Table of Contents
Watch the episode here:
3 Powerful Hacks To Help You Find Love Online
Online dating is a powerful way to meet many new people, but it sculpts behavior that actually leads usp away from real intimacy. Stay tuned to this episode to learn how that happened and how you can extract the good from your online dating experience and avoid the harmful.
Hello, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Show. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, the author of the book, Deeper Dating, and the host of this show. I’m glad to have you here. Today, we’re going to talk about really transformative hacks that you can use to change your experience in online dating. This week and every week, I’m going to share the greatest tools that I know to help you find love, keep it flourishing, and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are the skills of intimacy and those are certainly the greatest skills of all for a happy and rich life. If you want to learn more about this approach, you can go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com.
Online dating sculpts behaviors in us that actually push love away. Here’s how to change that.CLICK TO TWEETThere you can get transcripts of every episode. You can learn lots more about my work and hear about other ways to work with me and other people’s work that I really respect. I want to say that everything I talk about here is educational in nature. It is not medical or psychiatric advice, and if you’re experiencing any serious psychiatric or psychological symptoms or conditions, please seek professional help. Also, I want to say that it is greatly appreciated. There are such beautiful, amazing reviews on iTunes and elsewhere, and I thank you so much. If anybody would be interested in leaving a review, that’s always a tremendous gift.
We’re going to jump right in. In 1995, that was the advent of online dating. With that advent, the world changed. The number of matches that people can experience is different now than it was in the old days. The numbers are huge. They’re vast. I think there are something like over 18,000 swipes a second on Tinder and billions of matches made over time on all of the different sites, literally billions. The number of matches is astounding that we can now have access to. Interestingly, in 1995, about 42% of Americans were single. Now, 45% are single according to Pew and according to the census. Obviously, there are a lot of different conditions that relate to that.
There’s a lot more cohabitation that goes up consistently. There are social factors that change things as well. However, the number is so significant of how many matches are made and it’s so significant how fewer marriages there are now. That’s got to say something and we need to look at why. I think a big part of why is because online dating excels in generating matches and it fails miserably in creating an environment of real intimacy. What is intimacy? As I understand, an environment of intimacy that will help people meet is a quality of warmth in the interaction, quality of emotional safety in the interactions, and in the platform, a sense of fun because fun is a big deal and a sense of inspiration.
The Swipe Generation
Somehow, there’s some kind of structure where you can get to see the best parts of people and show them the best parts of you. I’ve been working very hard with my husband to create an alternative site that allows that, and we’ve just launched. It’s called DeeperDating.com. Do feel free to visit that site because that’s going to be growing. I want to talk about this dilemma in online dating. I want to talk about it from two different perspectives. I want to talk about it from the perspective of the swipe generation.
I was quoted in the Times a while back about what I call swipe circuitry. I’m going to talk about that in a minute. I’m going to talk about those of us who awere using swipe apps, some of the pitfalls, and how to get around those pitfalls because they’re significant and they’re illustrative. They teach us something important about intimacy. I want to talk to all of the folks that are not using swipe apps and websites, particularly people who are a little bit older because we have a very different experience. I’m almost 64 and I’m married, but I relate.
We have a very different online experience than people in their 20s and 30s. I was just listening to some research about this. It turns out that 70% of college students who use Tinder have literally never met anybody and they haven’t wanted to because some huge percentage does Tinder, does theise swiping apps for two kinds of blended reasons, boredom, and distraction. That’s one reason and the other reason is a kind of dopamine drip like the kind of self-confidence boosting feelings of having somebody express interest in you. That’s the level of removal that we are living at. I’m going to talk about that in a little bit.
I think that also as we get older, we don’t experience so much this wild, insane proliferation of matches. As we experienced not enough good matches and a kind of dry terrains or just like a lot of jerks out there or people just looking for hookups, which everybody experiences in online dating. I want to talk about all of these situations, these two major categories, and I want to offer some tools and some insights that kind of universalize into the entire intimacy journey. First, I’m going to talk a little bit about what it’s like for those of us who are getting older and are not doing that swipe thing.
The truth is as you get older when you reach a certain age, you do not get as many matches. That’s not true for everyone, but it’s true for a lot of people. I want to acknowledge that as a reality. I want to say two things. One thing is that as we get older and we’re using online dating, which is a great thing to use, it’s really important to look for and try a number of different sites. Particularly as we get older, we get kind of clearer on what we want and what we don’t want and we want sites that help us filter. This is for everybody, by the way. We want sites that help us filter things like values, passions, interests, involvement in the world, things that show a deeper character. Some websites allow you to do that kind of searching for deeper values and passions and interests. That’s a great thing. You want to look for that. Even the giant behemoth sites like Match allows you to do a lot of different filtering and you really do want to do that.
Online dating tries to sculpt a world of numbers, immediacy, and superficiality. It works as a business model. It works because it keeps people interested and we need to use the tremendous gift of online dating, which is the number of possible matches and connections, but we want to do it in a wiser way. We want to occupy and take back the online dating experience to extract the value from it. This is the meta point that I want to make and it’s around all of this. Everything is kind of a microcosm of a bigger picture of how we do things.
How we eat tells us a lot about who we are. How we relate to people tells us a lot about who we are. How we date online tells us a lot about who we are. We’re interfacing with an environment that in some ways brings out our most immature and superficial qualities because it focuses so much on numbers. That’s very illuminating because we can see, “What am I doing in online dating that is not from my place of deepest intimacy, that is not from the place of my core gifts or my gifts zone?” Whatever that is, is going to work infinitely less well.
As we get older, we get clearer on what we want and what we don’t want.CLICK TO TWEETWe can all, just like we can do in any arena of our life, and this is an incredibly worthy thing to do is to say, and this for everybody, “How am I using online dating in a way that is acting out some patterns and some habits that I know are not my highest good, are not my highest self?” Maybe they’re based in a judgmental ness or impatience or irritation or a quick sexualization of experiences. Whatever it is, all of us can look at it because we all have clay feet when it comes to love. All of us do. Those of us that can admit it areis gold because that’s just an act of growth and commitment to goodness, and that commitment to see the ways in which our habits keep us away from love or don’t allow love to flourish. That’s intimacy greatness when we do that, and that’s the main ingredient that’s going to keep our relationship alive as things get difficult and rocky.
Harville Hendrix, a teacher whose work I deeply respect. He says, “There comes a time in every relationship where the thing you most need from your partner is the thing that they are least able to give you.” Often, we think that’s the end of love, but it’s not. It’s the beginning of love. That’s the beginning of the deep character shift work that both of you do together that creates a future that’s based on solidity, commitment, integrity, and the wonder of mutual growth. Every way in which you have clay feet, every way in which you’re doing online dating in a way that is not the most intimate, those are things to notice because if you address them here guaranteed in your next relationship, in their own iteration, they will show up in different ways and you will have gained skills to address that.
Online Dating Behaviors
What are some things that people do in online dating? What are some examples of this? Having worked with so many clients and havings been aon online datering for so many years, I think that one thing that happens is we get jaded. I think that’s a huge thing. The research here by the way is interesting. It says that, “Because of the huge quantity of connections possible in online dating, our behavior is sculpted so that we are less likely to really appreciate and value the people we meet because there are so many more people ahead of us.” This is a very silly example, but I think it relates. A while back, we‘re able to get a whole bunch of Clorox wipes for the house. We were hoarding every Clorox wipe at the beginning of this pandemic like, “We’re going to be so careful with it. We’re going to use it again.”
All of a sudden, we got in this shipment of Clorox wipes, which at that point was kind of a little miracle. All of a sudden, the packs started disappearing. My husband said to me, “This is thean abundance problem.” I said, “Yeah, it’s true. We are treating these Clorox wipe packages as so much less precious because we have so many of them now.” That’s human behavior, but when human behavior melds with an environment that is built to keep putting new people in front of us to the degree that people actually, and I think most of us or all of us know this experience, of looking around but only being half there. If somebody doesn’t call us immediately because they’re really hot, sexy, spicy or attractive, we move on.
Picture that you’re at a party with a small number of people and you’re sitting on the sofa. There are 4 or 5 people around you. Remember those days when we were doing that. Let’s say one of the people is someone who you might be able to be interested in. You’re watching them. You’re noticing them. They wouldn’t have instantly appealed to you, but there are qualities in this person that you find sexy, funny, or wonderful. You noticed this person because it’s just a few people. You never would have noticed this in a big crowd. The same thing happens in online dating, but at any given point, there are vast numbers of people. When people don’t super spark our interest, we move on. When we’re bored and we’re just trying to get a little tiny dopamine drip going, we move on, we move on, we move on. When we don’t move on and we reach out to someone and they respond back, a lot of different things could happen.
One is now it’s becoming work. Now, it’s gone from, “La la la,” just like looking through who’s going to be amazing. All of a sudden, it’s work because it’s work to meet a new person. Unless they’re completely your exact type and research shows that often those people turn you on that much because they embody in part the worst characteristics of your primary caregivers, and you’re wanting to go back to the scene of the original crime to finally get loved right. Barring those people, those super exciting total, like, hotties, we often bypass people.
We don’t take the time because there are all of a sudden so many choices that we could make and this is a powerful online dating hack. It’s to slow down. It’s something I’ve talked about before, but I’m going to be talking about it in a little bit of a different way now. Slowing down because every one of those people who isare anywhere in the range of, “Maybe if I liked this person’s voice, I could be attracted,” or “If this person had a nice body, I could be attracted,” or “If this person was smart, I could be attracted,” or who knows what?
In other words, people who, like, you don’t instantly know, “I’m totally hot for this person,” but somewhere potentially in the ballpark. You feel like, “If I really liked them, I could picture they’re in the terrain where there could be a spark.” All of those people, we don’t have time for, we bypass them because it takes work to reach out. It takes work, ito takes vulnerability. It takes work to set up a phone call. It takes work to set up a date and God knows these days, it takes more work to do that. What I encourage is that we slow down and we look for character qualities because, I’m telling you, and I’ve said this before,. Wwhen we make the choice that we are only going to be with someone who inspires us with their goodness, their integrity, and their solidity, our world changes, and future changes.
There are some smart people who know that, to begin with. Usually, they’re the ones who are in good relationships, but there are the rest of us that don’t know that. We think we know it, but we learned that we need more discrimination. That’s why I teach the main question being, “Does my soul feel safe with this person?” I get emails from people all the time thanking me for this one particular insight and this was actually the insight that Oprah excerpted from my book. It’s that we’re looking for circuitries of attraction of inspiration, where we’re attracted to someone, but we’re also attracted because of their character, their goodness, their decency, their presence, their availability, their willingness to be present.
When you find somebody like that and they’re good, decent and they’re interested in you, that’s happiness in love. Sometimes it doesn’t feel quite as spicy in the beginning. Sometimes it feels wonderful, but then as you see the person’s not going anywhere and they’re really interested and they’re just playing decent, you start thinking that they’re boring. This is a deep one for me and I was single for decades because of that. What I came to realize is that that initial feeling of what I
call boringness, which is the lack of an edge, a scary edge, if it’s replaced by fierce, and brave, integrity, creativity, intelligence, intrepid ways of thinking and communicating and living. In other words, if there is some edge there, but it’s like a fabulous, healthy, adventurous edge instead of a cocky, nasty superior edge, which I used to be drawn to all the time. As we learn to change our tastes, our future changes. It’s important that we use our online dating experience to do that as well.
That means a few things. It means slowing down. It means filtering for these qualities that interest you. It means that when you’re biding time or wasting time, you realize that everyone you’re bypassing could have been one of those 4 or 5 people on the sofa that you could have ended up having a relationship with. These are all precious beings and when you can slow down enough to say, “I’m going to have to go slower here. I’m going to start by filtering to make my odds better. I’m going to slow down and I’m going to see the human being here. I’m going to budget the time because we have to budget the time to meet these people. I’m going to try not to drop the ball and get to know them.” You will know pretty quickly if the person has qualities of integrity. You will know if they have qualities of jerkiness. You’ll know that really quickly. If they pass that gate, you’ll get to the next gate. You’ll communicate with them. You’ll see what kind of beings they are. If they inspire you if they touch you if you like what they say, and then you’ve gotten to the next gate.
I want to say that younger people who are doing swipe circuitry and older folks who are doing more like websites, all of us have to do the same thing. We have to see, “What are the kinds of predispositions I’m going in with that block intimacy?” Why don’t you take a minute, everybody, and just think? You should be able to figure this out, “What am I doing that is not of the highest place of intimacy? Because I get so seduced by the numbers and immediacy of online dating or I’m jaded, annoyed, and disappointed that I go in with a wall up. I go in and don’t put the time in or the care and I let people go.” These are all huge learnings. You might want to just take a minute and think about what’s true for you.
This is how we gain wisdom. I’m telling you that that wisdom changes our future in love. If you can figure out some ways that you could bring a little more wisdom and a little less habituated, unhelpful behavior to your online dating, you will see a difference. I want to hear about what that difference is, so you could go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com, you can click “Ask Ken” and you can leave a message. I get wonderful messages and questions from people who are using these simple, basic intimacy, wisdom techniques, and seeing shifts happen and having questions about what comes next. I want to encourage people to do that. I want to hear from you. What did you learn about what you could do differently in your online dating experience?
How we relate to people and how we date online tell us a lot about who we are.CLICK TO TWEETThat’s going to help so many people and I’m going to share the things I hear. Everybody who could do that, I would so appreciate it. Call in, you can use this “Ask Ken” icon in DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You could speak whatever it is that you want to say about where you get stuck. What are some habituated patterns that haven’t been helping you? What are you trying differently and how is it working? Because that’s going to be crowdsourced intimacy gold. Thank you all for reading. As always, it’s a joy to get to connect with you. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode. I encourage you to go to DeeperDatingPodcast.com, join my mailing list, leave a review if you like. Have a wonderful week.