Historically, dating has always had its challenges. (Romeo and Juliet, much?) But in the age of Tinder and Bumble, it’s arguably more challenging than ever—particularly if you’ve been logging serious smartphone time. According to psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, the problem isn’t you; it’s the way swiping can make you feel about dating. Here, the Well+Good Council member shares his best advice for staying sane while dating… and having better experiences, too.
If you are worried that Facebook and Cambridge Analytica invaded your privacy, consider for a moment what profiles, swiping, and hook-up culture have done to your dating life. Love, sex, or whatever combination of those you hope for is now dependent on an algorithm. That’s a tall order in the age of swiping left and right.
Listening to women and men talk about dating these days, I hear the same yearning for human connection that seems to have always existed. But damn, it seems hard to find. Just to be clear, I think that special someone is out there for you. I see people fall in love all the time—but you have to stay resilient.
Here are my top tips for keeping your sanity in the age of swiping.
Swipe. Message. Meet.
Online platforms are a tool for one thing: meeting people. Don’t forget this and don’t make it a big deal. You’re just meeting some new folks—what fun!
Sure, I’m a little old-school, but no profile tells you the important things like what someone smells like or if they make you laugh. Chemistry. Spark. Limerence. Totally inaccurate feelings unless you are in person.
As a psychiatrist, I worry my dating advice might not have enough game in it. But it seems that people do best when they are authentic, even blunt. Everyone fears there is some super-complex game going on that is secretly coded in text frequency and emoji choice. Not true, in my experience. The two most attractive qualities are a love of fun and a willingness to communicate directly.
Enjoy your life
Dating and romance is just one part of your life. It’s easy for that to become the most important part, especially when your phone is beeping and buzzing with the promise of The One. That’s the thing that’s missing, isn’t it? The truth of the matter is that you make the joy in your life. And the more your nourish your relationships to friends, work, and community, the better you’ll be at keeping online dating from driving you nuts.
Don’t match, grow
Trying to find that certain someone who likes green juice, hot yoga, travel, is gluten-free, dairy-neutral, and has freakishly smooth skin? First, good luck with that—but more importantly, why? A wonderful aspect of real intimacy is being different and working to understand and respect our differences. Understand what you need in a partner and try to ascertain something about the needs and drives of your date.
Remember, it’s not about you
Stop playing the “what if” game. We can’t really know why strangers like us or don’t. You evoke powerful feelings in people and they imagine a lot of stuff, just as you do about them. Remember, no one really knows you at first so they are rejecting a fantasy about you. (I mean, is that even rejection?)
Keep things in perspective
Speaking of creating unrealistic fantasies, idealizing people is really not cool and horribly self-defeating. See people for who they are. They have challenges just like you. The great news is that they also have needs just like you.
Sure, making calendar time for dating is not exactly romantic. But look, your life is busy, and there are certain times that you’re more likely to feel up for meeting a stranger for coffee. Friday nights? Probably not—you’ll likely be wiped after a long week. But what about a quick tea break on a Tuesday afternoon? Or a walk after work on a Wednesday? Find a few comfortable safe places with good light that are convenient to work or home. Then work them like a part-time, yet serious job.
As a psychiatrist and farmer, Dr. Drew Ramsey specializes in exploring the connection between food and brain health (i.e. how eating a nutrient-rich diet can balance moods, sharpen brain function, and improve mental health). When he’s not out in his fields growing his beloved brassica—you can read all about his love affair with the superfood in his book 50 Shades of Kale—or treating patients through his private practice in New York City, Dr. Ramsey is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
What should Drew write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to [email protected].
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