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Expert Advice: The Must-Dos of Online Dating

Local sociologist and intimacy speaker Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus shares 3 essential tips

By Elena Gomez

Must-Dos of Online Dating

Must-Dos of Online Dating

Tinder. Bumble. OkCupid. Match. The list of online dating platforms can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the scene—on top of the extra anxiety added by the pandemic.

“Kissing became scary because of COVID. There’s less of a sense of freedom, safety, and fun in dating for some folks,” says Jennifer Gunsaullus, PhD, a sociologist and intimacy speaker.

Gunsaullus has nearly 30 years of experience in sexual health education. Along with the obvious safety uncertainties, she says the pandemic also amplifies concerns about finding a partner with financial stability.

And for those already in a relationship when the pandemic began, the additional time at home could be a reason why some couples drifted apart.

“Anything you were brushing under the rug and not dealing with in your marriage came to a head during this,” she adds. “There’s no way to avoid it.” But at times like these, there tends to be a lag of a year to 18 months until the separation and divorce rate increases—usually because financial instability meant those couples couldn’t separate earlier.

For those who are coming out of a divorce (or simply those who are new or rusty at online dating), Gunsaullus recommends reaching out to a friend who’s single to figure out the dating app that’ll best fit you. It’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in a partner, while remembering to take it slow. For instance, a coffee date can be an easy first step after deciding to move the conversation off the app.“A coffee date is a very informal, low-stakes way to get your feelers out and start building your confidence and skills around dating,” she says.

Although catfishing is uncommon, she cautions that if someone is avoiding a video call or meeting, it could be a red flag: “That’s a reasonable thing to ask for and schedule. If you’re on a dating app, the intent is to meet other people and then meet in person.”

If you’re preparing to meet a date offline, Gunsaullus shares these three tips for first date success:

Ask meaningful questions, and don’t forget to listen.

“Genuinely listen, and don’t turn every topic to be about you. Ask them follow-up questions to get to understand more about their life and what matters to them.”

Strike a balance: Be authentic, but don’t overshare.

For example, Gunsaullus says if your divorce isn’t final, you should share that—but at the same time, you don’t need to vent about your ex.

Do your homework!

“Review their profile and pick out a couple things from that or from your text  exchange to have on hand so you don’t have weird lulls in the conversation. This is particularly helpful if you’re nervous.”

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