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An alternative many of us turned to are the famous (or infamous) dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, BLK or Hinge

If you were single and searching before the pandemic hit, COVID might have made it twice as hard for you to find love. This may be especially true for anyone who enjoys meeting prospective baes in person. As with anything, they have their pros and cons, but it is possible to find your future #couplegoals partner or good friend on an app.

Dating apps like Bumble have a question on your profile that asks what you’re currently looking for. This is helpful for you to figure out what you want and also to see what others are seeking.

“It’s important that you know your why–what is your end goal? Is it just for a casual conversation? Are you just looking for a hookup or are you looking for a romantic partner? Are you not looking for anything serious, but you are open to the idea of finding love [or] having data collection? Know your why so that you won’t waste your time or a potential partner’s time as well,” she says.

An advantage of dating sites is you can learn tons about a person before you even meet them via their profile (assuming they filled it out). Tera Stidum, online dating coach and owner of She Dates Savvy, based in Houston, recommends you take the time to read profiles before trying to connect with a potential boo. Beyond looks, this could help ensure you’re what they’re looking for and vice versa.

“Do more than just look at the picture–really go in, read clues, information, and whatever that person says about themselves and make sure that [you] truly are who and what that person is looking for before [you] ever send that message to cut down on the rejection,” says Stidum.

In the same way, it may be a good idea to fill out your profile extensively so prospects can see if you’re what they’re looking for, too. Time saved for all!

Have you thought about how annoying it is to have every person you match with open the conversation with ‘Hey’ or ‘What are you up to?’ Try to avoid being that person. Howard suggests you get creative with your openers because people are tired of hearing the same conversation starters and answering the same questions – especially if the answers are already in their profile.

“Instead of asking, ‘What’s your favorite food?’ get more socially creative and ask a question like, ‘If we went to a restaurant that only served the things you’d want to eat and drink, what would be on the menu?’ It’s like a way better question,” she says. “It gets a person thinking and more involved to want to answer the question versus ‘What’s your favorite food?’”

Shamyra Howard, LCSW, sexologist sex and relationship therapist says you should always have a goal when dating

Howard also advises people to tread carefully when asking COVID-related questions because people are getting weary of talking about it. Lastly, a helpful gem she shares is that it’s ok to message first, ladies!

One thing both Howard and Stidum agree on is that dating apps aren’t for people who have a negative attitude about it.

“There are people who are skeptical,” Stidum says. “There are people who are scaredy cats. Then there are people [whose] energy surrounding dating apps is negative. And I say it’s not for them because it can be amazing.”

Rejection is seldom a sexy experience, especially in dating scenarios. However, Howard advises people not to take it personally so the process of utilizing dating apps isn’t a rough one.

“Don’t judge a previous dating app experience by your last,” she says. “Be open, but also understand that online dating is real dating and there are going to be people you like, and there are going to be people you don’t like. And in turn, they’re going to be people who like you and people who don’t like you.”

ESSENCE spoke to a couple of experts about dating app best practices during this complicated time that can help you better navigate online dating so you can find success

She advises those navigating apps to have the mindset of an explorer when online dating. “If you keep in mind that you’re only here for exploration, for fun and for data collection, then it hurts less when someone ghosts you or someone isn’t interested in you.”

That said, to get the best outcome from dating apps even when the going gets tough, remember to prioritize fun.

“Dating is a mystery. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Have fun and allow this to be a time where you’re learning about yourself.”

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