man texting smiling

The Do’s and Don’ts of Digital Dating

What is etiquette?

According to Emily Post (the Queen of Manners, herself) etiquette is simply the “consideration for the rights and feelings of others.”

However, a lot has changed since Mrs. Post’s day. Navigating the considerations of others has gotten a bit more complex in the electronic age–especially, when it comes to dating.

To help clear up the confusion, we talked with one of The Setup’s star matchmakers, Marie Glover. Here’s her expert take on the do’s and don’ts of digital dating.

Don’t: Overshare

It’s only natural that you want your partner to know the real you. However, if you tell all early on—especially intimate secrets—your date is likely to feel overwhelmed.

Studies show that oversharing is a turn off. When someone divulges excessive amounts of personal information to a relative stranger, listeners experience “airplane syndrome,” mentally tuning out of the conversation.

Oversharing, or just being honest?

Either way, beware. Research has also found that listeners tend to view over-sharers as untrustworthy because they tell all without knowing the other person first.

“Your date is not your therapist,” Marie says. “If you want to build trust and be liked by a new partner, disclose personal information gradually over time.”

If your date is right for you, there will be plenty of time to share personal details later.

Do: Be authentic

When it comes to expressing yourself in dating, Marie suggest viewing the glass as half full. “If a new partner texts you and asks how your day is going,” she says, “try to focus on the positive.”

Highlighting the good parts of your day is a great way to express yourself positively without sacrificing your authenticity.

Being authentic also goes for how you represent yourself in the digital world. “I have so many clients who enter matchmaking because they’re scorned from online dating,” she says. “Lying about things like height, weight, or age, is not a healthy way to begin a relationship.”

Misleading others about physical appearance says a lot about a person’s values. “It shows that you’re okay with a little dishonesty,” Marie says, “which is not something most people are willing to risk in a relationship.”

The solution?

Get out and date in the real world. “Don’t hide behind the screen,” says Marie. “You deserve to date as your authentic, true, and amazing self.

Don’t: Only text at night

“Texting should be sporadic throughout the day–not just the booty call hours,” Marie says. “It’s important to be respectable.”

Even wholesome intentions risk being misinterpreted if the only time you reach out is after dark.

According to Marie, late-night texts say more than just the words you type. “Nighttime texts send a certain message,” she says. “Either you’re only interested in hooking up, or that you only think about them when you’re alone and bored at home.”

Recalling old school etiquette is a good rule of thumb. “Back in the day, it was considered bad manners to call someone past 10 PM,” she says. “The same rule applies to texting.”

The only exception? A text goodnight.

“Reserve the after-hours texts for saying goodnight,” says Marie, “That way, you’re the last thing they think about before going to sleep.”

Do: Text throughout the day

Avoid only texting your partner at night. Instead, keep up contact at various times of day. Even if it’s only handful of messages, sending them throughout the day is a nice gesture. This tells your date that despite being apart, you’re still thinking about them.

However, it’s not always realistic to expect you or your partner to maintain constant communication.

“Communicate to your partner if you’re going to be busy, and won’t be able to chat for some period of time,” says Marie, “especially if they are expecting to hear from you.”

At the very least, Marie suggests sending a ‘good morning’ text. “Texting first thing when you wake up is a cute and romantic way to start the day.”

Don’t: Limit your communication

The communication theorist Marshal McLuhan once said: “The medium is the message.” How does that apply to dating?

According to Marie, the means in which we communicate with our partners says more than most people realize. “If texting is the exclusive method of communication in your relationship,” she says, “that could be a sign of a weak connection between you and your partner.”

Despite its convenience, Marie warns that texting is a breeding ground for mixed messages, especially in the early stages of a relationship. “It really eliminates the personal aspect of dating,” she says.

“With texting, you can unconsciously start to build a false sense of security with someone, misinterpret messages, or believe they’re something they’re not,” says Marie. “You risk being disappointed by the time you actually meet in person.”

Avoid this by making sure that your relationship isn’t entirely based on text messages alone.

Do: Mix it up

Mix up how you communicate by incorporating texts, voice messages, phone, and video calls when you’re apart.

As always, in-person conversations are preferred. “Real connection requires physical presence,” says Marie. “Nothing beats having a conversation while looking into each other’s eyes.”

Don’t: Come on too strong

Have you ever been messaging with a WhatsApp Romeo but, when you met up for the date, he was a total dud?

“It’s easy to be bold through a screen,” Marie says. “But, sometimes that disconnect makes people say things they otherwise wouldn’t in person.”

Remember that feeling comfortable with a partner takes time. When the only way you communicate with someone is through text, you might forget how little you actually know them.

Do: Flirt

Flirting a great way to dial up the romance. But, make sure you keep authentic to your personality. “If you’re a total flirt in real life, then let that show on text, too,” says Marie.

If flirting’s not your thing?

Start with compliments. Marie suggests shifting your focus away from their physical traits. “By complimenting their personality,” she says, “you show them that you’re really interested in them as a person, not just their hot body.”

Don’t: Immediately go ‘follow’

Nowadays, it’s pretty common to Google your date, or, at least, search for their profile on social media.

“After the first date, I’m creeping!” Marie says. “It’s just human curiosity.”

But, when it comes to the ‘follow’ button, Marie says to look–but don’t touch. “Once you send the friend request, there’s no going back,” she says. “Connecting online takes the relationship into an entirely new digital sphere.”

Of course, you can always unfollow or block later. Or, avoid that awkwardness altogether by being cautious about online connections. Before taking the next digital step, make sure there is a real foundation of friendship and trust with your partner in the real world.

Do: Your research

While you don’t want to get carried away with obsessive lurking, a little research never hurt anybody.

“It’s important to remember that social media is not real,” Marie says. “However, the way someone chooses to represent themselves online can say a lot about a person.”

Thankfully, The Setup screens all its members with background checks. So, you don’t have to be worried about your safety. However, a quick social-media scan can give you some insights on your date’s interests, hobbies, and lifestyle.

Don’t: Cancel last-minute

Canceling last-minute is a big dating no-no. It should be reserved for legitimate reasons. “Pre-date jitters is not a good enough reason not to show up,” Marie says.

Sometimes, emergencies happen.

If you absolutely must cancel, don’t expect a quick text to do the trick. “Call them,” she says. “Express how genuinely sorry you feel and set up another time to meet instead.”

Do: Confirm plans

It’s Friday, and tonight you have plans–at least, you think you do–for a second date with Rod. A couple days have passed since you’ve last spoken. Do you text him to make sure the date is still on?

“Confirming plans before the date is a polite thing to do,” Marie says. “Send a quick text the day-of to make sure you’re both on the same page before meeting up.”

Not sure what to say? Try this:

Hey, I’m really excited to see you tonight! 7:30, right?

Don’t get overwhelmed with the formality of it. “A little message is all it takes to lock in plans,” Marie says. “Don’t be afraid to make it cute and express your excitement about the date.”

Coaching: Is it right for you?

If the do’s and don’ts of digital dating still feel overwhelming to you, don’t worry.

At The Setup, we combine the expertise of the world’s leading matchmakers, love experts, and dating coaches, for a modern approach to matchmaking.

Interested in speaking with a dating coach? Join The Setup today!

Tinder Swindler

Ask a Matchmaker: How Do I Avoid the Next Tinder Swindler?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard about the latest dating disaster taking the internet by storm.

That is, of course, The Tinder Swindler.

In Netflix’s latest documentary, we’re told the story of a dashing, real-life “Prince of Diamonds” named Simon Leviev (at least, that’s what he called himself). Wealthy, handsome, and the son of the Russian/Israeli diamond tycoon Lev Leviev, Simon appeared to be the total package.

The only problem?

None of it was real.

Simon (who is actually Shimon Yehuda Hayut) lied about everything. From his name to his family ties–all of it was an elaborate front designed to scam millions of dollars from unsuspecting women that he met through dating apps.

Sadly, this tragic tale of lies and deceit is just the latest addition to what is becoming an all-too-common phenomenon of romantic fraud.

As a matchmaker, many of my clients come to me with stories that are horrifyingly similar to that of the victims within the film. Along with the immense financial debts and heartbreak, they are often left with a sense of deep emotional scarring. After such a betrayal, it can take years to learn how trust again.

The story of The Tinder Swindler and his victims was more than just a sensational story–it was a wake up call.

Want to avoid being swindled in your love life? Here's what singles in today’s modern dating market can learn from The Tinder Swindler.

Financial help should be off-limits

The Tinder Swindler chronicles the story of three victims–Cecile, Penilla, and Ayleen–as they recount their experiences of Simon’s emotional and financial betrayal.

After hearing their stories of love and loss, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the only thing worse than being heartbroken?

Being heartbroken and broke.

When Cecile first met Simon, she was whisked away into a wonderland of luxury. Between the designer clothing, 5-star hotels, and constant trips on his private planes, it was obvious that Simon was a man with money.

So, later, when Simon needed a little financial help in order to avoid the wrath of his “enemies,” Cecile had no reason to believe that he wouldn’t eventually be able to pay her back.

This request for money, however, was only a month into dating. At this point in their relationship, Simon and Cecile should have just been getting to know each other–not exchanging routing numbers.

While finances are important aspects of a relationship, actually giving money to your significant other is a slippery slope to slide down. If monetary support is ever appropriate, it should be reserved exclusively for when a relationship gets much more serious.

Someone who is new into a relationship would not feel comfortable making this sort of request. If they do, it should be viewed as a major red flag.

Beware the dangers of online dating

Despite the scary statistics reported about the dangers of online dating, apps like Tinder continue to thrive in popularity amongst singles.

Many feel it is the best way to find their own prince charming–a diamond in the rough, as it were. But, as we learned from The Tinder Swindler, even the “Prince of Diamonds” was nothing more than a sparkling online persona.

In the film, Simon was quick to gather personal information. The women shared copies of their passport, credit card information, and even the phone numbers to certain family members. When his behavior eventually changed, the women felt vulnerable, knowing that he had their information at his disposal.

Avoid this situation by not sharing personal information or photos online.

Together is better

While the advancement of technology has provided tons of benefits for dating singles, it’s also introduced many unsuspecting risks.

Before, singles would need to go out on several dates before knowing if they wanted to pursue a relationship with someone. Now, there’s texting, voice messages, and FaceTime for that. For long-distance couples trying to maintain the spark despite being apart, these modern advancements are very helpful. It can be dangerous, however, if you’re falling in love with someone you’ve only met in person once–or in some cases, never at all.

In the case of the Tinder Swindler, Cecile and Penilla’s relationships with Simon were largely virtual. Simon used his “jet-setting lifestyle” as an excuse to avoid actually being with the girls. He only seemed to appear in person when it was necessary to maintain the romance (manipulation) within the relationship.

No matter how busy their schedule, someone who is genuinely interested in getting to know you will make time for you.

While messaging and phone calls are a great way to maintain a relationship, being physically together is the best way to get to know a person. Next time you start to fall for someone, make sure your feelings are rooted in reality–not Whatsapp.

Don’t rush the relationship

One of the most disturbing details within the film was the identical way in which his victims described their whirlwind romances with Simon.

In each relationship, his first step towards financial domination over his victims was to overwhelm them with love and affection.

From good morning texts, fine dining, to enormous bouquets of roses, Cecile, Penilla, and Ayleen all felt like Simon’s attention was like something out of a movie.

Although seemingly romantic, Simon was actually employing a common manipulation tactic is known as “love bombing.”

Often used by narcissists, “love bombing” is when a partner showers the other with over-the-top attention and affection. It usually happens at the beginning of a relationship as a way to ‘win over’ the other partner.

Remember that getting to know someone takes time. If you’ve only been dating for a few weeks and your partner is already asking you to move in with them, they’re rushing the relationship.

If you think your significant other is dropping love bombs, it’s probably time to take shelter.

Don’t fall for potential

Like many women, Cecile grew up with fairy tales and epic Hollywood romances. Although she knew life was no Disney movie, she couldn’t help but imagine that when she fell in love, it would feel just as magical.

Predators like Simon can sense this wishful thinking and use it to their advantage. A master manipulator, Simon knew that many women dream of meeting a dashing prince that will sweep them off their feet.

For the women he met on Tinder, he became just that. He pulled out all the tricks so that they’d fall for–not who he was–but who he could be.

By distracting his dates with his luxurious, jet-setting lifestyle, Simon cleverly blurred the lines between reality and fantasy. The women were quick to fall in love with the potential of him being a seemingly perfect partner.

By the time Simon started asking them for money, the women were already too deep in his deception to see the red flags.

Each woman described feeling extremely uncomfortable about the amounts of money Simon asked them to shell out. Despite this, they ignored their intuition and gave in anyway.

The lesson? Don’t fall in love with potential. Fall in love with reality. Remember that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Unfortunately, for the women scammed by the “Tinder Swindler,” they weren’t able to realize that until it was too late.

Avoid the next Tinder Swindler

Amongst all the real-life horror within The Tinder Swindler, the most terrifying fact is that this can happen to anyone.

If you have been victim to romantic fraud, don’t blame yourself. In today’s dating market, it’s increasingly difficult to know who is worthy of your trust.

Thankfully there is a tried and true solution to this modern problem. By working with a matchmaker, you can be assured that all of your dates will be with quality, like-minded singles.

All applicants at The Setup go through a thorough vetting process before being accepted as a client. Our members greatly enjoy the freedom and confidence that comes with dating in a truly safe environment.

Don’t get fooled again!

Swipe left to swindlers and join The Setup.

Couple Reads #DatingDictionary Next to Fountain

The Setup’s #DatingDictionary


Dating has gone through a complete evolutionary renaissance in the last few decades, and with it comes an entire new #DatingDictionary. Even Webster adds new words every year!

I like to call it the Glossary of Ghosting.


We’ve all been there. You’re really into someone new and they seem to like you too. Or is that just your imagination convincing you there’s a chance because you want it so badly?

They put a fraction of the effort in that you do. You’re always the one to call or initiate plans. If you’re honest with yourself, they flake on you pretty frequently.

But just when you feel completely fed up and decide you’re ready to move on, they drop little bread crumbs of affection to reel you back in. If you step back and examine things objectively, you’ll realize that you’re getting bottom of the barrel crumbs when you deserve so much more than that.


Catfishing is when someone falsifies their identity online and enters into a romantic relationship under fraudulent pretenses.

It’s a very broad term that can cover everything from completely fake online personas, to overly edited pictures. Although, sometimes lighter cases are referred to as Kittenfishing.

The bottom line is, be true to yourself and authentic both online and off.

Cuffing Season

Cuffing season begins toward the end of summer and lasts typically through Valentine’s Day. Cuffing someone means to lock them down in a relationship.

So cuffing season refers to the time of year when the party dies down and the weather cools off. It puts people in the mood to couple up and snuggle in for the winter, and guarantees a plus one for all Holiday activities. 


This is when someone entertains the idea of dating other people while they’re in a relationship.

People often do this when they’re considering a break-up. They download the apps just to see what’s out there, or they flirt with a co-worker to find out if the grass is greener.


DTR stands for Define the Relationship.

This is that sweet spot after you’ve been talking to the same person for a while and you’re ready to figure out if there’s a future. Does this person want to date exclusively, or are they condemning you to a situationship?


Ghosting is the sudden, unexpected cease of all communication from one party within a relationship

“He bailed on our plans last weekend and hasn’t texted me back in days. I think I’m being ghosted.”


A lot of men reading this are probably guilty of hatfishing. It’s okay, this is a safe space. Hatfishing is when you use hats to hide your hair (or lack thereof) because of insecurities. 

I can’t tell you how many dating profiles I’ve seen in which every single photo, the man is wearing a hat. Women want to see the real you, don’t hide under a cap.

And remember, bald is beautiful.


Haunting occurs when a ghost from your past suddenly reappears with no explanation for their disappearance

Abby disappeared on Ryan last summer after they had been seeing each other pretty steadily. Hee just stopped texting her with no explanation. Today, out of nowhere he texted and said, “Hey stranger! I finally watched that movie you were telling me about, you were right!”

Ryan has returned from the dead. 


NSA stands for No Strings Attached, also known as friends with benefits. 

This is a sexual relationship without a romantic commitment. These terms are often used on dating apps by people who are involved in both ethically and unethically open relationships. 


This is something that ghosts do. After they’ve disappeared, they start engaging with you on social media. They orbit your digital life to stay on your radar, but never commit to much more than that. It could be anything from liking your latest post, to sending DMs even though they left you on read and never called you back.


Also known as Non-Monogamy, Open Relationships, or Swinging, couples who engage in polyamory have romantic and/or sexual relationships with additional partners. 

This type of relationship is not considered cheating, as all parties involved are aware of and consent to the sharing of partners.


I’ve also heard this called a lineup or benching. Others refer to it as going back to the Well. Whatever you call it, this is when you like someone enough to keep seeing them, but you have no plans to ever take the relationship to the next level.

This is someone you just want to have fun with. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re open and honest about your expectations. 


Do you have a friend you call whenever you’re super single and need a plus one for an event?

Maybe you kissed once on Midnight at a New Years Eve party after a few too many glasses of champagne, but you never really defined the relationship. Nevertheless you’ve remained in each other’s circles and the chemistry never falters when you’re together.

Congratulations, you’re in a situationship!

This word can really describe any romantic couple that hasn’t defined the relationship. They never use words like girlfriend or future. They have formed a casual connection that feels comfortable and fits their situation. 


Jason and Kylie have been talking for several months now, and they go out on a date most Friday nights. The weird thing is, Kylie’s never met any of Jason’s friends, family, or co-workers. They never stay out late, because Jason goes to his nephew’s soccer game and the whole family goes out to brunch every Saturday morning, but Kylie’s never been invited. 

Jason is stashing Kylie away and hiding his real life from her. There are a myriad of reasons for doing this and not all of them are nefarious, but don’t you deserve better? 


Every generation has their own vernacular from going steady to hanging out. When you say you’re talking to someone it’s just another way of saying you’re dating, but you haven’t defined the relationship yet. 

Thirst Trap

This is when you post a really sexy photo of yourself online in the hopes of catching the attention of your crush.

Couple Driving with the Top Down - Put Yourself Out There

Are You Ready to Put Yourself Out There?

Before you decide to put yourself out there again, think about what it is that you are really seeking. And if you don’t know, maybe this will help you consider defining what you are looking for in the first place.

Chances are, you have tried to put yourself out there in one form or another. Maybe you tried a matchmaking service or posting an online profile. Perhaps, you ventured out in public with the intent to meet someone.

People can be nomadic, roaming from various forums to find someone to connect with on whatever the level they can. She may be quick to seek out a companion, but often less hasty to define why or what she truly wants.

Don't Put Yourself Out There for Just Anybody

For starters, if their dating profile says any iteration of the following—do yourself a favor and run.

I’m recently divorced, so I’m just seeing what’s out there. I’m not really sure what I want.

This is a red flag. If it’s your desire to find a lasting relationship, don’t waste your time on someone who is just playing the field.

It is easy to assume when someone openly discusses being single or talks about being lonely, that he or she in fact, wants a companion. But, that can mean different things to different people, so you need to define the context. 

Clarify expectations before you ever meet someone. This will go a long way in deciphering if it is even worth getting gussied up. Find out if they’re looking for a relationship or just a body to fill in the void of loneliness.

So many of us have been siloed because of the COVID Pandemic. What we’re craving now more than ever, is connectivity to one another. Unfortunately, this often causes people to act out with attention seeking behavior.

Attention Seeking Behavior

Desiring the attention of others is simply the need to be heard or validated by another. It’s an intrinsic Maslovian need all humans share. But just because someone displays attention seeking behavior, it does not necessarily mean they want a relationship.

As we slowly transition back to our semi-normal lives, a lot of people have blurred the lines between truly wanting a relationship and just seeking attention. We have all lived in a bubble lacking the simple interactions that we used to take for granted.

Interacting with someone at the post office or talking to the salesclerk at our favorite store, perhaps greeting the Principal as we dropped our kids off at school—all these routine communications helped with the balance sheet we all have that tracks our need for human interaction.

For many people, these tedious interactions fed our appetite for attention, even when we weren’t consciously processing them as such.

But living for the last year without those day-to-day errands or interactions in our lives, our inherent nature to be validated in even the smallest of ways has met a deficit. These interactions for many have become extinct, forcing our attention balance sheets into the red.

This has created an influx of daters on the scene with varying intentions. You don’t want to put yourself out there with individuals who have both clear and murky intentions.

A Relationship Won't Fix All Your Problems

Be sure to clarify their intent before meeting. Are they looking for attention or a relationship?

A relationship is presumed to include positive and affirming attention. Although successful relationships are built on attentivity to one’s partner, it should not be construed that every relationship has this successful pairing. Meaning, if you have a relationship, you will therefore reap attention from your partner.

In fact, marriages often fail because a partner feels disconnected, isolated, or alone. This leads to a breakdown in communication, and lack of such. Much of this is tied to simply not paying attention to one’s partner and validating him or her in a positive way.

Keep in mind no one puts themselves out there without having some reason in mind for doing so. Do not be fooled. Often singles will say they do not know what they want, but put themselves in the peripheral of others who are fully in touch with their desires.

Think about what motivated you to put yourself out there in the first place. Were you looking for true love or a bit of validation?

It is okay to be lonely, it is okay to want a relationship, it is okay to simply want the attention of another. Simply own it and say so. Put yourself out there and be honest about exactly what you want.

So, speak your truth, regardless of your intentions. Align yourself with a partner seeking the same as you. No one can fault you for being honest.

Phone with Dating Apps - Catch a Catfish

How to Catch a Catfish

Dating apps are like the Wild West, so swipers beware! Today we’re going to teach you how to catch a catfish, so you will be a little safer online.

When online dating was in its infancy, it was like Fight Club. Nobody talked about it and everyone lied about how they met. There was a shared sense of societal shame. Try saying that five times fast. As online dating evolved from sketchy chat rooms to the apps we know today, so did society’s acceptance.

As it’s become more common, online dating has bred a whole new generation of bad dating behavior.

In its simplest terms, a catfish is someone who lies about who they are online. They use a fake persona or phony photos and reel in romantic partners online. There’s a whole MTV show dedicated to it

Listen to Your Intuition

If it feels too good to be true, chances are—it is.

If you notice red flags in the first few messages, let it go unless you want to catch a catfish.

  • The want to switch to another app quickly
  • There is an urgent family crisis
  • They’re suddenly traveling abroad
  • They ask you specific, personal or financial information
  • The things they say don’t match the information in their profile
  • They have multiple profiles or aliases

A common characteristic among catfish—they can’t spell. Despite often boasting post-graduate degrees, catfish will typically display poor spelling and grammar skills. Typos and shorthand are one thing. Maybe they’re in a hurry, maybe they just have fat fingers. But just pay attention and trust your gut.

Does their behavior and language match the persona they have displayed online? 

Take Action

The Federal Trade Commission reported a record $304 million lost in romance scams throughout 2020. That’s up 50% from the previous year.

Signs of a Scam:

  • They say “I love you,” shortly after meeting
  • They are from the U.S. but are living overseas.
  • They ask for money in an attempt to lure you off the dating site
  • They promise to visit but an emergency prevents them from doing so

When you’re online, lead with your head, not your heart. All of the cues we are privy to in person: body language, mannerisms, eye contact or validation of one’s appearance are absent online. A photo on an app isn’t confirmation that someone is real.

So, whatever method you opt to use to find love, be sure to properly vet them or employ others to do the work for you. There are plenty of fish in the sea, just don’t catch a catfish!

If you have been a victim of an online dating scam, click here to report it!

Woman Surprised by Ghost Over Coffee - Haunting

Haunting: When Ghosters Return

So you’ve been ghosted...or have you? You feel your phone vibrate. Why is HE liking your Instagram posts?! You haven’t talked in weeks, not since he dropped off planet Earth and stopped texting you back. Welcome to the wonderful world of Haunting. Some people call it Zombie-ing, they mean the same thing.

What is Haunting, you ask? Well, remember when we discussed ghosting? It’s exactly like that except one step further. 


It usually starts as a toe-dip interaction, like a text. Ghosts rarely risk jumping into the deep end of the commitment pool, because they already feel a sense of shame for their bad behavior. They knew it was wrong, and they ghosted you anyway.

If he hasn’t risen from the dead with full remorse, redemption in mind, and maybe some flowers, let him sit in his own shame for a little longer.

Why Not Just Stay Dead?

Motives for Haunting can vary anywhere from boredom, to true courting intentions. That’s what makes them so dangerous—it’s up to you to decide if this person is worth your energy and if so, do they have nefarious or ulterior reasons for reaching out?

You don’t want to be someone’s Friday night entertainment.

Haunting, like most bad dating behavior, stems from low self-esteem. Maybe he met someone else, and he’s just now realizing it’s not going to work. So he’s dipping back into his well of exes.

Let’s just call it what it is: attention-seeking behavior.

Zombies want to see if they can still get a reaction, says Kate Balestrieri, PsyD & Founder of Modern Intimacy. “They're using it as a way to get validation if they're feeling low about themselves." 

You have to decide for yourself if this person is worth the risk. My mom likes to quote Dr. Phil when he says, “The best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior.”

The Haunting Has Begun, Now What?

You really only have two options when a ghost comes back to haunt you. You either engage with them or ignore them. 

If you decide to engage, proceed with caution.

In a 2010 study, researchers at Rutgers University found that looking at your ex triggers the same part of the brain as a cocaine addiction, creating an obsession with romantic rejection.

Ask yourself, do you want to open Pandora’s box?

You have to be careful if you’re going to date a zombie. It’s essential to have very clear plans in place for connecting, when you’re going to be spending time, and how often you’ll text. -Jane Greer, PhD, Family & Marriage Therapist

Reflect back on your relationship. Are there any other red flags or bad behavior you can remember? Did he have a legitimate excuse for his disappearing and subsequently, reappearing act? Did he apologize? Do you believe him or does it sound like BS?

From here, you have to decide if you want to continue communication and open the doors for a potential relationship again. Keep in mind, this also opens you up to the same trap you already fell for. Fool me once, and all that. 

Don’t forget you always have the option of ignoring him. Delete the text, block his number, and pretend like it never happened, if you need to. You are not required to engage if you don’t want to.

When in doubt, turn your experiences into art like Allison Wade. She turned some of the best (read: worst) texts she’s received from exes into works of art. 

Woman in Club on her Phone Ghosting

Ghosting: How to Maintain Your Spirit

Online dating has bred a whole new batch of bad dating behavior, the most common of these being ghosting.

There’s a certain level of anonymity to dating apps. Most of the time, you’re swiping, messaging, and meeting complete strangers. You likely don’t have common friends and run in very different circles.

This allows one to pull off a disappearing act quite easy. 

Did you know over half of today’s daters have first-hand experience with ghosting?

What is Ghosting?

Ghosting is the sudden, unexpected cease of all communication from one party within a relationship. Although the term is new, it wasn’t born through dating apps, and it isn’t a new concept.

I assume you have heard the cliché of a father who went out for cigarettes and never came back—that guy ghosted his whole family. It’s not specific to romantic relationships either, we all know a girl who ditches her friends whenever she gets a boyfriend.

The most common form of ghosting can be explained by the following scenario:

You matched with a guy on an app and shared a number of pleasant chats. He asks for your number and eventually, you meet in person. After a few dates and weeks of facetimes, he suddenly stops responding to your texts. He dodges your calls, and bails on your weekend plans. You assume he’s caught up with work and give it a week or so before you really start to worry. Your girlfriends help you craft the perfect text to reach out and learn what went wrong, but you get no response. You’re then left wondering if you did something wrong, he met someone else, or even if he died. 

This is an emotionally painful situation to find yourself in. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. For one reason or another he just didn’t see a future with you. Unfortunately, he was unable to communicate that to you—so he ghosted. 

It’s really important to remember if someone ghosts you, that behavior says more about them than you. It’s about their discomfort.” -Dr. Jennice Vilhauer

Why do People Ghost?

I’m a firm believer that most negative behavior stems from a basis of fear. When humans are afraid, they respond with either fight, flight, or freeze. Ghosting is a combination of the latter two. The ghost freezes communication because he or she is afraid of the outcome if the relationship continues, and flees from the situation in order to avoid difficult conversations or unwanted outcomes.

Why do Men Ghost?

Maybe he’s busy with his career or his family. He could be going through a rough time mentally, physically, or emotionally. I think we can all agree COVID-19 threw everyone into a state of a crisis. Maybe he met someone unexpectedly or an ex came back into his life. 

Although it’s hard to stomach, there’s also the chance he’s just not that into you. But that’s okay. You can’t expect every guy you meet to be the love of your life.

There is also the fear of rejection. It’s sort of a get them before they get me first approach. People with this method of dating are not in the right mindset for a long-lasting, committed relationship anyway. Someone who has a pattern of leaving before they get left, will never stay long enough to work through the hard stuff that life tends to throw at us.

Why do Women Ghost?

One of the most common fears that cause women to ghost is the fear of retaliation. We have been socialized and trained to play nice and never offend a man’s ego. Because of that, some women were simply never taught a polite but effective way to turn down a man’s advances.

How many comedies play off of a woman’s inability to kindly reject a man who buys her a drink at a bar, when she’s clearly not interested in him? There is more truth in that than most of us would like to admit. 

Unfortunately, there is a darker side to this fear of retaliation. And that is the very real threat of violence and abuse women have historically experienced at the hands of men with a bruised pride.

If the woman who ghosted you has been a victim of or a witness to abuse in her lifetime, try not to take it personally. She probably has a level of fear that revolves around her interactions with men, and ghosting feels like a safer alternative.

Are Ghosts Too Busy or Just Lazy?

Honestly, does it matter? Whether she’s hustling in her career working 80-hour weeks, or has been on her couch in the same pair of sweatpants all weekend—the fact is she hasn’t made time for you in her life. She may be actively ignoring you, AKA ghosting, or she may just have a mile-long priority list that doesn’t include you.

Will one scenario stings less than the other? I doubt it. It hurts when someone you were developing feelings for doesn’t reciprocate, no matter what the circumstances are.

That being said, I’m a proponent of second chances. If someone who ghosted you reaches out with an apology and a valid explanation for being absent, why not give it one more date? That is if you still see potential in the relationship, of course.

How Do I Avoid Being Ghosted?

The use of dating apps has created a lot of lazy daters. We pick up our phones and sometimes getting a date is as easy as ordering a pizza. If we don’t catch the other person’s attention within a few messages, they get bored and move on to the next app. We have thousands of possible matches in our pocket. We may give it a few dates, and if that person doesn’t blow our mind, we start swiping again.

It’s all pretty indicative of where we are as a society in terms of instant gratification.

But there is good news! There are alternatives to the monotony of endless swiping, texting, and eventual ghosting

At The Setup, we combine age-old matchmaking principles with proven sociological technologies to match you with the partner you’ve always dreamed of. 

The main reason that ghosting is so prevalent in recent years, is because we’re meeting complete strangers at an unprecedented rate. Previous generations met their mates through mutual friends, family members, church, work, and school. They typically had at least one other person in common with their date.

Take the following situation for example:

Let’s say your Aunt set you up with a young woman from her church. If you were rude on your date, or you completely disappeared on the woman, it’s likely that she will complain to your Aunt about your behavior. Your Aunt would then hold you accountable and you would face consequences.

When you date strangers from the internet with no mutual connections, there is little to no accountability, and people feel free to behave in ways they probably wouldn’t if their Aunt was privy to the situation.

Ghosting is less likely to occur if there is an additional person both parties have to answer to, like a nosey aunt, or a specially-trained Matchmaker. 

Your personal Matchmaker will not only work to introduce you to your ideal partner, but will also follow up with you and your matches to provide expert coaching and advice. Our priority is helping you find genuine, lasting love. No ghosting allowed!

Shirtless Bathroom Selfie - Profile Pics

20 Tips for Profile Pics

Last time, I talked about the importance of having the right profile pics. Today, I want to go a little further by giving you my top 20 tips for profile pics. These are action items to help you take the most flattering photos for your dating profile.

Different online services and dating apps have different capabilities, but if you’re able to, you should include at least three photos in your profile. Use your profile pics to show who you really are.

20 Tips for Profile Pics

  1. The first picture should be a nice clear headshot, it’s ok to use colour or black and white, whatever you prefer and feels represents you well.
  2. You should also have a full length shot that shows your physique. Take it at a flattering angle and avoid the dreaded bathroom/gym mirror selfie. 
  3. Your third photo is up to you! Use this one to highlight your personality.
  4. Think about whether you want to take the photo indoors or outdoors. Clean up any clutter that may appear in the background.
  5. There is no shame in standing in front of a blank wall, sometimes those make the best profile pics.
  6. Be natural, relax, and smile.
  7. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident. If it feels awkward, or fits wrong, your discomfort may show in the photo.
  8. Find a spot with natural lighting, and make sure there are no shadows hiding your face.
  9. Have some fun! Grab a friend that you feel totally comfortable with, and goof around a little, so your best self comes out in the picture.
  10. Update your photos every three months.
  11. Don’t post photos with other women. I once saw a man using a photo of himself and his ex-wife on their wedding day on his dating profile.
  12. No group shots. Nobody wants to play a guessing game to figure out who’s who.
  13. Keep your clothes on! No bare chest guys I know it’s tempting, especially if you have a great physique, but it does far more damage than good.
  14. No silly poses, goofy faces, or funny costumes.
  15. Your profile pics should highlight your face, not any other body part. You know if I’m talking to you.
  16. No Sunglasses. Let us see your eyes.
  17. I don’t care if you caught the Megalodon, no woman cares to see you holding up a dead fish.
  18. No hatfishing. Unless you plan on wearing that backwards ballcap on a first date (please don’t), take if off for your profile pics.
  19. If you are bald, be proud and show the world. A lot of women only date bald men, so own it!  
  20. Your hair and facial hair should be styled just as it will when you show up for a date.

Woman Takes Selfie on Beach for Her Profile Picture

A Profile Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Your profile picture is the first thing people see, and it’s what will make them want to swipe right or message you. We have done some experiments to see what gets the right attention and what attracts the wrong attention.

Did you know most people make up their mind about you within the first six seconds?

I will admit, I am often guilty of being highly critical when it comes to crafting a dating profile. I like to think of it as a resume for love. Please forgive my passion, but I cannot stress enough, how important it is to put your best foot forward with a flattering photo.

So, what is your profile picture telling them at first glance? Your first goal is to just get them to give your profile a second look; pique their interest!

A Profile Picture is a Necessity

Not having photos on your dating profile will get you all the wrong attention. If people think you want to be anonymous, then most will assume you are only after a casual sexual encounter. If that’s not what you’re looking for, then let’s make sure you post a really good photo that indicates this isn’t what you want.

It is better to wait until you are ready to post your profile picture and your bio is complete before you start browsing so that you start out on the right foot.

Without a photo, you will only attract unwanted attention, and this can be hard for some people to handle.

Your main photo should be you and you alone. No children, friends, family, or pets. Just a nice, clear photo of you. Pose naturally, smile, dress and wear your hair as you would for a typical first date.

Headshots are great, but you should also include a full-body photo in your profile.

Depending on how many photos you can upload to the site or app you’re using, you can include group shots, but make sure it’s not the first thing they see. Nobody wants to go hunting through a photo to find out which one you are.

There are some apps that hide or blur your photos, so that you have to get to know someone before you make a snap judgement on their appearance.

It is a great tool to get you to pay a monthly subscription as most people are so curious they will pay just to see what someone looks like, and then you choose who you reveal your photo to.

Keep Your Photos Updated

Ok, let’s get serious now, why would you want to put a photo up from five years ago? None of us are getting any younger, that’s a well-known fact! People are known to send the oldest and best photo they have, and it infuriates me. I am often sent a photo before a consultation to show me how a potential client represents themselves and when I meet them I do a double take!

When I ask how old the photo is, I inevitably hear a story about someone’s brother’s wedding from three years ago. It makes me crazy.

No wonder they are not getting any second dates! Usually, the first date doesn’t even last longer than 30-60 minutes, depending on how polite the other person is. I understand feeling self-conscious about aging, but you’re setting yourself up for failure if you misrepresent yourself online.

Keep your photos current and make sure they’re an honest reflection of you. We are constantly changing. Anytime your style changes, you update your hair colour, gain or lose weight, etc. you should be updating your photos. If you’re clean shaven, don’t have a beard in all of your photos.

You should also change your photos up every three months or so, after all it doesn’t reflect well if people see the same photos. They’re likely to think you are a serial dater. If a photo is not generating the right interest then change it sooner. Play around with your profile picture, additional photos, and bio until you find what works.

Group of Friends Online Dating in a Bar

The Online Dating App-idemic

Move over COVID, there’s a new epidemic in town. The Online Dating App-idemic affects single people of all ages and walks of life, but Millennials are especially vulnerable.  

About 80% of human communication is non-verbal.

When you’re meeting and flirting online, you lose all sense of body language. It’s also difficult to discern things like sarcasm and playfulness, so conversations often feel boring or confusing.

Scary Stories

Every time you pick up your phone it’s a gamble. One minute it’s a funny gif from The Office, the next it’s a close up of a stranger’s genitals. Ask your friends, I guarantee they have at least one dating app disaster story.

  • Erin agreed to pick up her date after he told her he wasn’t medically cleared to drive. When she arrived, she realized he was just really really drunk.
  • Maddi carries an EpiPen for her shellfish allergy. On her first date with a doctor, he tried to feed her shrimp off his plate. When she politely, but insistently refused, he declined a second date.
  • Alex’s date told him she just started a new job. When he asked her what she had been doing previously, she said just one word—prison.
  • Liam used a photo from his own wedding as his profile picture. He didn’t even crop his ex-wife out entirely.
  • The day before Christina’s date, he texted to ask what kind of food she liked. She said, “I’m not picky, I like everything except seafood!” She thought it was weird that he took her to Red Lobster, until the bill came. He whipped out a gift certificate. 

Option Overload

In his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson says, "Basically, the more options we're given, the less satisfied we become with whatever we choose because we're aware of all the other options we're potentially forfeiting."

This is known as the Paradox of Choice.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, critiquing multiple candidates causes people to be more judgmental. This makes you more likely to dismiss a perfectly good candidate for something trivial.

This can also have an effect on commitment. When you have access to hundreds of potential dates in your pocket, how do you stay focused on one person? Is there motivation to work through the hard times or will people start giving up on long-term relationships, constantly chasing the honeymoon phase?

Is the grass greener on the other side?

When asked to choose between a committed relationship or something casual, 87% of women, and 61% of men said they wanted a serious relationship. The problem is the apps are designed to make you crave quantity over quality.

App Addiction

Each time you feel your phone go off, your brain gives you a small hit of dopamine. That means physiologically, online dating gets you hooked in the same way addictive substances do.

One study showed the average Tinder user spends over 90 minutes per day swiping and chatting in the app. Another report says Millennials spend about 10 hours per week online dating. That’s like having a #sidehustle you don’t get paid for. 

There is a gamification element to swiping as well. Whenever you get a notification, it feels like you’ve won somehow. Even if you have no intention of ever meeting that person, just the match alone gives you a fix. This is how people get addicted to things like video games and gambling. 

In fact, dating apps were designed with the same psychological principles as Vegas slot machines. They hijack your pleasure centers and create a false reward system

Think about it, how many times have you deleted and reinstalled your go-to app? It creates a toxic environment where the app makes you feel bad about yourself, so you delete it. Then, you start feeling lonely, and that makes you feel bad too. So you download it all over again. 

“People who self-described as having really addictive-style behaviors toward the internet and cell phones scored much higher on depression and anxiety scales. With growing support for the connection between technology use and mental health, the relationship between motivation for cell phone or internet use and well-being warrants further exploration.” -Alejandro Lleras

The number of bots and spam accounts would shock you. Some apps even hire employees who chat with users under fake profiles in order to engage them in the app more. 

Rejection Remorse

In a 2010 study, researchers at Rutgers University found that looking at your ex triggers the same part of the brain as a cocaine addiction, creating an obsession with romantic rejection. About half of all messages go unanswered, so people are experiencing rejection on an unprecedented level.

The human brain can’t tell the difference between physical and emotional pain—rejection literally hurts

"This phenomenon is a legacy of our hunter-gatherer past, when we lived in nomadic tribes. Back when a person couldn't survive alone without their tribe, "rejection served as an early warning system that alerted us we were in danger of being ostracized—of being voted off the island."

-Dr. Guy Winch, Psychologist and Author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts

Before the apps, people had to take a chance and flirt in person, so they might get rejected a few times at a bar on Friday night. Now, they might get rejected 5 times by their phone while they’re sitting in a bar also being shot down. That will take a toll on the most confident person’s self-esteem.

Did you know that one third of online daters have never met anyone IRL that they matched with on the apps?

Bad Behavior

The screen gives users a sense of anonymity, which often leads to them acting out in ways they probably wouldn’t otherwise. There’s a certain level of anonymity to online dating. Most of the time, you’re swiping, messaging, and meeting complete strangers. You likely don’t have common friends and run in very different circles.

This allows one to pull off a disappearing act quite easy. Over half of today’s daters claim to have first-hand experience with Ghosting, many going a step further to Haunting.

Out of 1,000 people surveyed, 53% admitted to lying on their profile

Going beyond typical bad behavior, there is a darker side to the internet.

Romance scams reached new heights in 2020. Scammers saw how many Americans were stuck in quarantine, and they acted. The Federal Trade Commission reported a record $304 million lost in romance scams throughout 2020. That’s up 50% from the previous year.

Whether it’s a light case of hatfishing or a deep fake, the internet is filled with liars and phonies.

“Women should be aware that they probably will receive rude/disgusting messages from horny guys, sexual propositions/requests, nude pics, and a lot of creepy vibes.” -Ryan Anderson, Ph.D

It’s not uncommon to receive messages on apps containing vulgar or abusive content. Explicit requests, violent threats, unsolicited’s like the Wild West of sexual harassment out there. Please, be safe.

Estimates show at the rate things are going, by 2040 70% of couples will have met online. So, online dating isn't going away anytime soon. If anything, they will probably get more Black Mirror-y as artificial intelligence evolves.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to get off the apps and into a meaningful relationship? Stop swiping, and join The Setup today