I’d love some clarity around how and when to say that I’m looking for a relationship, when it comes to the online dating world.
Apps like Tinder have a reputation of being for hookups only, but I know many people who have found their husband on there, so I use it.
Some of the dating books I have read suggest to not mention anything about commitment, marriage, or to let up on what you really want, even many weeks into dating — to remain cool as a cucumber until he progresses things (while still dating multiple people).
Other dating coaches say to put “looking for relationship” in your profile and ask the question upfront (or pretty quickly) about what the guy is looking for, and tell them that you’re desiring partnership and eventually marriage.
I feel really confused about these seemingly opposite ways of navigating dating. I’m also not open to sex outside of a committed relationship so I kind of feel strange going on all these dates without a mutual understanding.
Does a guy even know what his intentions are until he gets to know you, though? Any advice for this pumpkin?
Love your work, and I’m so happy you’re back. Thanks Jenny! 🤍
Dear Confused Pumpkin,
Indeed, there's a lot of contradicting information out there among us concerning what you should and shouldn't disclose on your dating profile.
Then of course there's the context upon which people seek out potential mates on dating apps. On Tinder, it's pretty much a given that people are there specifically seeking out casual sex.
However, I've also learned that many folks have found marriage on Tinder. Bottom line is, apps are apps. And people seem to box themselves in the either/or category of single and looking for a serious relationship, or not so serious at all and definitely not looking for relationship i.e. hooking up.
Just so you know, you don't have to either. You can bend the rules and not place yourself in a box.
The thing is, you won't know if you want a relationship with someone until you meet them in person. I've heard of many instances where people fall head over heels for people they've never even met offline. Which is misleading because again, you won't really know where you stand with a person until you meet face-to-face.
I'm in the camp of emphasizing putting yourself out there with a spectacularly fun dating profile, roping them in and seeing what unfolds. It's better to cast a wide net and proceed to narrow it down to those you truly connect with.
And let's face it, saying you want marriage, kids and you refuse to have sex with anyone outside of a committed relationship is rather personal, isn't it? It's also a contentious issue that raises lots of questions like...
- Why is this person wanting all this right now? Why are they in a hurry?
- What if that's not what I'm looking for (just yet)? NEXT
- How does this person so stridently insist they are going to find that here? Isn't that a little pretentious?
In the context of many women indicating they want a serious relationship on dating apps, they also seem to throw in a lot of stipulations that frankly make them look bad.
"I'm done fooling around for 35 years with toxic dudes. I'm ready to settle down and get serious right now [before it's too late]."
I'm not saying nor implying this is you at all. I'm simply pointing out there's a bottleneck of women with poor social skills and questionable pasts drumming up these sorts of profiles. This is how they construct their bios (not always verbatim but that's what they seem to be more or less implying) and again, it's not a good look.
It reeks of entitlement and it sounds very uptight, which is always a no go.
The truth is, these highly specific relationship goals can be laid out at the appropriate time, generally sometime after you discover you can carry a conversation with the person, laugh together and you both enjoy skiing, baccarat and sushi.
When I met my husband, we were set up on a blind date. I only saw one photo of him and never spoke to him until we met in person.
Did we expect marriage and kids to come out of it? No. Neither of us expected that at all but we were open to the possibility of it depending on whether or not we could connect. We were merely intent on meeting in-person to see if we were compatible.
Neither of us had any expectations except to meet and see if there was something tangible for us to work with.
And really, that's how this all works out regardless. We can tell people we want marriage and kids on our profiles but ultimately, marriage and kids will only come after you find out if there's a connection.
I've also heard of other folks who have taken a shot in the dark and put up all manner of strict marriage criteria to separate the wheat from the chaff. They also threw in some esoteric language in terms of humor, political views and moral values and they use it as a process of elimination. I guess they didn't want to waste any more time on apps and at times it pays off, but very often, it doesn't.
My advice is to keep your profile fun. Lighthearted, flattering pictures, a silly joke perhaps in one of the little boxes that asks you what your favorite food/color/wallpaper paste is and run with it. Let them wonder what you're here for.
Your dating profile should be cool. And saying you want marriage and kids tends to come off pretty uncool these days because so many women use their dating profiles in such a way that showcases their baggage and years of bad luck in finding a long-term relationship.
Don't be that girl. Instead, avoid being defensive in your profile about anything concerning life goals and concentrate on making your profile more inviting to the observer.
You can leave the long-term relationship details open for discussion with the right person at the right time.
Apps or no apps, it really comes down to finding out if there's a connection above all. The other stuff comes later.
You got this, my pumpkin. Hugs.
Love and Many Blessings,
Questions or comments on this column? Have an advice question you'd like answered?
Write me: firstname.lastname@example.org