Smartphones can do nearly everything today, from helping you earn extra cash to providing your own virtual personal assistant. Believe it or not, if you’re looking for love this Valentine's day, your smartphone can help you with that, too. Online dating today is a world apart from what it was ten years ago. Many dating sites are free, user-friendly, and widely used, so you automatically have access to far more potential dates than you would in a bar, or anywhere else you may have tried to meet someone in the past. Many of the most popular dating sites, like Tinder, Zoosk, and Match.com, have corresponding apps you can install right on your smartphone. Here are the basics of what you need to know before you find a date on your phone.
- It really works, and data proves it
More people are meeting online than ever before, and finding real, lasting relationships. A recent study of 19,000 people who got married between 2005 and 2012 showed that a full 35% of them found each other online, and almost half of those couples found each other via an online dating site. Andrea Catherwood, famed BBC Radio host, interviewed many singles who had tried online dating to gauge their experiences. The response was incredibly positive, and Catherwood explains, “Many people from their 20s to their 60’s felt that they’d met people they wouldn’t otherwise have and interest online can boost self-esteem even if it doesn’t develop into a relationship.”
A 2013 Pew poll found that “42 percent of Americans knew someone who used online dating, and 29% knew someone that had met a spouse or long term partner that way.” This trend only seems to be on the rise.
- You can dip a toe into the pool before diving in
If you're shy, or tend to get nervous when you first meet someone, dating apps on your smartphone allow you to communicate on your own terms while you get to know someone. Take your time getting to know people, and don't feel pressured to make things romantic right away. If you're not the type to approach someone at a party, it can be an incredible relief to have time to decide what you want to say, and then simply delete it if you want. Also, since the whole process initially takes place on your phone, you can simply work it into your schedule however you like. You can read or respond to messages on the train to work in the morning, or after a glass of wine at night.
- You can (and should) make your profile stand out
With many dating apps boasting millions of users, you'll have a lot of photos and profiles to sort through, and this is okay. The first thing a potential date will check out is your profile picture – again, this is not a reason to panic! Most smartphones have a decent, if not really good, camera built in, as well as flattering filters. Use them! Shoot from the shoulder and twist your body toward the screen, then crop out the arm holding your phone. No need for a selfie stick! Avoid harsh, bright lighting. Think of a happy memory or hilarious joke just before you click so you'll have the most natural smile. The more happy you look, the more attractive you'll seem, and people can spot a fake from a mile away.
- The real test begins when you meet IRL
A potential date's profile, while an important introduction, can really only tell you so much about a person. The most important things can only be discovered when you're finally sitting face to face. For example, what difference does it make how much his profile claims he volunteers at the homeless shelter, if he's rude to the waitress? Take time to note the tone of voice she uses to speak to you, how much he or she makes eye contact, if he laughs easily, if she spends most of the time talking about herself, or, worse, most of the time using her phone.
- Be smart and safe!
Even with the growing success of dating apps, there are still going to be some creeps. Take some proper precautions when meeting someone from an online dating site, because after all, you don’t really know who they are. Obviously, you'll want to meet up in a public place, but be sure it isn't a place in your neighborhood, or very close to where you live. Never meet at someone's home or have your date pick you up at your home. Tell a friend where you're going, and give them your date's phone number, as well as any other info you have on them. Face the whole process with an attitude of confidence and fun (while still being cautious and safe), and it will open up a world of new possibilities, one of which may end up being your Valentine, your special someone, or maybe just the hilariously bad date story you tell to your true love to come.
Author: Rae Avery