While we’re in the midst of cuffing season, many have made it their New Year’s resolution to find love in 2019. There’s data to prove this. According to Tinder, the dating app sees as much as a 26 percent increase in global matches on the first Sunday of each new year. Hence, the dating app has identified today as the day when most new matches will actually meet up for the first time (aka First Date Friday).
But with hundreds or even thousands of people to swipe left and right on, how does one actually find a compatible match to go on a first date with? We interviewed Dr. Darcy Sterling, Tinder’s Dating and Relationships Trend Expert to find out. Check out her tips in the gallery below!
Ask yourself why you’re on the app
Are you looking for marriage, a casual relationship or just a fun dating experience? Once you’ve determined your reason for being there and what you’re looking to get out of the app, you can begin swiping.
If you have hard dealbreakers, like you don’t plan on having children or you are only looking for something serious, Dr. Sterling suggested leading with that in your bio.
“I know people hesitate to lead with that information because, and the feedback I’ve gotten from my clients in my private practice is that, they don’t want to sound arrogant or like they’re flattering themselves,” she said. “But there’s nothing arrogant or flattering about that. If you indicate in your Tinder bio that you’re not looking for marriage or you are, or you don’t want children or you must have children, then none of your Tinder matches can take that personally. They’re not going to interpret that information as, ‘Oh, this person is really into me and thinking too long term.’ Because it’s just out there for everybody. So I don’t think you can be forthright with that enough.”
Be smart about how you text
Although there’s technically nothing wrong with starting a conversation with “Hey, how’s it going?”, it doesn’t exactly stand out. On the other hand, cheesy pickup lines often go ignored or worse, get turned into Instagram memes.
Dr. Sterling suggested sticking to your personal style and opening with what feels most authentic to you, like a GIF. “I think a GIF can communicate so much more than just text. I think that they can be done really adorably and they can make you look more vulnerable and open and more emotive than words can,” she said.
Text is obviously the next step to starting a conversation and getting to know your match, but too much text is a no-no.
“Don’t overwhelm your Tinder match with too much communication. Definitely allow space so that they can respond back. People can get really overwhelmed very quickly in a text tsunami situation, so definitely control the urge to text too much,” Dr. Sterling said.
However, every conversation has a tipping point — if you exhaust the conversation, it can often feel like there’s no point in meeting up. So, once you’re pretty sure you’re into your match, it’s time to initiate a date.
Meet up in person
Deciding where to go can also be a pretty intimidating. (Are drinks too casual, but is dinner too serious?) Dr. Sterling suggests straying from the norm and trying a new activity together.
“I would encourage people to engage in activities that they wouldn’t normally engage in that challenge them, because I’m all about personal development and growth,” she said. “You learn a lot about values that way. You know, if the person hasn’t been as forthright as you wish they were in their bio or in their communications about what they’re looking for, you’re going to learn a lot about a person based on their willingness to lean into an activity like that.”
Some examples include taking your date to a cooking class, rock climbing, a salsa club or exploring a new area of the city.
Embrace your first date jitters
If you get nervous before a first date, embrace it (as in, don’t turn to alcohol).
“I think that we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and actually use those nerves,” Dr. Sterling said. “I hate hearing people say, ‘Oh, don’t be nervous!’ Well, unfortunately we can’t dictate the emotions that we feel, but what we can do is acknowledge that we feel that way and honestly, there’s something really sweet and vulnerable about disclosing [your nerves] to your date.”
So, let your date know you’re a little nervous. If they don’t appreciate your honesty and authenticity, and that’s something that you yourself value (again, know what you’re looking for!), then consider that maybe they’re not the best match for you. Everything you experience on a first date can provide you with insight as to whether or not you and your date are going to be long-term compatible matches.
Ask the right questions and really listen
One way to find out if you and your date could be a long-term match is looking at your common values and principles, not just common interests.
“In a long-term relationship, both people are going to change over time, “Dr. Sterling said. “But if your values and principles are aligned, if they’re similar, then those changes are going to manifest in ways that remain compatible.”
Although it can be pretty tricky or even intimidating to ask someone about their values on a first date, creative questions can help you get to the root of a person and even help you stand out.
Dr. Sterling gave an example: Say you’re looking for a long-term relationship and you value personal integrity and happiness, and look for depth in a person. Ask them something like, “Would you rather be at a job for 10 years, making half a million dollars a year, but unhappy and unable to quit, or make $25,000 a year and feel completely fulfilled professionally?”
The answer to a question like that is going to provide you with information on whether or not you and your date have similar values and what that person prioritizes in their life.
When asking your questions, however, make sure you’re really listening. Dr. Sterling agreed that sometimes we really want something to work out, so we ignore major signs or red flags.