Digital Dating: The Expert Tip to Help You Practice Self-Care as You Swipe

Mini Smith

From Women's Health

Each week, we’ll be bringing you the best advice from the WH team’s brand-new podcast, Going for Goal. Focused on helping you smash your 2020 health, fitness and wellness goals, leading experts share their winning advice every week.

This week, we looked at how to build a healthy dating life – and how to put yourself first when you’re swiping. Listen now - or download Going for Goal on your device.

Whether you like it or not, there’s no denying that dating has taken a turn for the digital. And that, according to research, it’s going nowhere in a hurry – in the US and the UK.

With all of that power in the palm of your hand, finding love has never been easier. But how do you stop your swiping habit from taking over your everyday?

Here to answer that question is the latest episode of the WH podcast, Going for Goal. This week’s experts were Dr Sophie Mort, a former NHS Clinical Psychologist who now has her own private practice, and Louise Troen, a brand consultant and former International Vice President of Marketing at the dating app Bumble.

In the episode, Sophie and Louise give their professional – and personal – opinions on just what it is that makes modern dating so stressful and how we can date smarter, not harder. Their top tip? Set boundaries around how you spend your time.


‘Dating makes you feel incredibly vulnerable and there’s a sense in the modern world that people can be thrown away quite quickly,’ says Sophie. ‘Boundarying your time is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health.’

Not heard the term boundaries before? These are, essentially, restrictions you put in place in order to indicate to the people around you how you want to be treated. This could be learning how to say 'no' to something - or prioritising your needs in a situation, rather than acquiescing to those of someone else.

The Tip that Can Make Digital Dating Fun Again

‘Research has found that most of us spend about 90 minutes per day on dating apps - that’s over 20 hours a week,’ says Sophie. ‘So you should be boundarying the time you spend searching and the time you’re going to offer people in terms of texting before you meet.’

It’s not just time spent on the apps that you can control. Sophie also advises being conscious of how much time you’re giving to the IRL dates themselves – making sure they don’t go on for so long you get bored, but not too short either. Essentially, just enough to leave you both wanting more.

Why Having Boundaries Can Make Digital Dating Happier

‘I think in terms of boundaries, what a lot of us do is we go on these dates feeling like we have to prove ourselves to the other person and we kind of lose sight of what we want,’ Sophie explains.

Taking some time to think of what you value in a relationship can make finding The One that much simpler. ‘Rank them in order of importance and then think of what is an absolute “No”,’ she adds. ‘For me, that’s someone who messes with my time.’

Turning off notifications from various dating apps can also be a great way to ease your mind. Engaging with apps mindfully and on your own terms means that when you do engage, you’re choosing to do it.

The alternative? ‘You’re constantly emotionally responding at the unconscious level to what your phone’s doing,' says Dr Soph. 'If your notifications are turned off, you’ve got a bit of a break.’

When Should You Be Swiping?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out the peak time for dating app use is 5-8pm on a Sunday evening.

‘Because more people are on there, the algorithm is being fed more and you’re more likely to be seen if you’re quite active,’ Louise explains. ‘That means you’re likely to get more matches if you’re on an app at that time.’

She suggests using those hours to focus all your profile-probing efforts for the week, limiting it to a time when your chances of finding a great match for you are at their highest.

‘Then throughout the week, spend your time with your friends and on yourself,’ says Louise. ‘So that when you actually go on the date, you feel empowered by the discipline that you’ve shown and the control you now have.’ Boom! Once more for the people in the back.

How Else Can I Take Control of my Dating Life?

Louise and Sophie share more of their best love-related lifelines on the latest episode of Going for Goal, discussing everything from decoding new dating terms (submarining, anyone?) to handling rejection with ease – or at least, the best you can.

Their final piece of advice to tackle any digital dating woes? ‘Connect with the people you really love,’ says Sophie.

‘I was going to say the same thing,’ adds Louise. ‘Spending time with the people who make you feel good will always be the best thing you can do.’ Received and understood. Texting the group chat, stat.

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