“Sex has become so meaningless, she sees french kissing as a much more intimate act.” –The Rise of The Half-Night Stand, Daily Mail, 29 August 2016

If the first doubt that most people have about their sexual lives is whether they are “normal,” then the new 2.0 dating and sex app version of connecting has only accelerated this doubt. Arguably, the driver to the ever-expanding array of choices in meeting a mate online is desire. Desire for sex certainly, but also, and maybe more importantly, desire for all the parts of a relationship that make sex good. Rarely does the twenty-minute hookup satisfy us. Instead we are often left wondering what happened and who it was for. Likewise, although we are easily addicted to the fleeting pleasure of being seen and responded to on these apps, that sense of witness fades just as fast as we can swipe right.

So how do we turn the game of sexual intimacy and connection into something that is normal for us? How can we use the tools that provide a never-ending stream of possibility into something that can bring real meaning and depth to our sex lives? Here are a couple of questions that may be useful in reframing the time you spend seeking connection and intimacy — keeping in mind that “normal” is usually just about how we look at what is there …

 

Quantity vs Quality

One way to re-game the app system is to be deliberate about moving away from a quantity search and giving yourself the time to see what qualities may be waiting under the surface of initial meetings. The problem with the endless choices streaming onto our devices is that they distract us. While we keep thinking about the possibility of a better choice still waiting out there, we miss both the moment we are in and the person in front of us. We tell ourselves that if we go through enough people, we will suddenly land on the perfect match.

But when we fall into the practice of speed-ranking people on first view, it prevents us from taking the time to get to know the interesting, sometimes quirky, always imperfect parts of the other who, like us, is seeking love and connection. Perfection rarely shows itself like a shooting star. None of us unfold ourselves instantly, and matches that might begin feeling like a 6 out of 10 may quickly evolve to an 8 or a 9 as the person in front of you relaxes into your attention. Giving up the search for the instant perfect match in favor of engaging more deeply with every match you agree to is one way to get to know what you are looking for more intimately.

 

Focus Inside or Out?

Another fundamental way to make the sex app work for you is to spend at least some of the time that you may be fixating on your profile photo considering what qualities you want to find in a mate and a relationship. I remember once reading a story about a woman with strong data skills who built a profile of all the qualities she wanted in a mate. She was fastidious and thorough, and when she shared the story of her perfect union with her husband, she proved that data-driven match apps really can work. The thing that she brought to the game was clarity; really knowing what she was looking for gave her enough advantages in the game that she was able to win.

But many people don’t spend any time at all thinking about what they want in a day-to-day way from a relationship. We get lost in the fantasy of a perfect soul-mate without any real thinking about what would make that person perfect. Going into a swipe right or left would be so much more rewarding if it wasn’t just based on the shape of someone’s nose or the color of their eyes. Knowing ourselves and what our desires are asking for is powerful and sexy — let it work for you.