Dating Advice For The 21st Century

By Sarah Fader

Updated February 03, 2020

Reviewer Dr. Angel Faith


If you are a woman over 35, you probably remember what it was like to be a girl waiting for a phone call from a boy you liked.

Oh, the agony and the ecstasy of waiting by the phone, throwing daggers with your eyes at friends or family members who tied up the line. And after all that…he sometimes never called at all.

And if you were a boy in those days, you remember how your stomach would tie itself in knots,and your palms get sweaty as you worked up the nerve to make that call.

Fast forward 30 years or so, and the dating landscape is different. No need to wait by the phone. No need to agonize. Anyone you want to talk to is just a casual text message away. And if you want to know what your crush is doing, no need to wonder. You can check out his/her Facebook or Instagram, and it's all there for you to see.

Gone is the agony. Gone is the torture. It's all so much easier.

Or is it?

While our interactions now require almost no effort, this seems to make dating much more complicated than it was in those long-ago days. With so many options available, the idea of "settling" becomes less and less appealing. With so much texting and so little face-to-face conversation, there seems to be an absence of real communication…leading some of us to wonder whether we are having relationships or just "casual flings."

In all this ambiguity, it's hard to find clear guidance, too. We desperately seek dating advice on Reddit and Quora, believing someone out there must have this craziness locked down and can enlighten us. But the dating tips we get may only leave us more confused. What is the line between friendship and dating? What is the line between a casual hookup and a relationship? How do we even talk about all these things with someone we're dating, or that we want to date? Does anyone know?

Of course, there's no one right answer to any of these questions. However, there are some tools to help you sort out many of the complexities of 21st-century dating world so that it may feel a little more approachable and less confusing.

Online Dating Advice

The best thing about online dating… is that it makes it easy for you to feel like you know someone without ever having met them.

The worst thing about online dating…is that it makes it easy for you to feel like you know someone without ever having met them.

If you have spent any time at all on one of the many online dating platforms, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

You spend weeks looking at this person's photos and trading emails back and forth, and you feel like they're an old friend. This may leave you feeling completely comfortable with the idea of finally meeting up at a local café.


Except when they arrive…and look NOTHING like their picture. Or maybe s/he looks like their picture but has this annoying habit of cracking their knuckles, which you really can't stand. The likeliest scenario is that you sit across from each other for an awkward, nerve-wracking hour feeling that you have nothing to say and nothing in common.

But it is possible to meet your future partner online. In fact, with so much of our lives happening online these days, it's sometimes more challenging to meet a potential partner in person. So here are a few guidelines to help you avoid the nightmare scenario outlined above.

  • Don't Be Too Modest in Your Profile.Always lead with your strengths. Insecurity is not usually considered attractive and it also doesn't let your best features shine.
  • Post Plenty of Photos.This is the only way that potential dates can see the real you, so make sure you post a good variety of photos of you doing different things you enjoy, and that the photos are of good quality.
  • Be Willing to put Some Effort In.Online dating is not a magical solution for finding the man or woman of your dreams. Be prepared to spend some time reading through profiles, responding to messages, and occasionally sending out messages that may not get a reply.
  • Don't Allow Online Conversations to Drag On Too Long.After about a week or a few emails (whatever you are comfortable with), you might want to suggest a meeting. Otherwise, you potentially risk wasting your time and building up an idea of the other person that isn't based on reality.

Keep these few rules in mind, and you may be well on your way to meeting your soulmate in the online dating world.

Dating Advice for Men

Oh, men, I feel your pain. What do women want anyway? Do they want chivalry or equality? Should you open the door for them or not?

It's confusing for men to navigate the constantly changing landscape of social mores in the 21st century.

Here are a few guidelines to help.

  • Include A Nice Headshot in Your Photos.A good quality headshot, with you looking slightly away from the camera, is a posture that is often quite flattering.
  • Be Attentive to Your Social Media Presence.One of the first things that a potential date might do is look you up on Google. Make sure that whatever information they find creates a positive impression.
  • Be Prepared to Discuss Which Of You Should Pay.In dating relationships, it used to be assumed that the man paid. However, as gender roles have shifted, this is not always the case. It is best to offer to pay, especially on the first date. If your date feels strongly about paying, suggest that he/she pick up the bill next time.
  • Follow Up Post-Date (Promptly).This suggestion has a lot to do with personal preference, so be sure to do what is most comfortable for you. However, you may want to keep in mind that it could be beneficial to wait a day or two before following up after a first date. Doing it sooner could potentially make you appear too pushy. Waiting longer may send the message that you're not interested or that you don't value the other individual's time.


These simple dating tips for men should make things a little bit easier.

But what about women?

Dating Advice For Women

The 21st-century dating world is no less ambiguous and terrifying for the fairer sex.

Here are some dating tips to guide women in this brave new world.

  • Be Clear Ahead of Time About Your Deal Breakers.We all have one or two things that we know we absolutely cannot compromise on. Perhaps it's excessive drinking or living too far away. Define these at the outset so you won't waste any time.
  • Don't Accept A Request For A First Date Via Email.Suggest that if he calls you, you would be happy to agree to meet in person. Speaking on the phone will provide the opportunity to get a little more comfortable with your date before meeting in person. In addition, this is another opportunity to evaluate whether there is good chemistry or good fit.
  • Dress In A Flattering Outfit That Expresses The Real You.Whether it's a cute floral dress or a stylish pair of jeans with a nice jacket, make sure it fits well and suits your personality and the venue. Most importantly, wear something that you are comfortable in. An outfit that makes you feel confident is the ultimate goal.
  • Reveal Your True Self.Don't be afraid to show a little bit of quirkiness. If you are authentic from the beginning, you can be confident that your date is attracted to the real you.

Delicate Situations

21st-century dating is confusing. And to add to the confusion, there may be some special situations which require tact and diplomacy. These don't have to ruin your chances for love, though. Here's how to handle some of those delicate situations.


Single Parents

It can be overwhelming to even think about looking for love when you're consumed by the demands of raising a child on your own. But it is possible! As a single parent, you are as deserving of love as anyone else. Here are some tips that can help.

  • Do Not Conceal Your "Single Parent" Status.Be up-front in your online profile about the fact that your children are part of the deal. This will weed out anyone who is unable to appreciate your unique joys and challenges.
  • Visualize Each Potential Love Interest As Part Of Your Future Family.Dating is no longer all about you. Keep a picture in your mind of the family that you want in the future, and consider how this person might fit in as part of it.
  • Take Your Time In Introducing A New Partner To Your Child. Don't rush this and also don't push your new partner into a parenting role in the early days. Taking things slow can help your child adjust to the new person in your life.
  • Be Thoughtful About Getting Physically Intimate.Once you take that plunge, there may be no going back. Sexual intimacy can sometimes take you into a territory of powerful emotions and misunderstandings which may prematurely complicate things or cloud judgment. Simply be sure that you are ready for this step in your relationship before diving in carelessly.

Christian Dating Advice

If you have a strong code of morals and ethics, it can be difficult to reconcile them to the dating world. However, it is possible to remain true to your beliefs and still enjoy a rich dating life.

Here are some guidelines to keep you on the straight and narrow.

  • Spend Time Alone With God Every day.Remain centered in your belief system by taking time every day to pray and read the Bible. This will keep you focused on what you want in your relationships.
  • Put Your Faith First.If you have a strong faith in God, put that first, and everything else (including potential relationships) will fall into place within the context of that. If something does not fit in the context of your beliefs, don't do it, even if it "feels" good or right.
  • Seek A Relationship With Someone Who Shares Your Faith.A partner who is growing in his/her faith will help you grow too.
  • Trust Other Believers Who Know You Well.When it comes to Christian dating, there's no shortage of advice, and most of it conflicts. Ultimately, the best advice will come from someone who knows you very well. Ask your friends and fellow believers to hold you accountable to act out your beliefs in your dating relationships.

Despite our many advances in the digital age, the dating world can bring as much torturous agony as it ever did. But the same rules apply: remain true to yourself, and you will ultimately come out a winner.

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