Are Dating Apps Making You Feel Hopeless? Watch this. . .
My brother Stephen and I have been having a lot of fun with the podcast lately. This week’s video we took from a recent really popular episode. Consider this a kind of “halftime report” for the year—providing an overview of the dating scene right now. I love reading your comments (sometimes they even inspire new videos!) and hope you’ll leave me a note with your favorite takeaway from this week.
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I just can’t stand this world now where everyone treats interactions so flippantly. I’m actually looking for someone and so when I match with someone, I put a little investment into that and it just seems like no one else does.
I thought it’d be good just to sort of do a bit of a state of unions right now and talk about where people are in dating and then maybe talk about some of the perils of dating apps. How does that sound?
A little halftime talk for 2021. I like that.
Yeah. Let’s see where people are at, get a temperature and offer perhaps some valuable advice as people go into a world where maybe they’re still a bit tentative and also battling some of the problems of dating apps, which maybe we can start here, are that there’s so much bloody choice or at least it seems. It probably is the worst of all worlds in some people’s eyes, because it feels like there’s not a lot of choice when it comes to choosing. It feels like God, everyone’s flaky, people aren’t actually trying, it’s the minimum possible effort being put in by these people or as we call it the MPI guy, minimum possible investment. And yet they on the other side, seem to have endless choice. And that makes me feel like there’s a sea of people I can’t possibly compete with in quote “winning the dating game”. What are your thoughts on that, Steve, on just the fact that people just feel like, how do I possibly compete with all the options people seem to have these days?
Yeah. I’m trying to think when I am on, if I’m using dating apps and I’m out there, do I think of competition? I certainly think of the fact that people can ignore you very easily. And that it’s people are just not very invested when they match with you. And so it can make you take rejection a lot harder because you feel that, oh, I match with them. And then suddenly they stopped talking to me so what did I do wrong? But of course the truth on the other side might be what they’ve got loads of other matches. They’ve got a life. Maybe they’re not spending time on the app. Maybe they’ve got other stuff going on in their dating life that’s kind of causing them to go on other tangents. My strategy for that sort of thing is to just stop assuming things about people’s lives and stop assuming everything is a message about me.
Well, just to pause you there though because I just want to pick up on that point. It’s interesting. If people say, “Well, yeah but I have a life, but I still when I match with someone, I have an attitude of actually seeing where it goes.” And I just can’t stand this world now where everyone treats interactions so flippantly. I’m actually looking for someone and so when I match with someone, I put a little investment into that and it just seems like no one else does. Do you think they’re just seeing it wrong? Or they’re just not being contextual for the platform in the way that they’re thinking?
They are diagnosing a problem with what dating apps do. And I always tell people, “I do not have a dog in this fight. I have no reason to promote dating apps specifically. I have no reason, our business, our company has no reason to rally against them so it’s I don’t have a dog in this fight.” I think I’m definitely for if you want to be out there using dating apps but herein lies one of the things of there is a truth about how different people are using them. Some people are just using them for attention and validation and compliments or they just turn on a profile and they barely pay any attention to it. And they swipe on it but they’d rather sit home and play video games tonight. They can’t be bothered to actually go on a date.
And so there is this thing where all this stuff is happening and yes, people do have choice. It does happen. If I’ve been actively using them for a month or two months or something, you might then have a bunch of matches. And it is kind of like, oh man, there’s a lot. How do I even decide a filter here to decide who I’m interested in? Who I’m not so interested in? It becomes another job. It becomes overwhelming but that’s the point. I think you’ve got to realize that if you’re on the online dating thing, in some sense you are in a little bit of a numbers game where some people are just not in the place right now. Who are on the app and might seem cool, that there’s just all a 1,000 reasons why they haven’t got time.
Maybe they do have 10 matches before you and have already arranged a bunch of dates. Maybe that’s just already happened and you’re too late. Or all these other stuff. Maybe they’ve dated 10 people right now and they’re absolutely burned out and they think, I don’t want to use this thing for a while. I do think, yeah, you might think, well, I have a life, but I’m still using this thing but you kind of have to meet the person at the right time as well. Timing is a thing. And sometimes you’ve got to sift through a bit to find the person who’s in the right spot that you’re in as well. That is a part of dating. It’s not just compatibility.
See, I’m kind of interested in this idea of who should be the first mover or who should be the person who gives a little more first because in a world where people, Steve, even in my own non-dating life, I’ve been going through just in the last couple of weeks what I’ve been quite enjoying is just saying to myself, I’m just going to in my general interactions. And I don’t even mean speaking to people, just in seeing people on the street or walking past people, I’m going to give just 2% more than normal or 5% more than normal. And so I just treat the world, you know what it was like, Steve, when we first went to Florida and it’s sort of interesting just to be in a place where at least in the sort of resorts we were in, that people would just say hello to you. And it was like, oh wow, people are really, they’re really nice.
And the more you are that way or sorry, the more other people are that way, the more you kind of start getting into that vibe yourself and it starts making you suddenly you wake up the next morning and you’re walking through the hotel and you go “Hi” to someone you don’t know. You’re like, “hey, how’s it going?” Because you’re like, oh, that’s what’s normal here. And I have been doing that just in my everyday life is just going, you know what? I’m really going to just walk around as a friendlier person than other people. And just, we spend so much of our lives not smiling first because we’re worried that someone won’t smile back or not saying good morning, because we’re worried that someone’s going to think we’re weird.
And I made a conscious effort to be like, no, I’m just going to be that person who makes the world a little bit of a friendlier place. Now of course, in that context, other than just giving, because it feels good to give, it doesn’t have any real implications for me. It’s not like I’m likely to see that person again tomorrow and they’re going to suddenly realize, oh, it was that guy who was friendly to me last time. Good morning. It’s not that, but in our dating lives, it can have real implications if you’re that way. If you decide, you know what? This culture, Jameson often quotes that Mitch Albom quote that if the culture isn’t serving you, you have to be prepared to create your own culture. You have to be brave enough to make a culture that you want to be in.
And in a sense, we all do create these mini cultures around us. Whether it’s the culture we help to create in our family, in our company, in our relationship, or in our dates, we kind of, we put out energy that can transform the culture of whatever little ecosystem we’re operating in. And I think about that because it’s easy to say, well, if someone’s not trying, don’t bother. That’s kind of an easy response. Oh well, if you notice someone’s kind of not really doing much in the early stages, don’t bother. And I do kind of agree with that but with a caveat that people respond, we can have an impact in the equation. You know what I mean? To say that just a blanket statement, don’t bother, is to suggest we have no power. That nothing we do influences somebody else.
I don’t show up to a speech and think in the first five seconds, well, if this crowd’s really cold, just don’t bother. What I think is, I know I can have a massive influence on this crowd. In 20 minutes this can be a different crowd based on what I do. Now that’s a different, I’m not comparing that with dating because it’s different. We don’t want to keep trying with someone who’s not giving us much, but I am sort of in favor of deciding an amount of energy that you’re happy to give away. Decide what amount of energy you’re content with giving away and never getting back and be prepared to give that without being too discriminating. Just give it. This guy, I don’t know him and he doesn’t know me so he can’t really hurt me. Or she can’t really hurt me. I don’t have to think about this in personal terms.
And by the way, that kind of is why I think sometimes we do ourselves a disservice by constantly waiting for the other person to give first. Because when we do that, we’re assuming we matter to this person more than we do right now. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing. Someone you mean nothing to isn’t going to try very hard. They may try on the basis that they really want a relationship. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to try with you. That energy still, they have so much to give and they give it in certain directions and like you say, there’s a 100 reasons why someone might not be giving it in this very moment to you.
But I kind of feel like you don’t know how much energy someone has to give unless you’re willing to give up a little energy and to see if that lights them up. To see if that somehow creates a level of momentum and it has to be once there’s momentum, it has to be kind of self perpetuating. It can’t be, you have to keep peddling for the electricity to stay on. It has to be like you fire up the generators and now the thing is humming. But sometimes to fire up the generators, someone has to give a little. And I sometimes think that people are so guarded, so protected, so worried about looking cool or indifferent that they never give that first 5% of energy that could fire up the generators. They never give that 5% of warmth that could create warmth. Do you know what I mean?
Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s a sense where people think, when I get the green light, I will then, wonderful me will appear. And it doesn’t really work like that. You do show the best of yourself as you get to know someone, but people, there’s not really a thing in life where someone is like, oh, when people are nice to me at a party then I’m charismatic, cool person. Usually that person walks into the party with an energy, with a giving spirit, with a sense of actually kind of, I know this sounds like a corny term, but some people bring love into a room. Do you know what I mean? They show up into the room and they’re already exuding love for the people in the room and the good energy and good vibes as they would say.
And you could see, oh, they’re bringing that. And people then respond well to them because that person walked into the party, smiling, being friendly. And that person is more likely to get the warm side. They’re not going to get everyone. Some people are going to be guarded and closed but other people are going to be like, oh, hey, this person seems really open and friendly and I feel good around them so I’m going to gravitate towards them and dating is the same. And like you say, people are very, I think it’s totally right when we give the message that you cut the wrong people off early. I just think there’s a sense where people sometimes want someone to bring them everything first before they ever step out or before they give or before they say, “Hey, maybe I’m putting myself on the line and sending a message now,” and saying something I like about them. Maybe that’s got to be me who does that.
Well, the distinction is, if you’re the one who keeps throwing out energy and not getting it back, you then have to be honest with yourself about that. There’s no shame in taking a risk and it not paying off. But if you keep injecting energy into a situation and you keep trying to resuscitate it and you’re the life support of this relationship all the time or there’s this dynamic you have with someone in the early stages, that then is something you have to look at. It’s then a question of asking, not what’s wrong with them. Why do they not respond? The question really is, what’s happening with you that in spite of not getting the same amount of energy back, in spite of not getting equal investment, you continue to put the, what are they called in medicine when they put the things on your heart to resuscitate you?
Will do you call them? Defibrillator.
Defibrillator. If you’re the, good, very, very quick. There’s one of those defibrillators is at the top of Runyon, by the way, at a hike in LA. There’s a steep part as you go up. It’s the hard way up has a defibrillator at the top.
Just in case. But if you’re the defibrillator and you’re constantly having to do that, then you have to ask yourself, why do I keep doing this? What’s happening with me that I’m not prepared to lose this person? Because that to me is the real, people to me they don’t assess. We all, me included, we don’t assess danger correctly. We go into a scenario on an app or even a scenario where we go over to someone and say hi. And the idea of being rejected by that person is just death.
Someone, we go straight back to high school and it’s we’re being rejected by that girl, that guy in front of all of our friends and their friends and we’re never going to live it down. And I’m sure that I truly believe there is some incredible biological, evolutionary reason for this. This deep, deep fear we have of what it means if we’re rejected, what it says about our social and sexual status in the tribe and what it means for our ability to find love, procreate, all of that. I truly believe that that impulse runs deep. But what we have to do is almost start to understand what the real danger is, which is not a rejection that you get when you first talk to someone and they decide they don’t want to go on a date with you.
The real danger is when we keep investing in someone and it’s not paying off and that person’s giving us just enough to keep us hanging on. And that is the part that I see all the time. And that’s where real self analysis has to come in. And you say, what is happening with me? What is it I am scared of? Whether it’s abandonment, whether it’s I’ll never find anyone again, whether it’s I’m running out of time, whether it’s what is that thing? What is that thought? That story I’m telling myself that makes it so frightening to lose someone that I will continue to invest energy in a situation where the effort is not equal.