So, how was 2017? Did you get plenty of dates, but waste a lot of time on the wrong people? Or perhaps you weren’t getting many replies to your messages and can’t work out what went wrong? Is part of you getting a bit sick of online dating? Let’s explore some ways in which you can have better dating experiences in 2018.
- Looking objectively at the efficiency of your dating
Get yourself a notebook and a pen and let’s start by analysing your online dating data.
Make some notes on what happened in 2017.
(a) How many people did you have conversations with online?
(b) How many of those led to a first date?
(c) On how many first dates did you feel happy with how you behaved/communicated?
(d) How many of your first dates led to second dates?
(e) How many short term dating experiences (3-10 dates) did you have?
You may be looking at these statistics and feeling despondent. In terms of getting responses to messages, one study (set in the US, as almost all studies on dating are) showed that men sent 80% more messages and received two-thirds fewer messages than women. Only about 3% of the messages sent by men got responses, in contrast with roughly 6% of messages sent by women. That should help you feel better if you’re not getting many responses!
But there are lots of statistics on what kind of messages work, so you can improve your reply rate.
2018 resolution: Book an appointment with me here to find out how to get replies to your messages. Bring examples of your conversations for me to analyse.
It’s also quite normal for few conversations to lead to a first date, and few first dates to lead to a second date. I don’t have any published data on this, but experience of my clients suggests only about one in ten conversations should lead to a first date, and then one in five first dates should lead to a second date. There could be two reasons for this.
(a) You’re making basic errors on your dates. These could be to do with social skills or not understanding the unwritten rules of 21st century dating. For example, research shows leaving gaps in the conversation that are slightly too long can make people rate social interactions more negatively. You only need to watch First Dates on Channel 4 to see how very small errors in the conversation can affect the dynamic enough to make the date fail. Or you may need new photos on your online profile. You may need to book a session with me (only £40 for the first hour), come along to a workshop, or take part in my practice dates to get some help with this. Read my blog post on Preparing for a First Date as a first step. You could also ask your old dates for constructive feedback!
2018 resolution: Refine your performance on dates, by getting personalized advice.
(b) You’re not spotting the warning signs in the conversations and you’re dating people that you should have ruled out more quickly. Let’s think about this in the next section.
2018 resolution: Be more selective and arrange less first dates.
- Spotting the warning signs more quickly
There are lots of clues in the initial messages. These include: they don’t ask questions about you, their messages are sporadic, they don’t show an interest in forming a proper relationship, they have never had a long-term relationship, they talk about your appearance or sex and very little else, they don’t express any emotions, they don’t laugh at your jokes, they are self-obsessed, you don’t have any shared interests, you have very different levels of education or political views. These signs aren’t always an issue, but they could be.
Many people just aren’t that good at spotting them, especially when they’re attracted to the person or getting emotionally invested too early. You might need some help from me to read through your messages and give you an objective assessment. You can get better by reading back over the messages after it’s not worked out, and making notes on what you can now see were warning signs. It’s not an exact science, obviously, but it can help, especially if you find repeating patterns. For example, you might find you’re always messaging people who are emotionally unavailable. (See my blog post on this for more information.)
2018 resolution: Be more objective when you’re messaging online.
- Treating your fellow daters well
Online dating can make us treat people worse. It’s like a consumer experience in which we treat people as objects to browse and purchase or try out. This makes us treat them as less human. We are also affected by the way others treat us. So if people just stop messaging us with no explanation, we are more likely to do it. This is because for this new social context of online dating, there were at first no rules and we looked to others to find out what is acceptable. New social norms are being created and it’s up to us to make sure they are good ones! So let’s aim to treat people really kindly, politely and gently. It’s not that hard to say to someone “It’s been great chatting, but I don’t think you’re right for me. Good luck with finding someone!” to close down the conversation. The same goes for after a date. People are often unsure and want to keep their options open, but that’s really just cowardly and not respectful towards the other person. Be clear about what you’re looking for and it’ll be easier to decide one way or another.
2018 resolution: Treat others as you’d want to be treated and change the norms of online dating!
- Enjoying the dates more
When we’re dating, we can be too focused on finding the love of our life and not on having fun. If you tell yourself your date is probably not going to lead to another date, you can relax and just enjoy meeting a new person. There is always something new to learn from them, and a chance to imagine how it feels to be someone else. Try dating people that have interesting jobs or backgrounds that are different from you, just to learn more about them. For example, if you’re a scientist, try going on a date with an artist! For a second date, plan interesting places to visit so you enjoy the activity even if the person turns out to be wrong for you. Then you are making your cultural and social life more interesting at the same time as dating.
Often, the conversation can be less stimulating on a second or third date, because you’ve got past the novelty of meeting a new person and covered all the usual questions. I would advise buying my 140 dating questions (here) to get the conversation to a deeper level and to broaden the scope of the topics discussed. Questions range from the light-hearted and fun to the deep and penetrating!
2018 resolution: Make your dates richer experiences in their own right.
- Getting out there and meeting new people
Online dating can be soul-destroying and take up a lot of time. How healthy is it, mentally AND physically, to spend hours each evening messaging and swiping online? In 2018, spend less time online generally – stop watching You Tube, checking Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc and spend your time in social environments. Do organic dating – meeting people offline! Here’s how:
Sit in a café in a nice residential area of town where the kind of people you want to meet are likely to go. Read a book there, or work on your laptop if you have to. You never know when you might get chatting to someone interesting. They might have single friends too. Expand your social network!
Join local Facebook pages or Twitter accounts (OK, I’m contradicting my earlier advice!) to find out what’s on locally and go along, on your own if necessary. Join local book clubs, go to farmer’s markets, quiz nights, join a choir, a salsa dancing class, learn a new language or sport …..
Join lots of groups on www.meetup.com and sign up for some evenings out. Again, you might not meet anyone there for a while that you’re attracted to, but persevere. We expect everything to be instant these days because of online dating. You need to train yourself to treat new people as humans again, and take time to get to know them. Stop asking yourself if you fancy them five minutes in. People shouldn’t be divided into two groups, those you’re attracted to and those you aren’t. And people you meet might have friends ….. Get yourself invited to their social events.
There are lots of Facebook and Meetup groups for international people in London. People that have recently moved to London are great for being proactive in arranging social events and making new friends. And they often have better cultural norms for dating than British people!
Set up your own social events and ask your friends to bring along at least one single friend each.
Start speed dating again, or going along to dating evenings and singles nights. Come along to one of my workshops and meet other single people interested in the science of dating.
Join a matchmaking agency!
2018 resolution: Socialize creatively and stop thinking about whether people are attractive or not!
- Don’t making finding a new partner your goal
It’s much better for your sense of self-worth if you focus on themes like your personal development, making a difference in society, getting a better work-life balance, taking up new hobbies or activities, making new friends, getting fitter. Then you’ll come across as goal-oriented (which is more attractive), rather than incomplete in some way. Finding a partner could then be a welcome by-product. Becoming more content and feeling fulfilled are attractive qualities. Being stressed and always moaning about work are not!
Focusing on others rather than yourself is also psychologically healthy and attractive. Why not take up some voluntary work, join a political party or organise some fundraising events? You are likely to meet people similar to you in terms of values and goals, and perhaps they will be nicer people too! People rate similar political views as highly as they do similar educational levels.
2018 resolution: Be content and more focused on others, and let dating happen naturally!
Improving your dating life in 2018 won’t just happen without some effort from you. Invest now in one of the most important areas of your life.
Contact me here to book a consultation or sign up to my mailing list to find out about my workshops and get early bird rates.
 Lin, K. H., & Lundquist, J. (2013). Mate selection in cyberspace: The intersection of race, gender, and education. American Journal of Sociology, 119(1), 183-215.
 N. Koudenburg. (in press). Regulating Shared Reality with Micro-Dynamics in the Form of Conversation. Current Opinion in Psychology.
 I recommend Canvas & Cream in Forest Hill.
 Huber, G. A., & Malhotra, N. (2017). Political homophily in social relationships: Evidence from online dating behavior. The Journal of Politics, 79(1), 269-283.