Modern-day dating feels like a complicated sport. And now, with a whole new vocabulary to describe every trial and tribulation, it’s becoming even more challenging to break out of the amateur dating division.
Is it a red flag, a beige flag, or an amber flag? Is he ghosting me? Breadcrumbing me? Lovebombing me? Who knows, maybe he’s on the verge of delicate dumping me?
Welcome to smart dating in the digital era.
So, you’ve learnt the zeitgeisty lingo and have a newfound confidence in identifying certain behaviours. Things are seemingly going well with a third Hinge date on the horizon – then BAM. You find your promising beau’s face splashed across a Facebook group filled with tens of thousands of strangers asking: Are we dating the same guy?
Originating in New York with over 110,000 users, the Facebook group has since branched out to London, Paris, Dubai, Toronto, Dublin, Los Angeles and Boston.
For the blissfully unaware, Are We Dating the Same Guy works like this: Women share screenshots of dating profiles and ask for intel or red flags. The Facebook posts are often inundated with personal experiences ranging anywhere from STI claims, cheating allegations and toxic behaviours.
To join the groups, women are asked a series of questions before agreeing to a set of robust rules and digitally swearing they will not leak any of the group’s contents to outsiders. Among the rules are no doxxing (publicly sharing someone's personal details), no roasting, and no naming of the men. That said, it's become all too easy to identify people online through reverse image searches and word of mouth – to name a few.
“The popularity of these groups is in alignment with the increase of smart dating,” dating expert Paul Brunson tells Indy100. “We’re becoming more aware of dating behaviours – a prime example of that being the word ‘toxic.’ Twenty years ago, no one was speaking about ‘toxic dating’, but now there are many people who believe they can define it.”
The intention of Are We Dating the Same Guy is to keep women safe and create awareness about toxic behaviours.
“These groups have great intentions because ultimately it is about identifying dangerous people and behaviour, which is a good thing,” Paul explains, noting that the dating arena is still very much “far tilted on the man’s side.”
“We still are living in a society that is far greatly tilted towards men when it comes to dating, and it’s not just men from a general standpoint,” he continues. “It’s even some of these terrible nuances in dating."
Furthermore, a recent study from the charity Plan International worryingly revealed that a third of German men still find physical violence against women to be acceptable. A staggering 34 per cent admitted to violence against their partner to “instil respect in them.” Meanwhile, a further 33 per cent thought it was acceptable if their “hand slipped” during an argument.
“The fact that we still have survey results like that shows that we definitely need spaces to protect and empower women,” Paul adds.
Paul, who recently added Global Relationship Insights Expert to his impressive matchmaking resume in addition to Married at First Sight and Celebs Go Dating, explains how we’ve got “much more information and content around dating than ever before that goes beyond anecdotal.”
There's now empirical evidence, with researchers who have been conducting studies for 10-20 years, which Paul believes to be the “driving force behind smart dating.”
Paul highlights that women are becoming exceedingly great at dating which is often driven by feedback loops due and open discussions about their experiences. They've become more emotionally available, more courageous, and understand how to be less neurotic when dating.
Men, on the other hand, hardly have any feedback loops, and Paul believes we could actually benefit from mixed-gender groups, as men need to catch up and “have a higher dating IQ.”
“We know that guys suck when it comes to emotional intelligence, compared to women – so a lot of it is poor execution.”
Ultimately, there are “far fewer bad guys than there are good guys.”
Bad men exist, but according to evolutionary psychologist Dr David Buss, just 15 per cent of the population have dark tetrad personality traits associated with narcissists, psychopaths, Machiavellians, and sadists.
"That's the group that has evil intentions," Paul continues. This is not to get confused with misalignment and miscommunication when dating.
When intentions aren't communicated, you could end up with two people seeking two different things. Subsequently, the person who seeks long-term commitment views the behaviour of the short-termer (i.e. casual sex and friends with benefits) as toxic.
“Ultimately, I think we have a lot of guys that their intention is not fully outlined, and because of the misaligned intention you have the interpretation of their behaviour as being ‘toxic’, when in actuality, sometimes it’s not,” Paul explains.
To make dating a more positive, safer and enjoyable experience, Paul shared three invaluable tips to have under your belt:
Don’t exchange personal information right away
A dark tetrad or a straight scammer will try and move you off the app quickly. And the reason they try and do that is because the apps are really good about safety now.
If someone is asking for your personal information, the safety features will inform you not to send that information, thanks to the AI built into the app.
If you have given up your information, the app can no longer protect you.
Stay on the app and let it protect you.
Be cautious when people ask for things
The moment you have anyone ask you for anything, mainly money, that is a huge red flag.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be a grand amount, it could be as simple as “I don’t get paid until next week, please could I have five pounds."
Meet in a public space
Meet in a public space, never get picked up from your personal address and inform friends about the date details.
Most importantly on the first meet-up, set boundaries. You can very quickly see how respectful someone is to your boundaries.
An example being, you meet up on your lunch break and you only have until 2pm. When that time comes, do they try and push you to stay even longer – despite informing them you have to leave because you have something to do?
Anytime someone is disrespecting your boundaries, that is also a red flag.
Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.