Love & Sex

Here's How To Use Dating Apps To Be Your Own Wingwoman and Win At Love

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Charreah K. Jackson
Aug, 27, 2018 2:02 PM UTC

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of ESSENCE

More than a third of marrying U.S. couples met online. Follow these tips and swipe into your love story.

Open Your Heart—And Accounts

We use technology for everything else, why not in our love lives? Rapper MC Lyte and actress Tatyana Ali both met their husbands online. Diversify your profiles by signing up for at least two sites: a large one and a niche option based on your interests or demographic. If you are seeking something more serious, consider investing in a paid account like Match or eHarmony. Amanda Spann, co-founder of the new app CultureCrush, took meeting people global. Thanks to this dating app, you can search Black singles throughout the diaspora based on nationality, ethnicity or tribe.

“Black people are not a monolith. Singles can expand their horizons,” Spann says.

With more than 30,000 users, 1,000 tribes across Africa and a growing membership in Brazil and Britain, CultureCrush allows you to meet Black men and women all over the world from your couch.

Create A Profile That Pops A dating profile is not a résumé. Rather than trying to fit all of your amazingness into witty phrases, focus on showing a few parts of your personality. Share what you like to do for fun so your next date can imagine an evening out with you. Instead of “I like new experiences,” state how much you enjoyed learning to make pasta or attending an astronomy lecture. Also be clear if your end goal isn’t “casual” and you’re seeking “someone special.”

Make Your Move

Online dating has come a long way from AOL chat rooms and creative screen names. Now the expectation is that we bring our authentic selves. Bumble—an app designed by women that lets ladies make the first move—might be a great place to perfect your game. Singles often share their social justice passions on the app, observes Bumble sociologist Jessica “Dr. Jess” Carbino, Ph.D., who is an authority on swiping habits. “Online dating evolves with the culture,” she says. Yet the top strategy for dating success hasn’t changed: honing your conversation. “Think about how you signal that you are interested in getting to know someone,” Dr. Jess advises. Instead of a noncommittal “Hi,” ask about a person’s hometown or inquire about a comment in his profile.

Be An Online Flirt

If you still aren’t ready to set up a profile, you can use social networks to connect. When you meet someone, follow up on Twitter or Instagram. You can also use Facebook’s graph search to discover friends of friends with similar interests. You can be specific by searching terms step by step. For “Single friends of my friends who live in Chicago and are 30 to 40 years old and like H.E.R,” start with “single friends,” then of those, “friends who live in Chicago” and so on. Commit to linking with like-minded people monthly.

Date IRL

The term “online dating” is actually a misnomer. It’s really about online meeting to potentially date in the real world. After you exchange a few messages and feel comfortable, graduate to phone calls and then a casual meet-up in person. Going out for a quick coffee or drink will give you an opportunity to assess your connection. You should not message for more than a month without meeting if you’re in the same city. (As with all new people, be sure to meet in public places and always let someone know where you will be and share the contact info of your date.) After I set up a few profiles, I met interesting people and reconnected with some old acquaintances—including my college crush. I also got a dinner invite in my Instagram DMs from a cutie who saw me on Bumble and got proactive. There may be some oddballs, just like in real life, but don’t give up.

“Dating is about numbers,” Dr. Jess notes. “You go out until you meet somebody you click with.”

So stay focused on expanding your options and embracing the experience. Every swipe brings you one step closer to the incredible person meant just for you.

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