Dating in the Age of Social Media and App Culture

Robert Sullivan, MHC

Dating has become increasingly more complex in the age of social media and dating app culture. Although these different technological platforms allow for more opportunity for cultivating connection, they also add a new set of issues to the mix. Below are a few tips for making the most out of dating in the current culture. 

1. Don’t get too caught up looking for “the one.” 

Putting the expectation of finding the one and only person for you can be limiting throughout the dating process. It puts a set of standards on the other person that is difficult to live up to, despite how great they may be. You aren’t committing to a lifetime with someone when you go on a date, so try to be present and just enjoy the experience! 

2. Try to meet in person as soon as possible. 

Although it can be nice to get to know someone in conversation a little bit before meeting them, it could also be limiting to the connection if it is dragged out too long. In dating app culture, this also seems to be a way for people to avoid true intimacy and stay safer behind a screen. Which brings us to number three....

3. Don’t “ghost”.  And if you get “ghosted”, try not to take it personally. 

I call ghosting “the disappearing act”. Essentially that’s what it is- building a connection with someone through communication and then abruptly cutting it off with no explanation. This can be really confusing and hurtful for the ghosted. People appreciate the honesty and closure of a conversation, even if you aren’t interested in pursuing anything further with them. 

If this does happen to you, try not to take it personally. It is almost always about what is going on for the person doing the ghosting. The disappearing act is an easy way for someone to avoid uncomfortable emotional “stuff” that they aren’t ready to face. Dating apps and social media make it easy to cut someone off without having to face them and move on to another connection. Although this is harsh and problematic, it is not about you. 

4. Don’t engage in “the juggling act”. 

The juggling act is a common practice in dating app culture where a person is maintaining multiple connections at the same time. Putting your feelers out there and talking to a few people is fine. But when it gets to a point that you mix up the people you are talking to or you are scheduling back-to-back dates, the possibility for a real connection with one of those people decreases. If you are enjoying someone’s conversation or company, try to be fully present in that connection in order to get the most out of it. 

5. (Most important!!!) Be yourself. 

It is so tempting to try and portray a very particular image of ourselves on social media or dating apps. This of course bleeds into actual dates, where we feel we need to then keep up the image that the person sitting across from us bought into. Not only can this be felt by the other person and stifle authentic connection, but it is also exhausting for you. Not being able to feel like yourself can make dating miserable. There is only one you- and there is true magic in that. Let the person you are dating see it!