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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 276 : Moving forward with dating in 2020

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

In this episode, I talk about some of the challenges with dating and share some of my best practices for being deliberate and intentional with how you approach mobile dating in 2020. More at

Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

Dating in 2020

Late last year, I made a promise. It wasn’t quite a resolution but more of a “I need to put more effort into this” thought. For 2020, I wanted to be intentional about finding a great relationship with an eye towards getting married and building a family. The reason why this wasn’t a 2020 resolution is that it’s long overdue.

If I flashback any time frame – 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, back then, I imagined this would have happened by now. Getting married and having kids is always something I wanted and envisioned for myself.

So, when I got to the end of 2019 and looked ahead to the new year, I decided it was time to be more purposeful and intentional about this. My last relationship ended in 2017 and since then, dating has been a sporadic, occasionally haphazard experience. I decided to go into 2020 with a new attitude and a renewed optimism.

Like many single people, I use mobile dating as a primary means to meet people. I came of age during the online dating days in the early 2000s, back when it was still seen as part-taboo, part-niche to be putting yourself out there on a dating website. Today, dating through mobile tech is not only common, it’s expected.

Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Happn, Coffee Meets Bagel, OkCupid – they sound like the name of hip retail stores. There are so many dating apps and avenues, each with its own function and form. The access to a pool of single people to match and connect with is vast and at times overwhelming. As a result, dating has, in my opinion, become both easier and that much harder. It’s not hard to find someone to meet for a drink or cup of coffee. But finding true connection, that’s still challenging. If the proverb about the “needle in the haystack” is true, then mobile dating has simply increased the size of the haystack without making it any easier to find the needle.

On New Year’s Day I connected with someone on Tinder. We started chatting and immediately moved to text. We had a great rapport and based on her profile, we were looking for the same things.

I immediately asked her out and she agreed. We set a dinner date for the following Saturday. When it comes to dating, I find it best to schedule the date after exchanging a few messages.

I was excited and she communicated that she was looking forward to it.

Then, a few obstacles got in the way. She got sick during one of the worst cold and flu seasons in recent years. We had to postpone our date and finding a time to reschedule became challenging. We both have busy work schedules and her bug stayed with her for almost three weeks.

Towards the end of January, she recovered but was in the throes of a hectic work project. We managed to schedule a date for Saturday night, late in January, and I made reservations at the same place we were originally supposed to meet at.

That morning, she texted me that her boss was making her work through the weekend so she asked if she could “flip the script” and change our date to drinks that afternoon. Since I was free that day, having just completed the final edits of my upcoming book, I was flexible and said yes.

We met up for drinks and despite the delays, the last-minute schedule changes, and a rushed first date, I had a blast. I felt the same rapport that we established through texts over the past week. We mutually agreed that it was refreshing to have a great conversation that flowed as if we’d known each other for years. I said that I would like to see her again and she enthusiastically accepted.

What happened afterward? You can find out on this week’s podcast.

In the meantime, I’d like to share some of my best hacks for mobile dating when you have a busy schedule.

  1. Know your purpose. I’m intentional about finding a long term relationship. This means I approach mobile dating differently than other people who may just be in it for dates or casually meeting people.

  2. It’s not a numbers game. I’ve read articles and seen posts from people who try to decode mobile dating. Many suggest that you should swipe right on every single match without looking at the profiles and narrow down based on the matches you get. This is a “playing the odds” approach which I’m frankly not a fan of. I’ve tried it and if you want the dopamine hit of matches like a slot machine, it will give you that. However, what you inevitably end up doing is spending more time sifting through a lot of matches, many of which aren’t a good fit. This inevitably wastes your time and the other persons. You also risk burn out with this “gamified” approach.

  3. Do use more than one venue. It’s worthwhile to try different mobile apps and put yourself out there on several. My experience with mobile dating and that of people I’ve asked is that often, one or two apps will work really well for you in terms of match quantity and quality. So it’s worth trying different ones and then focusing your time and efforts on the one or ones that work best for you.

So, this leaves us with an age-new conundrum. With so many apps, so many potential matches, and so little time, how do you make the most of the plethora options and the often confusing, sometimes frustrating landscape of mobile dating?

I’ve taken what I call a “smart swipe” approach, which I detail below.

Smart swipe

  1. Limit your time on the dating apps. Spend no more than 30 minutes to an hour a day on mobile dating apps. It’s easy to get sucked in and caught up in mobile dating like you’re in a casino looking for a winning hit. It’s probably as addictive too. Limit the time that you spend. This will ensure that you’re not simply going through the motions or burning out. It’s ok to limit the days you spend too.

  2. Use a smart swipe approach. Rather than go buckshot and swipe on every profile you run across, quickly deduce a profile or potential match within 30 seconds.

  3. Level one: is a physical attraction based on photos.

  4. Level two: quickly read the stats and profile basics for match compatibility basics or dealbreakers. This may include age, geography, whether the person has kids, and most importantly what they’re looking for.

  5. Level three: scan the profile. I get it. It’s hard to allocate time to reading, especially when you already have too much to read for your day job or emails and texts from friends and colleagues. So, scan the profile. Get a sense of what the person is looking for. If it doesn’t jive with what you’re looking for or who you are, swipe left (pass) and move on.

  6. Smart swiping is counterintuitive. Your default should be to do more passing (swiping left) than swiping right. Sounds counterintuitive right? And it’s true, you’ll get fewer matches and this may seem frustrating but you’ll find that the matches you do get will be more satisfying and have better long term potential with you. If you’re past the stage of just going out on dates for the sake of dating, you’ll also find this a better use of your time.

  7. Be patient. The smart swipe approach doesn’t show results right away. But in my experience, it’s better for higher-level engagement and makes you less prone to see dating as a video game.

  8. Be kind and gracious to everyone you connect with. It’s tough putting yourself out there and you never know what someone else may be going through or really anything about them beyond their photos plus a few sentences. If it doesn’t work out, thank them for their time and wish them well. If you’re not feeling it, let them know and wish them well. Don’t leave someone hanging, don’t string them along, don’t ghost, and don’t be rude.

  9. Don’t get discouraged. Finding a date is easy. Finding love isn’t. When you think about it, this is true of anything worth pursuing, whether it’s a dream job, business, writing your first book, or finding a life partner. It take a lot of trying, putting yourself out, experiencing the highs and lows of that first date, and continuing to press on and move forward.

What I’m reading / read

  1. Please Hold by Tricia Stewart Shiu (****): a thoroughly entertaining and fascinating novel by Tricia Stewart Shiu (who I spoke with on episode 159) about the lives of personal assistants for studio executives in Hollywood. Shiu creates memorable characters who deal with every day, relatable issues and problems, just like the rest of us; revealing that the film and TV industry isn’t all glitz and glamour. It’s a fast read and engaging read.

Books by John

  1. Check out my Amazon author profile.

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