“Left, left, left, left, oh shoot…”

When it comes to dating apps, I’ve pretty much tried them all. Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel. You name it. I’ve probably at least downloaded it from the app store. I was curious about the app dating world and wondered, like many people, if it would offer a chance for an authentic connection.

While I can’t say I found the love of my life at the touch of a button (I am writing the dating column after all), I can say I learned a few things along the way.

No Shame Cycles

At first, I was kind of ashamed to admit I was using dating apps. For some reason or another, it felt as though it were a last resort. It felt like I had exhausted all my options, and apps were the Mojave Desert of the dating world. My Southern Christian upbringing made me feel as though I were incapable of finding a connection the traditional way and there was something wrong with me for exploring other options.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We use apps for literally everything, so why does dating automatically have to be the exception? When used properly dating apps, like dating, create a great space to get to know someone in a healthy and honoring way. There’s nothing wrong with meeting someone on Bumble the same way there’s nothing wrong with making a new friend on Instagram. In a world where we’re inclined to make digital connections and spending longer hours at work, it’s a pretty viable option.

Take It Offline

After making a few matches, I remember getting increasingly bored with the guys who were content just to keep chatting back and forth.  I have plenty of interesting and engaging friends, and I am more than happy to engage in communication with them through text. But, dude, it’s a dating app. Ask me on an actual date.

While dating apps offer a perfect place to create a connection, they certainly aren’t the space to cultivate a relationship. If you’re both interested and feel safe, then take your relationship outside of the digital sphere as soon as you can. While we’re more comfortable making initial contact via the Internet and enjoy the emotional security of a screen, it’s never going to fulfill us the way a real relationship will.

Meet up for coffee or drinks, something public and straightforward, and start actually to get to know each other. The sooner you can meet the more likely you are to discover whether you’d like to keep getting to know each other or if it is something you should move on from.

Treat It Like a Real Date

Dating apps should be treated like dating! I wish this could go without saying but whoa, you would be surprised. Aside from crude and unusual comments guys were just downright disrespectful in a variety of ways. In turn, it caused me to become cynical and maybe even a little calloused in the dating process as well.

Throughout the dating app process, treat it like a real date- be respectful of the other person’s time, energy, and emotions. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it in a message and don’t say it behind their back. Everyone’s putting their best foot forward, yourself included, so keep a posture of kindness and gentleness throughout the whole process.

Any other dating app tips out there or interesting stories? I have a few friends getting married this summer who met through an app- did you or anyone you know meet your significant other through an app? I would love to know!