Relationship expert and co-host of Seven Year Switch, Charles J. Orlando, is breaking it all down when it comes to dating in a world of apps and online matchmaking. How do we sift through everything thrown our way to find the quality partner we’ve been looking for?
Trying to find a great guy in today’s dating environment is like masturbating with a cheese grater: stimulating, but you already know it’s going to hurt. And if you live in a major metropolitan area, the effects of these issues can feel
doubledtripled holy shit kill me overwhelming. The proverbial needle-in-a-haystack doesn’t even begin to describe the swipe-swipe-swipe-search-shittydate-swipe-swipe-ghosted-quit-deleteapp-waittwoweeks-downloadappagain-swipe-swipe-swipe approach to dating in today’s technology-centric world. And, let’s get honest here. Even though there are great guys out there, somehow the swipes and searches only seem to find just a few types.
There’s just no other way to say it, is there? He pings her with a message on today’s latest dating app that claimed to “find great matches for quality professionals.” [insert eye roll] Then, he waits 10 minutes and sends another message. She still hasn’t responded, so now he’s pissed. He follows his initial “Hi there. You’re cute!” with a “Fuck you, fat slut!” What. The. FUCK? Jesus… maybe she’s in the shower… or she’s a doctor in emergency surgery… or she wasn’t waiting with baited breath for Mr. I’m-Messaging-You-While-Sitting-On-The-Toilet to grace her with his presence. Or maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t want to respond. Since when does someone owe anyone anything from a “hello?”
He’s witty with his intro on Bumble. It makes her laugh, which fuels a back-and-forth convo. Then… *poof!* He vanishes. A few days later, “Hey” over text is meant to rekindle things. She’s upset, but she reengages. Another round of texting ensues. Mid-convo, he’s gone again. She sends a few texts into the void; no responses. A few more days pass, and he pings her with “Sorry, work is crazy” or “Too much shit going on… lol” or even the blame-shift of “Where’d you go the other night?” The game playing is strong with this one, and weeks later there’s still no exchange of phone numbers or plans made.
THE LOVE BOMBER
They just met, but he’s all-in in a big fucking way: texts, roses, love notes, expensive dinners, phone calls… it’s an endless assault of not only romance and effort, but also lots of long talks about “our future,” “where we will be,” and “what happens when we live together.” His behavior intensifies… until she’s busy, or doesn’t respond “correctly” to a request of his, or simply does something he doesn’t like. Then, he’s all out and she’s devalued. She tries to correct her behavior fast and if she does, he’s back! The love bombing continues… until she does something else “wrong,” and he’s out again. Pavlov’s dog ain’t got nothin’ on this kind of conditioning.
THE DICK PIC
His profile looked normal; he even posted a photo with his dog. The initial contact was cool, and he was nice. A few messages in, he types, “So, I have to show you something amazing.” She’s thinking it’s a vacation shot from somewhere awesome he’d been recently. Nope. It’s a full pic of his junk—in high-res—for her viewing pleasure. (Because THAT’S what she wanted to see 15 minutes after receiving his first message.) And then, he acts confused as to why she didn’t want to see his cock up-close-and-personal. Umm, maybe—aside from the fact that her agreeing to accept three text messages doesn’t translate as “please slather my phone screen with your penis”—she’s innocently standing in line at Starbucks, waiting for her Pumpkin Spice Latte, you forced her to provide a free full-frontal to everyone in line behind her.
THE MARRIED LIAR
A fantastic couple of dates, but he’s headed out of town for a few days. He wants to stay in touch while he’s gone. Can he text? Sure, but “Why don’t we just connect on Facebook or Instagram?” she asks. He can’t. It’s a “work thing,” and “texting is so much more personal,” he says. “Cool,” she thinks. “He just has his guard up because it’s only been a couple of dates… but he wants to stay in touch while he’s gone, so he’s into me.” A couple of days and many texts later, her best friend pings her with a random Facebook profile. It’s him. He’s on vacation… with his wife, and their two young kids.
THE STAGE FIVE CLINGER
The date starts okay. But then, right after the appetizer plates are cleared and the entrees are served he says, “You know what? I think you’re the person I’ve been looking for my whole life.” After she chokes back her second bite of a slightly underdone scallop, he continues: “I mean, you’re perfect. I can totally feel the connection. I knew it when I first saw your profile, actually. The way you were standing in that third photo—you know, the one where your hair is a little shorter than in your photo on Instagram from last February?—yeah, you just got me with that. The way you were standing… it was like you were trying to reach out to me, you know? Like, you were summoning me to find you. And here I am! Hey, have you seen The Notebook?”
LET’S GET REAL.
The challenges with finding and selecting a potential mate are a combination of two main factors: the individual’s selection process—heavily influenced by socioeconomic dynamics, past experiences in love, upbringing, and current state of life—and their sense of self-worth—which really amounts to a simple evaluation of a date/relationship by asking the question: “Is how they are treating me what I’m worth?” These two factors are not necessarily mutually exclusive, in that self-worth can be affected by outside activities and people, resulting in a poor selection process… further resulting in a reduced sense of self-worth. Rinse and repeat (as anyone who has been romantically involved with a narcissist can tell you).
If you want a different result, you have to change the pattern. And to change the pattern, you have to start with you and who. you are selecting and how you are selecting partners. It all comes back to the magical question: “Are they treating me with value?”
How to meet someone nice.
Maybe not your next person, but they might be just nice to spend time with, right? There’s no secret way to meet someone of quality or with whom you connect.
Remember, that when you’re dating, you are actually evaluating two different things: 1) Are we compatible? Which translates to: “Do we have things in common that connect us?”—values, activities, beliefs, etc.; and 2) How do they fit into my life? Which actually means: “I have a life and the way I like to do things. How will they—with some compromising—fit into that?
If you are single-and-looking, here’s my recommendation: Sign up for a class—maybe a cooking class or a dance class. Classes that are interactive provide a great environment for singles. Here’s why:
- Everyone is there to learn something new… which means they are bettering themselves, and that is the type of person you want to attract.
- Everyone starts even. No one knows more than the other, so unless someone is secretly a ringer… there’s no unfair advantage, no one puts anyone down, and everyone is in a positive place.
- You get to experience raw relationship dynamics. In active classes (like cooking, dancing, and others), people are often paired up. You can see how they handle mistakes, what their ego and confidence level are like, how they deal with learning new things, how they handle insecurity, and if they are comfortable allowing you your own space to do your thing. And while there is no guarantee that you will be partnered with someone of the opposite sex, you will see others—and interact with them.
There are good people out there. But if you put your effort into the assholes, you aren’t making space for someone of quality. And yes, you might have to face the fact that it’s not always possible to see the forest through the sleaze… but that’s the unfortunate truth when technology leads the dating process. Be patient. Watch for red flags. Let things evolve over time, and the truth of your potential compatibility will show itself.
Or, maybe put your damned phone down and look across the crowded coffee shop and introduce yourself to someone. Who knows? You might even spark a real-life human interaction!