Online dating presents a wealth of opportunities to connect with like-minded people, but it also introduces the potential for endless frustration. If you're feeling discouraged from rejection, confused about how to write a good profile, or just plain burnt out from the whole process, check out our tips for maintaining your mental health and emotional wellbeing while navigating the world of dating online.
If you want to support our show, the best way is to become one of our patrons at www.patreon.com/multiamory. In addition to helping us continue to create new content and new projects, you also get extra rewards and exclusive content and discussions.
You can order Dedeker's book, The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love by going to http://amzn.to/2cGBDoC
This week's sponsor is Quip. If you want to give one of their electric toothbrushes a try, plus get a free refill, check them out at tryquip.com/Multiamory.
Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack.
Our theme music is Forms I Know I Did by Josh and Anand.
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Jase: On this episode of the multiamory podcast, we're talking about dating. Actually, we're mostly talking about online dating. This is something that people ask us about a lot. It's something that a lot of people struggle with and it's also something that a lot of people put information about out online. Instead of focusing on the same crap that everyone else does, this episode is going to be focused on how to maintain your well-being and your peace of mind and wellness while doing online dating, in other words, how to rise above the game rather than just trying to game the system better.
Dedeker: I like that. Can we just do a quick survey of what is all the same crap that tends to get covered in other arenas online?
Jase: It's stuff like, "People find it more attractive if you don't smile in your photos, don't put smiling photos."
Dedeker: Is that true?
Jase: That is one of the stats that gets thrown out there.
Emily: Do photos with other people or don't do photos with other people?
Jase: Don't do photos with other people who are more attractive than you. It's just--
Emily: Isn't that terrible?
Jase: This ridiculous like super surface-level bullshit. I was also reading some ridiculous stuff when I was doing research for this episode about if you put love in your profile, you're more likely to find someone to marry.
Jase: Yes, if you use the word love in your profile and that--
Emily: "I love going on long walks on the beach," it's marriage material right there?
Jase: Yes. It's just the level of just ridiculousness of some of the advice out there that supposedly is backed by science is just absurd. I think we're going to get into that a little bit.
Dedeker: I do just have to call some attention to how fascinating it is, how much online dating has changed just in the last even 10 years or so. Think about it, 10 plus years ago we didn't have any apps, no one had a smartphone, really, that they were using all the time. It was just websites and I think website still had this reputation of being skeezy, I guess, a little scary.
Jase: Just embarrassing that you are using them.
Dedeker: Embarrassing, yes.
Emily: In order to date that you had to do so, that that was embarrassing? Match.com, I feel like that's been around forever.
Jase: It has.
Dedeker: Yes, it's about 200 years old.
Jase: Some statistics I did find is that just based on how many people are actually doing online dating, I think it's around 25% of people. When you look at specifically the 18 to 25 demographic, it's 36% or something. It's a very significant portion of people.
Dedeker: Big chunk.
Emily: Didn't you find something like people marry more quickly when they're dating online or is that even true?
Jase: There was a study that actually had.
Dedeker: We'll get into that later. Actually we'll talk about that in our bonus content. Okay, let's dive into, as we said we get a lot of people who reach out to us asking questions about dating and usually it's specifically focused on, "How do I find partners who are okay being non-monogamous?" It's not necessarily always that or people who send us their dating profiles and want to get feedback and stuff on that. Online dating, while I have to say for my own personal experience, I feel like has been "successful" for me because pretty much all of my current partners that I'm with, I met online.
Emily: It's so funny to think you met Jase online. It's amazing that you met Jase online to me.
Dedeker: However, at the same time, online dating cause a lot of pain and frustration for not only myself, definitely caused a lot of pain and frustration for me, but for a lot of people who reach out to us, who reached out to me in my coaching practice. We wanted to cover some of the most common pitfalls and common frustrations that seem to come up for people when they are trying to date or take part in any kind of online dating or things like that. Of course, I think the number one is just people getting really discouraged after a while.
Whether it's you send out a ton of messages and you very rarely get a response or you're inundated with messages, but mostly from people that you're really not interested in or people ghost you or you do go on dates with people, and it just doesn't pan out or it doesn't seem to work out. The thing is that the frustration and the discouragement is true across the board. I know that when we talk about online dating specifically, often it gets very gendered and talking about the very different gendered experiences which is not necessarily false. However, the pain and the frustration and discouragement is something that everyone experiences. It's not just one particular group of people or another.
Jase: Another particular challenge that people have is if you are in some consensually non-monogamous relationship and your partner is either getting a lot more interest or more messages or maybe just better messages while you're getting a lot of garbage messages, whatever it is, where there's some imbalance and that envy of the other person's experience, which to you seems better than your own, whether it actually is or not.
Emily: I think when you are dating online, you're definitely going to get rejected a lot. Perhaps even when you're dating just in real life, you might get rejected and that may be a little bit more challenging because you're face to face with the person. If you go on a first date with someone and then at the end of the date they were like, "I don't know if I really want to see you again. Sorry, we just didn't click. I don't feel compatible with you." You may get micro rejections all over the place online and perhaps that's less painful in the moment, but it can add up over time.
You talked about the ghosting for a second, Jase. One time I remember there was somebody. It was one of the first women that I messaged online and we hit it off for a while, but then all of a sudden she just ghosted me and said like, "Sorry, I'm not going to do this." I felt really, really rejected and really, really sad about it. I think that it can still mean a lot to a person, even if it is just online with that barrier of the computer there or the app there or whatever, it still can elicit a very sad negative response.
Dedeker: It's so funny. I feel like even if-- Let's say you're matched with someone and you're talking and even before being super interested in this person, or even knowing if you want to go on a date with this person, even if your ghosted at that point, it still can bring up all of these self-directed conspiracy theories of, "Did I say something? What did they notice something in my profile? Did they find someone much more interesting?" All these questions that you're never going to get the answer to. It's like even when you don't have an emotional attachment to someone yet or even much of an interest in someone yet, it can still--
Emily used that word, micro rejection. I think it can still create this little sting that does build up over time. I think because of that, because dating and online dating in general exposes us to a lot of rejection on a wide scale, people can start to get really obsessed with trying to figure out the formula. I think because sometimes it initially feels arbitrary to people and I think that's why people want to try to figure out the formula because initially it's like, "I messaged this person, they messaged me back, seemed like we were hitting it off. It all seemed great and then they disappeared. What the heck? I must have done something wrong.
I need to figure out the right way to do it. I need to figure out the right formula." People can then get really obsessed with, for instance, the minutia on their dating profile, really, really getting particular on, "What if I phrase this this way?" It calls to mind Jase, what you're saying at the top of it. This idea of if you sprinkle in this word but not that word or if you use this kind of picture but not that kind of picture. It calls to mind something that we call in the gaming community min-maxing, which all our nerdy gamer listeners out there will know what min-maxing is.
For those of you that aren't familiar with that term, min-maxing is this idea of essentially trying- usually in a video game context, it's trying to make your character or your build as efficient as possible. Making it not necessarily for what's going to be the most fun for you or the most joyful, but just what's going to be the most sufficient and it's going to be able to win or cause the most damage or whatever.
To be fair, I think some people do get some joy out of min-maxing but very particular people. I think when it comes to a dating profile, people can really, really get obsessed with the idea of, "If I can just figure out the formula here, then it's all going to work out." Which is also another process that can just really drive you in circles essentially.
Jase: Segueing from that, from this common frustrations, we wanted to talk about some actual statistics about online dating and this first part is very related to that last thing about trying to min-max, trying to figure out the formula for like I said, "Should I smile? Should I have tigers in my photos? Should I--"
Emily: Good Lord.
Dedeker: Hang on. Jase, before you continue, you can't really say anything until you've done a study where you have tigers and all of your dating photos and then you see what level of success it generate for you.
Emily: In all of them. Can you imagine people are just, "Okay, I got to ask like what's with the Tigers."
Jase: Every single photo.
Emily: Tiger do own entire conservatory. What is happening here?
Dedeker: I think in pickup artists terms, that's known as peacocking. I think that is related to peacocking, doing something really big and flamboyant and noticeable in order to get attention.
Jase: What I'm getting to here is in doing research about this, the biggest fact I came away with was the fact that the studies and research about online dating are fucking garbage. They are literally figuratively pieces of shit. Awful, terrible study. I know I'm being very emphatic about this, but really fucking horrible. What I mean by horrible is bad research methods, results that seems to say something that might not based on a lot of assumptions, a lot of very small sample sizes or very badly put together ways of collecting this data. Some of those things out there about different types of pictures that people find attractive or certain words that are more effective and profiles and things like that.
It's not that those things don't have some truth to them, but they're either taken out of context or are in this very limited sample size in terms of ages of people or sexual orientations or genders or even just the fact that all of these studies are so focused on cisgender monogamous relationships too, to the point that I feel like they're not even useful for people who are cisgender and monogamous because they just go in with too many assumptions about what success means, what people are looking for, a lot of gender assumptions.
It's just so many problems that really finding even halfway decent studies was a huge challenge. Specifically studies that measure the success of certain things in online dating. It's how do you determine success.
Dedeker: That was going to be my question is, what does count as success? Is it number of dates who end up going on-- Is it ending up at a particular type of relationship? Is it just the same messages?
Jase: It's usually getting married. Usually the studies that's getting married or going on a date, depending on what--
Emily: Going on a date?
Dedeker: That's is a wide gap in goalposts.
Jase: Because, if you're a site like eharmony, hiring corporate shills like Helen Fisher to do your research, then you're going to want to find statistics about marriage. That's what you're going to look for and that's going to be your metric for success. Everything's going to be based around efficiency of getting to a marriage, not about the happiness of the marriage, not about the long-term well-being of the people in that marriage, it's just about getting to the goal of being married.
Then on the other hand, there's the ones that are the study's about just the success of a profile in terms of getting messages or getting responses or the success of messages getting responses or getting to the point of a first date. Let's just-- It's what's the metric and all of them are bad for different reasons.
Emily: Interesting. Okay. Speaking of messages, this was another statistic that we found because obviously I feel when Jase and I at the same time we're doing OkCupid, we're on OkCupid, I would get a ton of messages. Most of them were like, "Zup?"
Dedeker: This is also back in the day before OkCupid did their big revamp. They switched to a more more Tinder swipey-swipey style when it was more traditional dating site.
Emily: They had the tinder swipey-swipey there, but it wasn't like the main thing.
Jase: You could just message anyone.
Emily: Yes. You could just message anyone. I guess it was a little bit different but yes. Overall what I'm saying is that I got far more messages I think than you did at the time.
Jase: Yes, by far.
Emily: Absolutely. This is interesting, this statistic saying that the best that you can hope for when you send out a message is a 20% response rate. That's like--
Jase: The best of the best.
Emily: The best of the best of the best. Most people-- whatever you want to call it and whatever it probably is, which yes, privilege and all of those things do apply. Most people, just the vast majority of people, it's going to be a 10% response rate or lower, which is interesting. I get that even if I sent out messages, I wouldn't often get them back. It wouldn't--
Dedeker: Me neither. Back in the days when I was on OkCupid, I made a lot of assumptions myself. Thinking like, "Oh--" Exactly. I'll have a ton of a ton of messages. Clearly if I take the initiative to message someone I'm attracted to then surely, it'll be no problem. I never got messages back, I've never messaged people.
Emily: That was an ego blow. It's like, "What the hell is happening?"
Dedeker: It's so hard not to create a story around it.
Emily: For sure.
Dedeker: It's really not easy. However, some other interesting figures that we found when researching this is that-- Here's the thing, is that fundamentally the majority of online dating places are fundamentally looksist and racist and abelist, it reflects much of the internet as it is today unfortunately. However, they did find at least as far as when it comes to people's looks, that people found a wider variety of people attractive as in a wider variety of looks, a wider variety of the way people look, the way their body look, the way their body was shaped, a much wider range.
People found attractive when they were also exposed to a person's positive personality traits in a profile as opposed to when they were just looking at a lineup of people's pictures. That when they were just exposed to people's pictures, it became, I think, kind of a similar bottom of the barrel. Very typical human nature on a lot of online dating sites, which is just go to the most attractive person possible or most conventionally attractive person possible.
However, they did find that like when people had more of a sense of this person's actual personality, then they were more likely to find, again, this wider range of body types and face types and things that to be attractive. That's something that we are going to come back to a little bit later on. In talking about essentially how to function within a dynamic that is extremely looks isn't based.
Emily: There were also these algorithms for each of these dating sites to kind of try to whittle down a bunch of people from the thousands and thousands and thousands of people on these sites and the algorithms whittled them down so that you may be left with 10 or something or even 30, but it's far less obviously than the thousands that are out there.
Dedeker: That's the thing though, is that all of these sites whether it's match.com or eharmony, OkCupid, all of them talk about having a matching algorithm, that's what they call it. They call it a matching algorithm. We're trying to match you with particular people that we think that you're going to be compatible with.
The thing is that research shows that that's not actually what it's doing is literally just trying to give you fewer options so you don't get overwhelmed. That's not necessarily an indicator of you're going to be super mega compatible with this person.
Jase: It was interesting. There was this group of psychologist who were asked to write a report on this and their conclusion was that the matching algorithms don't actually show anything about how compatible you are actually going to be with this person. They might show some things like shared interests or certain surface level things. Just that they basically were the science that has been done about actual compatibility and relationships is not being applied to these.
I pulled out this quote because I really enjoyed it, but one of the authors of this report said, "If I were giving a report card to the dating sites, in the comments section of the report card, I would write, 'Apply yourself.'" Basically, if you feel like there is research out there, you're not using it. Instead, you're just using marketing buzzwords stuff.
Dedeker: I have to ask the two of you. Knowing all those stits and stats about online dating, which I feel a lot of these contradict a lot of our assumptions about online dating. What's the main takeaway for us there?
Jase: From these sits and stats?
Jase: Just not take it all so seriously.
Emily: Well, you'll probably not going to find, I mean maybe you'll find the one if that's what you're looking for on these dating sites. It probably just, it's a crap shit, either way, if you're just meeting someone out in the wild or if you're meeting them on a dating profile. Regardless of the algorithms and regardless of the way in which you present yourself on these sites, you may or may not have a good time with them, it's just a crap shit, so deal with it like that.
Jase: [chuckles] I've heard on some of these, the summary people would make from it is like actually meeting people in real life, like finding a way to meet up for a coffee or whatever is better than just spending all your time trying to analyze profiles or look at match percentages or adjust to your profile, because in the end, these algorithms aren't really the magic they claimed to be. I thought that one was interesting.
However, something that I tried very hard to find statistics about and they just don't exist, no one's studying it because there's not money in it probably, is about specifically the consensually non-monogamous community. I'm actually curious to hear what you guys think because I was trying to estimate this when I was talking with my dad earlier today about this. If 25% of people and 30% something of people in the 18 to 24 demographic used online dating or have used online dating, what would you say that is for polyamorous people or other consensually non-monogamous people?
Jase: I guess 90.
Dedeker: The percentage of the consensually non-monogamous population is using online dating actively or has?
Emily: A 100%.
Dedeker: Sure and it totally feels like the majority, right?
Jase: Right. I think that that's an interesting thing that none of these studies is taken into account which is interesting.
Emily: Why would they?
Jase: Right. It's not something on most people's radar. I think it's an interesting question because I think that is something that could change some of these.
Emily: I think it should. Well, I mean, it would just give us so much more information. I cannot tell you the amount of times where I'm like, "I want them to do a study on this regarding non-monogamous populations but there isn't any and they are maybe seemingly trivial things but there are so many seemingly trivial studies out there like about just randomized shits. I want to know all that randomized shit regarding the consensually non-monogamous community."
Dedeker: Well, it really would be just great just to get a lot the more famous studies about relationships and communication and sex just to be really done including people who are transgender or asexual or not heterosexual or non-monogamous or whatever, just get a broader scope, a better sense of how is this that we conduct ourselves in relationships and stuff like that, but--
Jase: I also thought that with the matching algorithm thing, that one I did think was like, "Well, if you're thinking of a site like OkCupid, where you can actually indicate that you are non-monogamous or monogamous, I would say that if you're including that in part of the algorithm, I'd say that would actually be huge and would make you more likely to find people who are compatible with you in that way."
Again, it's not necessarily about how you'll get along in a relationship, but I do think that is a very useful thing. I think that's why so many people who are non-monogamous use online dating because you at least get past that. We're already, if roughly 45% of the population in the US is non-monogamous, you're already setting yourself up with the odds against you if you're just meeting random people at a bar. I think that's worth taking into account with all of these if you are part of some specific sub-community of the greater pool.
Dedeker: I feel like, in talking about those things particularly that I get is this idea that online dating is a tool, although it is an imperfect tool but that's okay. Because it's an imperfect tool, that's why it's really important to talk about the ways to maintain your well-being while you're online, while you're making a profile or sorting through a billion other profiles to maintain your well-being while you are going on dates with people as well as maintaining your well-being while you're not going on dates with people just when you're in this whole process of dating in order to make yourself be peaceful and happy even while using this imperfect tool that can often lead to feel rejected and on this emotional roller coaster.
Anyway, before we get into that, we're going to take a quick break to take about our Patreon community. If you go to patreon.com/multiamory, you can become part of our Patreon community which has become this really, really amazing group of people that have come up around of this podcast and enveloped it like a velvet or maybe a mink fur. That was the-- I'm sorry not mink. A fake, a fake.
Jase: A vegan mink.
Dedeker: A vegan mink fur. That's exactly what I mean.
Emily: Let's not hurt those animals out there.
Dedeker: Anyway, All silliness aside, You see that our Patreon community is full of this fantastic, amazing people who take part in our monthly video discussion groups, who take part in our private discourse forum, in our private Facebook discussion group. It's just a really wonderful supportive community of people, people find that they're comfortable enough to post about what's going on in their life or if they're going through a break-up or if they're going through this, if they're dealing with online dating and trying to handle the burnout and where they can really reach out for advice and for support and for silly means as well.
Jase: There's actually been some discussion recently about wanting support about online dating, like those who struggles and just feeling discouraged and reminding each other to take care of yourself and to promote your well-being. It's really cool to get to talk to people about that.
Dedeker: We also do happen have people who will post, for instance, OKCupid profile and the group will be like, "Hey, can I get some feedback on this?" or "What do you think? Do you feel like I'm doing this right, or do you feel like my pictures are yadda yadda yadda." Anyway, if you want to take part in that, you can go to patreon.com/multiamory to sign up and become part of our awesome community.
Jase: Something else that is actually incredibly helpful and hopefully will help you as well as us is to take a moment, take a couple of minutes to write us a review on iTunes or on Stitcher. The reason why this is helpful is that it helps our show to show up higher in search results and it helps people to understand what they're going to get from this show and what they might benefit from it. If they're monogamous, is there something in this for them? If they're single, is there something in it for them? Whatever your experience with the show has been, sharing that will help other people to get it and to try it out.
The way this benefits you, is the fact that the more people who are getting this information, hopefully means there will be more honest people who actually want to have healthy relationships and who focused their lives on that for you to date in addition to having your super secret bat signal which is your Multiamory merch that you can wear so people can go, "I see. You are that logo, too. That must mean you care about these things. Let's be friends or more."
Dedeker: I don't know if you want to promise that Jase. Gosh.
Jase: It might happen. It has happened.
Dedeker: Okay. I'm sure. I'm sure.
Emily: You know what, it has, it has. We are also the Multiamory dating service. [laughs]
Emily: Unofficially but it has happened. Finally, our responser for this week is Quip. I just wanted to shout out to Quip that they revamp their new toothpaste. It's like a minty toothpaste.
Jase: I haven't gotten the new one yet.
Emily: Well, I have. It was already great, but now it's even better. It's a more--
Dedeker: I actually enjoyed their existing toothpaste but you can just imagine--
Emily: It's more, more minty and really wobbling.
Jase: I do like mintiness, that's true.
Emily: Yes. I love the more, more minty. Basically Quip is this incredible company that it mixed sexy designer toothbrushes that are not as expensive as your Sonicare maybe, but still does an amazing job cleaning your teeth. It sells as an electro toothbrush but with a battery, so it's a lot slicker in its design. It's great for traveling. The three of us travel a ton, so I love taking my Quip with me on all of the trips that I go and I know that these two hooligans do as well. If you strike quip.com/multiamory, then you'll get $10 off. You will essentially get a free head refill. $10 off which counts as your free head.
Dedeker: I so never figured a way to do that ad without having to say the words free head.
Emily: What else to say except for Quip is going to give some free head?
Dedeker: Honestly, the we talk about it, I think people would maybe believe it.
Jase: Just to clarify, you pay the normal price for the toothbrush at first but you first refill for a new head and battery for it and toothpaste is free.
Emily: And travel toothpaste, it's free. That's a lot of stuff, it's even better than free head, even better.
Dedeker: We can debate on.
Jase: You know what? Because free head it's like okay one block of time of feeling good but this is three months of feeling great in your mouth every night and morning. What's not--
Emily: What's not to love?
Dedeker: It is a lot more time--
Emily: If you want to get your sexy sleek Quip in variety of colors, my partner and I each have one and I love looking at it. Yesterday some of our patrons came over and hung out with us and they were like see your Quip in the bathroom and I'm like, "Duh." If you want to get in on that trend then go to tryquip.com/multiamory and get that free head.
Dedeker: I got to get all the free head vibes out. Okay catch online dating. I think it's really important to talk about first and foremost before having the conversation around how to make a successful profile or before having the conversation around like how to pick out the right pictures I think really the most important conversation to have with yourself is about, "How do I take care of myself during this process?" In my opinion that's going to be the thing that dictates how this whole thing goes for you essentially.
I've seen so many people that go into the online dating process and just emotionally get mangled and spat out on the other side or just like, "Fuck this, that was terrible." That's what we're going to talk about right now. Again, to reiterate that the online dating marketplace because it is a marketplace which sounds so mercenary but it is what it is but it does reflect a lot of behavior on the internet which is that it is ablelist, it is racist, it looksist, and if you are not privileged in any of those areas, the experience of using online
dating sites or using apps even the experience just by itself can be upsetting. That's why it's really important to prioritize your mental and your emotional health in this context.
Emily: The first thing that you can do is to mindfully swipe as opposed to just going through first reaction, "I like this person or I don't" and then just automatically swiping left or right. Is it still left or right OkCupid? Is it the exact same thing?
Dedeker: It must have because they know people have maintained the same habits on Tinder.
Jase: Muscle memory.
Dedeker: They're not going to mess up on that I don't think. I think Bumbles' the same way.
Emily: Swiping right is you like the person, swiping left is all pass?
Emily: Okay. Instead of doing that, just got a reaction first person that you see left or right, maybe try to slow things down a bit, try to figure out your emotional state when you see this person. Again, it's just a picture. I mean that's difficult to really ascertain potentially what you actually think but what is your body feel like in the moment. Do you get, I don't know, a tingling sensation, an excitement perhaps when you see that person? Maybe think about that or feel it and then give the person a chance. Don't just go left or right like, "Whatever I feel on the moment, let's do this." Take some time with it perhaps.
Jase: It's almost like you look at it like a chore. Of like, "I have to get through as many as I can in the short amount of time I have on this bus ride or whatever it is."
Emily: So many people do that though. They won't just sit there and be like, "I'm going to Tinder right now and swipe left or right." Then they'll do that for an hour and--
Dedeker: I've definitely been guilty of that.
Emily: I agree, yes.
Dedeker: It is this addictive process. Even though I feel the process itself doesn't bring me a ton of joy but there is still something very addictive about it. It's almost like checking
things off of a to-do list.
Jase: It's a little bit like playing a lottery or a slot machine because every now and then, you matched with this person and that happens not very often.
Emily: And you feel so good when you do.
Jase: You get that dopamine rush, it's exactly the same addictive mechanism in gambling. It's gambling specifically. I'm going to take a side bar to tell you about a little study
with birds. There was a study done with birds where they would push a lever in their cage and food would come out. They had an option where you had to hit the lever three times and every third time, the bird hit it a pellet of food would come out that they could eat and then they had another one where it was random. Sometimes it would be on the third one, sometimes it would be a couple in a row, sometimes there might be 10 between when some food would come out.
Then at some point food stops coming out of it, the birds who got it regularly every third one would keep trying it for a certain amount of time and then eventually stop and the
birds who got it randomly kept doing it basically forever. They never gave up because of the addictiveness of an unpredictable reward.
Dedeker: Right, that makes sense.
Emily: Because the scratchers cards that you get and you can see they have those little scanners, you can see if it's a winner or not and it's so cheap. You can just go back and keep getting them because maybe you'll get a winner.
Jase: If you get it just often enough then you'll be back forever.
Dedeker: Seriously, I think it is interesting to talk about a part of swiping or mindful online dating is also making note of when you choose to open a dating app, is it mostly late at
night before bed or when I'm drunk or when I'm tired or when I'm feeling sad. Again, I say that because totally been guilty of basically all of the above. I think paying attention
to your context as well of when you choose to start swiping or start using a dating app is really interesting.
Jase: Like Emily was saying, the idea to have asking what are you feeling rather than just is this a yes or no because then regardless of which you pick, you're learning stuff about yourself. Of being like, "This is interesting. I'm noticing I react to this certain way to a certain type of picture or a certain type of person. I wonder why that is? Is that something I could maybe examine about myself?"
Emily: How often do we ask ourselves those questions.
Jase: Rarely ever. Imagine that, that Tinder could be a mindfulness tool, rather than just a lot--
Emily: You should market that. What are some other ways that you can do this more mindfully?
Jase: Going along with that is something that I found that I had to do for myself which is to limit the amount of time that I spend browsing profiles. This for me was specifically with OkCupid. I imagine this would apply on Tinder as well but it was-- This could be a very specific, like I'm going to do it for this amount of time on these days and that's it and the rest of the time I'm not going to obsess over it and think about it. Maybe respond to messages but I'm not going to sit there comment through people's profiles and analyzing my messages and trying to compose the best message.
It could be something a little more general of just as soon as I start to feel myself going into that place of comparing myself to this imagined person that I think would get a good response or the person I think that they would be into or to the place of like, "I don't really like the things this person wrote but maybe it'll be fine." Whatever it is where I found myself to start compromising on something whether it was my self-esteem or my better judgment or whatever it was then it was like, "No, I just got to stop. This isn't a deadline that needs to get finished."
Dedeker: Yes, definitely.
Emily: In your actual online dating profile, when it's an OkCupid then because I know Tinder limits you to only two sentences or something.
Jase: To some number of characters, I forget how much.
Emily: When you do have more space to talk about yourself and talk about your likes and dislikes and all of that stuff, I think less is more. It's been shown that you shouldn't write a novel in your profile. Don't just go on and on and on because probably people aren't going to read all of it anyway. Not too little but just the right amount. It's the Goldilocks of profiles but don't go overboard, just less is more potentially. Also you want people to hear about you, you want people to figure out who you are from your profile if you can.
Dedeker: Then something else to bear in mind is especially when you're swiping people, if you're looking for other people's profiles, the attractiveness of someone's pictures is not really a very good measure of what your actual compatibility or chemistry is going to be with them. I can definitely attest, in my personal experience, the people that I've dated who were the most conventional attractive, after dating a number of both conventionally attractive and maybe less conventionally attractive people or whatever. Emily's pointing at Jase. Jase, I do think you're quite attractive.
Emily: But you're not the most attractive now [laughs]
Dedeker: Oh my goodness no. How do I not bury myself?
Emily: Just keep going,
Dedeker: No. This is my thing, I was thinking more of the times that I have dated the very traditional beefcake muscle boy, chiseled jaw, toxic masculine man, essentially you just know who you are. Not all of them are terrible, but I'm just saying that's in my personal experience, it's not been a good track record. It's like just because I'm super attracted to a person does not mean that they're the one or that it's all going to work out or that we're all going to be compatible. Have I talked my way out of this yet? I really don't know.
Emily: Yes. I'm just trying to remember the beefcake voice that you have dated and I can't think of any.
Dedeker: It's because it didn’t last long.
Emily: That must be why.
Jase: I think something that I identified for myself when trying to be a little bit more mindful about what is it that I'm drawn to about the profiles that I am, honestly, what I realized for myself is it was about the quality of their photos and not even about them necessarily.
Emily: Of course, it would be. It would also be like the quality of their hair.
Jase: I was just going to say that.
Emily: I know you so well.
Jase: Yes. For me, it's like the quality of their haircut and color, and then the quality of the photo and I was like, neither of these are actually good indicators of whether I will have chemistry with this person.
Dedeker: This is just your jobs and your skills.
Emily: Oh my gosh. How many conversations you and I have had about that be like, "You know, her face I like it, but I don't know about the haircut. I don't know about the color. I don’t know."
Dedeker: That actually leads into my next point which is that there's a lot that goes into attraction and what we're drawn to and averse to outside of just surface level; how we perceive someone's physical qualities essentially. There's things like socialization because all of us are raised in a particular culture where we've been taught this particular body type or face type is attractive and this body type is not. There's a lot of socialization that we have to wade through. Part of attraction can be the perceived status that we think that this person would give us.
Either we perceive that it's like, maybe they're very successful in their job or they make a lot of money and so we're attracted to the idea that being with them would bring us status, or this is someone who is like very conventionally attractive by everyone's standards, and so if we are with this person, that would bring me status because of me having such a beautiful or handsome partner.
Again, just how we think that other people would perceive this particular partner really affects our surface level attraction, I think, because I think there's a lot of people out there who are attracted to a wide variety of body types, a wide variety of gender identities, but because of the stigma around dating a particular body type or dating a particular gender or dating a particular whatever, that really does influence the decisions that people make on dating apps.
I think part of this whole mindful swiping like mindful online dating thing is I really encourage people to like try to deconstruct that shit. When you are swiping, if you're swiping left on someone, it can be a really interesting exercise to just pause and literally just feel into yourself and inquire like, "Why am I swiping left on this person?" It doesn't mean that you shouldn't, it's okay, Maybe there is something that really is a deal breaker for you or whatever, but just inquiring as to why and inquiring where that came from is a really, really illuminating exercise and it's possible to do if you're sitting there swiping slowly instead of just mindlessly going back and forth.
Jase: We're going to transition a little bit. I think a lot of this still is very related to actually the process of messaging and putting together a profile and all of this, but these ones will also apply to actually going on dates or messaging with people in anticipation of going on dates. This is about maintaining your well-being and your sense of being at peace during that process.
The first one here is when you're messaging or when you're on a date with someone in person is to go in and check in with yourself throughout to have a focus on, "I want to learn about who this person is, I want to get to understand a little bit about them," rather than going in with, "I want to impress them with my best stories." Similarly, this is from an article by a psychologist who wrote an article about going on dates.
He said to turn your dial from find soul mate to get to know this person or have a good conversation. I was like, "Yes, I like that idea of thinking about I'm calibrating what my goals are and what my intentions are going into this conversation, whether it's still in messages or actually on the date." I'm just like, "I actually just want to understand this person as much as I can because that is going to be more useful to me both in the short term as well as the long-term, and also many studies have shown and anecdotal evidence that being a good listener, actually actively listening and paying attention to someone else, will make other people think you are more interesting."
Which goes against a lot of what people assume is like, "I have to impress them with stuff about myself," but in reality, the people who are often thought of as the most interesting are the ones who just listen better.
Dedeker: Wow, that is really cool. I hadn't heard that.
Jase: That's a classic Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People thing. Seriously, it's just like listen to people ask them questions, pay attention.
Emily: Dale, I guess that makes sense. Good questions.
Dedeker: Yes, that does make sense. Well, thank you Mr. Carnegie. Another thing that I think is going to really help you maintain the best peace of mind even though it, of course, may seem counterintuitive at first. This is both when making a profile and when you're on a date with someone, and it can be summed up simply by just saying take off the mask. I know a lot of people say like, "Be your true self or be honest or whatever," but it's like really this can be so tricky.
Even when you head in with the intention of like, "I'm going to be honest," I found like even for myself, the tendency to want to try to make a good impression and to not scare someone off, it can really manifest in some very sneaky ways. Even if you really identify as like, I'm so honest. I'm an open book. The choice to tailor your language or to tailor the information that you give someone or-- it really takes, I think, a lot of self-awareness and a lot of self-critical awareness essentially to catch yourself at your own bullshit games when you do go on a first date with someone.
Again, just kind of rededicating yourself to this idea of actually being the best possible person that you can be, finding better ways to communicate who you are instead of trying to communicate what it is that you think this person wants to hear is definitely something that we've talked a lot about on this show, particularly when it comes to dating while you're consensually non-monogamous because that is just a territory that it's like it's so rife with not wanting to scare someone off that it can be really easy to either downplay what your identity is, downplay how serious this is to you, downplay what your other relationships are like in order to try to be less threatening essentially but it always backfires. I've never not seen it backfire. I'm sure someone's going to email me and talk about how it worked out so fantastically for them. Sure, whatever you can email me or Twitter me.
Jase: Put it on the Patreon group, let's talk it.
Dedeker: Well, put it in the Patreon group, that’s fine. However, I just feel like in my work and in my personal life, I've never not seen it backfire in some way. That’s why we encourage people to be "unapologetic" and also even if you're not polyamorous, just to be normal unapologetic about what you are. Again, be just so vigilant about the way that your own psyche's going to try to find these games to try to protect you because that's essentially what it is.
Jase: I've seen it go the other way too, where the games that people will play or that I've played to try to protect yourself is to make yourself seem much more negative than you are.
Emily: Negative regarding what?
Jase: Of like super self-deprecating language as this self-defensive like, "Well, if I push them away then they're not rejecting me because I did it for them. I scared them away intentionally." I've also seen that and have experienced some of that myself. It really-- I like how you put it as take off the mask and just focusing on how can I learn to better communicate who I am rather than one way or another trying to present a certain other thing.
Emily: Take off the mask, just reminds me of the movie Face Off.
Jase: It was reminding me of The Mask. I've been thinking of Jim Carrey this whole time.
Emily: No, I just saw Face Off and men--
Jase: [imitating voice] I want to take his face off.
Emily: Yes, and they do. Goodness, they do. Finally, when you're on a date, one should focus less on checking all the boxes or trying to figure out if this person checks all of your boxes, your proverbial boxes [laughs]. God, I can't today--
Jase: I'm only just-
Emily: I know.
Jase: -mind in the gutter.
Emily: No, but rather just, "Okay, are they marriage material or do they seem like they want kids or do they--" whatever it may be. Instead, try to focus on how you feel around this person. Do you feel good? Are you laughing? Do they have a great sense of humor, what are the visceral reactions that your body is going through in the moment when you're speaking to them. Focus on those things as opposed to like, "Okay, I have to sit down and see if they're checking all of my boxes." Damn it.
Jase: To then decide if they can check your box?
Dedeker: Oh my goodness, the two of you.
Emily: That's the word, I'm so sorry. We don't get to do this in drunk Bible study so we have to do it here.
Jase: That's true. We have to be so clean on that show so proper and--
Dedeker: Oh my goodness.
Emily: You all have been seeing the effort all over the place.
Jase: Because I got to get it out while I can.
Emily: Exactly. So I'm getting in this.
Dedeker: I want to pose a tricky question to the two of you about this last point. Do you feel like there is an easy way to tell a difference between when you're focused on a checklist in a potential partner versus when you have boundaries around a potential new relationship?
Emily: Yes. I mean-- that is a good question.
Dedeker: Because I think about a hypothetical situation where I've been in a number of times where it's like wow, I'm having a great time with this person, they're making me laugh, or I feel attracted to them. I feel great, but they've said to me pretty much straight out that like no--monogamy turns them off.
Emily: I don't do polyamory.
Dedeker: Or something like that and so it's like could you argue, "I need to let go of my checklist," or could you argue that it's like that's kind of a non-negotiable fundamental thing? Is there an easy way to tell the difference? I think some people would have the same feelings around. They could have the same feelings around marriage or cohabitation or having a child or whatever.
Emily: Absolutely. I mean sure, if that is what you were looking for, fundamentally, if you're like, "Okay, this is the only people that I'm going to date from here on out are people who are interested in marriage or who are interested in having children, or who are non-monogamous themselves," then yes, I think that those are things that you should look at. Ideally, maybe you'd talk about it in your profile already or you'd go back and forth and put those hints out there maybe, especially regarding the non-monogamous one.
I do think, like you said, be as unapologetic as possible and either put it in your profile or immediately when you message someone be like, "I'm interested in this thing or I am a practicing polyamorist."
Jase: Right. I was going to throw out there, I just thought of this right now, but kind of the difference is I see a checklist as like a series of kind of positives that you think they need to have, whereas a boundary is a little bit more of I-- don't know how to phrase this. That it's more like your example of if someone says specifically they do not want to be non-monogamous to me that's like, "Okay, that's a boundary," because I know that that is something I want to do that I'm not willing to compromise on. Whereas a checklist thing would be like they have a college degree or they make a certain amount of money.
Emily: They have a great relationship with their mother.
Jase: Right, yes. Whatever it is that's more of like luxuries I guess. Then I would maybe suggest, and I think this really depends and I could see people arguing this, but with the marriage and kids thing, I feel like the boundary version of that is if you really want to date monogamously and get married and have kids, that a boundary could be if someone says I never want to get married or I never want to have kids that could be like "Okay, I know that is that something I want so this isn't going to work." That falls under boundary. Whereas, the checklist might be like do they bring up marriage and kids on the first date or not or is that something they're actively seeking.
Do you know what I mean? Where it's more like that's a-- I don't know and I could see there being some grey area. I just feel like people will kind of-- if they really do some introspection, will see when it's like I'm just trying to look for these things that I think will be good, or I have a certain superstition that they'll be good, or my mom once told me would be good, versus something that's really like no, I can't do that kind of relationship. I don't know.
Dedeker: Well, I'll be honest, I feel like in the days when I was monogamously dating, I had a little bit more of the checklist mindset because when you are dating is a little bit more pressure of like if I'm going to be dating one person they really got-- they literally do have to check all the boxes essentially or as many as possible. I don't know. I feel like I felt more of that pressure when I was younger and maybe a little bit less now. I don't know. I'm not sure.
Jase: That's an interesting thought. I'd like to hear what people think about that in a-
Dedeker: Definitely a discussion-
Jase: -in the discussion thread for this episode in the Patreon groups.
Dedeker: Right. Let's talk about some general takeaways and some ways to maintain well-being outside of when you're dating. I don't know, the big thing that I feel like I learned is this idea that attraction in itself it does grow and change not only in yourself as a human being over time but also in a relationship. It's not necessarily fixed from the first time that you meet someone, and often actually taking the time to sincerely get to know people will lead to a deeper attraction and better relationships, I think, especially combined with this kind of self-critical analysis that we've talked about of analyzing the way your own attraction complex works. Anyway, taking that more holistic approach is ultimately going to be better than continually just seeking the most attractive possible person in any given context.
Emily: It's definitely really easy to get burned out if you're just dating, dating, dating, dating, dating all over the place. It's really okay to take time for yourself and whether or not that's like time where you're just away from your dating app or you just have some good chunk of time between dates with multiple people, say uou have like 10 dates lined up, maybe take some time between those dates. Don't just go bam, bam, bam, bam, bam because then you probably won't have a good a barometer for saying whether or not you really like a certain person or not. Yes, take time for yourself. Be good to yourself. It's easy to get burned out and try not to do that.
Jase: The closing thought that we wanted to leave everyone with about this is that just there's a lot of resources out there, and there's a lot of people who spend a lot of time or money trying to game the system, trying to like play this game better and create the most "effective" profile. Whether that means getting dates or getting responses to messages or getting people to message you, whatever it is.
Ultimately, maybe you make a profile that gets you more dates but if those dates aren't actually like good dates meeting people that make your life a better place, what are you doing? What's the point of this? It's just taking more of your time and money. Instead of focusing on that, focus on actually just being the best person you can be and learn better ways to show that, to show who you actually are instead of what you think is the ideal or what you think is going to get you more dates or trying to like spin things to get more responses.
Instead just be the best person you can be just period not in order to get more dates, but just because that's what you want to do. Then beyond that, just try to be accurate. Something I wanted to leave people with is if you do want to, in the Patreon group, for example, post a link to your profile it and ask people for feedback or whatever, or if just asking your friends is instead of saying, "How could I make this better?" Which is usually what people ask, like, "Do you see anything wrong with it? Could I make it better?"
To instead if it's someone who knows you, ask the question, "Do you think this accurately conveys me? Does it show the type of sense of humor that I have? Or does it show the type of personality or the type of person I am?" If they're like, "Well, you've come across more confident than you actually are." That's not being-- it's better to be accurate, I guess, than to just come across in a way that you think might be more attractive.
Then the second thing is if you are sending it to a group like in the Patreon group or something, is instead of saying, "Could I make this better?" To ask the question of like, "What kind of person do you think this profile shows?" Then based on the answers you get, evaluate like, "That's interesting. Everyone took away like that this person is very motivated or career motivated," and feel like, "In reality, I feel I'm more about my relationships than my career. I didn't accurately portray who I am."
Emily: Yes. That's great.
Jase: That's my challenge to all of you.
Emily: We want to know all of your trials and tribulations regarding the online dating world and your success stories. What have you done to be more mindful in your online dating practices? What has been challenging for you? We want to hear it all, so the best place to share your thoughts with other listeners and with us is on this episode's discussion thread in our private Facebook or discourse forums. You can get access to these groups and join our exclusive community by going to Patreon.com/multiamory. In addition, you can share with us publicly on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave us a voicemail at 678-MULTI-05 or you can leave us a voice message on Facebook.