By Tiger Devore, Ph.D.
Out in the dating scene and got your profile up on one of the many dating sites? It may be time for you consider that you are out of touch with the current culture of dating. If you go to a singles bar, you may notice that many of the patrons are looking at their phones. They may be checking email (if they have a job), but it’s more likely they are checking out a dating app on their phone to see who is available to them. These apps have a photo of the person who is putting him or herself out as available, and may include a profile, information about who they are and what they like. One can swipe right or left to vote yes or no for attracted to or not on apps like Tinder, which is a common and efficient service for this new kind of speed dating. If your attractions match the attractions of the person being viewed, then you will have access to exchange text messages and may decide to meet after a bit of chatting through the app. Therapists and social scientists have predicted the apocalypse in dating and mating as being heralded by these apps, but they are here to stay. If you are single, apps are bound to become part of your dating repertoire.
Yes, your profile photo is important since it is all your potential partners will see before they swipe yes or no. It had better be good, and it had better be recent. Misrepresentation of your actual appearance is a major faux pas in this digital culture. Many of your fellow dating app users will ask for Skype or FaceTime meetings to see if you are real before they actually meet you, so you will be shamed if you don’t live up to your profile pic. Profile pics can be anything from a simple selfie to a well-lit photo of your body in a swimsuit, so think about what you want to advertise to your dating population. Do you want to represent yourself as a distinguished businessperson, someone who travels to foreign capitals, a person who is passionate about fill-in-the-blank (such as horses or cats or dogs or children) or a gym rat (with the body to show off)? All of these choices can change whom you connect with on the basis of the appeal they are looking for and can judge within a few seconds of looking at your photo.
You do need to put effort into writing your profile and including information about yourself that you hope will guide a potential mate your way. While that effort will occasionally make a difference, studies show that no matter how compatible two people may be, if the attraction isn’t there the relationship will not go very far.
These apps can become addictive, as exciting as a video game and sexually titillating in themselves. You can approach people on the app that you might never approach in person, and take the chance of them being interested in you, without fear of the sting of rejection that might be felt when refused in person. This digital culture has a language all its own, and it takes getting used to some of the abbreviations that you will encounter. As with all things digital, if you are really confused, ask someone a generation or two younger than you to explain it. Still, it is worth the effort and you might find love this way.
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