Our grandparents could be forgiven for scratching their heads trying to understand dating in 2020 but that’s not surprising when many of us are too.
To shed light on the complexity of modern dating, social networking app Bumble has partnered with sexologist Chantelle Otten.
The award-winning sex therapist and relationship specialist applauds Bumble for innovating how people think and converse around trickier dating topics.
Otten shares her expertise to unlock the secrets to dating in seven bite-sized tips.
1. Go virtual first
Bumble’s in-app video chat feature enables users to take first dates online prior to meeting in-person to establish a connection.
Otten says that just as in real life, singles need to embrace first date awkwardness.
“Have a laugh and don’t put too much pressure on yourselves to have a ‘perfect’ date. When ending the date, clearly communicate if you want to see each other again. No need to leave them wondering, or yourself.”
Despite the virtual setting, Otten cautions people to keep it real.
“Do whatever makes you feel most confident. This might mean putting on some make up, it might mean putting on a clean shirt, whatever it is, make sure you’re feeling great.”
“A tidy home is never a bad thing, but no need to lie about where you are either. Although a tropical backdrop could be fun.”
2. Safety first
When Bumble launched in 2014 it prioritised the safety of female users by enabling women to initiate chats first. Otten agrees that safety is a dating must-have adding that Bumble’s safety tips are comprehensive.
These include looking out for users who have verified their profile (they will have the blue tick of approval next to their name), keeping private information private, meeting in public spaces, and leaving uncomfortable dates early.
“Communicating plans to a flatmate, friend or family member is a great tip. I always used getting home checks with girlfriends when they’d date. They’d let me know when they got home, and if not, you better believe I was giving them a message and a call.”
She suggests using smartphone functions to share locations for 24 hours too.
3. First date etiquette
Otten says the rules of dating are simple, starting with active listening.
“Actually listen to your date as they speak. We get caught up in what we want to tell them and don’t take in what they’re saying. So focus on them.
“This will also help you read their body language and pick up on any signals, like if they want you to kiss them.”
Body language can also help people who struggle to articulate that they’re interested.
“Actively show interest with your body language: maintaining eye contact, angling your body towards them, making casual physical contact with them, keeping your body ‘open’.”
While Otten suggests that getting blind drunk might not be smart, a “cheeky margi or two” may help conversation flow.
4. Talk about sex
Otten suggests to be transparent about sexual desires sooner rather than later.
“We are trying to find connections with people, and a sexual connection and compatibility is so important. Virtually can be easier for people however things can be lost in translation, so if possible, an in person conversation may be best.”
Talking about sex early creates a non-judgemental space and paves the way to test out fantasies you might want to try, says Otten.
“The worst that could happen is that you don’t waste any time finding the perfect partner.”
5. Ignite the spark
While an advocate of sexual confidence, Otten is clear about the importance of having conversations about consent before naked photos are sent – and to know local laws.
“If you’re both consenting and not hurting anyone, go for it. Feel empowered over your ability to choose, and simply say to them ‘this is for your eyes only, I’d be really hurt if you shared this with anyone.’
Otten adds that sexiness doesn’t need to be overt to elevate confidence, and that being “authentically you is sexy as hell”.
“Everyone can be sexy in their own way. Being confident is hugely sexy on its own, but if you’re not comfortable it’s pretty hard to be confident. So wear clothes that make you feel sexy, not clothes that might be stereotypically ‘sexy’.
6. Ending with a “nightcap”
Otten says that one night stands or having sex on the first date is up to individual’s preferences.
“Some like a test ride before committing fully, some would rather let the sexual tension build, so do what works for you,” she advises.
“If you know you’re someone who after having sex on the first date is pretty crushed if it doesn’t turn into a relationship, maybe wait a few dates to see how strong the connection is outside the bedroom.”
7. Ghosting is a no-no
When it comes to deciding whether to see them again, Otten says “go with your gut”, adding that ghosting is a no no.
“If you know that you want to see them again, definitely let them know. This might be planning another date or just saying you want to, just be consistent.
“If you say you’ll message them tomorrow, do it, if you say you’ll be in touch, be in touch. It’s okay to let them know you don’t want to see them again, but let’s get rid of ghosting.”
Otten adds that while rejection is “never fun”, it can be done calmly and kindly.
“Be clear, saying, ‘hey, I don’t really feel a connection beyond this evening so I think it’s best if we part ways, but thank you for tonight and I wish you all the best’.
“If they question you, remember, you aren’t obligated to tell them exactly why you don’t want to see them again, especially if there’s no one ‘reason’, but simply a lack of connection. That does not mean they will take it gracefully. If your rejection is met with abuse, report and block because ain’t nobody got time for that.”
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