Pokemon Go has taken the streets with a wind storm attack. College students are walking into sign post, banking executives are shouting in Starbucks as they catch a Pidgey, and grandparents are just as confused as they were 15 years ago. Pokemon Go brilliantly enables you to catch virtual Pokemon in the real world.
As you walk around your local city, you have the opportunity to capture as many Pokemon as you can. If you happen to stumble upon one of the "wild" creatures, you can swipe up to throw the famous white and red ball to add this new creature to your collection of Pokemon.
While walking the streets of Seattle, I cannot help but notice people standing in the strangest of places flicking their screen. Throwing virtual balls at dumpsters, Starbucks baristas, and Uber drivers.
The craze reminds me of the time Tinder took the dating world by swipe. College students swiping into parked cars, banking executives attempt to make their bio line actually interesting, and grandparents are pressuring, "Did you meet your husband yet? I want grandkids."
The problem with both the Pokemon and Tinder model is the collection mindset. The collection mindset states that we will be more successful with a larger collection. The more Pokemon you capture, the closer you are to becoming a Pokemon Master. The more matches you have on Tinder the more dates you'll get, in theory.
While this mindset can make us more successful, it often leaves us paralyzed. We can never relax and enjoy what we already achieved. At all times we have to be alert for the next big opportunity. The next Pokemon to capture. The next "soulmate" match.
Collecting without connecting is the disease of modern dating.
More than 25% of people who date online, stay online. The truth is we never know if Mr. or Mrs. Right is the right one on the screen. They become the right person when you meet them in person. It requires you to connect with them. To discover more about them over time. To be vulnerable and ask them out. To show you are human being with flaws. Not some well crafted walking Facebook profile.
More than a quarter of Americans report being lonely. Loneliness seems to come not from being alone, but from a lack of intimacy. Intimacy is only possible between two people.
I want to encourage you to stop collecting matches and start connecting. Below are five tips I've given to people struggling to start a conversation on a dating app.
1) Say more than "hi," "hey," or "what's up."
As a man, my online dating inboxes are full of messages that say, hi and hey. That's it. I find it ironic that women tell me that they want me to create a message that shows I noticed something in their profile, but yet most women don't do this for me. If this is you, follow the steps below.
2) Find something in their profile to talk about.
Ask yourself, is there anything on their profile that sticks out? Do they have a dog? Do they have a picture with a boat in the background? Do they mention salsa dancing in their bio?
Pictures are worth 1,000 words. They give us insight into a person's values and life choices. The bios and questions people answer offer us even deeper insight. Take a moment to find a few things. It will make your first message that much more meaningful and noticeable. Be thoughtful and use this information to start a conversation.
3) Turn a question into a statement.
The first conversation is full of the basics. Where are you from? What do you do? And so on. When asking these questions, it can feel like someone is interviewing for your heart. No one likes interviews. So mix it up.
Turn a few questions into statements. Turn "where are you from" to "I bet you're from Florida, you work with dolphins huh?" This is what psychics do. They make broad statements that use the confirmation bias to make it seem like they know you. Most of the time you will get this wrong, but it will get a laugh and start the conversation. Which is what you want.
4) Use storytelling.
For example: "Your first picture reminds me of that time I lived in Mexico and took a salsa class in Spanish. I had no idea what they were saying... Where was your picture taken?" All of us have unique stories and life experiences that others find interesting. What are some of yours?
5) Use an app that facilitates conversation.
One of the advantages of ever evolving dating apps is the solving of pain points. A dating app that I love facilitates the conversation for me. They use statements and questions in their Question of The Day to help you connect with someone.
The app is designed to show you more about a person than their pictures and Twitter size bio. To show you commonalities that you'd find attractive.
Imagine answering questions like, "Describe your job as if you were talking to a 5 year old." Way more fun than saying, "hi, what do you do for work?"
Even the tagline - "Dating apps make you sell yourself, Siren let's you be yourself," - proves the counter-culture they are creating with their community focused on connecting in the real world. I highly recommend checking out Siren if you are seeking meaningful relationships.
While Pokemon fills the streets and singles continue to collect matches, remind yourself that you don't have to match 'em all. You just need capture one to start love.