Dating apps have made finding someone to go on a date with as easy as ordering socks on Amazon, but besides the ease of finding a potential mate, the dating world, romance, and relationships in general remain just as baffling as before, if not even more so. Swiping through hundreds of potential mates can often make you feel lonely and like there is either something wrong with you, or like there is something wrong with everyone else. As I hope to explain in this book, this cynicism is not due to any external factors, but is rather a symptom of bad tactics: you’re going about it all wrong.
I realized a long time ago that, psychologically, swiping on dating apps is like scratching off lotto tickets. Little hits of dopamine keep me coming back (matches on Tinder)—as does the promise of winning the lottery (a relationship or sex)—but ultimately, I’m just playing the odds by scratching (dating) as much as possible and hoping for the best. This kind of dating leaves men and women emotionally and financially broke.
In this book, I’ll help you increase your odds of finding the relationship you seek, whether it be casual sex or a long-term relationship, without feeling lost along the way. I’ll demystify the art of getting a date and having good first dates using any of the apps. Once you have practiced your skills and can date routinely without feeling like you’re on a series of soul-sucking job interviews, I’ll help you prepare for your next steps, whether that be a relationship, marriage, or casual lovers. I’ll explain how working to be a better communicator will help you find whatever type of romance you’re searching for and leave you happier, healthier, and getting laid a whole lot more.
Think of this book as me teaching you how to start a company and grow your wealth rather than blowing your paycheck on scratch-off lotto tickets every day. As the saying goes, shortcuts are not the way for a reason: they are not a good investment.
Dating apps try to differentiate themselves in a bunch of ways, but at the core, they all operate in the same way: find someone you think is attractive and/or interesting who lives near you. I’m not going to be diving deep into the differences between the apps because that’s not what this book is about and you can do your own research to figure out which is right for you. Most of this book deals with Tinder and Bumble since it’s what I have used the most, and what most people between the ages of 18 to 40 use. There are tons of apps though. Below you’ll find a list of all the ones you have heard of and probably several you haven’t. The first seven on this list are the most popular. If you need more than seven dating apps, it’s time to read this book because you’re doing something wrong.
• Coffee Meets Bagel
• Quiz Date Live
• Plenty of Fish
• The League
We’ll cover how to set up your profile, which pictures to choose, what kind of information to feature, what kind to not feature, and how to have the types of conversations that set you apart and get you a date.
I’ve always been successful with women, as friends and lovers. Maybe it’s because my household was mostly female, maybe it’s my dimples, who knows. What I do know is that there are levels of success with women. For the majority of my life, I felt I had everything a woman could want: I wrote poetry and songs for them, cooked for them, did nice things, and was generally charming, but it wasn’t until my late 20s that I realized I had still been objectifying women, misrepresenting myself, and, to some degree, unknowingly manipulating them into loving and sleeping with me. There was something thoughtless and unconscious about my behavior—I was not mindful. I’m in no way cured of this; I have psychological blockages galore, but I now know that even the act of attempting to clear some of those blockages results in happier partners and better relationships.
Many of us are not mindful during our dates, and it drains us. After a couple of dates in a week—successful or not—we can feel totally empty because we set our expectations so high, both for ourselves and for our dates. This is not how our “love” life should make us feel. As much as movies, TV, and music attempts to define and explore love, it’s all done from a place of cynicism. Your lovers will betray you, your love is unsustainable (“thank you, next”), and you can’t rely on yourself or others for too long. With a stance like this, it’s no wonder that we are entering relationships already having, to some degree, given up on love.
Blame it on our culture, blame it on TV, blame it on fairy-tale love stories, blame it on the patriarchy, blame it on whatever you want, it doesn’t change the fact that we are all singular, unique people who have a responsibility to ourselves—and the people in our lives—to grow into better people, be honest about our goals and intentions, and operate from a place of love and compassion. They say that communication is vital for any long-term relationship. I’d like to take that a step further and say it’s just as vital for short-term relationships, even for one-night stands. Love can come in many forms; it can last one night, a few years, or a whole lifetime, but it almost always includes honesty as a key ingredient. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, being fully honest with yourself and others is tough.
While I have been a serial monogamist almost my entire life, I’ve also slept around a lot, and most recently I have arrived at a lovely place in my romantic life where I have several active relationships—many through dating apps—that are loving, casual but not meaningless, fun, supremely physically and emotionally rewarding, and do not suck all the energy from me like you might expect.
I arrived here in a pretty circuitous way. When I was 26, I got married to my girlfriend of five years. We were divorced in under a year. The full trajectory of our relationship—from casual, to long-distance, to true love, to live-in, to husband and wife, to strangers—opened my eyes to the intricacies of how to treat people and how you should expect to be treated. I’ve probably spent too much of my life thinking about and focusing on romantic relationships. Sometimes when I’m with my therapist I ask her if it’s insane how often I’m talking about dating and sex; she assures me that it’s all anyone talks about. It’s this lifelong journey of mine toward God knows what—something resembling love, a spiritual reckoning in the form of a painful divorce, or relationships with other women also on their journeys—that led me to write this book.
Sometimes it’s amazing the world runs as well as it does; I’m amazed when I can get along with one single person for more than a couple of hours. Being a human is complicated and lonely enough—trying to address that loneliness with another complicated lonely human only makes matters more complex. Beyond, “be honest, communicate, treat each other well,” the rest is just a crapshoot. Throughout this book, I try to avoid the pitfalls of claiming my viewpoint or advice is the be-all-end-all. The advice in this book is aspirational. I’m in no way a master of it all, but I do hope this book starts some meaningful conversations. I believe we need to rethink how we talk about relationships and what it means to be a man as feminism goes mainstream.
Whatever your relationship goals are, it’s my sincere wish that this book provides you insight on how to change your mindset, your expectations, and your behavior so that you can build for yourself the fulfilling love life you desire and deserve.