College is exciting! It’s a new experience, filled with opportunities to meet new people and experience new things. I grew up in a small, Midwestern town. My friends were the kids on my block that I grew up with. My world was small, and I was excited about experiencing everything involved in the college promise.
Creating new friends was an exciting thought, but what would my love life be like? I had only dated two girls in high school, but I felt confident that I had worked through the awkwardness of navigating a relationship for the first couple times. College was my opportunity to experiment and discover; I wasn’t about to let that opportunity slip by.
The Hook Up Culture – Dating Has Become a Glorious Numbers Game
I was shocked to find that the party scene at school was totally different from the movies. Yeah, there was drinking, but people weren’t really “hooking up” with people they first came into contact with at the party. Everyone, for the most part, had already met virtually beforehand. I had always looked down on apps like Tinder and OKCupid as places for desperate people to find their “soulmate” or a no-string fling.
I’m not a techy person, but it became clear that I’d need to embrace the world of online dating and hooking up if I wanted to operate at the same level as my new friends. One of my first college friends / wingmen, we’ll call him Brad, had profiles on three different dating sites. He would go to a party and have two or three potential hookups lined up in advance. That meant he had done his homework before heading out; he knew the online profiles of these students like the back of his hand, and he had hedged his bets.
Dating apps allowed me to “meet” and virtually screen hundreds of potential dates. Locking eyes and falling in love from across the room wasn’t necessary; true love, or an attempt at it, was just one more swipe away.
Recalibrating the Idea of Romance in an App-Based Environment
Forgive me, but I’m a hopeless romantic. I wanted to have that moment where I meet eyes with a striking woman across the room. Sparks would fly and I would walk over, using my best line to see if a conversation could be started in the moment. No online cheat-sheets or plans for hooking up. Totally fluid, totally natural and exciting; that, to me was my naive essence of an amazing relationship’s first moments.
In college today, it’s exceedingly rare to just meet someone in-person. We live in a virtual reality that seems to shape our physical reality, rather than the other way around. To have the best chance of leading an extraordinary real-life, you have to hone your virtual life skills.
Stepping Up My Game
At my first couple of parties, a line from Young MC’s Bust A Move kept playing on loop in my head. I walked in, saw some attractive woman and thought to myself: “…come on fatso, bust a move!” For the record, I’m pretty fit, but I was frozen with the thought that those women had already lined up a “match” before heading to the party. I didn’t want to start a conversation with someone that was there to meet someone else.
So, before attending my third Saturday night frat party, I decided to get serious about virtual pre-dating. I needed a killer profile and a strategy for matching and flirting online with women I would meet the following weekend. Beyond chatting with Brad to get some initial pointers, I did what every good millennial does when they have a question; I googled it!
One of the best articles I read on the subject pointed out that if you’re going to be successful in finding a real match online, you have to understand the “purpose” of your profile, along with the “purpose” of your potential match’s profile.
Swiping right and getting a “MATCH!” notification is exciting. But, I didn’t want to waste my time on a casual hook-up. Remember? I’m the hopeless romantic. I wanted something real, serious and full of potential. I became an expert at analyzing the online profiles of my matches.
Here are the three things I looked for:
- Is their profile serious, with real information about what makes them unique and interesting?
- Are their photos genuine looking? Are there any photos that aren’t at a weird angle, or in a group setting?
- Could they hold a real conversation when we chatted, while still keeping it fun and casual at first?
Your criteria will probably be different, but I was looking for a woman that was in-shape, able to hold a conversation and had a good sense of humor. Angeline Jolie would have worked out too! But, in all seriousness, you have to understand what it is you’re looking for.
And, if you’re worried about having something to say, you’ll want to learn how to play an instrument. As the founder of Trusty Guitar, is fond of saying, “Learning to play the guitar might only take a few months, but the romantic perks last a lifetime.” I learned very quickly that if you can teach a girl an instrument, you’ll capture her attention in a meaningful way. But, you’ll want to lay the groundwork first.
Chivalry has a new, 21st century definition. The world where people meet in real-life for the first time and develop an organic, meaningful relationship is becoming more and more rare. I’m sure there will be courses like “Dating Before the Internet 101” available for elective credits before too long. But, there’s no better place to witness the transformation in real-time than on a college campus.
More than a quarter of the US population under the age of 25 claims that online dating is an integral part of their dating life. That’s a massive jump from previous years, and if you’re not meeting people online, you’re going to have a hard time “gelling” at parties and other social events, because you’ve already missed half of the conversation before you’ve even stepped foot in the door.
Of course it’s still possible to meet a great match in real life and if this happens to you, good for you. You’re one of the lucky ones! But if you find meeting people in real life hard, then your should embrace the opportunity that online dating provides. Expand your horizons and embrace new ideas and technology. I would not have met my wife if it weren’t for online dating. Are you letting opportunities pass you by?
Featured photo credit: Nathan Walker via hd.unsplash.com