As matchmakers and relationship coaches, we hear horror stories almost daily from our clients who are frustrated with today’s dating apps and online services.
There are many reasons for this – and they are all valid. You don’t really know who you’re communicating with. You don’t understand the online “lingo.” Their match’s profile photo was 20 years old. These are just a few of the complaints. But there’s another reason why so many singles are unsuccessful with the dating apps – and to us, it’s the most important reason of all. These modern dating platforms are all about instant gratification. And while you can certainly view this as, well, gratifying, instant gratification actually hinders relationships. At its worst, instant gratification can even stop potentially wonderful relationships from blossoming in the first place.
You might ask, how can this be in our wonderfully modern world? Isn’t it terrific that we don’t have to go to the bank for cash anymore, and that we don’t have to get up from our comfy sofa to change the television channel? These conveniences certainly are a big plus. But a relationship is not a convenience. It’s a commitment. While most successful relationships are gratifying, they are hardly ever instant. It takes much more than the touch of a button, or the swipe of a smartphone screen, for true love to occur.
Think about it. When you are using these apps, you are almost completely at the mercy of physical attractiveness. Sure, you can fill out profiles to tell potential matches about yourself, but be honest. Do you even read those before you make your “decision”? Probably not. This is why many people don’t even bother creating informative profiles. It’s all about outer attraction, and nothing about inner attraction.
No doubt, mutual physical attraction is important in relationships. But it’s far from the only factor, and it should never be Number One. Looks eventually fade – even for the most attractive people. If you’ve picked your partner mostly for their beauty, what do you have when they’re not as attractive anymore?
The dating apps do not take this into account. The big problem with instant gratification is, you start believing that the “perfect match” will appear right on your screen and that true happiness is just a click away. It’s a nice fantasy, but in the real world, it’s not very likely.
Even worse, instant gratification can be a problem even if you do get into a relationship. Ask online shopping addicts who don’t consult their partners before major purchases, and you’re sure to hear about strains in their relationship. Ask a serial texter about the last time he had a serious face to face conversation with his partner when a problem came up. Chances are, he’ll wonder why there’s “no communication anymore.”
There was a time, not long ago, when you had no other choice but to talk to your partner about important things. Now, you can text. Now, you don’t even have to say, “I love you.” You can send a heart emoji – and think that’s the same thing. It isn’t. Lasting relationships require constant communication. And by that, we mean actual communication.
When we meet with clients, we ask them to keep instant gratification to a minimum. And we ask them to forget about the dating apps. (Most of them are fine with this, since they don’t like the apps to begin with.) Instead, we take our time with our clients, and we really get to know them. We consider their relationship history, their values, and their future hopes. We ask them to look deep inside themselves – and to enjoy the journey. Then, and only then, do we set them up with potential matches.
This rarely happens “in an instant.” It can take some time – and this is a good thing, because healthy relationships require patience. They also require a deep appreciation for a person’s inner beauty, and the willingness to make time for your significant other.
Quite simply, relationships need time and effort to grow and flourish. Save the instant gratification for fun and entertainment. Serious love takes serious commitment.