The internet changed the landscape of dating, and dating today looks so very different from dating 15 years ago. Ask anyone who was single 15 years ago how they met their significant other, and they will cite real-life social places such as work, school, church or through friends. Compare that with this statistic from 2017, where 19% of brides report meeting their spouse through an online dating app.
Dating sites are here to stay, and are often the first stop for single people as they enter (or re-enter) the world of romance. There are many advantages to these sites, most notably that they offer a vast selection of different people from which to choose and meet with. One important disadvantage to these sites, however, is that they can lead users to believe that there is “always someone better to meet with the next swipe”, encouraging short-term relationships, promiscuity and even infidelity.
The hookup-breakup cycle is thus perpetuated, because the idea of a permanent and stable relationship can seem less tempting when it is so easy to take out one’s phone and see attractive photos of other people, just waiting for us to say “I’m interested” with a right-swipe.
If you want to avoid becoming a victim of the hookup-breakup cycle, try the following tips:
Make an effort to meet people in real-life situations
You can still keep your profiles active on your favorite dating sites, but supplement that with real-world interactions. Be an active participant in life around you, attending community events, doing volunteer work, lending a helping hand to neighbors or other people in need, and just being out in the world.
Your chances of crossing paths with a potential love partner are broadened, and you will already have a pre-established common interest when you meet doing something both of you like doing, rather than randomly on the internet. Because you will have a chance to observe this person in a real situation, rather than a set-up internet date where there is less context in which to interpret them, you will have a perfect opportunity to get a sense of their character, how they interact with others, and if they seem fun, serious, character-worthy and stable. Should a relationship result of your meeting, there are already firmer roots established which lessens the likelihood of seeing a hookup-breakup cycle begin with this person.
Be friends first
Many rock-solid couples, even those who met through the internet, will tell you that part of their solidity was that they developed a friendship first before they escalated to the physical stage of the relationship. Few long-term relationships result from a one-night stand; those are more likely to end in a hookup—breakup. So take your time getting to know your new friend.
Do things together that are outside the home, so you won’t be tempted to hop into bed at the first chance. During this initial getting-to-know-you period, you’ll have a chance to observe them. You are looking for character, personality traits such as empathy, communication skills and if they are happy in general. Focus on building a good base of friendship. This will serve the relationship well because it is harder to break up with someone whom you truly enjoy as a friend, and the eventual hookup will be all the better as once you become physical, you’ll be doing it with someone you really appreciate and know.
Don’t let those “crush” feelings cloud your view
When we are in the rosy first days of a relationship, we tend to idolize the object of our affections and see them as the most wonderful human to ever walk the face of the earth. Everything looks sparkly and beautiful; they have no bad, irritating habits at this point. Try to step back and use your rational thinking as you become closer to this person so that you can see them as they really are: a human being just like you, with all the faults, weaknesses and insecurities that we all share.
If you ignore that part of them, you are likely to jump into a relationship without using your head, and this can perpetuate the hookup-breakup cycle that you are trying to avoid.
As your feelings deepen, think about the next step
You have now reached a critical stage in your relationship, one where you are either going to cut each other loose or move forward: the growth stage. If during the friendship-building stage you see traits that you know you could never embrace in this person, now is the time to separate. If, however, you are loving what you see in them, now is the time to grow more emotional bonding with this person.
This is the stage where most couples will introduce sex into the relationship. If you are considering this, ask yourself if you’ve developed enough emotional intimacy together to prevent a breakup. All of these steps lead to a committed relationship. This is where you and your partner will establish, via your excellent communication skills, rich conversations and deep, late-night talks, that you do want to be together in a committed, exclusive relationship. You take action and delete those dating apps, and you establish the parameters of your fully-faceted relationship.
Because you have taken your time, moving through the previous steps slowly but surely, you know that this is the one: the person with whom you will never have to go through the hookup-breakup cycle again.