Dating Advice For The 21st Century

By: Sarah Fader

Updated February 02, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Angel Faith

Source: rawpixel.com

If you are a woman over 35, you probably remember what it was like to be a girl waiting for a phone call from someone special at school 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…they sometimes never called at all.

And if you were the one calling in those days, you remember how your stomach would tie itself in knotsand 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 for a call, maybe just a text. 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 their 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 can now require almost no effort, this seems to make dating much more complicated than it was in those long-ago days of sitting by the phone. 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. This can lead some of us to wonder whether we are having relationships or just "casual flings."

In all this ambiguity, it may be even harder to find clear guidance. 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 the 21st-century dating world so that it may feel a little more approachable and less confusing.

Online Dating Advice

A good thing about online datingis that it makes it easy for you to feel like you know someone without ever having met them.

A bad thing about online datingis 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 may spend days or weeks looking at this person's photos and trading messages back and forth, and you feel like you’ve filled in a pretty full picture of who they are. This may leave you feeling completely comfortable with the idea of finally meeting up at a local café.

Source: pxhere.com

Maybe they arrive and their pictures weren’t necessarily accurate. Or maybe they look like their photo, but their personality comes off differently than you expected from your messages. Or your sense of humor doesn’t really align in person.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 you’re fearing.

  • Don't Be Too Modest In Your Profile.Lead with your strengths. Insecurity is not usually considered attractive, and it does a disservice to all you have to offer.
  • Post Plenty OfPhotos On Your Profile.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. Having a variety of photos lets them feel more confident that you are who you say you are. It also will make it less likely that they’ll feel you weren’t what they signed up for when you meet in person.
  • 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.  Be kind in your messages, whether you secure a date or not. Researchers have found that kindness is the top quality women are looking for.
  • Don't Allow Online Conversations to Drag On Too Long.After about a week or a few messages (whatever you are comfortable with), you might want to suggest a meeting in person. Or maybe, a FaceTime call or something a step more personal than messages. Otherwise, you potentially risk wasting your time and building up an idea of the other person that isn't based on reality. That idea can fall flat when you finally do see them in real life.

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

It can be confusing for men to navigate the changing landscape of social mores in the 21st century. As relations between men and women change, so is the online extension of those relations.

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. It also can encourage the viewer to believe that’s what you really look like.
  • Include Information That Lets Her Know You’re Intelligent. A study at Columbia found that women value intelligence in a partner twice as much as men do, so push those smarts to the front of our profile.
  • Be Attentive to Your Social Media Presence.One of the first things that a potential date might do is look you up on Google or a social media site. Make sure that whatever information they find creates a positive, accurate 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. According to research, who pays for what and how often can be a really multi-faceted discussion. You may find it best to offer to pay, especially on the first date. If your date feels strongly about paying or splitting the bill, a conversation can be the best way forward so you both feel understood about your intentions.
  • 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.

Source: rawpixel.com

Dating Advice For Women

The 21st-century dating world is no less ambiguous and terrifying for women, both with greater freedom and exploration and potential dangers of online stalkers.

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

  • Be Clear With Yourself 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. Knowing your boundaries and expectations will also make it easier to acknowledge red flags that could prove unhealthy or dangerous for you.
  • Don't Accept A Request For A First Date Via Email Or Message.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. A video call can be a good way to make sure that, at the very least, the person you’re meeting has the same face as the one on the profile.
  • 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 your 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 situations don't have to ruin your chances for love, though. Here's how to handle some of those delicate situations.

Source: pxhere.com

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. It may become important to see how they treat your family members.
  • Take Your Time In Introducing A New Partner To Your Child. Avoid rushing into things and pushing 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.

If you find yourself struggling to open up or to keep a relationship going in the direct you want, a licensed therapist can help you address those issues and move closer to your goal. A therapist will be able to help you understand the patterns of your past dates, your past partners, and your future goals. While in person therapy is a traditional approach, it can be challenging to find a therapist near you whose schedule fits with yours, not to mention their therapy style. Luckily, studies are showing that there’s very little difference, if not a benefit, to using online therapy. One study surveyed 14 studies comparing face-to-face treatment options versus internet-based options and found no difference in their effectiveness.

Online therapy can be a great option for those that feel a bit nervous or uncomfortable at the idea of going to a strange office across from a stranger and sharing vulnerable details. Online therapy tools, like BetterHelp, let you relax in the comfort and privacy of your home. You’ll also be able to adjust your sessions with your counselor to fit your schedule, eliminating the need to account for travel-time in your busy schedule. You can read reviews from other BetterHelp users who have sought counseling for a similar reason below.

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. It may become important to see how they treat your family members.
  • Take Your Time In Introducing A New Partner To Your Child. Avoid rushing into things and pushing 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.

If you find yourself struggling to open up or to keep a relationship going in the direct you want, a licensed therapist can help you address those issues and move closer to your goal. A therapist will be able to help you understand the patterns of your past dates, your past partners, and your future goals. While in person therapy is a traditional approach, it can be challenging to find a therapist near you whose schedule fits with yours, not to mention their therapy style. Luckily, studies are showing that there’s very little difference, if not a benefit, to using online therapy. One study surveyed 14 studies comparing face-to-face treatment options versus internet-based options and found no difference in their effectiveness.

Online therapy can be a great option for those that feel a bit nervous or uncomfortable at the idea of going to a strange office across from a stranger and sharing vulnerable details. Online therapy tools, like BetterHelp, let you relax in the comfort and privacy of your home. You’ll also be able to adjust your sessions with your counselor to fit your schedule, eliminating the need to account for travel-time in your busy schedule. You can read reviews from other BetterHelp users who have sought counseling for a similar reason below.

“Kimberly Robinson is amazing she is attentive, funny, down to earth and easy to talk to. She listens and really challenges the way you think about things especially when it comes to relationships. I have seen lots of positive changes in my relationship due to my time with her.”

“I really loved working with Ann. She gave me great advice and listened really well to my issues. I never felt like I was judged and she really helped me reevaluate my life as I was going through a rough relationship patch. I’m not out of the woods yet, but Ann has given me the tools to get better and has been a great support.”


Previous Article

Everything You Need To Know About Older Women And Dating

Next Article

What Is Tinder And How Do I Use It To Find A Relationship?
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist Today
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.