Do Dating Apps Make It Harder To Find "The One"?

Dating apps in Los Angeles

10 Critical Things to Look For In a Partner

I’ve been furnishing a new office this month, and I’ve been almost paralyzed by the number of choices available. I can have any sofa I want: tight back, pillow-back; tufted, not tufted; wood legs, metal legs; pillows that are reversible or not; grey, blue, beige, leather. And how much do I want to pay/work for it? How far am I willing to drive to see it? How do I know the quality will stand up over time? How do I know my tastes won’t change?

Are you beginning to see the parallels?

We believe that we can custom order our mate.

Cute couple in Venice Beach

Everyone I know hates online dating. All the scrolling is exhausting and depressing, and the number of hotter, smarter, richer, more interesting people out there seems demoralizing. Here are some suggestions to make the whole process more rewarding.

When we go on Tinder, or Bumble, or Hinge, we look for our perfect match. This guy is too short, that woman isn’t active enough, and what do they mean by spiritual, but not religious? Swipe left.

When we used to meet people IRL we had to get to know them first. We would go on a date with someone just because a friend thought we might like each other. My sister-in-law met her husband on a date like that and now they have 3 kids and have been happily married for almost 30 years.

When we meet people IRL we know they will be imperfect. We try to assess whether or not it could be a fit in spite of all the things we might not have chosen to have in a mate.

Some of the things that were absolutely necessary were:

1.  Similar values

Yup, that’s almost all there was to it.

Childhood friends in Playa Vista

Physical attraction is also necessary for most people, but, surprisingly, it sometimes comes long after you first meet someone. You remember that good friend that suddenly you were wondering if getting physical would ruin your friendship? (Yes, often it makes things pretty messy) Or that co-worker that suddenly seems more attractive than you’d previously realized? Or that childhood friend who—whoa, they really grew up!

Now, in the age of dating apps, our list of necessary characteristics goes more like this:

1.     Hot

2.     Good at texting

Sometimes it stops right there. You may not think that those are the qualities you are looking for, but those are the things that are often enough for you to agree to a first date. How many times have you not gone on a date with someone who sucks at texting?

All the good-looking assholes who know how to write clever and attentive text or IM’s have a huge advantage over regular-looking nice guys who might be terrific long-term partners. Caveat—this is if you are a woman looking for a man.

If you are a guy looking for a woman, she pretty much just has to be hot. Most guys will admit this. Physical attraction is the first draw, and if it’s strong enough, it’s all that’s necessary at first.

All the people who don’t photograph well, or who aren’t good at texting (is this really important in a relationship?), or who don’t understand the importance of marketing themselves (isn’t it vain to get professional headshots? Um…no.) get eliminated right away.

What Do We Look For Online In a Date?

Here are some more of the criteria we tend to look for online—things that don’t really matter so much IRL.

 3.     Likes to do the same things I do

4.     Same political opinions

5.     Successful in their career

6.     Same religion (or lack thereof)

7.     Dresses well

All of these things build attraction, but, I would posit, are not the important factors in determining who will be a good mate.

What Should We Be Looking For Online:

Cute text in Los Angeles

Here are some factors that ARE truly important when choosing a partner:

1.     Similar values

2.     Ability to take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and behavior

3.     Willingness to work on growing as a person and in your couple.

4.     Mutual respect

5.     Ability to change and adapt to circumstances. Because, life.

6.     Willingness to stick it out when things get tough—there will be some periods where you can’t agree on anything, one of you is sick or depressed, or you have teenagers.

Once I’ve Found Someone, What Issues Are Important to Discuss?

The following 4 topics are issues, not character traits. This means that you don’t need to consider any differences you have on these topics to be automatic deal-breakers, but you do need to talk about them thoroughly before deciding that someone is “the one”.

If differences in these areas arise when you are first dating, don’t despair! These issues can often be worked out, but they do require some attention!

Couples often don’t discuss these issues before committing to a long-term partnership, and that’s a big mistake! They end up seeking  therapy after things get messy, or they just split up. Some couples just grit their teeth and bear it, growing farther and farther apart as time goes on. We all know these couples; after many years together they have very separate lives and seem only connected by children or shared social activities. This doesn’t have to happen to you!

Money to burn in Playa Vista

1.     Money.

How to spend it, how much to save, what savings are meant to be used for, how to determine which things are worth spending money on in the first place.

2.     Kids.

Whether you want them at all, how many, and when. How to raise them—boundaries, discipline, education, what is the children’s role in the family, how do you intend to preserve your couple connection when becoming a family?

3.     Biorhythms.

Few people think about this. They tend to discount the fact that their partner likes to stay up all night and sleep right through the morning, when they like to get to bed early and be up before the sun to get stuff done before the day gets busy.

This is the kind of thing you might not notice that much when you are dating. The early birds tend to stay out later when they are in the flush of new romance, and the night owls might get themselves up much earlier to meet their new crush for brunch or spinning class.

It’s only later, when you start to realize your new love may never enjoy going out late to concerts, or they may want to sleep all morning instead of getting to work on that house project you were supposed to do together this weekend. This is the stuff of which many fights are made. It goes like this: “You’re not any fun!!”, “You’re not responsible!!” And we’re off…

Learning early on how to navigate different biorhythms is tricky, but will certainly pay off in your relationship. It matters more than you think!

Working from home in Marina del Rey

4.     Work schedules

This is something that I am increasingly seeing in couples therapy. Because remote work is so popular now, many people spend all day, mostly alone, working at home. If their partner comes home exhausted from a long day at the office or in the field, they have the makings of a big problem.

I see this all the time. The at-home partner is craving connection and companionship, and the away-at-work partner wants some peace and quiet and time to recharge. The best solution is to address this early on, before you all-too-quickly become resentful of each other.

In Los Angeles we have an additional problem. There are many people in the film industry who work an all-on or all-off schedule that can easily disrupt their life as a couple. Partners who are not also in the film industry can find it very challenging to build a life around this schedule. In addition, there are the emotional challenges of not always knowing when the next gig is coming along. A partner who is more steadily employed can easily become resentful and unable to be supportive to the other.

What if Everything is Just Fine—Do We Still Have to Talk About These Things?

Nope. But trust me—you will come to regret it later if you don’t!  Money is always a sticking point in relationships, so the earlier you can begin discussing it, the better. Learning how to discuss money issues early on can make later, more momentous discussions around money, much easier. If you can’t talk about who pays for the festival tickets, how are you going to be able to discuss how much to spend on a car, or a house? It only gets tougher, so start now!

And please, please, please discuss the “to have or not to have kids” question before committing. And importantly, believe what your partner tells you!! I see a lot of couples where one partner says, “but I told you I didn’t want kids! How can you want to leave me now for someone who wants to have children with you?”

Many people would rather shoot themselves in the kneecaps than discuss some of these topics. They assume that eventually love will conquer all (you wouldn’t say it out loud, but you secretly believe things will magically get better, now don’t you?)

A good therapist can help you learn how to discuss difficult topics with your spouse. Once you know the framework, you can use it together to discuss any issue. In my therapy practice I use a model developed by the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, which provides a framework that not only supports better communication, but also leaves each partner with a better understanding of themselves.

If your partner is not interested in discussing things, or in going to counseling to learn how, you can still learn tools and techniques for improving the communication in your relationship by going to individual counseling, and you will certainly learn more about yourself!

Relationship coaching in West Los Angeles

Is It Possible to Meet Your Mate on Dating Apps?

Yes, of course! (That’s how I met my awesome partner of 7 years!) But you have to be aware of the pitfalls, and open to the idea that your best mate (notice I didn’t say perfect! I mean, are you perfect??) may be shorter, less fit, less successful, or older than you had imagined. Give yourself a chance to be proved wrong on those “requirements”.

Look for the best, most loving, relationship—the one that supports you in being your best self. Let the universe surprise you with the someone who can create that relationship with you!

Need Some Extra Guidance in Finding Your Mate?

I’ve helped hundreds of people build happy healthy relationships and I can help you, too! Call or text me at 323-999-1537, or email me at, and we will chat about your specific needs and how I can help. I offer a FREE in-office or phone consultation to help you decide if we are a good fit.