In 2018, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single person who hasn't dabbled in the world of dating sites and apps. Now a $3 billion industry, online dating isn't just an easy way to meet people. It also works. 2017 data from The Knot found that 19 percent of brides said they had met their spouse online. Even better, another recent study found that connections made online lead to more diverse, longer-lasting marriages.
Still, online dating isn't perfect. And especially with the rise of dating apps, users often find that they're having a hard time making meaningful connections or turning their text exchanges into actual dates. Mbg chatted with eHarmony CEO Grant Langston, who shared some of the secrets he's learned from making online dating after 17 years in the business.
What the perfect first date looks like when you prioritize health and wellness.
If you're someone who loves healthy food and early morning exercise sessions, "grabbing drinks" on every first date isn't exactly ideal. Which is fine, according to Langston, because in his experience the ideal first date is going for a walk. "Much of the time you can say, 'Hey, why don't we go for a walk and talk,'" he says. "Walk to get something to eat, but the walk is really what it's about. You're moving your body and you're not facing each other, which can be a little bit awkward at first. If the date happens to go that way, it can be romantic—you can take your date's hand on a walk. I wouldn't suggest someone go to SoulCycle with me on a first date, but a walk is a nice halfway point."
The secret to meaningful conversation on a first date.
It's normal to get the jitters before a first date, but Langston cautions against preparing with a laundry list of questions. "The early stages of dating are supposed to be pleasant and light, so avoid hammering your date with tons of questions," he says. "But I don't think there's anything wrong with having more serious conversations. You don't have to talk about your life goals, but feel free to discuss politics or values. I suggest keeping it flirty and light for the most part, but every now and then delve into more serious questions. If you keep your ears open, you'll leave that first date knowing if that person is in the same stage of life as you and wants the same things you do."
How to take your dates offline.
If you're stuck in a texting rut where you're hearing from someone you're interested in multiple times a week without any suggestion of a date, worry not—this is completely normal, but Langston says you do need to take action sooner rather than later. "You want to be face-to-face with someone as quickly as possible. That's how you figure out physical attraction and body language," he explains. "You're not here for a pen pal. Once you've figured that out, just go and have that cup of coffee or go on that walk. It's important. And if you're not ready for a date yet, I don't think it's crazy to suggest a phone call. This is a specific situation, and text just doesn't cut it."
If anyone knows how to make a meaningful first date happen, it's Langston. So get out there and give it a shot.
Want more online dating tips? Here's why you shouldn't give up on it, from a woman who's been there.