So I never had to trudge through the snow in order to land a date with a woman. But from what I can remember of dating throughout the 90’s, it was just as exhausting.
My fellow Gen-Xers probably remember what it was like to find dates back when grunge ruled the airwaves. It usually involved some combination of bar hopping, searching for a cute girl, consuming enough alcohol to approach her, hoping she’d give you her phone number, then calling a day or two later and hoping for the best.
That was a lot of work. And expensive too!
Well, as a recently divorced man in my early 40’s, I am happy to report that the logistics of dating have changed dramatically- and for the better. Almost all of the improvements to our dating culture can be traced back to advances in technology.
For men who find themselves newly single in the technological age of dating, success can be elusive. But just as new channels for finding single women have emerged, social norms governing how we evaluate, meet, and court prospective women have morphed.
If you haven’t embraced the latest technological tools to maximize your dating prospects, you’re already way behind the curb. But have no fear. Once you adopt and master the various sites, services, and apps your disposal, you too will conclude that finding dates is much easier than it used to be.
This article is a comprehensive analysis of how technology has changed the dating landscape over the last couple of decades. I’ll break down the most important advances in dating tech and provide pointers on how you can ride this technological wave toward a more productive and fulfilling love life.
During the latter part of my separation in late 2015, I remember thinking that my dating prospects were grim. If I struggled at approaching women in college (and in my prime) how was picking up women even an option now? Landing a single, promising date seemed like an insurmountable task.
How could I, a man in his late 30’s with two children at home, possibly juggle family life with going to bars in search of women? I didn’t even have a local, single friend who could be my wingman.
Although it took some time to figure out, advances in technology meant being a pickup artist was no longer a prerequisite for landing dates with incredible women. The only requirement was embracing, learning, and leveraging the latest technological tools for finding prospective dates.
Being a software engineer by trade, I was up for the task.
The biggest technological advance of the last few decades was unquestionably the Internet. And from this revolutionary communication medium online dating naturally (but slowly) emerged.
Although online dating in some form existed as far back as the early 90’s, it has only recently become mainstream and socially accepted. As technology continued to help us automate and streamline many aspects of our lives, the same principals eventually found their way and acceptance in the modern dating arena.
In the year or so after my divorce was finalized, I have experimented with countless dating apps and went on more than my fair share of dates. When compared against combing the clubs for prospective women, online dating is the undisputed champion in each and every category.
The online dating services and mobile dating apps available today are invaluable. This is especially true for men my age who are time conscious and looking to streamline the process of finding dates.
To truly grasp the benefits of online dating, you simply have to examine it from a number perspective.Without online dating, your potential dating pool is essentially limited to women you encounter in your day-to-day life. If you’re lucky, you might also gain a few prospects by meeting women through people already in your social circle.
Online dating circumvents this limitation by immediately exposing you to hundreds or even thousands of single, dateable women within your local area. Best of all, by definition, the women using these services are single and actively looking to date. No more guessing if a woman is single or looking for a wedding ring before you make a move.
As online dating has become more mainstream, the number of women who use these services has exploded. The growing popularity of mobile dating apps only further proves that these tools are indispensable for modern day bachelors.
I cringe when I think of all the money I wasted going out and searching for dates. I had to keep an expensive and extensive wardrobe, pay endless cover charges, and buy lots and lots of drinks, etc. There was very little return on investment.
I spent so much money going out and searching for dates that by the time I actually landed a date, I could be barely afford it. Now, a cheap subscription to an online dating service is all that is needed to find awesome dates.
The money I used to spend going out and looking for date is now used where it counts: on actual dates.
The money you save by conducting your dating search from the comfort of your couch is great by itself. But the best dating services help you save cash in another important way: by avoiding dead-end dates with incompatible women.
Sites like Match.com encourage users to complete detailed personal profiles for this specific purpose. A thorough profile allows you to easily identify potential deal-breakers before you even send a first message to a woman!
Finally, men can cheaply and efficiently vet women early in the process and only approach those with the highest degree of compatibility.
Not into women with children? Simply filter them out. Want a women with a 6-figure salary? Add that option. The world is yours.
Read my comprehensive and unbiased review of Match.com here.
When I was in high school, the Yahoo! Personals were great fun. But not for finding dates. My friends and I would comb the primitive dating site looking for profile of people we knew, then we’d have a good laugh at their expense.
Looking back, it was very childish and judgmental to making fun of these people. Little did we know, they were the early adopters that would facilitate the transformation of these primitive dating services into the behemoths they are today. We owe these innovators a debt of gratitude!
But even when I got out of college in the early 2000’s, people were wary of relationships that began on a dating site. Not privy to their growing acceptance, I spent much of my twenties approaching dating the same way that I did throughout the 90’s: bar hopping.
It took another decade or so for smart phones to become commonplace, and with them an unending number of apps that streamline and simplify our lives. All of a sudden, using an app to find love wasn’t much different than using one to set business appointments or split a dinner bill.
I’m no longer embarrassed to tell anyone that I met a woman on a dating app. Anyone who thinks there is still a stigma associated with online dating is completely out of the loop.
Another huge technological shift of the last decade has been our increased connectedness. The Internet was a monumental break-through that formed the backbone of our communications.
But the ability to continuously access the Internet outside our traditional home networks meant we could connect with others almost at will.
The proliferation of smartphones around 2007 gave us the power of the Internet in our hands, at all times. Being connected to the web at all times presented more opportunities to connect with others, whether through texting apps, mobile-friendly websites, or the many native dating apps to come.
Almost overnight, the purpose of the cell phone was turned squarely on its head. Once a tool used primarily for talking to people and performing the infrequent, clunky Internet search, these new smartphones became Internet-enabled communication platforms occasionally used to make phone calls.
The stage was set for all industries to leverage this technological leap to expand and improve their business.
With the release of the first iPhone in June of 2007, the mobile application industry was born. Online dating services were quick to jump on the bandwagon and release native mobile apps for their user bases.
Now, being constantly connected meant men could pursue love interests during the more mundane moments throughout their day. Time previously wasted while waiting in lines or stuck in traffic could be used to find or communicate with potential matches.
Another bonus of smartphones which didn’t become apparent until a bit later was their ability to determine your location in real-time, a GPS feature known as geolocation. Dating apps began using your location to find even more potential matches.
So instead of pursuing women based solely on attractiveness or compatibility, men could also consider available women based on their relative proximity.
Men who travel no longer had to update their online dating profiles to reflect their current city. Using geolocation services, apps simply refreshed their dating options regardless of their location.
Long distance relationships have historically been viewed with empathy and suspicion. How could you possible maintain a meaningful relationship with a woman that you rarely see and only talk to sporadically?
Thanks to the rise of free voice and video communication platforms, such as Skype, distance isn’t necessarily the insurmountable obstacle it once was when considering a long distance relationship. This is because the concept of paying more for long distance communication has slowly been phased-out.
Skype allows users utilizing an Internet connection to communicate for free, regardless of distance. As long as you use their net-based platform to connect, you don’t pay a dime. The only time you’re charged is when you communicate directly to a landline or mobile phone number.
So, whether your girlfriend is the next city over, or the next continent over, staying in touch is easier than it has ever been.
While communication platforms were improving and gaining in popularity, the rules governing human interaction were undergoing a revolution of their own. Free communication mediums increased the overall volume of person to person interplay, but they also had the side-effect of decreasing the intimacy of those interactions.
Was this a change for the better?
I can distinctly remember the days when interacting with a woman meant calling an actual building. Not a person, a building.If you were able to get someone at this building to answer your call, you would then hope the woman you were trying to contact happened to be near that structure. Sometimes, you’d end up not talking to her, but her father, mother, or brother. Life was hard back then.
Point being, in the not to distance past you had to actually talk to a woman from the very start. There was no warming up via text to see if there was chemistry. There was no gentle let-down as you texted a number and never got a response. You jumped right in and either swam or sank.
Boy how times have changed.
In today’s dating landscape, voice communication is considered an intimate interaction. For many, it’s a significant relationship progression that should only happen after you’ve established a good rapport. Phone conversation is sacred, something you have to earn after you’ve texted your way to and bumbled your way through a successful face-to-face encounter.This means if you want to be successful in the modern dating arena, you better be good at texting.
Because if you don’t generate some chemistry in those first few text exchanges, you might not even make it to the first date.
Mobile intelligence firm Informate conducted a study in 2015 which showed that smartphone users utilize texting over voice communications by a factor of roughly 5-1.This shift from voice communications to texting is another example of modern singles choosing convenience over intimacy. Who wants to call someone and potentially get stuck in a meaningless, time-sucking conversation? Instead, you can just fire off texts to 3-4 various women and reply to whichever one you want, whenever you want.
In a way, this makes sense in a dating culture that is moving away from monogamous relationships and more toward numerous, casual partners. After all, it’s much easier to juggle multiple women when you’re communicating via text.
For busy men looking to maintain casual relationships, texting seems to be the holy grail of communications.
Or is it?
Historically, the major downside to texting has been it’s gross lack of context. With only textual characters to communicate a thought, it was easy to misinterpret a sarcastic message as being serious, or vice versa. This confusion often lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and missed opportunities.
To remedy this problem, users developed work-arounds to introduce emotion into boring, text based exchanges. Best of all, these little tricks allowed texting aficionados to add context while continuing avoiding the intimacy of an actual voice conversation!
As texting became more commonplace, people learned that the lack of context and conversational depth caused undue confusion. A seemingly simple sentence could take multiple meanings based on how the recipient interpreted the message.
In the early days of texting, pioneering men would sometime try to convey feeling by using an emoticon (a typographical representation of an emotion, i.e. ;-)). Emoticons appears as early as 1982 and were popularized in communication apps of the 90’s such as MSN, Yahoo, and AOL Instant Messenger.
Although emoticons may have occasionally served their purpose, they carried with them a stigma. Women frequently interpreted these textual representations of emotion as childish or feminine. Men might have got the point across, but shot themselves in the foot at the same time.
As mobile applications advanced and data throughput increased, texting apps ironically began supporting non-textual content. This next advancement in texting tech was credited to a new software concept: emojis.Whereas an emoticon is purely text-based, an emoji is a visual representation of an emotion, object, or any other symbol. Unlike emoticons which are simply clever placement of textual characters, emojis are actual images.
As if the progression from text to emoticons to emojis isn’t confusing enough, some emojis are also emoticons. Perplexed yet?
Apps such as Facebook and Snapchat have begun making heavy use of emoticons. Facebook even expanded on their patented Like button to include a new emoji set:
The key takeaway is that conveying emotion via text using emoticons or emojis is no longer taboo. According to Swyft Media, 74% of people in the U.S. regularly use emoticons or emojis in their online communications. These people send an average of 96 emojis per day!
Although I have been reluctant to embrace the new emoji culture, I admit that they’re an indispensable tool in your smooth-texting arsenal. Still, I try to keep it simple and to a minimum. An occasional 🙂 or a shrewdly-placed 😉 is usually more than enough for me to get my point across.
I advise you to do the same. Use emojis sparingly and only when absolutely required.
I can remember going on dates in high school when I literally had no idea what the girl looked like. Today, the concept of a blind date no longer exists in the civilized world.
The only places where blind dates could still exist are in countries where people are forbidden from seeing potential dates due to customs or religious reasons. As long as you’re not dating in India or Pakistan, chances are good you can learn much about a woman before scheduling a date.
For most men today, researching a woman is a routine step before you agree to meet in person. It’s a sort of sanity-check (checking their sanity, not yours) to ensure the woman you might meet is both real and not a criminal or psychopath.
And it works both ways. Nearly half of single women research men as part of their due diligence when vetting suitors. Why take an unnecessary risk when a quick Google search could reveal that a guy is a threat?
It’s no longer creepy to conduct research on your dates. In the age of big data, knowledge is power.
Due to the expansion of the Internet, and the subsequent embracing of a social sharing culture, it’s almost impossible to remain faceless online. An online presence is now an extension of our normal, everyday lives. As such, there is normally a wealth of information about young people online.
For young professionals, not having an online presence can sometimes be a liability. When interviewing for coveted job opportunities, some companies now insist on seeing your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one, you might not be perceived as tech-savvy enough for the job.
I personally find that Google is best for performing a quick sanity check when first researching a woman. You typically won’t find a wealth of pictures or personal information through Google, but you can usually validate a woman’s identity.Being the great aggregator that it is, Google has traditionally been the first stop for men when researching dates online. Whether it be social media profiles, professional bios, or arrest records, Google has a little bit of everything.
In a typical research scenario, I might validate that a woman has some online presence and no obvious red flags (mug shots, pending legal actions, etc). If I’m lucky, I might uncover some useful background information that I can use as conversation fodder later on an actual date.
But I dug a little deeper.Once upon a time, I fell in love with the profile of a woman I matched with on Tinder. Everything seemed right. She was obviously not a bot, listed a verifiable job at a local accounting office, even had those freaky-looking Snapchat photos. On the surface, everything checked out.
Using her name, city, and job title I was able to issue some Google queries to dredge-up additional info. On the first page of search results I came across a public court document naming her as the defendant in an assault case.
In this report, she is said to have entered into an intimate relationship with her divorce attorney. One fine summer evening, she found her new attorney boyfriend at a restaurant on a date with another woman. She allegedly proceeded to ram her car into the attorney’s and then allegedly attempted to run him over in the restaurant parking lot!
In this particular instance, as hot as this girl was, the evidence was enough for me to take a hard pass. The quick Google search was free and quite possibly saved me a significant amount of heartache (and doctor bills).
This is because when it comes to looking up women on Facebook, you have to hit the Facebook research trifecta. Specifically, the following three conditions must be met for you to gain useful information through Facebook:Whereas Google can provide small snapshots into a woman’s life, Facebook can potentially divulge the motherload of useful dating info. But it’s feast or famine.
Sometimes you simply can’t find a woman’s Facebook profile. Other times she has a profile, but it’s locked-down. Studies have shown that Facebook users are becoming much more private.
Other times you get all the way in, only to find out she’s made two posts since she created her account in 2013. It’s an inexact science.
If you hit the trifecta and manage to get a significant glimpse into a woman’s world, you’ve now got a plethora of information on which to make some judgements. For me, a Facebook profile is invaluable in determining whether a woman is date-worthy. I routinely nope-out on some matches based simply on their pattern of over-sharing on Facebook.
In my opinion, if you find that a woman has locked-down her account or isn’t very active on Facebook, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, you might not be able to access many bikini pics of her, but it also means she has some common sense boundaries and values her privacy. That’s always a plus in my book.
With multiple data points on which to search (name, employer, and college, for instance), it’s rare that I can’t find the Facebook profile of a woman from Tinder or Bumble. It takes a little bit of practice, but the amount of information you gain from Facebook is definitely worth the effort.Because popular mobile dating apps like Tinder and Bumble require you to register with a Facebook account, you can be certain that the women on these apps are on Facebook. Best of all, these apps display key details (sometimes word-for-word) of a woman’s Facebook profile.
Although “Facebook stalking” once had a negative connotation, that is no longer the case. Women now expect that you at least did some rudimentary research on their profiles in Facebook (especially if you matched on Tinder or Bumble).
Facebook is a much more personal research tool than Google. If you can master the art of finding profiles with minimal source data, Facebook easily surpasses Google in its depth and usefulness in evaluating potential dates.
How great is it that we can find out so many things about a woman we haven’t even met yet? Modern technology has provided us with carefully curated pictures to pour over, past relationship statuses to analyze, and music tastes to compare and contrast.
The Internet is such a treasure trove of useful dating information that it’s almost too good to be true. Could there possibly be any downsides to this overindulgence of data?
Maybe these women are newly single or oblivious to the latest dating trends. Maybe they’re extraordinarily private. Regardless of the reason, it’s wise to always assume the worst and avoid [explicitly] mentioning anything you discovered about her during your sleuthing session.The vast majority of women today expect that you will search for them online before going on a date. Still, there are a small percentage of women (mainly older women with a more-traditional values) who might interpret an innocent, pre-date audit a violation.
The more information you know, the easier it becomes to start confusing what you’ve discovered during chats and what you uncovered during your investigative research. By filling your head with digital data you run the risk of crossing the wires and revealing your pre-date research during a date.
Too many group pictures in your profile? You’re a goner.With the abundance of online dating options, it’s natural to reject women for the most mundane reasons. When it comes apps based primarily on physical attraction (like Tinder), men swipe-left with blazing efficiency and your pictures had better be good- otherwise you don’t have a chance.
The same can be said for what you discover when researching a potential date online. Maybe her profile summary comes off as elitist or shallow? That can easily be reason enough for a man to choose not to send a first message.
But sometimes the superficial issues we detest in cyberspace are much more palatable, or non-existent, in person. Something that seems extraordinarily douchey online can occasionally turn out to be pretty cute in person.
The fact of the matter is that snap-judgements about what you see online you may be depriving you of promising dates. Time and time again I read stories of happy couples that initially cringed at each other’s online dating profiles, only to instantly click once they met in real life.
According to a recent study, 75% of people try to make their lives seem more interesting on social media. Does that mean that your date is likely a complete fraud? Probably not. But it does mean you should take her profile with a grain of salt.Even if you come across a treat trove of information about a potential date online, there is no guarantee the woman you meet in person will match her digital persona. In many cases, the woman portrayed online is a representation of what she wants to be, not who she is.
A growing number of people claim that refraining from researching a date online is now the new abstinence. Proponents of this theory equate choosing not researching a date early in the relationship to refraining from sex during the same initial stages of the relationship.
In a way I can understand this argument. If you know too much about a date before you even meet, some of the intrigue and intimacy is lost in getting to know that person- just as some of the sexual mystery or curiosity can be lost if you immediately jump into the sack.
Ultimately, it’s a delicate a balancing act. Knowing too much takes away from the thrill of getting to know someone. On the other hand, not knowing enough could result in dead-end dates with incompatible women.
If you have plenty of cash and the patience to go on countless dates, it might be more fun to limit your dating research and learn about a woman the old-fashioned way. Even if you frequently strike-out, you have plenty of scratch to stay in the game. You can afford to be adventurous and fail quickly.
However, someone on a budget who wants to be selective in their dating would probably benefit more from knowledge gleaned online. This way you’re not wasting your money on dead-end dates and you can be as efficient as possible in your love pursuits.
There’s zero doubt that technology has made dating easier for both men and women. The sites and apps that help us connect with women are powerful and becoming more efficient each and every day.
If you’re a single man looking to date in today’s crowded and tech-savvy dating market, you must take advantage of the tools that are available to increase your dating success. If you choose to date the old-fashioned way, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage in a dating culture that is ultra-competitive and hyper-connected.
Let go of your horse and buggy dating mindset and jump aboard the new, technological dating bullet train The ride is much smoother
Brad is a divorced father of two who is navigating the brave new world of dating after divorce. A software developer by trade, he experiments with the latest dating applications and tools so that you don’t have to. Brad writes online dating reviews along with other actionable content for men to improve their quality of life after divorce.