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Three Surprising Rules I Learned From Dating Apps

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

By an Anonymous Contributor


Photo courtesy of © Complex

I had put off online dating for far too long, and it was time to give it a try. I downloaded

a few dating apps, whipped up a cute profile, and set off into the unknown! I learned many things about dating from this month-long journey. For instance, do not, ever, insult a man’s dog. Men love dogs, so if you want a happy relationship, do not insult his dog!

Here are three (more insightful) dating rules that I learned from my time on the apps: 

1. Do not steal his thunder. 

Just like in-person conversations, there is an art to online chatting. I have wasted much time crafting and re-crafting the perfect response only to agonize over the message that I sent when the man fails to reply. Was it too flirty? Too serious? Is he just busy?

At least in a real conversation one can pick up on visual clues to gauge how the other person feels, but in an online conversation, you are left at the mercy of your imagination, which is ruthless. Online chatting is difficult, to say the least, but after making the same mistake multiple times, I discovered the power of the wavy hand emoji. Before this discovery, I would read through a guy’s profile, find something that I connected with, and compose a fun, somewhat flirty, opener to send. Little did I know, this is the man’s job, and I was stealing his thunder, which, in a sense, was emasculating. What was the result? Either the man never replied, or the man replied but made zero attempt to continue the conversation. We live in a culture that says there are few hard and fast gender roles, but when it comes to dating, the evidence speaks volumes, men still want to pursue.

The wavy hand emoji was a game changer for me on the apps. Use it to digitally “drop

the handkerchief.” It signals to the man that you are interested and gives him the courage to be a man, step up, and start the conversation. Remember, do not steal his thunder. Men love to impress women with their wit and charm, so let him do the work, Ladies. Let him charm you. 

2. Bond over differences, instead of similarities.

We hear it all the time…opposites attract. Is this true? If so, why? I am not talking about the

‘good girl falls for the bad boy’ trope. Shared values help to create a strong foundation for a

healthy relationship, but shared interests are less important. Allow me to explain. I met this guy on the apps: funny, cute, kind, normal. Super promising. Turns out, we both play tennis, so he asked me on a tennis date. Yay! The date started off right with a light warmup and some friendly conversation. Yet once the warmup ended, I could feel my competitive side taking over, and suddenly I was Serena Williams, playing for a Grand Slam Title. A little competition never hurt anyone, but too much of it, especially at the beginning, can be toxic to a relationship. Why? The answer has to do with growth. Growth is a sign of something alive and healthy. It makes sense that growth is a necessary part of any relationship, however, two people who are always competing cannot grow. A couple grows together side by side and hand in hand.

All competition aside, I had so much in common with this man. Why did I feel like the date was just okay? Well, when you think about it, learning is growing. That is why opposites attract one another. We seek out people who can teach us something new or show us a new perspective on life. The chance to learn something new is both exciting and sexy! Think about the classic rom-com scene when the man wraps his arms around the female love interest, takes her hands in his, and shows her how to grip the racket. I already knew how to hold a tennis racket—no rom-com moment happening here. Next time, I will focus on what makes my date and I different. This way, our shared interests will develop and grow over time, time that is spent teaching each other and learning from one another. 

3. Be in it for the right reasons.

There are three types of guys on the apps: guys looking for a travel buddy, guys looking to hook up, and guys looking for someone to hook up with while traveling the world. Yet somewhere amongst the oodles of world traveling fornicators, there must be a gem. Success stories do exist, so it is possible that my special someone is on the apps. I promised myself to keep an open mind.  My profile said that I am Christian and looking for marriage, but that did not stop a plethora of atheists looking for “something casual” from swiping right on my profile. Obviously, the men were not being picky, so why should I? I soon began swiping right with more confidence and abandon. He is cute— swipe right. He has a nice smile— swipe right. His profile pic was not taken in a bathroom— swipe right. (I am kidding about that last one, I tried to prevent my standards from falling that low)! I figured that it is a numbers game (quantity over quality), plus, you never know who will be “the One.” My chat queue quickly filled up. I was feeling hopeful, empowered, and maybe a little over-zealous.

My dating app high crashed to rock bottom when a guy asked to swap “pics.” I was horrified. I

quickly cut off all contact with him, but it made me question the integrity of all the other men in my chat queue. Immediately, I canceled plans I had made to meet up with other guys that

weekend. These were men who I had been chatting with for a while, but since I had swiped right primarily based on superficial aspects, I began to doubt whether there could possibly be any substance to them. When I explained to one man the reason for canceling, he seemed genuinely hurt that I would assume his intentions were bad, based solely on another guy’s actions. Were the intentions of these other men pure? Maybe. Was it fair to judge them based on another guy’s disrespectful and disgusting actions? Maybe not.


Success on the apps lies in determining who is there for the right reasons. Sound familiar? This is an exhausting task. In the end, I figured better safe than sorry and canceled the apps. I must say that the men who did take me on a date were perfect gentlemen; a man who asks you on a proper date is most likely a gentleman. All this to say, there are some good guys on the apps, and it is unfair to let the bad eggs ruin your shot with a good guy.

Although it is hard, try to avoid getting distracted by the guys who are there for the wrong

reasons. Know your reason for dating, and this will help steer you toward the right man. I have no regrets about my time on the dating apps. I went on fun dates, gained insight into dating, and have grown from this experience. However, in general, navigating the dating apps felt like trudging down an alley filled with trash in hopes of finding a treasure at the end. Is it worth wading through trash? Not for me! There must be another way... oh, Matchmaker,

Matchmaker, make me a match!


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