7 Years Of Swiping Left: A Serial Online Dater's Tips For Dating More Intentionally and Efficiently

For over 10 years now since Tinder started in 2012, dating apps have cemented their place in our dating culture. Up to 50% of couples now meet online. But if not used properly, they can be a huge, frustrating waste of time. Could there be a way to date more intentionally and efficiently? Esen Boyacigiller thinks so. Boyacıgiller has been navigating the online dating world for years and shares 7 tips she has culled from 50+ first dates.

January 30, 2024

I have been single for a long time. Years. And I have been swiping for almost all of that time. ‘Swiping’, for those that don’t know, refers to the act of ‘swiping left’ (a no) or ‘right’ (a yes). A yes to wanting to ‘match’ with them and thus commence chatting.

I have swiped on thousands of profiles in the last 7 years. Surely one of those should have, could have been a viable match, right? How did we get here?

The advent of dating apps was supposed to make things easier. Now, you have access to thousands of people in your phone. You can check them out at any time – at work, at a restaurant, on the toilet! You don’t have to wait to find the love of your life; they are right there, in your phone, waiting to be swiped on.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. While yes, some have found love through dating apps, many others are spending years swiping away to no avail. What is it about the apps specifically that makes it so hard for us to meet someone? I have some theories. Though I am still single, I would say my years on the apps have made me somewhat of an expert of online dating. So with that, here are my 7 rules of dating online. Please note these ‘rules’ apply to heterosexual couples only as I do not have experience dating the same gender so the same rules may not apply.

1. Repeated exposure is necessary

A large percentage of people find a mate through work or school. One reason for that of course is ‘repeated exposure’. Spending time with someone week after week, you become used to them and perhaps hopefully fond of them. Someone you meet once may irk you or not impress you much. But force me to spend 8 hrs everyday with a colleague and chances are I will warm up to them. The way this translates to dating apps is, most of us go on one date with someone, expect fireworks and when that fails to happen because – imagine the pressure! – we move it along. However, maybe if we committed to going on 3 dates with each potential date, we would warm up to them.

2. You don’t actually know what your type is

Everyone has a type. But I think our ‘types’ can pigeonhole us and prevent us from giving someone a chance that we may actually hit it off with. Nothing makes this more difficult than the dating apps. I have a criteria for whom I swipe right on, one of which is education. This means I tend to swipe left on anyone who went to a university I do not find impressive. Yes, education may not be a good indicator of someone’s intelligence (lots of very smart people didn’t do well in school), but how ELSE am I supposed to sort through the thousands of profiles?

The last person I developed an IRL (in real life) crush on was a short, bald nerd whom I certainly would have swiped left on if I saw him on the apps. However, by spending time together in a large friend group (note: repeated exposure!), I suddenly found myself after 10ish casual encounters, fancying him. When we close ourselves off to certain personality types or criteria, we may miss someone that could be a perfect match for us. The problem here is none of us have the time to go on an infinite number of dates so I recommend dating a variety of men.

3. Online banter is not a good indicator of chemistry

Once we do match, so begins what I call the ‘vetting process’. You begin chatting and try to determine whether they are worth going on a date with. Since men are visual, they tend to want to meet quite quickly in person vs. women where we need that banter first. None of us want to waste time meeting in person, getting stuck chatting to someone boring for an hour, wasting our makeup, alcohol calories and time.

Having said that, you have to meet in person to suss out whether you may enjoy someone and when we put too much pressure on the initial chatting, we can miss out on some great people. So put less pressure on the initial chat, and get to meeting in person.

4. When a man tells you he is not ready for a relationship, believe him

One mistake a lot of us women tend to make is ignoring the red flags from the jump. I made a list of all the men I went on a date with last year and nearly half had red flags I ignored. For me the following are huge red flags: says he does not want a relationship and is newly single. Why do we ignore these red flags? For a variety of reasons. We say, ‘Oh, I’ll just have fun too,’ or the biggest lie we tell ourselves is, ‘he may change his mind.’ No. Men are usually quite clear with their intentions, and we women tend to be the ones to selectively hear what we want to.

5. Beware the situationship!

Another epidemic in the dating world are men who want a relationship without the title. This is called a situationship and it is plaguing single women everywhere. This entails spending time together, going on dates, meeting each other’s friends and even families at times, without putting a title on the relationship. This is not really a Turkish thing in my experience and much more common in America. This allows men all the comforts of a relationship without any of the responsibility. Usually this begins with the man saying he is not looking for anything serious (see rule #4!), the girl agrees, the couple continues to spend time together and 3 months in, she is in love and he says he told her he didn’t want a relationship. It’s important to be clear about your intentions early on and keep it moving if this doesn’t align with theirs.

6. You are the common denominator with everyone you date

There is an episode in Sex and the City where Carrie is once again let down by Big, her on-again off-again avoidant love interest, and she decides to go to therapy to discuss her issue with men. She complains about all the men she dates who are unavailable and don’t give her what she wants. The therapist tells her that there is one common denominator in all the men she dates: her.

This unpleasant rule has been harder for me to accept but an important rule nonetheless. If you are constantly let down by unavailable men, or dating men who are in love with their ex, you are to blame as well! Why are you choosing these men, who most likely told you exactly who they are from the jump? But harsh truths can help us grow. If you are constantly let down by the cute tattooed, younger guys with no direction (just an example!), PIVOT. Start choosing types that are their complete opposite: older, no tattoos, focused, serious types. And see if you get a different result. You might surprise yourself.

7. Adhere to the ‘two drink maximum’

Alcohol is a social lubricant and helps us loosen up on dates. But when you drink too much, you can’t see clearly the red flags or compatibility. You may have loads of fun and perhaps conflat the ‘fun’ wrongly so with your date. Keep it to a 2 drink maximum for best and most reliable results.

And there you have my 7 rules for online dating. I am still in the trenches, trying my best to find my ‘lobster’. My goal for 2024 is more IRL dating. I think post pandemic everyone is keen to meet in the wild. But if you are on the apps, and suffering, try my tips and let me know how it goes. Or if you have any tips of your own, DM me please (@eatwithesen), after all, we are in this together, ladies!