With today’s plethora of social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) combined with dating apps (Bumble, Tinder, Match, Grindr, etc.)—meeting that special someone should be easier than ever, right?
In fact, experts are finding that having so many options can actually make it more difficult. Thanks to social media, we can see and learn too much, too soon—leaving us feeling overwhelmed with uncertainty, anxiety, and loneliness. That’s because with just a few screen taps, we now have instant access to:
- A romantic interest’s entire relationship history via old pictures and posts (talk about overload!)
- A potential partner’s social/political/religious beliefs—things that, over time, could have been revealed in contextual conversation
- “Oversharing” (a crush posting scantily clothed selfies, divorce rants, custody wars, etc. – anything that show a person’s less attractive side and may cause you to form a snap judgment against an otherwise decent person)
And let’s not forget we also have access to profiles and pictures of thousands of other singles who are “younger, more attractive, and more successful” than we believe we are, possibly leaving us feeling “less than.”
Of course, it’s not all grim. Social media can be a time and frustration saver—allowing us to weed out fairly quickly someone who simply isn’t going to be a good fit for us. It provides insight into a love interest’s likes, dislikes, humor, interests, and hobbies—which are all great conversation starters (if you don’t mind admitting that you’ve “Facebook stalked” them, as it’s now commonly called). The key is, remembering that what we see online is only part of the truth; it isn’t the whole story. Some people are very comfortable revealing more about themselves online than they would in person (at least initially); still, it’s no substitute for getting to know someone face to face, over time, building trust and good communication.
A few things to keep in mind if you’re either just getting started on online dating platforms (or, if you’ve been on them for a while but find yourself very frustrated by them):
- It’s important to know what you’re looking for (long-term relationship, casual dating, friendship, hook-up, etc.) and find the right platform for your goals.
- You’ll need to manage your expectations in a realistic way. Rejection can look a lot different online than when in person.
- Communication is going to be very different; don’t expect flowery, romantic prose. Instead, it tends to be more direct, faster moving, and more to the point.
People have been meeting and falling in love for thousands of years without social media. Don’t give it more value than the person in whom you’re interested. You actually DON’T have to post pictures of the two of you on a date for the date to be enjoyable. You CAN put your phone away while you’re with them and hopefully, she or he will do the same. Focus instead on your conversation and enjoying the moment. See if it doesn’t make a positive difference.