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3 Ways Daters Signal Commitment Today

Deleting their dating apps is a good start.

Key points

  • An abundance of perceived dating options results in daters searching more and feeling less satisfied.
  • Perception of success on dating apps is positively associated with an intention to commit infidelity.
  • Daters should lead with indirect signals of commitment after a period of initial courting.
Cottonbro / Pexels
Cottonbro / Pexels

While marriage may be less in vogue these days, a majority of daters are still interested in long-term relationships.

The growing problem, instigated by online dating and accelerated by dating apps, is ambiguity around commitment.

In fact, early findings suggest that an abundance of perceived dating options results in daters searching more and feeling less satisfied with their choices when compared to those with fewer options (D’Angelo & Toma, 2017; Wu & Chiou, 2009).

Worse yet, an alarming 2020 study suggests that the perception of success on dating apps was positively associated with an intention to commit infidelity. In other words, people keep swiping on the apps even after they start a relationship (Alexopoulos et al., 2020).

Signaling an interest in or intention of commitment is more important now than ever before, given this often exaggerated perception of endless options.

The timing of these signals is important, starting with the very first date.

For instance, conversations on the first few dates with someone recently out of a long-term relationship should focus on the present. Future-oriented conversations, especially those that hint at dates more than a week or two in the future would probably be premature.

Another common misstep for new and younger daters is a rush to label a relationship. If you’ve watched Netflix’s 2-seasons of “Love on the Spectrum”, you’d see clear examples of this (with mostly male cast members) asking women on a second date, “Will you be my girlfriend?”

That’s way too soon.

Instead, I recommend leading with indirect strategies early in a dating relationship and only after moving out of an initial courting period. Here are three strategies that can help.

Strategy 1: Delete the apps

After two or three months, or at least 8 to 12 dates, decide whether you want to continue to date. If so, and you’re on a dating app, delete it.

Don’t pause your profiles. Don’t snooze the apps. Delete them!

Deleting the dating app neutralizes a distraction at an important time when focusing one’s emotional resources is key to deepening a budding attachment.

When you delete the apps, you can mention it to the person you’re dating: “Just wanted you to know, I deleted my dating apps because I’m having a lot of fun with you.”

If you’re not on the apps and have been more traditionally dating, you could also mention that you’re not dating anyone else at the moment. This strategy communicates how much you value the person without asking anything in return, signaling your openness to exclusivity in the future.

Strategy 2: Plan a trip

If you’ve been together for more than four months and can envision yourselves together for at least another four months, plan a weekend getaway or something else fun a month or two out. Most dating relationships last only three or four months, so if you’re feeling confident in your connection and are thinking about the future, you can start planning for it. This is another indirect signal of commitment to the person you’re dating.

Strategy 3: Talk it out

Directly ask the person you’re dating what they think and feel about the relationship. Recent studies of even younger, less experienced daters affirm that these conversations typically occur when the risk of rejection seems the lowest (Knopp et al., 2020). Risk of rejection is reduced when preceded by indirect signals. Also, evidence suggests that couples who desire commitment tend to be open to sharing their level of interest when prompted by their dating partner (Tan et al., 2020).

Asking these questions allows the person you’re dating to share what they’re comfortable revealing to you with far less risk, given you’ll be able to potentially temper your disclosures to them based on their response.

Whether signaling commitment indirectly or directly in dating, any clear communication of your intentions and desire to deepen the relationship will set you apart from the unclear, uncertain, and noncommittal crowd.

It will also help you make better decisions about pursuing a relationship or going your separate ways if intentions don’t align or if interest in commitment is mismatched.

In the often confusing and ambiguous nature of new relationships, clear communication can be refreshing, illustrate confidence, and set the foundation for a strong relationship where vulnerability is valued and even rewarded.

Facebook image: Personal Belongings/Shutterstock


Alexopoulos, C., Timmermans, E., & McNallie, J. (2020). Swiping more, committing less: Unraveling the links among dating app use, dating app success, and intention to commit infidelity. Computers in Human Behavior, 102, 172-180.

D’Angelo, J.D. & Toma, C.L. (2017). There are plenty of fish in the sea: the effects of choice overload and reversibility on online daters’ satisfaction with selected partners. Media Psychology, 20(1): 1–27.

Knopp, K., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2020). “Defining the relationship” in adolescent and young adult romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 37(7), 2078-2097.

Tan, K., Agnew, C. R., & Hadden, B. W. (2020). Seeking and ensuring interdependence: Desiring commitment and the strategic initiation and maintenance of close relationships. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 46(1), 36-50.

Wu, P.L. & Chiou, W.B. (2009). More options lead to more searching and worse choices in finding partners for romantic relationships online: an experimental study. Cyber Psychology & Behavior 12(3): 315–318.

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