Is Dating a Numbers Game?

The moment you sign up for a dating app, you’re inundated with profiles and maybe even messages from singles in your area. There are so many profiles on one site alone that you’d never be able to meet every person there one on one no matter how hard you tried. But compared to traditional meet-cute dating, online dating simply gives you access to exponentially more single people. So is it true? Is dating online all about working the numbers?

Well… It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Just like dating in person, you could walk up to every person you pass on the street and ask them to dinner, and eventually at least one would say yes. And if you made that move often enough, eventually more than one person would say yes. And maybe, just maybe, approaching every person you met would eventually lead to you meeting someone you were truly attracted to.

But you wouldn’t do that in real life. Not only is there not enough time in the day, but it’s insincere and a poor way to meet someone you’d truly connect with.

That said, you miss all the shots you don’t take, right? So where’s the balance between contacting too many people when online dating and not contacting enough? It’s true: you can treat dating like a numbers game, but you don’t have to. Here are some strategies to make the best first impression for your potential soul mate.

Numbers on a board

Don’t Just Swipe Right

We get it. You’ve got thousands of profiles to check out, and it’s easier just to say yes to everyone and wait until you match with someone to see if you’re actually interested, but this is treating dating like a numbers game, and it’s not fair to the people on the other side of those profiles. As the saying goes, treat others the way you’d like to be treated.

Whether we feel good about it or not, the plain fact is that it’s a good profile that pulls a person in. Physical attraction is part of the process, so don’t feel guilty about that. But do make sure that at absolutely bare minimum you make sure you’re saying yes to a profile where you find the other person attractive.

While immediately unmatching is something that happens—you suddenly read deeper into their profile and discover there’s a Hard No, or even that in the process of mindlessly swiping you’ve missed a second photo that shows off a hobby or feature that just doesn’t appeal to you—you can avoid this altogether just by taking a few extra seconds with their profile.

Besides, how do you feel when you match and then the other person immediately disappears? Don’t put someone else through that.

Different App Equals Different Game

There is one instance where playing a version of the numbers game does work in your favor. There are hundreds—maybe thousands!—of different dating apps on there, and you’ll find they each have their own way of filtering potential matches, and that could work in your favor.

You’ll definitely see a lot of the same people pop up on multiple apps, especially if you’re limiting yourself to your local geographic area—don’t judge; they’re doing exactly what you’re doing. But it can be interesting to see if they cut and paste the same text, or if they present themselves wildly differently on multiple apps. Don’t be afraid to give multiple apps a try.

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Whether you’re trying to make connections in person or online, dealing with the frustration of how long it takes can be tough. You may be playing it safe waiting for the perfect-on-paper profile to show up, or you may go through dozens of lackluster dates. It makes sense that you’d think about throwing in the towel.

But if meeting the right person was an easy task, we’d all be coupled up by now. There’s no magic number of dates or profile swipes that will manifest the person of your dreams. Don’t make finding love feel like a chore. Make sure you avoid numbers-game burnout.

Turn off notifications and pick a set time of day to open the app, right. Sounds counterintuitive, right? But opening the app at every ping and constantly refreshing your feed is a sure way to make the experience less exciting. It may be enough to make you want to give up.

But think of it this way: even if you don’t find your true love in a day, you’ve made time to not only build anticipation but to pay closer attention to the profiles of the people you’ve matched with. It can make the whole process feel less like online shopping and more like looking for a genuine connection.

Once you do meet a person or two who strikes your interest, don’t feel like you have to keep up that “notifications off” rule. It’s entirely up to you. Some people can’t interrupt their workday messaging, and some people can. But if you genuinely begin to connect with someone, it’s worthwhile to keep in touch a little more regularly.

Once you’ve had a day or two (or less, if they seem comfortable, too), of good conversation, give them your phone number and switch to text. It doesn’t mean you’re suddenly exclusive or need to leave the app; it just means you’ve made a good connection and there’s a chance there will be more.

Dating online isn’t like mining for gold. Don’t keep yourself up at night, wondering obsessively if you’re missing the love of your life by not being online swiping through an app trying to find the love of your life. Not only will a little patience work in your favor, but it will also make you look like less of a creeper, hitting like on profile photos at 3 am.

So is dating a numbers game? A little, but not in the cold way you think. What it really is, is a game of patience. Don’t panic; you’ll find the right person soon enough.