o matter what Tinder and Bumble and Grindr might have you believe, finding your perfect partner online is not as simple as swiping to the next thirst-trap and finding your soulmate on any other regular weekend. 

People are messy, and thus so will their relationships be. Adding a screen to the mix, and insecurities about real-life chemistry, and you’ve got even more hidden pitfalls to navigate through. 

Online dating is difficult, there is no doubt about that. But for a lot of us, it's the only option we have to go looking for a significant other. So there has to be some way to navigate this imposing-looking jungle or relationship issues. There are, and some of them might be perfect for you-- you just have to know how to wield them.

A woman with blonde lays on her back in bed, her arm thrown over her forehead.
The most mysterious and important question to consider online.

Hookups, will they or won’t they?

No one is here to shame you if you want a hookup. If you’re upfront about this when you’re online with the person you’re talking to, good on you, you’re already better at communicating than most people are. 

There are certain apps that have more of a reputation for hookups than others, see Tinder and their page after page of shirtless pics intermixed with meme accounts, but that ambiguity hangs over every profile like a cloud. And often enough, we don’t take the initiative to clear away that picture.

If you’re really into hookups stick to that lane, and make sure you tell people that when you’re talking to them. The same goes for if you’re looking to date and possibly further a relationship with someone.

What to do about it

  • Put what you want in your bio, seriously. It might seem cheesy or forward to you but this is the best way to avoid confusion and any hurt feelings between two people. “Hookup” and “looking for a relationship” are two very different things, don’t get them twisted.
A black man sits in the opening of his green camping tent. He's looking at the phone in his hand.
Keep it in mind, that being ghosted doesn’t mean you’re uninteresting but often they want to avoid awkward situations.


Look, we’ve all done it, there’s no judgment here, but ghosting has become a freight train of unhealthy communication wreaking havoc on the online dating scene. 

It can be so easy after an awkward conversation or a date gone sour to just not talk to the person anymore. But you should at least be dissecting what went wrong for yourself, if not for you both.

Even if you do reach out after you’re not feeling super into it anymore, doesn’t mean that once you talk about what happened, you’re immediately going to go back to normal. Chances are you won’t, but at least you’ll have a clean break in the relationship instead of this weird lingering guilt.

What to do about it

  • Send a “this isn’t working” text, maybe not with that exact wording but send something. Be polite about it, no need to lay out all the reasons why the relationship has gone stale but a general “I think we should explore other options, best of luck!” can put a nice end to things. 
  • Don’t block people, unless you have to. If someone is treating you badly, block to your heart’s content but blocking because you’re embarrassed or you had a little hiccup is going to hurt some feelings. 
Two guys, one white with brown hair, the other black with curly hair sit together in a field smiling.
Time to take it off the phone and pull this date into the real world. 

The rare meet-up

Half the battle with online dating is getting yourself off the phone and out the door onto an actual date with the person you’re talking to.

It can be intimidating to switch gears from online dating to meeting in person, but it's a crucial step in the relationship that too many people often forget to take. 

Meeting in person is going to cement whether or not you two have any actual chemistry, or if you don’t. It’s a much-needed stop on the relationship checklist, yet we’re often too scared to make this leap. And sometimes when we do, it's too late, past the time that our interest in a person has been at its peak. 

What to do about it

  • Be forward and ask someone out. Easier said than done, but if you’re not doing it and they’re not doing it then this is going nowhere. Doing this early too can help out with the nerves, if you feel an immediate connection jump on it, don’t let that feeling escape.
  • Choose a casual date spot. To simmer down those pesky nerves, pick a date spot without so much meaning for your first meetup. A walk around the park is great, or coffee at Dunkin. All those dinner dates can wait for later. 
A man and a woman stand on a rooftop overlooking the city lights, their bodies are outlined in shadow.
It can feel like you need a map to get through the quagmire on online dating sometimes. 

Misleading profiles

Now every online romance isn’t like an episode of “Catfish” as entertaining and sad as that may be, but these things do happen and there is more than one way to be misleading in an online profile. 

Not only do people post fake pictures of themselves online but often they’ll lie about their hobbies or feelings too, which in a way can be even more disheartening than the physical attributes of a person.

These things are almost impossible to spot for sure online, so try no to be too hard on yourself if it ends up happening to you in any shape or form. But there are a few tips to limit the casualties on physical or emotional “catfishing” to help you spot the fakes.

What to do about it

  • Avoid profiles with just photos. These people are most likely banking on the fact that their photos are attractive enough to entice people their way, and if there’s nothing there to describe who they are then they might not be truthful. 
  • Avoid profiles with just text. The same goes for the opposite way, people looking for serious relationships often focus on the “what” in the profile rather than the “who,” words have meaning. But there’s a healthy balance to be had between pictures and information, not just one or the other. 
A closeup of a hand putting a red pin on a map.
Limiting yourself to one area can be a big difficulty for your online presence. 

Bad matches in your area

If you’re really in deep with online dating, eventually it can feel like you’re out of options with the people in your area. There are too many pictures of dudes holding fish, and not enough pictures of just dudes. 

This happens especially for those living in rural communities, where most of the people you find on the websites are somehow people you know. Which can get frustrating, really fast.

Though this might require some creative thinking on your part, in terms of logistics and how to eventually get to the person you’re talking to, you might want to expand your dating radius online.

What to do about it

  • Start off small, expand by ten to fifteen miles or so, enough to pick up people from a few different towns or cities you haven’t caught in your net yet. Once you’ve gained confidence you can expand on your distance. 
  • Don’t go crazy with distance. If you’re going to your entire dating sphere from a small town in Pennsylvania to the entirety of the eastern seaboard you might want to rethink your decision. Sure you can meet great people anywhere, but are you ready for a long-distance relationship? 
A man and woman, both black, sit on the ground looking tense. The woman has a small hourglass in her hand.
You deserve better than who you think you're settling for.

Settle culture

There are two sides to settle culture. One, that you have to date a certain amount of people in your life before you finally find the one. Two, that eventually you just need to quote-unquote “settle” for the person you’re with because you’re not going to get any better.

This goes the same way for dating online. With all the people you see and interact with it’s easy to just accept that the “decently okay” person you’re talking to right now is the one you should pursue.

You absolutely do not have to do that, in fact, you shouldn’t. If your friend is telling you that this person you’re talking to isn’t worth your time, don’t brush them off, think about it. Are you having a great time texting them? Do you want to see them in person? Are those butterflies in your stomach because you’re excited or annoyed?

What to do about it

  • Disengage with the “frog prince” concept. No, you don’t have to date a bunch of duds before you find your perfect person. Don’t date these people at all, if you don’t like them break it off clean and simple. You and the person you’re settling for don’t deserve to be stuck in this subpar relationship. 
A group of people sit together for a picnic on a rooftop.
It’s time to stop endlessly scrolling through your dating apps.

Too many choices 

This ties into the act of “swiping,” the problem with the act is that it's endless. Sure some apps like Hinge limit you to ten swipes a day to further foster “relationship possibilities,” but that doesn’t mean anything when you can just open Bumble and continue your search there.

There are too many people on dating apps, and too many apps to choose from and so it's very easy to get overwhelmed with what feels like a nauseating feast of options for your relationship. What it's doing to you, is making you picky. 

Because here’s the thing, most of these people you’re not going to swipe on anyway. There’s always a picture or a blurb or something about this person that will turn you off when in reality you have to acknowledge that no matter who you date there is going to be something about them that bothers you.

What to do about it

  • Relationships come with compromise, no matter if you meet them online or not. So if you’re online, give a person you’re thinking of swiping on over some small thing the benefit of the doubt, you guys might be able to work on it.
  • Dating online isn’t an all you can eat buffet, in fact doing it like that is unhealthy. There are people you do not need to be talking to on dating apps and there are people that you should give a chance. Take a step back from the constant swiping and try to focus on a couple of people at a time. 
Two white women stand on a plateau kissing.
You may not find your soulmate online, but you can sure give it a good try. 

This is going to take time. Sadly, there is not a magic button you can press to provide you with a ready-made partner for your cuddling pleasure. That’s what pillows are for. 

Don’t be disheartened if things don’t immediately go your way with someone you like online, you can work through these issues just as you would with someone you meet in real life, it's just a matter of establishing healthy dating mechanisms with your apps. 

Do you have any online dating tips? Be sure to comment below and like and share!

Feb 4, 2021