Over the past few years, online dating has moved from a weird niche to the mainstream. It’s become one of the most important ways to find new potential partners. More than half my friends who are in serious relationships met their partners online.
It’s not just millennials doing it either; people of all ages and backgrounds are getting in on the act.
While online dating started out with websites, a huge proportion of people have now shifted to smartphones. In this tutorial I’m going to look at how to use an iPhone to find love, and most importantly, how to do it while staying safe.
Finding People to Date
The biggest name in mobile dating is Tinder, although it isn’t the only app out there.
Tinder is an app based on the idea that people aren’t interested in creating complicated profiles and taking long multiple choice quizzes.
It’s simple to sign up: download the app, connect your Facebook account, select a few pictures to use, add a short bio and you’re ready to go.
For finding new people, Tinder, once again, prioritises simplicity. You are presented with other people’s profiles one at a time. The only filters you can use are how nearby they are, and what the minimum and maximum ages of people you match with are.
On each profile either Swipe Right to like them or Swipe Left to reject them. You tap on their picture to see their full profile. If both people Swipe Right, you’re matched and can use the app’s built in chat. That’s about it.
For the most part Tinder is free but limited. You can only like 100 people a day. You also have one Super Like which prioritises your profile for that one person.
There is also a paid Tinder Plus plan which removes the swipe limit, gives you extra Super Likes, let’s you undo accidental swipes and removes ads. It’s exact price depends on your age and location.
For example, if you’re under 30 and live in the US it costs $9.99; if you’re over 30 though, the price doubles to $19.99.
Bumble is a mobile dating app in the same vein as Tinder. The biggest difference is that only women can start conversations and there is a 24-hour limit on matches. If no conversation is started in that time, the match vanishes forever.
Bumble’s main selling point is that it makes online dating a much more pleasant place for women. Rather than being bombarded with dozens of messages, they can carefully select who they want to chat to. It’s a great alternative if you’re more interested in quality over quantity.
Traditional Dating Sites
Although traditional dating sites like Match.com, PlentyOfFish and OkCupid are still around, they aren’t as popular as mobile only options like Tinder.
The good news though, is that if you’re a fan of the more detailed profiles, powerful search tools and matching algorithms of these sites, they’re now available in mobile form. You can get the apps from the App Store:
All the apps and sites I’ve mentioned so far claim to be LGBT friendly, and for the most part they are, however they're mainly targeting heterosexual users.
Staying Sane Whilst Dating Online
Online dating, whatever app or site you use, can be intense especially if you’re a woman. It’s very easy to rack up dozens of potential matches in just a few hours. Even if only a handful of people message you, it can mean lots and lots of notifications.
Unless you want your iPhone constantly beeping, you should turn off any dating app’s notifications—or at the very least sounds.
To do this, go to Settings > Notifications and then select the app you’re using and turn off notifications.
Online, people’s inhibitions are reduced. This is why there are more trolls in YouTube’s comments than in your local cinema. Although people are more likely to act out online, that doesn’t mean they aren’t considering it in real life.
If someone is sending you abusive messages, otherwise harassing you or just giving you a weird vibe on a dating app, don’t hesitate to block them. There are plenty more potential matches out there.
Staying Safe Whilst Dating Online
Whilst online dating is fun and mostly safe, it’s always smart to take some precautions. The chances are nothing bad will ever happen to you but that’s no reason to be careless.
Never give out important personal details or financial information to anyone you meet on an online dating website. This should go without saying but there is an industry of scammers who prey on lonely people using online dating sites.
The aim of online dating is to take things offline. This is where most issues occur. The vast majority of people are who they say they are but, as the famous New Yorker comic says, On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.
Fake, or dishonest, profiles can range from someone just using old photos to full on identity theft. Make sure the person you think you’re talking to, really is the person you’re talking to before meeting up. If they aren’t, run a mile.
One of the best ways to protect privacy when you end up moving from a dating app to an actual messaging service, is to use an app like Burner to create disposable phone numbers.
That way, you can give out a real number and if the date doesn’t go well or the person isn’t who they claim to be, they don’t have your real information.
Before meeting up with someone you matched with on a dating app, it’s always a good idea to let your friends know where you are and when they can expect to hear from you.
This is a precaution that you never hope to have to use, but it’s still good practice. You can just text your friends what you’re doing but the best way I’ve found is to use FindMyFriends.
This way you can keep them updated on your location in realtime. If they notice you’re not where you’re meant to be, they can check in and make sure you’re okay.
An iPhone is great for online dating. With apps like Tinder and Bumble it’s easy to find new potential partners. Even more importantly, tools like Burner and FindMyFriends protect you and your personal information.
Though realistically, the worst thing that’s likely to happen if you try online dating is a few bad dates.