Are Dating Apps A Waste Of Time?

If you’ve spent event ten minutes searching profiles on dating sites, you’ll see someone use the line “We can pretend we met somewhere else.” While online dating is incredibly common, there’s still a perceived stigma against it.

And if you’re a seasoned online dater, you also know that some profiles seem to pop up over and over again. It can feel like you’ll never meet anyone new once you’re past that initial online dating honeymoon phase.

So this begs the ultimate question, are dating apps a waste of time? Is it worth putting in your time, emotional effort, and sometimes your money to find that special someone…online?

If you’re asking that question, chances are you’ve already given it a try and you think it just might be a waste of time. Before you close the case, though, here are a few questions you should ask yourself.

Are You Using The Right Site?

It feels like there are more online dating sites and apps than literal and metaphorical fish in the sea, and they’re all a little different. Finding the right dating site is almost like dating itself: Keep introducing yourself until something clicks. That said, there are plenty of ways to narrow your search for the right dating site, and then for the right person.

Researching dating sites and apps is easy to do. Start by asking your friends who are coupled—preferably the ones that seem to get along with each other—how they met, and if they used a dating site. You’ll also be able to do a fair amount of research online to help you hone in on the sites where you’re most likely to meet someone compatible.

This could be a general dating site that feels like a crowded marketplace (not a bad option if you’re not sure who you’re looking for) or a site that’s tailored for people who share specific professions or interests.

Ultimately, you’ll probably end up giving a few a try before you find one that has a healthy population of the types of people you’d like to meet.

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Are You Using A Quality App?

It doesn’t matter how great the people using an app are—If the dating app itself is a lemon, your experience will be soured. Do you like the app’s interface? Are you getting quality matches based on the criteria you’ve entered?

If you’re getting off the wall profiles recommended to you—people far older or younger than what you’ve specified, or from another city—or country!—entirely, the app you’re using isn’t quality. Don’t waste your time with a dating app or website that consistently gets it wrong. Give each app you try a good week or so before giving up hope.

There’s also nothing wrong with trying more than one at a time. This is common practice, and you’ll start to recognize familiar faces.

Bonus tip: if you see the same pics on different profiles, take a look at the text. If they say they’re looking for a long term relationship on one app but they’re down to hook up on another, save yourself some trouble and run in the other direction—fast.

Are Your Goals Realistic?

Remember when we mentioned that the quality of your matches was a good indicator of the quality of an app? You’ve got to do your part, too. If you’ll only accept someone who’s 6’1”, jacked, has black hair and green eyes, owns a successful chain of high-end cheese shops, and wants to get married in the next six months, you will definitely be disappointed by every app you try. Preferences are one thing, but if you’re so set in your ways that your search yields zero results, it’s probably not a problem with the site.

Don’t settle, but if you’re not finding the kinds of people you’d like to meet, take a little time to reflect on what your relationship goals are, and understand the difference between a priority and a preference. You may be missing out on meeting the love of your life just because you have a fantasy person already imagined.

Are You Putting In The Work?

Be honest with yourself: are you doing what it takes to find the person of your dreams? Dating should never feel like a chore, but if you’re not meeting the types of people you’d like to meet, maybe it’s time to level up your game—online and off.

First, how’s your profile? Are those pictures recent, flattering, and in focus? It goes without saying, but if your profile is sans photos, or the only photo is a dating meme, and the text says “just looking” or “I’ll fill this out later,” you’ll come across as lazy at best and creepy at worst. Take your profile seriously but appear fun loving—total contradiction, right?

Not really. It’s all about letting people know that you’re sincere about wanting to find the right person, regardless of the level of commitment you’re looking for.

Online dating should never feel like homework, but it especially shouldn’t feel like a phoned-in, C+ book report. There are plenty of well-meaning friends and advice-givers who will suggest things like sending ten messages a day no matter what.

While there’s something to be said for stepping out of your comfort zone, don’t treat online dating like a numbers game. And if you do—do not send a message that only says “hello” or gives a stock pickup line. Work a little harder. Mention something in their profile and a brief bit about yourself. That intro should be three sentences, tops.

Once you connect with someone and make plans to meet, take it seriously. This doesn’t mean getting too in your head and overthinking it, but it does mean treating the evening with the same respect you’ll show your date. Get a haircut, wear something nice and appropriate to the activity. Enjoy yourself, but make sure your date is having a good time, too.

Have Fun With It!

We’ve given you a lot of do’s and don’ts here, but the goal of dating is to have fun. Not every conversation will result in a date, but if you’re on the right site or app, you’re realistic about your goals, and put in the work, you’ll find the right person for you. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet the person of your dreams your first day online. Have a little patience and things will go your way.