Fritzphoto/Shutterstock
Source: Fritzphoto/Shutterstock

Online dating apps and sites are great tools for ultimately finding a partner to share your life with. However, until that happens, those who want a monogamous relationship often find the world of online dating sites and apps to be frustrating and discouraging. For many, it takes a long time and a lot of online dating before they find a long-term relationship. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take very long for the online dating world to wreak havoc on your sense of self-worth and optimism about the future. And, it doesn’t take long for it to become monotonous.

People who have been on the apps and sites for a while tend to develop a habitual way of online dating. People find a comfortable way to browse, interact, and communicate. Some people wait to be contacted instead of being the first to message someone. Others send bulk emails. Some people are very particular about what they say in a first message, and so on. People find their way of online dating, and they hope eventually something works out. But when it takes longer than expected, and they’re doing the same thing day after day (and not achieving desired results), it’s easy to give up the hope of a relationship, and even easier to lose hope that online dating will be a useful tool.

If this sounds familiar, you may want to try doing things differently before you throw in the towel on online dating. When you change various aspects of your approach to online dating, you open yourself to new information, insights and outcomes. Also, intentionally doing things differently is a way to take charge of your dating experience; it’s a way to begin a new adventure.

When you do things differently, you push yourself out of your comfort zone. It is in that place—the place that is uncomfortable, new, and scary—that you grow the most. The more you grow and heal, and the more self-aware you become, the more ready you’ll be when a good match comes along (and the sooner you’ll know when an incompatible fit has shown up).

Doing things differently will aid in your journey toward finding a loving partner and a deep connection. It might also make dating more fun, or at the very least more worthwhile than it may seem if you’ve been doing it for a while.

The following offers a variety of ideas for ways to approach online dating differently than what you’re used to:

1. Be intentional. If you’re used to swiping through tons of matches without giving them much thought, or, if you usually copy/paste emails to whoever pops up as an option without much consideration for who you’re opening connections with, try being more intentional about who you go for. Set aside a period of time each day, during which you slow down and thoughtfully look through profiles. Pay attention to what you’re drawn to, if anything, about a potential match; notice what, if anything, you’re interested in knowing more about. If you find someone that you’re interested in getting to know, send them a message. If you don’t, try again the next day. Try adding a period of intentionality to your online dating process, and see what happens when you mix up your approach.

2. Have a range of goals. If your only measure of dating success is getting another date or being in a new relationship, you may feel like a failure until all the stars in the universe align, and you get into a new relationship. There is nothing wrong with having a relationship be one of your goals. But, adding additional meaningful goals that you can reach along the way will give you reasons to continue in the dating process until you reach that big end goal. Other goals could be anything from trying a new restaurant, to trying to be more authentic than you’re currently comfortable with, to seeking to learn something new about yourself.

3. Change your reaction to disappointments. Instead of beating yourself up when you feel disappointed or hopeless, use those opportunities to give yourself the most love you possibly can. Treat yourself as though you are your own best friend, and take care of yourself with kindness and supportive thoughts. The more self-love and self-acceptance you cultivate for yourself, the more likely you are to choose a partner who is kind and loving to you too. After all, if you refuse to treat yourself unkindly, you are less likely to allow others to do so.

4. Go on different kinds of dates. For many, dating is a chore. If you hate dating, it makes the road to a relationship feel much longer. Try planning dates to do things you’re interested in doing but haven’t done yet or haven’t done in a while. For example, you could check out a new restaurant, go to a museum you haven’t visited in quite some time, or go to a concert. If you’re someone who likes to meet your dates for drinks or coffee, try doing something different with them. This can help create a more beneficial experience, which may make it less torturous if you dislike dating.

5. Be less accommodating. If you tend to be more of a people pleaser, try being more vocal about what you want and need. If this is hard, start by becoming aware of what you want; notice what happens when others want something different. Do you tell yourself their ideas are better? Do you tell yourself you’d rather make the other person happy? Cultivate an awareness for your process of accommodating others, and dismissing yourself. Once you know how you dismiss yourself, you can begin to practice placing more value on your own wants and needs. Then, you can experiment with telling your dates what you want, and pushing through the discomfort that comes with stepping out of your comfort zone.

6. Try a different medium. If you’re most comfortable on dating apps, give dating websites a chance. If you’ve been on the same dating site for a while, try the apps or try different sites. If you’ve been on all the sites and used all the apps, try going to speed dating events or in-person singles events.

7. Change your dating style. If you usually date a few people at a time, try dating just one. If you usually date just one person, try dating a few people at a time. If you usually go to bars on dates, try a coffee shop or a walk in a park. If you like short dates, try being open to letting them go longer. If you have strict rules about meeting new people, break some your own rules.

Dating is a transitional time. Transitional periods tend to be the most difficult because they are literally the process of change, and change is really hard. Transitional times also tend to be the most meaningful of times, because it is in them that we struggle, grow, and learn what are often difficult and life altering lessons.

Think of online dating as a time for experimenting. Try doing things differently, and be open to whatever outcomes emerge; they will be rich with useful information for self-reflection and growth. Each date is an opportunity for you to continue evolving, and the further along you are, the more ready you’ll be when a great match comes along.

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