How do you swipe your way to a second (and third, fourth,...) date?
February 26, 2018 9:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm venturing into online dating, primarily with the swipe-based apps since those seem to be de rigeur. I have an OkCupid account as well. I am making some matches that lead to first dates, but I very seldom feel enough sense of connection/attraction with anyone to want a second date (and the feeling is evidently mutual). Without the underlying support of a shared social network or activity group, how do you sense enough potential with someone to motivate arranging dates 2 through n? If you swiped your way to a successful relationship, what's your story?

If it makes a difference, I'm a gay woman in my mid-30s living in San Francisco and looking for a long-term relationship. I met my last girlfriend the old-fashioned way, in person at a professional networking event. Prior to that I had a brief fling with someone I met via OkC (so I guess that worked once for me) and before that, I was in a decade-long relationship so I did almost no dating in my 20s and early 30s. On apps like Tinder and Her in particular many profiles have only pictures and no text at all, leaving zero indication of shared interests or goals.

If the answer is that in the absence of some prior connection this is primarily a numbers game I can certainly accept that, but I wonder if I am missing something about how other people are forming a sense of attraction or potential bond when meeting through an online dating platform.
posted by 4rtemis to Human Relations (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It really is a numbers game.

I think the most important thing in terms of making a real connection is to take the risk of being entirely yourself on your dates. Don't water yourself down, act unlike yourself because you're worried about how you'll be received, or be reticent when expressing your opinions. Going on a bazillion first dates is enough of a job anyway!
posted by sevensnowflakes at 10:33 PM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think it is generally a numbers game. At the same time, though, you need to be open to feeling that spark and pursuing it when it occurs.

I met my husband through Tinder and knew on the first date that he was the person for me. I knew before then - our conversation on Tinder was totally different to my conversations with other people. It was absolutely crazy but 2 years later things are as good as ever. Before I met him I'd been on a number of dates with nice men who I had no spark with. I think we were lucky, but at the same time if it can happen to me if can happen to anyone! Hold out for that feeling!
posted by thereader at 11:20 PM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

Be really, really specific and honest about what you want in your profile. The right person will have the right reaction to that. I forced myself to write 500 words about what I wanted in a relationship, in a word document I kept for myself. Later I mined that document for material for my profile, and it delivered a person who was very close to ticking all my boxes.

Your own emotional state going in probably accounts for ~50% of what people call chemistry. So be lighthearted, lean back, laugh at yourself and the world if that's your style, share things that interest and excite you and see if you get any recognition. Ask good questions and notice how the answers make you feel. I know your question is not how to date, exactly, but I think these things are the processes through which "chemistry" often comes to be.
posted by unstrungharp at 11:50 PM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

The people with no info in their profiles are just swiping while they're bored, they're not really interested in dates. If they can't put forth a minimum effort then I don't bother with them either.

I feel like it helps to keep Tinder first dates short and casual. You are just meeting a stranger for a drink to see if they are a real person that matches whatever caught your eye to begin with. If someone shares a lot of my interests and/or is a cutie I will go on a second date unless the first date was a total disaster or there was obviously no interest. It's ok if neither of us were interested, because the first date was short and casual and not a big time investment to begin with.
posted by bradbane at 7:36 AM on February 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes, to a large extent this really is a numbers game and absent some incredible stroke of luck you will have to go on many dates with people who are perfectly nice but don't make your heart skip a beat, who ghost you, who are not your type at all, and more.

What becomes difficult in this process is holding onto your true north when it comes to your needs and wants in a relationship and not compromising on it. In the quest for love one swipe at a time it can become really easy to make excuses for or rationalize behavior that would eventually make you feel bad in a relationship. So be clear about what you want in your next relationship and communicate that. It can also be hard to open yourself up to an emotional risk, but you'll eventually need to do that if you want to connect with someone and feel sparks.

I do think dates where you can maybe share in low-stakes activity - going to a museum, game-night, lecture - are actually better than the quick coffee/drink dates. The shared activity gives you both something to talk about and oftentimes we connect with people over a shared passion so you are more likely to experience some sparks if both of you are engaged in something that interests you. Also having something else to focus on can ease the pressure to perform or feel like you're on a job interview. But obviously you risk having to spend more time with someone who could be a total dud, so there's that.

All this advice comes from a cis-straight woman who went on a first date with her partner of 4 years to a holocaust movie, so....
posted by brookeb at 9:18 AM on February 27, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have a friend who has a two-date rule: absent any real red flags on the first date, she always suggests or agrees to a second date, even if she's feeling kind of "meh" about the person. Then, if that feeling persists after two dates, she'll confidently trust her gut and break it off.

In my online dating heyday, I [mostly] adopted that rule and found it enormously helpful, if time-consuming. It's so easy to write someone off on a first encounter and then to realize, on further examination, you were wrong about them (especially if they're shy, or they're guarded, or you've been on so many first dates they're all bleeding together, or the environment is off, or whatever else...).

That rule directly led to my current [three-year] relationship, no question. Our first date was totally unremarkable - so much so that I took a full week to even remember to respond to his text asking about a second one. I honestly only even agreed because of that two-date rule. That second date was SO much better and more familiar, and I was so glad I went - without getting too cheesy, that was the moment when I realized what a special and incredible person he is.

I also concur with the numbers game advice, although I did go through a period of dating a bunch of people and allowing that "plenty of fish in the sea" feeling to sort of numb me to taking the risk of really committing to or getting excited about a specific person. If you find yourself in that mindset, I recommend you try to fight it.
posted by mosst at 10:20 AM on February 27, 2018 [6 favorites]

Social science says we only *click* with 1 in every 25-40 people in our demographic interest range. Good chemistry, like "best friend 4 lyfe I can read yr thoughts" or "omg such babe LET'S BONE!" By the time you adjust for shared values, goals and life stages, you're probably looking at a slimmer pool of 1 in 50-100 people. But this doesn't necessarily mean formal dates.. it also includes women you meet at parties, meetups, bowling league etc who you never asked out in the first place, cuz you intuitively noted their bad match flags. So! Keep at it!
posted by fritillary at 12:10 PM on February 27, 2018 [4 favorites]

you're probably looking at a slimmer pool of 1 in 50-100 people

This has also been my experience, fwiw. Numbers game, all the way.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:40 AM on March 1, 2018

Another note: as I've gotten older, I find it MUCH less likely that I'll feel an amazing connection/ chemistry with someone the first time we meet, regardless of context. Whether it's because I've gotten too jaded or less open to possibilities or just too darn tired, I don't know, but it's possible you're experiencing something like that too. So yeah, as mosst said, give people more time if you can muster any interest AT ALL in them on the first date.

Activity-like first dates don't work well for me because I connect better with people if I'm looking at them in the face; other people have the opposite experience so think about what really works better for you.
posted by metasarah at 8:57 AM on March 7, 2018

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