swiping on dating apps might be the problem

There is No Right Swipe in the Real World: From Date to Lover

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Swiping is not the enemy,
but don’t forget your long-term goals.

When a man is in a healthy relationship his entire body becomes energized. When a couple’s sexual appetite is being satiated, a lot of new energy and optimism is generated. What most of us are looking for is a place to call home, a person to call home, a lover to curl up with and be warmed by touch. It goes way beyond sex, but often sex is one of those relationship rubricks that is important to sort out. What do you want to do? Would you like to do it now? If we’re both too tired can we tease out a future liaison goal between us?

Men often get the wrap of being unfaithful mates due to our high hormonal needs for sex. While the arousal response appears to be easier for men, I don’t believe that we are any more prone to wander our daily path in search of sexual conquests. If, on the other hand, we are not in a relationship, or if the relationship has gone frigid, there’s an entirely different hunger that we feel in our physical bodies. When I am not in a relationship I ache for touch. I may identify my love language as touch, but I think it’s more fundamental than psychology.

Online Dating is Training Us

As I search through the online jungle of Tinder, Bumble, OK Cupid, and Match.com, I was more like an unhappy lion, hungry, sad, and predatory. I scanned the various online herds for potential prey. I wrote my profile as gently as I could. I had phrases like, “Not looking to rush into things, just start out as friends,” and “Let’s meet for coffee and see there’s a spark between us.” The language going on in my animal brain was “I’m going to die if I don’t find someone to be with. In my mind, this “be with” was a long-term relationship. I even put that in my dating profiles as often as I could without seeming obsessed. But we all know, a long-term relationship is a long way from a couple of dates.

As I flicked through hundreds of women I began to notice several things about the instincts that were running my search.

  • I was repelled by women who held drinks in every single photo
  • I was flexible with hair/eye color and body type
  • I was looking for something besides pretty
  • I leaned towards darker skin and hair types
  • I was attracted to thin and athletic women
  • I was also intrigued by women of all shapes if I got a sense of joy from at least one of their photographs
  • I was afraid of women who were too beautiful
  • I was deeply interested in a woman’s ability to say what she was looking for in a relationship
  • I was attracted to women who showed a passion for something (a sport, a creative talent, a career)

And the number one thing I was looking for in a woman’s online dating profile was: expressions of inner happiness

As I swiped and hide hundreds of women I began to see how it was more like a game than real life. Most of us were online seeking a partner. Our goals for that partnership could vary widely. And somehow, the mere act of opening my Bumble account when someone had liked me, was like getting a quick hit of joy (dopamine). And that high became something I got addicted to. The game. The hunt. The chase. And, in the case of online dating, the letdown. Yes there were hundreds of women to browse through, but after weeks of swiping and flirting my results, my successful negotiation to secure a “hello date,” were frustrating.

What Did I Learn From All That Swiping?

I began to call my swiping adventure the Twitch Jungle. Prowling through the sea of “available women in my area” I got into “twitch mode.” There were so many profiles to view on the four sites that I had to become more efficient. I let my lion-instincts take over. Here is how my list above drove my quest for a partner.

  • Drink in hand – nope
  • Glamour shot beauty – nope
  • Sporting activities in profile or photos – yep
  • Too fit, obsessive language about working out – nope
  • Too much makeup or hairspray – nope
  • Killer smile – yep
  • Profile mentions one of my passions – yep
  • Profile mentions “happy hour” – nope
  • Radiates joy from her eyes – yep
  • Tennis – yep plus!

All that hunting was exhausting, but it paid off. I was able to quell the hundreds to the tens and then begin the direct conversation via messaging and eventually a phone call. And here the challenge was exchanging enough information to get a sense of the compatibility and then asking for the meetup. Would it be at a Starbucks, a local wine bar, or on the running trail? All of these venues have their pros and cons. I became pretty good at letting the woman give the first “tell” on her preference. For example, I might ask, “Perhaps we should meet face-to-face for a tasty beverage of your choice.” This allowed them to follow up with their own first date preference.

One More Touch Before We Go

As I began to grow weary of the “hello dates” that were obvious wastes of time, I began trying to chat on the phone before setting a date. It’s amazing what you can learn from the sound of someone’s voice and the way they listen, talk, respond.

And then, as the date was underway, I was seeking the obvious clues about our compatibility.

  • Was there chemistry?
  • Was there an interesting exchange of ideas and ambitions for the future?
  • Did we touch at any point in the date?
  • Were we both asking “what’s next?”

If we linked up on these items, then a second date would be an easy conversation and finding the “next available time” might offer some clues about the other person’s interest level.

We Can Both Lead In Our Relationship

Here’s where the real challenge begins in a relationship: both partners need to share the leadership. In my past, I’ve led too much. I’ve driven the romance, the activities, the pace. And often I overran the other person. Either there was a mismatch in desire and chemistry, or they were overwhelmed by my romantic reality distortion field.

Let’s both decide where to go in our future. Let’s both listen to what the other person wants, rather than assuming we know. And let’s get away from the swiping frenzy and into the process of building a lasting relationship. Swiping is not the enemy, but don’t forget your long-term goals. For me, it was a long-term relationship with a vibrant, honest, and active woman. All the other details are malleable.

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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See more from the Dating Again section of The Whole Parent


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Dating 2.0

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