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How To Fall In Love, According To Hinge's Relationship Scientist

Photo: Lucinda Schreiber for NPR
Photo: Lucinda Schreiber for NPR

Dating in a pandemic is no walk in the park. Well, actually, often it is literally a walk in the park — but that doesn't mean it's easy. For over 15 years as a dating coach, people have come to me in a state of panic that their moment to find a match may have already passed. I always try to convey to my clients that dating is a learned skill, with a step-by-step process — and if you follow the plan, you will meet your future partner.  Logan Ury has a plan and walks readers through every step of that process in her new book,  How to Not Die Alone. Not only is Ury a behavioral scientist for the dating app Hinge, she also has over a decade of experience studying human behavior at various technology companies, including Google. In her book, Ury categorizes frustrated daters into three primary categories, and they each have unique challenges.

  1. The Romanticizer: If you are caught up in the fairytale about how you want your love story to play out, this could be you.
  2. The Maximizer: If you are a swipe addict with a checklist of qualities for the next best match, you fall into this category.
  3. The Hesitator: If you have trouble getting started dating or have a million reasons for why this isn't your time to find love, this is definitely you.

In her book, Ury spells out eight questions daters should ask after they meet someone. She says these questions can help people get in touch with how a date made them feel and stay away from a "checklist" dating mentality.

  1. What side of me did they bring out?
  2. How did my body feel during the date? Stiff, relaxed, or something in between?
  3. Do I feel more energized or de-energized than I did before the date?
  4. Is there something about them I'm curious about?
  5. Did they make me laugh?
  6. Did I feel heard?
  7. Did I feel attractive in their presence?
  8. Did I feel captivated, bored, or something in between?

Each of these types has unique challenges and recommendations — but some of Logan's advice is universal, regardless of your dating style. Here are three things you can do today to shift your love life for good:

  1. Develop a growth mindset: If you look at dating as a set of learned skills and see the process as a learning opportunity, you'll be less stressed about each individual interaction.
  2. Create a pre-date ritual: Figure out what gets you into a good dating mood. Maybe it's a specific playlist or outfit you like to wear, or perhaps it's a call to your best friend to hype you up. Make sure you enter each date from a place of optimism and possibility.
  3. F*** the spark: This is actually one of the chapter titles in How to Not Die Alone. Chasing the spark based off of initial chemistry alone is a losing battle — and I have witnessed this too, among my clients and podcast listeners. Instead of prioritizing butterflies, look for deeper elements of connection and a window into your date's values. Go on that second date and see what unfolds.

Understanding your dating pitfalls and developing a strategy can help you move into the relationship you want. It might not come in the exact package that you envision, but a deep connection and relationship that can blossom over time is worth more than a million dead-end dates.

Damona Hoffman is a Certified Dating Coach and host of  The Dates & Mates Podcast . The podcast version of this story was produced by  Meghan Keane. We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at  LifeKit@npr.org . For more Life Kit,  subscribe to our newsletter .