Dog Picture. Witty Quote. “Looking for a third?” What do these three things have in common?

If you’ve been on any popular dating app in the last 5 years, these have become expected features on any swipe session. Yet, what high school hookups and summer flings don’t teach you is that looking for love, or simply a fun time, is far more complicated than it first appears in the digital age. In my second year at Queen’s I jumped on the bandwagon and joined Tinder and Bumble, flooded by a sea of options. I was intimidated by the pressure to present the best sides of myself – what to say? Who to swipe on? And how to approach a one-liner. After two years of actively trying to date and a six-month hiatus, I can confidently say online dating often feels like an Olympic sport. But, we often do ourselves a disservice by going into interactions unclear of what we want and always searching for the next best thing. Athletes focus and work tirelessly at their disciplines, so this is exactly what I did. Here’s a few things I learned along the journey that might help you, if you’re feeling lost or in an e-dating rut.

1. Know Yourself

Lauryn Hill said it best “how you gon’ win when you ain’t right within?” The 2010s were arguably the decade of the self-love movement, but we often forget that self-love extends to intimate partnerships as well. Being able to ground ourselves in a strong sense of self knowing and clear intentions of what we hope to gain out of an interaction allow us to avoid disappointment. That’s not to say it will never happen, but having a firm sense of what you want, allows you to be open to new experiences and the possibilities for the happily unexpected to occur. The most important takeaway is to be able to effectively communicate this to an intimate partner, so you are able to make sure you’re on the same page. Remember nobody likes to be a mind reader.

2. If all else fails, play 20 Questions

Getting to know someone purely via text can be nerve wracking even for the greatest conversationalists. It’s all well and good to know their faculty or favourite Netflix show, but it doesn’t do much to calm an anxious psyche. So, how to alleviate the awkwardness of the space between one-liners: simply ask what you actually want to know! Choose a few questions that help you get to know them on a deeper level, some of my go-to’s include The New York Times’s 36 Questions to Fall in Love (the title can be a little misleading, but don’t worry there are some good icebreakers in there as well) and this article from Psychology Today if you really want to get down to the nitty gritty.

(NY Times- & Psychology Today )  

3. There’s plenty of fish in the sea

Okay, so this part might seem like backtracking but hear a girl out. Yes, I did compare dating to a competitive professional sport but, it’s also what you make it. In the same way that every good athlete isn’t a professional. Missed opportunities and getting ghosted can become increasingly frustrating over time, so remember: if it’s not now, it doesn’t mean never. It probably just means, not right now. It  can be helpful to take a step back sometimes, to re-evaluate where you stand and develop new ways to approach dating. At the end of the day, if something isn’t serving you, maybe it isn’t for you.

4. Recommend a friend

If you’re feeling a little burned out from dating apps, maybe try the old-fashioned way! Ask a friend if they know someone, and find comfort in knowing that the person in question has probably been co-signed, background checked and pre-approved. A.k.a, the chances of you getting along are probably much higher. Plus, if it doesn’t work out you’ve just made a new friend.

At the end of the day, it’s all fun, don’t take it too seriously. Dating isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and the best way to make it to the finish line is to pace yourself. Trust me, you’ve got more time than you think.

Rachael Quarcoo is Head of Marketing for MUSE.

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Love is in the Air(pods)