Picture this: You’ve just left a rom-com-level first date. You’re on your way home, and you’re replaying the entire night in your head. What do you do next? Do you grab your phone and begin to rehash every detail and ask for dating advice in your group chat? Or maybe you’ve already been updating them throughout the night.
Talking to your friends about your dating life is no new thing (we have the Sex and the City reruns to prove it), but modern technology makes it all too easy to screenshot conversations, dating profiles, and social media pages to keep your friends updated on every little detail. Many of us start talking to friends about our relationships before they are even relationships, asking for advice from the first swipe. Hinge’s last research found that Gen Z singles are 30% more likely than millennials to say they’d feel stressed if they couldn’t talk to their friends about a major dating decision. How heavily should we be weighing the advice our friends give us, though?
According to the same study, 80% of Gen Z singles said it’s important to get their friends’ advice on who to date, 86% of them question the advice their friends give, and the majority of them actually regret following the advice, ultimately feeling like they made the wrong decision. So where’s the disconnect? We caught up with Logan Ury, Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science and author of How to Not Die Alone, for her expert opinion on the topic.
Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, TIME, The Washington Post, GQ, Glamour, Vice, and on HBO and the BBC.
“It’s critical that you learn how to tune into your own feelings and needs and figure out how you feel about someone,” Ury said, reminding singles that “it’s your relationship on the line, not your friends’.” Plus, it’s worth noting that we typically don’t share the whole story when we are asking the group chat for advice. A staggering 84% of Gen Z Hinge singles admitted that they are not completely honest when asking for advice and will often hide some of the details. And on the flip side, 50% said that they are not always honest about how they really feel when they give dating advice to their friends, either because they don’t want to hurt their feelings or because they don’t think their friend wants or seems ready for objective feedback.
So how can we avoid these messy situations and take back control of our dating lives? Here’s what Ury said:
Figure Out Your Dating Goals
The first step to becoming more self-sufficient in your dating life is determining not only what you are looking for but also what you might need to work on. Ury recommended asking yourself questions like, “Are you too picky? Not picky enough? Do you want to go on more dates? Do you want to avoid anxiously attached folks or find someone secure?” Determine the aspects of your dating life you want to improve and what the qualities are that you want in a partner. What values do you want them to have? What do you want the relationship to be like? Take the time to “do the inner work to figure out your dating goals,” Ury said.
Use Your Friends For Accountability
Ury said we should be using our friends for accountability, *not* advice. When it comes to dating (and everything else, for that matter), we all have different values and desires. The advice we get from our friends can tend to be clouded by their own personal preferences and priorities. Your friends should be “people who encourage you to achieve your goals.” Once you’ve determined what those dating goals are, share them with your friends and utilize them as your accountability partners. So instead of asking your group chat if you should text your ex, tell your friends you want a clean break and use them for support when you’re feeling like you’re going to cave. “Think about them as your cheerleaders,” Ury said, rather than your “coach” or “adviser.”
Get in Tune With Your Emotions
It’s easy (and tempting) to take a friend’s advice if you don’t even know how you personally feel about a situation. The trouble is, if you don’t take the time to tune into your own emotions, you could very well end up regretting your decision to follow your friend’s direction. In fact, 74% of the Gen Z singles in Hinge’s study said they wish they were more comfortable making decisions without asking for feedback. Ury’s recommendation for getting in tune with your emotions is to dive deeper into books and podcasts on different dating topics and to consider speaking with a therapist. “The more in touch you are with your own feelings, the less you’ll rely on your friends to know what to do,” she said.
Slow Your Roll in the Group Chat
Now that we’re in touch with our emotions and we know what we want to work on, we can make our own decisions on whether or not we are interested in someone. Next time you want to screenshot a dating profile and ask your friends if you should go out with them, ask yourself instead. Instead of bringing your friends into the equation from the first swipe, bring them in once you have formed an opinion yourself. Ury recommended inviting your friends to meet your new love interest only after you decide you’re interested. When it comes to asking for their opinion, she said to ask your friends “what did you think of me around them?” rather than “what did you think of them?” The reason for this, Ury said, is that “you want to select someone who brings out the best side of you,” and while they might not be experts on dating, “your friends are experts on you.”