I met my husband on a dating app.
We’ve had a mixed reactions when we tell people how we met. My husband Tom apparently told his cousins we met through ‘mutual friends’, to avoid the awkwardness. We’ve had people acknowledge it’s just like a new form of speed dating, and even some encourage us for being proactive. It’s tricky being a conservative Christian but growing up in a society where there’s an app for everything. So I thought I would add my two cents as someone who owes her marriage to her phone.
1. Find an App where Religion Is a Deal-breaker
I chose an app called Hinge because you can put more personal questions on your profile, the very first thing people see. Someone doesn’t have to make these answers public, but they have criteria such as ‘Do you want to have kids?’, ‘Do you smoke?’, and ‘What religion are you?’ Then, you can make Christianity a deal-breaker in your settings, meaning only guys (or girls, if you’re a guy using the app) who have answered that question will come up.
From there, it’s about reading between the lines. I would only ‘like’ a guy if he mentioned church, or something about God. Even this led to a couple of tricky conversations as I discovered the variations in what people mean by ‘Christian’.
If your faith is important to you, I’d recommend weeding out anyone who won’t meet that criteria from the get-go. Even your love life is for the glory of God.
2. Your First Date Will not Be Your Last
I think this one is really tough for optimists. I started perhaps twenty conversations, met about five guys on Zoom and went on in-person dates with two, one of which ended at the head of the aisle. It can be emotionally exhausting to follow up so many different threads, and eventually have to say over and over: “I’ve really enjoyed talking to you, but I don’t really think this is going to work out.”
It may be odd to go from a very small dating pool to a very large one. It means that you are choosing to emotionally invest in multiple people before you find the right one.
The reality is that you will likely have to explore a few dating options, whether you use a dating app, or focus on church and Christian circles, or other everyday connections. At least being on a dating app, you can start by knowing that the other person is looking for a romantic relationship and putting their best foot forward, so you don’t have to risk asking someone out who is currently not looking for a romantic relationship.
Among the hundreds of guys on Hinge within 10km of my home who met my criteria, I came across three I knew from my personal life. The rest: I had no idea. You’re accessing a much wider pool, meaning you have a better chance of finding the right person (God’s plan for your life isn’t disrupted by your use of a dating app!).
3. Ask (and Answer) Tricky Questions
This one’s not always fun.
The only other in-person date I went on went so terribly that I deleted the app for a few weeks afterwards. I had checked that he was going to church, asked him how he became a Christian, looked him up on Instagram to check his timeline matched and his name was real. And then it came to dinner on our second date, and he asked what I thought of sex before marriage. I was shocked he’d even asked the question so soon, and I was tempted to avoid it, but I answered honestly; that I believed it was wrong. He was really disappointed. I felt as though I didn’t matter to him anymore because I wasn’t willing to compromise on what I considered Christian obedience.
In hindsight, it was probably brave of him to ask sooner rather than later, to ask before we’d grown closer. And it was also the right thing for me to be honest. There’s an element of honesty you’ll need to make using dating apps work. It may feel uncomfortable because usually when getting to know someone, it will take longer to get to that level of intimacy. In the end, however, you won’t regret it being honest early.
4. Make Sure a Friend Knows What You’re Doing
There’s a safety element to this—make sure someone knows when you’re going out to meet, where you’re going to be, and how it went afterwards. I believe telling a solid Christian friend is important for two other reasons as well.
Firstly, it will help keep you accountable. If you start to slide down the slippery slope of changing your preference to ‘spiritual’ rather than ‘Christian’, or compromising on godly conduct, you need a mate who will pull you up gently. After that awful date, as soon as I got to the train station, I called my friend and cried for twenty minutes. She assured me that I had done the right thing in letting him go, and not to call him in a sudden fit of regret.
That leads to the second reason. When bad dates happen, you need a friend, who is already up to speed, to vent to. If you’re uncomfortable telling your parents or some people at church, make sure there’s at least one Christian friend who will ask how it went and will listen without judgement.
Using a dating app doesn’t mean you’re wrongly discontented with being single. It is perfectly acceptable for Christians to explore different ways to find a romantic (and marriage) partner. But it can be hard being single. And a good friend will remind you that you’re not alone. Loneliness or discontentment could mean you start to compromise your faith, when in reality, if your heart is not right, you won’t find full satisfaction in anyone else, even a marriage partner.
5. Guard Your Heart
Regardless of their benefits, secular dating apps are not geared for a godly and humane approach to the dating relationship. The very act of swiping through profiles is odd: how easy it is to get rid of a human being. Even after having a few conversations with someone, even after a few dates in person, the app-mindset can make it tempting to just delete the conversation and ignore the person. But they are a real person, and they deserve courtesy, not being ghosted.
Dating apps also challenge the way we present ourselves. Are we seeking to glorify God, as we choose our photos, answer questions and craft our profile—even as we are seeking to find a partner?
Keep check of how much time you spend on the app, too. I would recommend keeping the free version of Hinge, for example: this will only allow so many likes a day, and only allow you to see three people at a time who have liked you back. Keep offering your fears, hopes and questions to God, praying about each conversation and date as you go.
6. Give It a Go
In the end, of course I’m glad that I tried a dating app. I thank God for it. I know it won’t be for everyone, but as it becomes less taboo, the pool of awesome, godly people using these apps will grow. I doubt the creators of Hinge thought they would be helping two people find someone who would go to work with them for God’s glory overseas as a minister and a teacher. I am sure there are many other stories like ours and who knows—perhaps some of you reading this article might be next?
 I want to be clear that this courtesy does not extend to someone who is being rude or abusive—even if it is just not taking No for an answer. A benefit of starting on a dating app is that you can keep your conversations online and separate from other messaging apps, so if someone makes you uncomfortable for any reason, you can block and report them. You do not owe anyone anything, even if you have gone on a few dates.