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As the pandemic continues, singles balancing online and in-person dating will face challenges. Singles relied on dating apps to find matches. According to Adjust, an Analytics Company, dating app downloads increased 13% in 2021 compared to the last three months of 2020.
At the same time, some dreamed of chance in-person encounters, as vaccines became available in the spring and summer months. Throughout the year, dating experts told Insider their top tips for finding and flirting with a match, whether on your phone or in person.
First Impressions Count - According to New York City-based dating coach Amy Nobile of Love, Amy, the best flirts have a warm, positive, and playful vibe. Nobile always tells her clients to start a conversation by asking, "What keeps you busy?" This framing allows someone to talk about their career but also leaves room for discussions about hobbies and passions. How a match responds to this question will clue you in to whether they are self-sufficient. If they are excited about their day-to-day life, two important qualities in a long-term partner, said Nobile.
Practice flirting with your eyes, says Nobile. According to Nobile, flirting with your eyes, or what she calls "flies," is a great way to get into a playful mood.
To practice your "flies," hold eye contact for three seconds with someone walking by in the opposite direction, said Nobile. As you are about to pass each other offer a smirk or brief smile, depending on your audience.
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When using dating apps, reference a match's profile to keep the conversation flowing. To keep the conversation flowing, pick something you have not yet discussed from their profile, and ask a question about it, said Nobile. If a match said they have run four marathons, you could write, "Wow! Four marathons? Does running run in the family?"
If you are looking to approach a cute stranger, make eye contact first. Striking up a conversation with a complete stranger can feel unnatural, so try making eye contact with someone you find interesting or attractive first, psychologist and founder of The Relationship Place Dana McNeil told Insider. Once you make eye contact, flash a smile and see if they reciprocate. If they do not return the smile or turn away, it could mean they are not interested, according to McNeil. However, if they do, it could mean they are open to chatting. To start the conversation, give a compliment or ask for advice.
Instead of using a cheesy pick-up line or asking which vaccine your date got, try a compliment, ask for advice, or offer both, said McNeil. She gave the example of seeing a cute stranger at a clothing store or even a bar. You could approach him, say you like how his shirt looks on him, and then ask where he got it from, with the intention of buying it for your friend or brother. This way, you are not only complimenting their appearance but also hinting at your single status, according to McNeil.
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Suggest plans if you want to keep in touch. If you want to see the person you met again, ask if they are open to meeting for drinks or coffee soon. "I know this might feel scary at the moment, but when you consider you may never see this person again if you don't take action, then, you'll really kick yourself in the butt if you don't at least try," said McNeil.
If you are nervous, she suggested thinking of the worst-case scenario: "On the flip side, if it doesn't go well or they reject you, then you will never see them again. So what does it really matter in the scope of the big picture?"
Get curious about a match's differences instead of writing them off. Instead of searching for a date who shares all of your interests or perspectives, Nobile said to get curious when differences do arise and find a love interest that does the same. For example, if you match with someone who loves to hunt but you do not understand the allure, avoid saying "I hate hunting." Instead, ask why they enjoy it and explain you have never tried it, said Nobile. This way, the conversation keeps a positive tone. If you find yourself, feeling uncomfortable because of the questions a match is asking you, it is OK to end the conversation right away, said Nobile.
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Nobile swears by grabbing coffee for a first in-person date. Nobile told Insider a first date, which she also calls a "screener date," should always be 30 minutes long and take place at a coffee shop, cafe, or juice bar.
Nobile, who charges a minimum of $10,000 for four months of her services, instructs all of her clients to grab a coffee when they meet someone new. This way, they get a genuine feel for their date before investing time and energy on someone who they only know from a dating app.
Start an in-person date with a compliment. When you arrive at your coffee date, compliment your date right away, according to Nobile. She said picking out something about their physical appearance, whether it is what they are wearing or their eye color will create a warm atmosphere.
On the first date, ask about your date's career and relationships. For people who are dating to find a partner, Nobile suggests asking specific types of questions on your first three dates. Called the "3-4 rule," Nobile's method requires that singles learn four key principles: chemistry, core values, emotional maturity, and readiness, so they do not waste time dating someone they are likely incompatible with.
For the first date, Nobile suggested learning about a prospect's career and passions, what they have learned about themselves over the past year, the relationship they are looking for, and their relationship history. It is also a good time to ask about their family and long-term goals, Nobile said.
If you are enjoying the date, end it with an 'accidental touch.' If all goes well and you are interested in spending more time together, do not extend your first date's duration, said, Nobile. Instead, Nobile suggests you end your 30-minute meet-up with a strategy she calls the "accidental touch." To do it, Nobile said on your way back from the restroom or as you are getting ready to leave, subtly touch your date on the forearm or knee, as if by accident. Then, Nobile suggests saying, "Sorry," or, "Oh my gosh, I thought there was something on your arm," to acknowledge the touch. The move, which could be too far out for some, can suggest you are interested in connecting further on a second date, said Nobile.
By the third date, be sure to ask about family and deal breakers. You can get into more specifics about relationship deal breakers, family planning, marriage, and communication styles.
Though it can be nerve-racking, self-love and practice help, Nobile said. Always give yourself grace. Learning to trust your partner fully will help you develop as a couple. Your first few outings after time off dating could involve awkward silences and unwanted rejections, and you should not put too much weight on those hiccups, McNeil said. Instead of worrying about how conversations could go, tell yourself you are worthy of love and joy, and that you have everything you need within yourself.
"Social connections require some bravery, some sense of self-worth, and a whole lot of humor and patience. You are doing your best and you will have a better chance of meeting your new partner by daring to do something a little outside of your comfort zone," said McNeil.