I was convinced I’d never meet my husband for most of my twenties. I lived in New York City, going on more dates than I could count, and seemingly, always disappointed. I chronicled my experiences on a personal dating blog that ultimately launched my freelance writing career. When I say I tried ‘everything’—I truly believe I did: professional matchmakers, set-ups by friends, speed dating, singles mixers, psychic advice, and of course, dating apps. I gave each of them a chance—from Match and eHarmony to Bumble, Plenty of Fish, Hinge, and Tinder.
But, no matter what I tried, first dates felt disappointing. Or, I ended up being ghosted after a few meet-ups. Some guys seemed only to be interested in casual encounters. Others weren’t my type, or we didn’t have chemistry. Nothing stuck longer than a month or two, and I felt like I was knocking my head against a brick wall over and over (and over) again.
By the time my 27th birthday rolled around, I had decided I had to make a change if I was ever going to find the partner I desperately wanted. More so, I realized I had to focus on myself and my own mental health and confidence to attract the right person. I realize not everyone can take such drastic measures, but I made some big decisions that year:
- I found and booked weekly therapy for nine months.
- I quit my full-time job to become a full-time freelancer.
- And, I accepted the opportunity to travel the world for a year via Remote Year.
During my therapy and my travels, I took a break from dating. Sure, I had a few fun encounters, but I mostly spent the better part of two years investing in my happiness, interests and passions, and figuring out what matters the most to me in life and love.
Fast forward to three months after I turned 30, and I was crashing in my parent’s basement, mapping out my next move. I found success with freelancing, and with no intention to return to traditional work, I could live anywhere. I didn’t want to return to New York City, and many of my friends had relocated to Los Angeles or to Boston. I decided to spend a month in each city to test them out.
Being the type A over-planner I am, I wanted to scope out the single dudes in both places. So, I paid $10 to activate Tinder’s Passport feature, allowing me to swipe in areas other than my own. This feature is now free, but it was money well spent back in December of 2018 because ultimately, it’s how I met my husband, Rasmus.
We matched late in the evening and spent hours texting, getting to know one another. He asked me out right away, and I had to admit I wasn’t located in Boston. And ahem, I wouldn’t be there for another seven weeks. I was convinced he would stop chatting with me right away, but much to my surprise, he understood, and we decided to keep the conversation going.
Over that time, we texted, had phone calls, video chats, and slowly got to know one another. We joke that it was like old-school courting, and truly, it was: there was no pressure on fancy dinners or cocktails, no sexual interactions to worry about, and instead, it was all about the conversation. By the time we had our first ‘in-person’ date in early February, we had already fallen for one another. We became ‘official’ a few weeks later, moved in together and got engaged within 1.5 years, married after two, and now we’re expecting our first baby.
If you could have asked me my predictions about my future husband and how we met, I definitely wouldn’t have said ‘Tinder.’ Of all the dating apps, this one gets the worst rep since it’s known as the hook-up community. And in many ways, it is. However, regardless of which app you choose to download and use, I think there are ways to make it favorable for your long-term relationship goals. I’m not a dating expert, but to get more out of your experience and weed through the duds, here are my top tips:
This might seem like a no-brainer since a strong marriage should be built on a foundation of trust, but with online dating, it’s easy to smudge the details. Though it might be tempting to come across as easy-going, be upfront if you’re genuinely in the market for a meaningful connection. After too many years pretending to be less serious than I was, when I re-downloaded Tinder after my soul-searching, I decided to be 100 percent authentic. Rasmus and I covered marriage, children, and our major life goals within the first few hours of texting. This allowed me to know from the beginning if we were on the same page and wanted (mostly) the same things.
Say ‘no’ sooner.
We all want to believe the best in people. So when someone seems like they *could* be the ideal partner, but they don’t want a relationship right now, you may try to hold out until they’re ready. In theory—and in romantic comedies—they will realize how wonderful you are and change their mind. In practice, it typically never works in your favor. If you start chatting with someone on Tinder who is clear about their intentions, beats around the bush, or otherwise doesn’t take the action you’re hoping for—cut your losses. This isn’t to say you should ignore all shy folks, but remember red flags are red for a reason—there to alert you to danger. Heed and pay attention to them.
Take your time.
While our situation was unique since we physically couldn’t be face-to-face for seven weeks, this time was so fundamental to building our relationship. It forced us to learn how to communicate, and it’s allowed us to have hard conversations and express our needs. With online dating, many people struggle with the notion that ‘something better’ could be out there. And sure, that may be true, but instead of rushing through each discussion and date, try to take it slow. It will help you create a better foundation and connection if your relationship does go the distance.