Dating apps don't have to drain you. Here are 7 ways to make them suck less, according to a therapist.
- Therapist Alexandra Solomon shared strategies for frustrated singles who want to enjoy dating again.
- Each of Solomon's tips is completely free and easy to complete, using mindset shifts.
- She suggested singles enlist their friends' help, set swiping limits, and rethink the purpose of a first date.
If the thought of opening a dating app makes you want to scream and throw your phone out of the window, you're not alone.
One in five singles said that dating apps have negatively impacted their dating lives, while six in 10 singles say dating apps had no effect whatsoever on their romantic lives, according to 2022 data from Pew Research Center.
Plenty of singles have also written about their personal decisions to delete dating apps for good, citing lackluster or downright rude interactions with other singles, an unimpressive dating pool, and too much focus on casual sex.
But dating apps don't have to be the bane of your existence, according to therapist Alexandra Solomon, the creator and host of the weekly podcast "Reimagining Love." On the most recent episode, Solomon explained how to make dating apps feel like an empowering tool instead of a drag.
She shared her favorite strategies — based on her research, her experience counseling clients, and her Instagram followers' suggestions — to help singles reframe their mindsets so dating can feel satisfying, not draining.
She said that her strategies aren't meant to make you more physically attractive or guarantee you'll find the person you should marry. Rather they're there to "take care of you as you use the apps" so you can preserve your mental and emotional health.
The best part? All of Solomon's tips cost nothing and take hardly any time:
Remember that real-life connection exists
Solomon said not to limit your opportunities for meeting people. Sure, you can meet them via an app, but you can also meet them through friends, at a sporting event, or through a local special interest group. If you remember that you can meet someone great out in the world, you won't feel dependent on an app, she said.
Flex your "small-talk muscles" whenever you can
Showing curiosity about those around you, whether it's your barista or a dog-park regular, can help you get into a better headspace for dating, Solomon said. She said that engaging in small talk is a low-stakes way to remind us that we are interesting people and are interested in others.
Get clear on your "why"
It doesn't matter if you're seeking long-term romance or casual fun, but asking yourself, "Why am I going on this date?" can prevent clashing motivations and wasted time, Solomon said. If you really don't know why you're going on a date with a certain match, it's OK to skip it without feeling regret, she said.
Enlist friends to proof your dating profile
Solomon said this is a "micro-practice in vulnerability" and also a way for your closest pals to hype you up for dates. She said doing this is a reminder you don't have to go through dating alone. Plus, they could see you and your profile responses in a way you didn't even consider.
Put your swiping under stimulus control
Limiting your swiping to certain times and environments can prevent feeling overwhelmed or the burnout that many singles experience, Solomon said. If you allow yourself to swipe reflexively, the act, and the dates that follow, will lose meaning to you, she said.
Meet in real life as soon as you can
If you get stuck in screen-based interactions, you'll lose opportunities for vulnerability and real connection, which are the cornerstones of a healthy relationship, Solomon said. Going on a date as soon as you feel safe, or setting up a phone call, can prevent getting stuck, she said.
Reframe your idea of a 'good' first date
According to Solomon the only parameter for a good first date is the feeling you're open to a second date with that person. She said that the idea that a first date should be filled with butterflies or instant chemistry is a media-fueled myth that can lead to disappointment after disappointment. Instead, Solomon suggested that singles trust that curiosity can be enough for a successful for date and remind themselves that attraction can build over time.