This week, we turn to dating with a question from one of our readers: Dear Maxwells, I’m a woman in my 30s looking to find a partner. Do you recommend dating apps or even more specifically matchmaking services to help me?
Instead of answering yes or no, we thought the best way to answer this question was to list the pros and cons.
Advantage #1: Why not?
We view these platforms and services as nothing more than technology, and as we all know, technology has its benefits. We use email, GPS, text messaging, Zoom, etc., to help us make our lives more efficient and, for the most part, easier. If you have limited time to go out and meet people, or if you are more introverted, dating services increase the number of metaphorical doors you can knock on, which increases the number of doors that can open for you. Also, to some extent, dating apps can help filter people by interests, age, values, and obviously attractiveness. Why not increase your chances of meeting someone and use the benefits of technology to help you achieve this?
Benefit #2: They work (for a lot of people)
We have dear friends who met and fell in love on dating apps. We have customers who meet and fall in love with dating apps. If you Google “dating app success stories” you will find countless examples of people who have married the love of their life through dating services. In short, the technology works. Email is faster than regular mail. GPS is faster than looking at an old-fashioned map. Dating services can and should connect people with similar interests, values and worldviews. They don’t work for everyone, but they certainly work for a lot of people.
Pro #3 This is a great workout!
Being good at dating is a skill. Building chemistry, getting to know and understanding someone’s values, interests, red flags, and goals for the future—as well as being able to share your own—requires communication and vulnerability. Doing all of this in a way that builds attraction and quickly weeds out unsuitable people is a skill that takes practice. Being good at it comes in handy when you’re face to face with someone you’d really like to have a connection with. So why not get good? Plus, when you’re good at it, dating can be fun, sexy, and enjoyable compared to all the negative things that are often associated with it. Finally, the more you practice, the more comfortable you become with things like rejection (giving or receiving).
Con #1 Too Many Options
One of the biggest drawbacks of dating services is decision fatigue. Each new profile brings with it the fantasy of the perfect someone, and the perfect someone is indeed a fantasy. The narrative you can create around someone’s profile can always be a tricky juxtaposition with the person you’re currently dating, whether it’s one person or seven people. For example, you could be on a first date with someone, and during the time it takes to go to the bathroom, you could have swiped up on 13 other profiles. This person may have better hair than the person you’re with, this person may have a better education, the next person that catches your eye, hmmmm, she looks fun – and look, she’s windsurfing on his photo and you love windsurfing. And so on. This rabbit hole never ends.
Con #2 You confuse technology with real life
People can take things about apps very personally. Being ghosted on an app can feel like being ghosted in real life. Someone who doesn’t match you or who doesn’t go back can feel like a real rejection of who you are as a person rather than who they really are: someone who doesn’t like not your photos or your profile – which is not an accurate representation of who you are or how high you show in the world. For these services to work, you have to be tough: think of them as lead-generating systems and nothing more. Nothing is real until you meet someone in person. And if you can’t handle your mind that way and take it too personally, then these services aren’t for you.
Anyway, what is most important to attract love is not whether you use these services or not, but rather that you are in the game. Being “in the game” means that you are actively working on yourself to be your best version in order to attract the best partner. It means getting out there in the world, physically, mentally and spiritually. It means wanting love and putting actions behind your desires. For example, do you play sports? Are you up to something in your life and career? Do you talk openly about who you are and what you want to the people you meet? These are some of the most important things you can do to attract a partner, and if you do these things, you’ll get the right person, whether or not you use these services. Who you are matters to what you do. Success in relationships – like everything in life, really – starts from within.
Sally and Zach Maxwell, owners of Max-Well Coaching, combine nearly three decades of coaching experience and two decades together in marriage. Email your questions to [email protected]