Ashley Kelsch: How to Get What You Want Out of Dating Apps
5 best practices to help you enjoy dating with the help of an app
By Ashley Kelsch
Ashley Kelsch is Austin’s top certified, professional dating and relationship coach and former owner of Teddies for Betty’s, the lingerie boutique on 2nd Street that she ran for a decade. She offers one-on-one life-coaching programs to help clients acknowledge and understand limiting beliefs, to set boundaries and to learn how to change mindsets so they can get what they want in their romantic lives and feel empowered. Ashley helps men and women of all ages, single and married. She has a weekly podcast called Modern Renegades, and you can follow her on Instagram @AshleyMKelsch. Read more of her Tribeza columns here.
Are you feeling what I’m feeling? Summer is here. Masks are off. People are out. Everything seems to be open, including attitudes about dating. People are ready to meet. More friends and clients than I can count have told me over the last six months that they are ready for The One. They want to date seriously, which almost always leads to downloading and signing up for dating apps and the infamous question: Should I stay or should I go?
When I think of commitment issues, I think of almost everyone who uses dating apps. Not because they aren’t willing to commit to dating or to a person — but because they can’t commit to the apps! If there was one relationship that takes more breaks than say … Rachel and Ross or Carrie and Big, it might be humans and dating apps.
Eager daters download and sign up, thinking it will be fun and that they will quickly meet available people. But in no time at all, their attitude shifts:
“Oh my god, there are more than 400 likes and messages. How do I manage this? It feels like too much!”
“Is this all they’ve got? Do people even have conversations on here?”
“Why won’t they make plans to meet IRL? Are they looking for a pen pal?”
“Is it gross if someone is talking to me and my friend on the app? How should I feel about this?”
More often than not, I hear what a time suck dating apps can be. It can turn into something to do when you’re bored — like playing Candy Crush Saga or some other phone game.
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Then people start to think they’d rather meet people in real life. That would feel more like dating. The conversations would flow more easily and be more immediate without all the back and forth that comes before getting together to see if there are sparks.
Many of my clients come to the conclusion that dating would be easier if they weren’t on the apps. Then they log off and delete their accounts.
But there is another way. What if we stopped blaming dating apps and used them to our advantage? Why not remove from the process the feelings of frustration, being overwhelmed and let down?
Dating apps — like all social media, fitness apps or even email — are tools that can assist us if we use them in ways that serve us and our purpose. If you know the qualities you’re looking for in a partner and have your values, priorities and boundaries set, you can streamline the process of dating with apps.
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Basically, put a strategy in place. Sound unromantic? Maybe. But you might enjoy it a bit more and — who knows? — find romance faster.
Full disclosure: I’m not on any dating apps. I always joked that if a developer launched a “scratch ‘n’ sniff” feature, I’d be all in. The thing is … I’ve convinced myself that I need more than a picture to know if I’m attracted to someone. I want to see their mannerisms, hear their voice, experience their humor, take in all the pheromones and so on. There’s an interaction that takes place in my senses that I can’t get over a screen.
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That said, if I wanted to speed up the process, I’d be on those apps in a minute. But I’m not looking for efficiency right now.
In order to provide you with sage advice for this column, I turned to a dating app veteran. The woman I’ve enlisted loves dating apps and has been on them for the last seven years, never shut them down, canceled or removed them from her phone. A true warrior. It is from this source that I bring you wisdom with five her best practices:
1. Treat it like a business. There is no emotion involved when it comes to likes, no likes, connects or disconnects. She doesn’t give any of those app interactions any meaning about herself or the process of dating with them.
2. Apps are how to meet people to date. This means, when my friend is out for dinner or drinks with pals, she’s not eyeing the room or hoping to meet someone. She says it gives her freedom to be present with the people she’s with.
3. Block out time to date online. Otherwise, the app is closed, and notifications and alerts are off.
4. Be upfront. Be transparent. When chatting or connecting on an app, let people know what you are looking for early on.
5. Never, ever delete. If you cancel your account on an app and decide to download it again, you’ll be swiping left and right on people you’ve already considered. My friend keeps her accounts and only sees new faces, making her time on the apps more efficient.
Now for my final words of advice: Take a minute to examine your thoughts about dating apps and discover what’s working for you and what isn’t. This is a great first step. Dating apps may not serve you. If that is the case, go. But if you decide that you’d like to stay, find out how you can partner with a dating app in a way that makes it enjoyable and efficient in helping you reach your goal. Then commit to believing that this is true and that it’s working. Do this for 30 days and see what kind of connections you make.