A Modern Matchmaker Solves All Our Dating Dilemmas

Dating in the age of apps, ghosting, and social media stalking.

modern dating advice
Photography by PHUONG NGUYEN

Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble—oh my! Dating in 2018 can feel like a battlefield (or a Willy Wonka’s world of possibilities). Apps can make people feel more like a commodity than an actual human being. That’s where New York-based matchmaker Amy Van Doran, founder of Modern Love Club, comes in. In the past decade of running her business—she started out in her early 20s—she has interviewed nearly 7,000 singles. And with over 200 people applying to her club every day, you could say that Van Doran knows a thing or two about dating.

Luckily, we got the chance to pick her brain on all things dating and dilemmas, and, boy did she deliver. See for yourself. 

(We're assuming that if you’re reading this, you are of legal age. Kids, don’t meet strangers online.)

Your Brand
It’s easy to feel more like a commodity than a person with all the swiping on a dating app. How do you even succeed while dating through apps?

“The best thing you can do is self-awareness,” says Van Doran. “Know who you are, what your brand is and realize you’re not for everyone. Figure out the ways that you’re the same as everyone else, and then the ways you’re different, and that’s your brand. I would rather get every single guy that I’m the target demographic for, instead of all people.”

For example, Amy describes herself as “Kind of quirky, I like cartoons, I like science fiction films, I like 1960s movies, and I look like a person who likes that, so to the guy that is interested in that creative world, they see me and they are like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s my match.’”

Figure out the ways in which you are special and capitalize on that.

“About Me”
So much pressure can be put on that single part of your dating profile where the words come into play: the "About Me" section. But don’t just enlist a friend to help come up with a clever assortment of words or emojis.

“The person is going to end up meeting you, so it needs to sound like you, and it needs to sound like your voice. And if you don’t know what your voice is, it’s going to be very difficult to attract the person you’re looking to attract, because if you don’t know yourself, then how is someone else going to know you. So, really, don’t worry about sounding too wild or pretentious or dirty or whatever, don't worry about sounding too anything if that’s who you are.

“Because what you are trying to do is to attract someone who is going to be into you. So it’s better to have fewer people that are messaging you and more people who are actually interested in you. We’re not trying to trick someone into loving us.”

Telephone
You know when you’re talking with someone on an app for what feels like forever? Or emailing, or texting, but not extending it to IRL? Amy suggests hopping on the phone (how retro!).

“First of all, it’s a total power move,” says Van Doran. “It brings a different experience. Everyone is doing the same shit online, but the one time you can break up that pattern and say, ‘Hey, this is wacky but instead of doing this back and forth, let’s get on a phone call.’"

“It’s okay to be kind of bold. Life is too short to sit around and wait for someone to present an activity. The way to be the person someone likes is to be interested and engaging in the world. So if you’re like, ‘Hey, I know we just met, but like there is this museum exhibit that I’m super excited about tomorrow. Let’s hop on a phone call and see if we have enough in common to go to the museum. I’d love to test this thing out.’"

“You’re not just being vulnerable with yourself, but also you’re being a person that’s interested and curious about the world, and that’s really sexy. And you don’t know how many people this person is matching with if they seem to be particularly wonderful, it’s going to get lost in the shuffle because they have no attachment with you—before someone meets you, they have no attachment to you. So, they are going to fall by the wayside and I think life is too short for that.”

Instagram Dating
Social media apps are turning into arenas to flirt and engage with cuties, too.

“What do you mean you’re just going to slide into my DM’s like that? And also, at first, you don’t know if they are hitting on me, or just liking the picture I put up. It’s very ambiguous. I like that though, I can check on them, see what they are doing.”

Go Easier On Them
Do you have a communication pet peeve? Mine is when people don't use punctuation or they shorten already simple words. Like, “whats up” or "where r u"—no question mark, no apostrophe, nothing. No response from me! But, Van Doran cautions to not always make assumptions when communicating with others.

“Some people that are really great in person, but for others, maybe they are doctors or they’re busy, they don't have time to type or writing isn’t their best form of communication,” says Van Doran. “Before these expectations get wacky, I would try Facetime or something where you are actually talking to that person in their body.”

“Before you’re even talking to them, you have a reason to hate them. ‘Oh, I hate this guy, he can’t even spell restaurant.” (Okay, that’s me, I do this.)

“But if they were your friend and you just happen to notice later on in your friendship that they spelled restaurant wrong, you wouldn’t hate them, you’d be like, ‘Oh, isn't that cute.’ We’re no longer humans, we're just waiting to hate people we haven’t met yet."

How to Say ‘Thanks But No Thanks’ to A Second Date
Had a first date and they’re asking for another date, and you’re just not interested? It can be a frightening thing to face the music and actually tell them, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ The person receiving the news can take it personally and really react poorly. But instead of ghosting, talk to them—strategically.

“I personally would respond with ‘Hey, listen, I had a really great time, thank you so much, it was such a pleasure getting to know you. Full disclosure: I know we’re both on these apps because we’re looking for a person we connect with on that next level, but I think maybe we’re not as compatible, and I don't feel the romantic connection.’"

“Act like you’re doing them a favor. ‘I don’t want to waste your time engaging with me because I want you to go find the person you’re supposed to be with’ type of chat. Try to flip the script and act like you're doing them a favor.”

First Date No-Nos
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newcomer, there are some good, basic things to remember on that first date.

“Too many people are talking too much, and the other people are not talking enough,” says Van Doran. (Can we even win?!) “On that first date, you have one chance to show that you are a compelling person with a lot to offer, to be engaged. But you also have to show you are a listener. So speaking, but also asking a lot of questions and remaining actively engaged with what a person is saying, but also don't forget to bring that energy and zest that keeps a person interested. It should be a good tennis match. They ask, you ask. They ask, you ask."

“But if someone talks a lot on a date, it doesn't necessarily mean they are self-absorbed. Sometimes when men are anxious or nervous, they ramble."

“The only thing I need to know on a first date is, ‘Do I like this person enough to go on a second date?’ People aren’t really themselves until the third date. Whenever people start liking people, they start to act a little bit differently."

“When I don’t care about a date, I’ll be the most charming person ever, and if I really like someone, I kind of come into this more passive, reciprocal state, and they aren’t getting what’s cool about me."

“But I wouldn’t talk about the messy details of my breakup. You can state things as facts, calmly. Like, ‘Just so you know, I don’t know if this is going to change the way you feel about me, but this or this or this.’ Don’t start unloading things that people aren’t asking for. [If you want to share something], ask for permission, and share calmly without drama. Oversharing makes me think of using someone as an emotional garbage dump. I maybe suggest never doing that.”

Be Open

“So many people are coming in burnt out, especially millennials,” says Van Doran. “They come in and they’ve been on 300 first dates. Their posture is like they’ve been through war, basically. Try to unlearn the negative experiences that have happened. Go into each date as if it’s the first time in a positive way, and the world hasn’t taught you a learned negativity."

“The second they meet their person it’s only going to happen once, and I don’t want them to miss the ball because they’ve had a bad experience.”

Got some love questions? Tell us, and we'll investigate! 

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Published on February 07, 2018 - 1:12pm EST

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