many more people than you’d ordinarily meet. Of course this means more work/screening/messaging; but it’s mostly worth it. Lastly here, for what it’s worth, I really liked Matthew Hussey’s book. The title (and cover) are super cheesy so maybe rip the cover off or pretend you’re in high school and make a book cover, but read it – it’s packed with a lot of smart info.
Don’t take it personally. Of course you can be annoyed – we’re only human. But realize it literally has nothing to do with you. Someone might stop talking to you but maybe they just deleted the app. Or started dating someone exclusively. You really don’t know. I think the thing about the apps is that you get exposed to SO MANY PEOPLE. Which as I mentioned above, is pretty cool when you think about it. You meet so many more people than you ever would but will also wind up being rejected by so many people, too! It’s okay.
(I’d definitely recommend listening to the Jared Freid episode of our podcast – he talks about this in a way that is both hilarious and smart.)
Be a little ruthless, especially when it comes to indifference.
This is something I wish I was better at when I was younger. My best friend always says that people show you who they are if you pay attention. If a guy wants to get to know you better, he’ll generally make a decent amount of effort to make a plan or see you again. I say decent amount as the dating bar in New York is so low – ha!
I’ve been the doormat a bunch of times and trust me from SO MUCH EXPERIENCE when I was younger: even though romantic comedies might tell us otherwise, the doormat never finishes first and it does not pay to be persistent and/or put up with bad behavior, even if the bad behavior is just indifference. (You deserve better than indifference… write that down on a post-it if you need to!!!)
Here’s an insignificant but still teachable moment:
I got ghosted last week. The guy and I had been messaging for a while on Hinge earlier and he dropped off. I was pleasantly surprised when maybe a month or so later he resurfaced… in my DMs. I was so impressed that he took the time to track me down (NOT HARD, this is something that took him two seconds but we always give men so much credit for something so easy) and we made plans to hang out on Friday night. Usually, I don’t make plans on Fridays but it was my only free night.
I sent a note on Thursday and asked him if we were still on and he didn’t respond. (The annoying but also awesome thing about DMs are that I could see that he’d seen it, but hadn’t bothered to respond) Is this bad behavior? No, not really? It’s bad manners, but it’s more about indifference, which is usually a red flag. And on that note I will leave you with this Mark Manson piece – it’s the best and breaks things downs o simply!!!!
(And as an aside, if YOU are feeling indifferent about someone, nip that in the bud too.)
Okay I think that’s all for now. Longest post ever but I hope this was helpful!