Dating Apps, Bars and the Challenges of Finding a Date in Other Modern Spaces

If you wanted to find a date tonight where would you start?

If you wanted to be IRL about it, you might head to a local bar. There you could chat up other singles during happy hour and hope enough chemistry is present for a little love connection. But let’s be real. In an age where conversation has become an art form, talking to someone live feels like making a Herculean effort.

Most likely you’d whip out your phone, swipe to a few of your favorite dating apps and try to see if you can make a match. It’s no secret that online dating is the dominant way to find a partner these days. The Knot claims most of their engaged couples met online. It makes sense given our increasing reliance on technology to manage our lives and our growing busyness. Dating is hard and apps do make it easier to get quick exposure to lots of people for the specific purpose of dating.

However, that might just be the problem. The ease with which we’re surveying prospective partners might be doing more damage to our long-term relationship goals than we realize in the moment. Particularly for Christians seeking to honor the whole person, dating apps often reduce people to the most basic characteristics.

As we scroll and swipe, wink and like, we eliminate and choose partners based on potentially arbitrary qualities. In the fast-paced space of online dating, we rarely pause to make the thoughtful distinction between true needs and superficial preferences.

What is the difference between relational needs vs. preferences?

While identifying the characteristics we desire in a partner can come from a totally healthy place, there is a fine line between knowing our deep needs and naming our preferences. Needs are non-negotiable; they are the qualities that honor the core of who we are in terms of our beliefs, values, and unique personality traits. Preferences, while important, are less critical. They are the characteristics that often initially attract us to someone however their absence doesn’t equate to incompatibility.

The problem with preferences is we are often tempted to move them into the must-have space. And when we do, we can become overly choosy about who we pursue relationship with and we become dismissive of perfectly good partners. Too many preferences can cause us to slip into the space of “shopping” for a partner like they are a commodity to be gained as opposed to a person created in the image of God. Too few needs can make us vulnerable, failing to “guard our heart” as scripture encourages.

So where is the line?

On this episode, I’m sitting down with Kristi Oloffson, a 32-year old journalist in New York City. She’s worked with some of the top outlets in media and now she’s using her journalistic curiosity to help us explore the state of Christian dating now. Kristi shares how the medium of dating apps and even IRL settings like bars or clubs rarely give her the opportunity to be herself or to connect with potential partners on a level consistent with her spiritual ethic. In short, she’d like to get to know someone more authentically, beyond a headline on a profile, while doing activities true to her personality. But is there an alternative option?

Maybe. Listen to find out what she suspects might be a step in the right direction. We also love that the biggest takeaway from our talk with Kristi was the need for a total renewal in our approach to dating, i.e. exactly what We Date Modern is about.

And don’t miss the end of the interview where she drops a critical question that you can use to help guide your approach to dating and more!

Episode highlights:

  • Kristi shares how dating can feel like a full-time job and she’s not here for it

  • We discuss how online dating has led to the commodification of people and how this trend is inconsistent with our Christian faith

  • We confess how it’s easy to carry certain biases about prospective partners we may not realize but we must confront

  • The somewhat lame piece of advice a mentor gave Kristi that is actually true even though it sounds cliche

  • How the spaces in which we date reflect or conflict with our ethics of relationship

  • The new organization in New York City that is connecting church communities and providing new opportunities for more authentic dating relationships to develop organically.

Oh, before we go. Have you grabbed our Strategies for the Struggle? Our passion at We Date Modern is to help you date from a place of mental, emotional and relational health. In order to do that you need to know be aware of the top challenges Christian women are facing in modern dating and you need practical tips to manage these issues. We’ve got your back! Grab the free list now so you’re ready before your next date.


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