How to Date Smarter in 2021

A new year is here but, like many of the things stressing us out, the demoralizing process that we refer to as modern dating (in a pandemic, no less) is much the same. But on a hopeful note, January is scientifically the best time of year to be online dating. When I was a single lady on the apps (which was basically all of my 20s), I would make lists of dating “resolutions” each year that ranged from “go on two dates per week” to “delete Tinder” to “stop dating emotionally unavailable fuccbois.” None of these were scientifically informed but the idea was to date better or rather, smarter, so I would waste less of my time.

It’s natural to want to create healthier, smarter habits at the beginning of the year (the “fresh start effect” is a real thing). But as with any resolution that affects your wellbeing, you want to be sure you’re setting goals that are backed by science. So, we turned to Logan Ury, a dating coach and Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science, whose forthcoming book, How to Not Die Alone: The Surprising Science That Will Help You Find Love, addresses how to set yourself up for dating success. According to a recent Hinge study, two out of three users are optimistic about dating in 2021 and feel confident that it’ll be better than 2020. Here’s hoping.

Since you’re definitely not going to be meeting anyone in a crowded bar anytime soon, read on for a few of her scientifically-informed strategies—or rather, your new resolutions—for dating effectively online in 2021.

1. Find your blindspots.

Whether it’s your first time or 100th dip into the dating pool, taking a moment to give yourself an honest self-evaluation is a healthy first step. From there, you can then begin to identify certain behaviors that might be preventing you from finding the connection you’re looking for.

“If you’ve been single for a while and you feel like there are certain patterns that are holding you back, I would really encourage people to be intentional,” says Ury. “Take a step back and say, ‘Why am I single?’ ‘What are my patterns?’ Someone’s pattern might be ‘I’m too picky. I rarely accept incoming matches and when I go out with them, I rarely go on a second date.’ Another one might be ‘I’m not picky enough. I don’t spend enough time thinking about who I want to invest my time in. I often end up with people who aren’t interested in a relationship.’ This is a great time to take that step back and do that self-reflection.”

Admittedly, it can be tricky to know your own dating blindspots, so Ury suggests reaching out to a friend or someone you trust for their opinion. “Say, ‘I want you to be honest with me: What do you think are some of my bad habits that are holding me back?’” says Ury. “Once you’ve actually identified those things, then you can make a real commitment to yourself, to your friend, whoever your accountability partner is and say, ‘I’m going to work on being more open-minded this year’ or ‘I’m going to work on being more present during my dates.’ Maybe that means going on fewer of them!”

2. Be specific about what you’re looking for.

Details matter––they help spark conversation and allow potential matches to get a better sense of who you are.

For example, if you asked someone what they enjoy doing on the weekends and they replied “watching TV,” it’s an automatic invitation to be disinterested. However, if they responded with, “I make a bomb bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on Sundays and then binge-watch The Office,” that’s something you can work with. Give your matches something to work with.

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