Dating Apps Help Us Talk About Who You’re Attracting And Attracted To
While it may not be what brings them into therapy, a good portion of my work with most patients includes looking at their relationship history, examining what went wrong with specific people, identifying patterns, and talking about how to make better choices in the future. In 2019, this relationship history often involves dating apps.
The way we talk about dating apps has changed monumentally over the last few years. While it used to be embarrassing or even shameful to have met a partner on Tinder or Bumble, now it doesn’t even warrant a pause after the question: “Where did you two meet?” Not just useful for meeting a partner, dating apps can be a great way to observe what types of people they attract and are attracted to.
What You Lead With On Your Dating Profile Determines What Attention You’ll Receive
We have more influence than we think when it comes to whose eye we catch. In both subtle and not-so-subtle ways, how we portray ourselves–either online or in real life–sends a message about who we are trying to attract. Whether it’s bikini shots or gym selfies, what we lead with often determines what kind of attention we receive and from whom.
When crafting a dating profile, we have to make decisions about which part of ourselves we highlight (or leave out entirely). In therapy, it can be useful to talk through what type of person my patient wants to meet, which is sometimes at odds with the type of person his or her profile attracts. For instance, if a patient is looking for someone who loves travel and adventure, their own profile should reflect playfulness, flexibility, and curiosity–not a bunch of group photographs at friends’ weddings. When there is a disconnect between desire and reality, we can look at why that is, and how to adjust the approach or expectations.
Who You Swipe Right On Can Also Show The Dissonance Between What Kind Of Partner You Want And Who You’re Meeting
Similarly, the people my patients “swipe right” on can reveal a lot of dissonance between who they want and who they meet. For example, a patient may yearn to meet someone who can connect on a deep intellectual level, but they mainly swipe on photos of tequila shots in college bars. When this happens, we can talk about what attracts them to people who are unlikely to give them what they need.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, we all repeat patterns in our lives. Often these patterns are easy to spot in dating apps as they’re right in front of our faces. Maybe all the matches show a lot of skin or appear to be an inappropriate age (either too young or too old) for what you’re looking for. I’ve had patients lament that their partners have never been able to keep up with their own active lives, and then realize they only ever swipe on older men because what they’re actually attracted to is financial security.
Dating Apps Can Also Help Spot Red Flags–And How We Ignore Them
Looking at who catches my patients’ eyes can also help us have conversations about how to assess other people. Red flags can be identified in other people’s profiles. Things like overly provocative photographs or inappropriate text commentary can provide information about the viability of a connection with that person. Especially for patients who feel as if they’re constantly surprised when things don’t work out, learning how to see these indicators can be incredibly useful.