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Navigating the online dating scene with a strong sense of value

Joanna Coles and Mika Brzezinki discuss the online dating landscape.
Image: A woman uses a mobile phone
A woman uses a mobile phone.Getty Images

Know Your Value’s Mika Brzezinski recently explained, “Part of knowing your value is getting value back in the relationship.” But it’s not just about negotiating a salary, it also applies to life and relationships - particularly, when you’re looking for love.

In today’s online dating landscape, however, it’s easy for “your value” to get lost in the shuffle of swipes, matches and texts. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Brzezinski recently sat down with Joanna Coles, chief content officer at Hearst magazines and author of the new book, “Love Rules: How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World.” They discussed the complex online dating landscape and how women can navigate this area with mindfulness and self-respect.

There are some key tips to keep in mind when diving into the world of online dating.

Don’t give without getting back

Don’t lose sight of yourself during the online dating process. Know your values, expectations and objectives - and never forget the positive qualities that you bring to others.

“I think that women feel interchangeable in dating apps, and I also think they feel that they’re competing with the ubiquity of porn online,” she explained.

Her takeaway: Don’t overinvest in someone unless they’re investing in you, too.

Collect data on yourself

Coles suggests tracking your behavior, perhaps through a journal, where you record your habits and identify your trigger points over time.

For example, you might rekindle a relationship with an ex because you’re craving intimacy, but you’ve already determined that your ex isn’t right for you. “If you go back with an ex, you can’t move on to the next stage of your life,” she explained.

People tend to have huge appetites for both food and love, so it’s helpful to keep healthy eating habits in mind when thinking about healthy relationship habits. “It’s easy to eat junk food and end up getting obese, and it’s also easy to get into toxic, junk relationships that bring you down and stop you from developing as a person,” Coles said.

Don’t fall for a bogus sense of intimacy

Keep in mind that the beginning of an online romantic relationship involves swipes and texts and sometimes, continuous strings of communication. However, it can also provide a false sense of intimacy.

“If you swipe on someone and then you have endless back and forth on text and you think you’re falling in love with this person or you love the relationship you’re having, you’re really having a relationship with a complete stranger,” Coles said.

She explained that we tend to fill in the gaps in our knowledge about this person with positive attributes. When you get offline and meet them in real life, there can be a “crushing disappointment that follows,” Coles warned.

Use dating apps to extend your social network

“Dating apps are a tool in your arsenal,” Coles said, but they certainly aren’t your only option.

Use them for what they are - a means to connect you to a larger world and to find more people that share your interests. They’re full of options and can connect you with people you’d never typically come across.

With that in mind, set realistic expectations. Rather than measuring your success in online dating with metrics like how long it takes you to find love or how many dates it takes before finding romance, use other metrics, such as how the experience has helped extend your social network.

Embrace a bigger life - and have fun

Throughout your online dating journey, it’s most important to enjoy the process and have a good time. This involves “knowing your value, growing your value and making sure that you have more fun,” Coles said.

“Do things where you have something in common with other people, and that’s the way you end up finding people to share your life with,” Coles added.