BYO chocolate cake

Romantic comedies, for me, were similar to a big piece of chocolate cake. When you're in the middle of it, it's amazing and wonderful and delicious and good feelings are all around you ... and at the end you're alone and just ate a big piece of chocolate cake.

To be fair, that's a generalization of my own experience with rom-coms (and chocolate) but with Valentine's Day around the corner you might be feeling this sorta way too. Sometimes we need the cake and that's totally okay. But this newsletter is about equipping you to own your own life and meet other people, not cake flavors. If you want to commemorate the day (sweets and/or partner not necessary), consider one of these Spotify playliststreating yourself to dinner, plotting some ways to build self-care into your life, or sending funny Galentines to your far-flung friends (get ideas here!).

But if you're feeling the dating itch and are nervous about closing Netflix and bringing out the big guns of our generation — a.k.a. dating apps — here's a little how-to.


  • There's so much more than just Tinder and Bumble, and dating apps can be helpful for more than just hookups or free dinners, if you're into those.
  • You can also find friends through the people you click with but don't click with or practice dating without needing an in-person wingwoman. (Just make sure someone knows who + when + where you're meeting!)
  • And if you're not in the market for that kind of friend, there's always Bumble BFF! I'll have more about that in a future issue, but if you've also tried it, let me know!

I turned to some pros for tips on how to make this happen. And by pros, I mean:

  • Maria in Chicago who turned to Tinder after a breakup and ended up meeting her now-fiancé;
  • Megan in Milwaukee who has a list of qualifications with a "Others need not apply" disclaimer in her Bumble bio but still piques enough interest to have new dates every week;
  • and Allison in Boston who tested both Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel and has found a fledgling connection, now four dates in (!) and still going strong.

Also, let's try something new: What are your shouts and doubts of the week? What are you really proud of that you want to give yourself a high-five for — making-friends-in-adulthood-related or otherwise? What are some doubts that you have that you want to get off your chest? Let's get this community pot going. I'll share some of the responses next week! 

Shouts + Doubts

This isn't just a you problem.

"I've started going on more internet dates as an attempt to expose myself to all sorts of types of people and experiences, and that has been a cool way to widen my horizons a bit."

"I'm a single lady and I have to ask — how do I start dating in a big city, especially when I don't have a wingwoman yet?"

If you're feeling these, you're not alone. These Sown subscribers raised the question of using dating apps as a tool when you don't have a lot of people to talk to nearby. Eighty percent of Americans who have used online dating concur that online dating is a good way to meet people. But it's not always easy: “The process of dating inherently sucks,” said Holly Wood, a PhD candidate at Harvard University doing her dissertation on modern dating.

Let's hit the facts (thanks Pew Research Center):

  1. Stigma be gone: Nearly half of the American public knows someone who dates online or who has met a spouse or partner via online dating.
  2. Two thirds of online daters have actually gone on a date with someone they met on a dating site or app.
  3. 30 percent of female online daters have asked someone else for help with their dating profile. 16 percent of men have done so.
    • Side note: Is anyone else surprised by these numbers??
Remember, there are other options for dating besides apps and online — maybe even in real life! Dating apps, though, may just be embedded in our generation. Curious? Take a look at Maria, Megan, and Allison's encounters.

(Side note II: They were all — as far as I know — looking for heterosexual situations. Here's a breakdown of apps specifically for the LGBTQ perspective. And, their answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)

1. What were your expectations when you signed up? Why that app?

Megan/Bumble: My expectations were very low when I signed up. Bumble attracts better quality than other apps like Tinder. Bumble is also nice that the women are in control and have to message their matches. I think it's way less creepy.

Allison/Hinge: Hinge seemed like a more relaxed platform (though somehow one that still leads to relationships) — and like a platform that seems to embrace the silliness of trying to be comprehensive and honest online — and the silliness of dating, generally. Instead of liking someone’s whole profile (or even necessarily their picture(s)), I could like someone’s response to a silly prompt. This seemed more my speed. 

Allison/Coffee Meets Bagel: This was my gateway dating app. I was very hesitant to do online/app-driven dating, as it seemed so superficial — both in that I’d be making unfair judgments of others, and they’d be making them of me. But Coffee Meets Bagel, I’d heard, is more geared towards relationships, or at least offers more “wholesome” trajectories (not that I knew what I wanted, going into using it!), than some other apps.

Maria/Tinder: My friends encouraged me to sign up for "fun." This was a few years ago, when there weren't a lot of dating apps out there.

2. What were your initial impressions of people and motives on the app?

Megan/Bumble: The quality of guys was better than on Tinder. Bumble profiles show schooling and job information, so you can immediately see if someone is college educated and or have a good job. I have typically had very respectful conversations with the men I meet on the app.

Allison/Hinge: People seemed to be having fun with their profiles, rather than like they’d spent hours stressing about which photos to use or questions to answer (well, or they’re skilled at seeming nonchalant).

Allison/Coffee Meets Bagel: In addition to adding photos, location, education history, and workplace/field to your profile, the app prompts you to complete the sentences “I am…”, “I like…”, and “I appreciate when my date…”. Based on how much it seemed like people were able to reveal about themselves so honestly in those bios, I initially figured I’d — and they’d — be able to make pretty solid judgments (at least better than one could w/o bios) about people I would or wouldn’t be interested in getting to know.

Maria/Tinder: I remember swiping left a lot — many people were not attractive!

3. What were you surprised by (perhaps in a good way)?

Megan/Bumble: I was surprised at how many matches I get on here! It's so fun to swipe through and check out all the matches. A lot of people want to go out on dates.

Allison/Hinge: I was surprised to feel I got a unique sense of someone’s personality from what about my profile they chose to like, and I could likewise convey something specific about myself based on what I “liked” about theirs.  I liked feeling like someone appreciated more about me than what my pictures do or don’t capture.

Allison/Coffee Meets Bagel: My understanding is that women receive a specific number of people who’ve liked them each day. I think the small dose of potential matches each day gave me more head space to consider what’s at stake or what’s to be gained from connecting with someone — and gave more time to converse with existing matches, instead of endlessly swiping.

Maria/Tinder: I was actually surprised I found someone on it! I was also surprised how many people wanted to go out on dates.

4. How were actual dates/encounters you have had through the app?

Megan/Bumble: I've had mostly positive experiences. There was one guy who didn't look like any of his pictures...but besides that I've had a lot of fun first dates. There have been a few men who I saw for a month or so at a time, but didn't develop into anything too serious.

Allison/Hinge: I’ve actually only gone on dates with one person through Hinge; I downloaded it about a month ago after feeling like the others weren’t quite working for me. As of now we’ve been on two dates, both of which I think went really well. Beginner’s luck? [Update: now it's been four!]

Allison/Coffee Meets Bagel: I went on one date with someone I met on the app. Though we’d texted a significant amount leading up to the date, I noticed over the course of our dinner that I hadn’t actually ever learned their personality, until I met them. This was just a reminder that only meeting in person (not even just a thoughtful bio) can really demonstrate whether I’d be interested in someone or not.

Maria/Tinder: My now-fiancé actually took me out on a real first date! I was stupid about it though, because I definitely should not have gotten into some stranger's car, even though it did end up working out. The first date was so fun — the basic "get to know you" talk, and that's how the second date was too. There was lots of texting before hand so we knew a lot about each other so it wasn't like a blind date situation.

5. What do you think people should know about that app?

Megan/Bumble: You'd be surprised at all the people you know on Bumble. I have friends and co-workers who pop up and I usually swipe right and break the ice about dating apps. A lot of people have them, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Just try it and go out with different people.

Allison/Hinge: There is a wide variety of questions available for folks to answer; some are silly, like “best Halloween costume,” but others are more to the point, like “what I’m looking for,” which can make it possible for people to attempt to give a more serious/dating-related perspective on their personalities, if desired. 

Allison/Coffee Meets Bagel: Folks should look into how this app works; it has a different pace from the others, and also takes a different approach to providing you with matches based on gender. I think the app succeeded in limiting how long I’d want to spend using it daily to browse potential matches, because I’m only given a handful at a time. So if you’re worried about spending hours endlessly swiping past people’s pictures, this could be a good app for you.

6. Anything else?

Megan/Bumble: Always meet in public and tell friends you're meeting someone from Bumble. Safety is key and should never be ignored. Have fun!

Allison: On some level I appreciate the lack of initiative Coffee Meets Bagel requires women to take; I’m generally matched with people who’ve already expressed interest in me (protection from rejection – nice). On the other hand, I’m not sure I will ever know how my pool of potential matches is thereby being narrowed by the...male gaze? Are there people who’d eventually go on a date with me, if only I “liked” them first?

And what kind of personal growth (maybe something unrealistic to expect of online dating) is happening for me, or for women, when we’re being protected from rejection? Should I (and maybe women more generally) instead work to build the confidence and courage to love ourselves and fear not if others can’t see, superficially, our value?

Go sow: Challenge for the week. 💕

"Women are always at the front of revolutions."  — Buthayna Kamel, Egypt's first female presidential candidate

Write down, or tell yourself in the mirror, what YOU love most about YOURSELF and what top-notch-ness you bring into a friendship or a relationship.

Then get out there and start bringing it ;) Self love is the new #relationshipgoal.
And don't forget to share your shouts + doubts! 
Add these to your friendship toolkit:

Grow the Sow.

Zoom into the full map here.

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