in: People, Podcast, Relationships

• Last updated: February 21, 2022

Podcast #778: A Playbook for Modern Dating

Dating is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history. Given that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many people aren’t sure of the best way to go about it, especially since the rise of modern technology and dating apps has made an already murky landscape even more confusing.

If you feel like you could use some expert, research-backed guidance to navigating this world, enter today’s guest, Logan Ury. Logan is a behavioral scientist turned dating coach, the Director of Relationship Science for the Hinge dating app, and the author of How to Not Die Alone: The Surprising Science That Will Help You Find Love. Today on the show, Logan explains the three dating tendencies and the three types of attachment styles that can influence, and potentially sabotage, your ability to get into a healthy relationship. She shares the easiest thing you can do to be more successful in making connections on the dating apps, and the criteria to use for figuring out how to best meet people in person. Logan then gets into how to design a good first date, and what to tell the other person if the date doesn’t go well, rather than ghosting them. She also makes the case for why you shouldn’t be over reliant on feeling the proverbial spark when deciding whether to see someone again. We end our conversation with tips on breaking up with someone you’ve been dating for awhile.

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Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. Dating is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history. Given that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many people aren’t sure of the best way to go about it, especially since the rise of modern technology and dating apps has made an already murky landscape even more confusing. If you feel like you can use an expert research-backed guidance to navigate this world, enter today’s guest, Logan Ury. Logan is a behavioral scientist turned dating coach, the Director of relationship science for the Hinge dating app, and the author of How Not to Die Alone: The Surprising Science That Will Help You Find Love.

Today on the show, Logan explains the three dating tendencies and the three types of attachment styles that can influence and potentially sabotage your ability to get to healthy relationships. Logan then gets into how to design a good first date, what to tell the other person if the date doesn’t go well, rather than ghosting them. She also makes the case for why you shouldn’t be over-reliant on feeling the proverbial spark when deciding whether to see someone again. We end our conversation with tips on breaking up with someone you’ve been dating for a while. After the show’s over, check at our show notes at

Alright, Logan Ury, welcome to the show.

Logan Ury: Thank you so much for having me.

Brett McKay: So you got a book called How to Not Die Alone: The Surprising Signs that will help you find love. So, you are a behavioral scientist who became a dating coach. I think you’re the first behavioral scientist/dating coach I’ve met. How did that happen?

Logan Ury: Oh, thank you. Yes, I like to defy expectations. Well, I’ve always had these two interests, I’ve had this interest in psychology, behavioral science, which is the study of how we make decisions, and then I’ve had this second interest in sex, dating, love, relationships. And so, at different points in my life, I’ve been able to pursue them in different ways, but I had the opportunity to take what I’ve done in the field of behavioral science and apply it to love and dating, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last, I don’t know, almost a decade, approaching a decade. And so, it’s basically like, why are people not getting into relationships? It’s because they’re making poor decisions along the way, they’re not putting themselves out there, they’re dating the wrong people, they’re prioritizing the wrong things, they are not going on the second date when they should, they’re marrying the wrong person.

And so, how can I break relationships down into these tiny decisions… Well, they’re not tiny, but these decisions that occur over a lifetime, and then how can I actually help people make better decisions by telling them what their blind spots are, what’s affecting their decision-making and how they should consider that decision instead?

Brett McKay: Fantastic. So you started the book talking about the fact that a lot of people today are lamenting that dating is harder than ever. I’ve got friends… Or I talk to kids who are in their 20s, they’re in college, they’re out of college, and they describe the dating scene, and I’m like, Wow, that’s… I don’t know anything about that, that sounds terrible. Why does dating feel harder than ever? I mean, what’s changed in the past, say, 20 years that makes it more difficult?

Logan Ury: Yeah, so dating as we know it is actually a pretty new concept. So dating in terms of I as an individual find the person who I wanna be with, that concept has only been around since around the 1890s. Before that, either there was a match maker or your parents would arrange your marriage, you know, you would marry the person with the land next door, so that your parcels of land could be connected. And so, my first thought I really wanna leave people with is, if you feel like dating is unnatural, that’s because it is. We are not born knowing how to date. Yes, we are born knowing how to love, yes, love is natural, but dating is relatively new in the span of human history. Then you think about online dating and online dating, even just using a basic website, started around 1994 and 1995, and then the swiping apps started about 10 years ago. And so, everything that we’re experiencing is really a seismic shift in the span of human history.

So, some things about dating right now are easier. If you are in what’s called a thin market, where it’s hard for you to find someone… So this could be over 50 LGBTQ+ community, or living in a rural area, online dating has definitely helped you, because you don’t have to go to a bar and say, Who here is looking for someone like me, you just know who those people are. But in other ways, dating has become really hard, one of the reasons is this idea of the paradox of choice. And this is a concept from the professor Barry Schwartz, who says that while we’re drawn to choice, many times having too many options is actually really stressful for us, because we don’t know what to choose, we fear we’re making the wrong choice, and then even when we choose, we feel regret, Oh, did I mess that one up?

And so there are many options in modern dating. There’s also a lot of pressure on us to get it right. I wonder if this is what you hear with your listeners, but there’s this feeling of, this is the most important decision I’ll ever make. I really only get one shot at choosing the right partner. I don’t get support from a religious figure or a matchmaker or my family, this is something that falls on me, and so we have more freedom, we have more chance to express ourselves as individuals, but that also means that when you’re writing your own story and you don’t like that story, you only have yourself to blame.

Brett McKay: Okay, so it sounds like the… Why dating is hard? It all comes down to choice. And this is where Behavioral Science comes in, ’cause behavioral science is all about making choices.

Logan Ury: Exactly.

Brett McKay: Alright, so when you first sit down with a client, dating coach client, the first step you do is you help them figure out what their dating tendency is, and there’s three types, you list out in the book, what are these dating tendencies, and how can knowing your dating tendency help you become more effective in your romantic life?

Logan Ury: This is something that I developed through working with clients where I was like, Okay, I’m having all these clients from different countries, different walks of life, different ages, but they have this thing in common, they all have these unrealistic expectations. And so, I took that knowledge of working with clients, I developed it into this framework, which is also a quiz called The Three Dating Tendencies, and now I use that to help people who read my book, and I still use it with clients. So the first tendency is the romanticizer, and they have unrealistic expectations of relationships. So, this is the friend of yours, or maybe it’s you, who says, I love love, I really want that romantic how we met story. I don’t wanna meet someone online, that’s not romantic. And they have this view in their head that there’s a soulmate, one person out there for them, when they meet them, they’ll just know if it clicks, and if it’s the right person, then the relationship will be easy. And if the relationship is hard, well then, clearly it’s not the right person.

And so for the romanticizer, the work is really around demystifying relationships. Look, I don’t believe there’s one person out there for you, I think there’s a lot of different person… Different people who you can have a great relationship with. Some have certain pros and cons, others have certain pros and cons, you get to decide what matters to you, and you can make different good choices with a number of people. And so for them, it’s about getting rid of this idea of the one or the soul mate and helping them understand, who cares how you met, that’s not what makes a relationship romantic. What makes a relationship romantic is putting in the work, seeing results, growing with someone, building a family, designing the life you like, learning how to have hard conversations, continuing to have sex with a person, and hopefully the sex gets better. All of that is what’s romantic.

So the next one is the maximizer, and I have to say this is many of the clients that I have, and I bet it’s many of the people who listen to the show. So, the maximizer is the person who has unrealistic expectations of their partner. And so, they have this idea in their head that they can find the perfect person, they just have to keep looking. And so, this person is obsessed with research, if they’re going on a trip, they’re gonna read the Yelp reviews and the Trip Advisor reviews. If they’re buying camping gear, they’re gonna go to Wirecutter and find the perfect ultralight tent that can fit one person or 10 person, whatever it is. And so, when they apply that concept to dating, they feel like, Oh, I just haven’t met the perfect person yet, I have to keep looking.

And so my work with the Maximizer is helping them understand that it’s not about finding the perfect person. It’s about finding a great person and then building a relationship with them. And that this story in their head that if they just keep looking one day that person will appear isn’t true, they likely have already dated someone who would make a great partner, and the work is actually finding that person, committing to them and building something, not waiting around for someone who could be 5% hotter or 5% more ambitious.

Brett McKay: And a point you make with a maximizer is the solution isn’t to settle. A lot of people think why he’s gotta settle, you’re not saying that, you don’t need to settle and just kind of just accept whatever. It’s just don’t try to over-optimize, ’cause then you’ll never find somebody.

Logan Ury: Yeah, that’s said really well. It’s not about settling. I feel like settling has become this toxic word in our society where if you’re somebody who cares or someone who’s passionate or someone with goals, settling is the opposite of what you wanna do. And no, I don’t like settling either. So there’s this really great word called satisficing, and this is also coined by Barry Schwartz, the professor that I mentioned before. And what I love about this word is, I think, it does something really smart to shift our mindset from, Oh, settling equals bad to satisficing equals good. And so, what satisficing is it’s, I set a bar, I set a benchmark, and it can be a high bar, but when I achieve that bar, I stop looking. And so, for example, if you’re looking for a car, you could say, I wanna find a used hybrid with no more than 20,000 miles, that doesn’t cost more than $20,000, and I wanna be able to get it in the next month.

And then, you look, and when you find that car, you say, Great, I found it, now I’m gonna buy it. You don’t sit around maximizing, saying, well, 20,000 miles might be too much, or well, should I just wait until the 2023 models are out here? You said, I had a standard, I met it, now I’m going to take this opportunity and move forward with it. And so, satisficers do have high bars, but when they achieve that high bar, they commit to it, whereas maximizers, even when they make a choice, they’re always wondering, what else could I have done? And so, how this applies to dating is that you can have high standards, but when you meet someone like that, invest in the relationship, commit to them, don’t find that person and then say, You know, I really like trail running, and she’s just not into it. Could I find someone just like her except… Plus trail running?

Brett McKay: Well, you also… You’re bringing this idea of optimal stopping theory to help you overcome maximizing.

Logan Ury: There’s a concept called the secretary problem, and I learned about this through the book Algorithms to Live By. The secretary problem is based on this line of mathematical inquiry called optimal stop theory. And so, basically that’s a fancy way of saying, when you’re making a decision, what’s the right point where you should actually choose and stop looking? And so, the example that they give is, imagine that you’re hiring a secretary and you have 100 possible candidates, and you have to go through them one at a time, and after each one, say yes or no. And you don’t wanna go through all 100, because what if the last person isn’t very good and that’s the only person you can hire? And it takes time, every person that you interview is, you not having that admin who starts working for you. But you also don’t wanna choose too early because you haven’t seen what’s out there.

And so, there is a mathematically correct answer to this, which is that you should interview one-third of the candidates, so 33 of the candidates. Then you say, who was the single best person from this first third? That person is now your benchmark. The next time that you find someone who’s as good or better than that first best candidate from the first third, you hire that person. And so you go through a third, you see who’s out there, create a benchmark, and then you hire the next person who’s like that. And with dating, you can say, Alright, well, I definitely don’t know how many people in my life I’m gonna date, there’s nothing like a hundred candidates, but you might say, I think I’m gonna date from the age of 18 to 40, and so, what would be a third of my way through that age range? And you would say, it’s about 26.1 years old.

So you say by the time I’m 26, I would have already met someone who’s my meaningful benchmark. The next time I find someone who’s as good or better than that person in terms of how much I like them, I will commit to that person. And so, when people hear me say this, they get stressed because they say, I’m older than 26 and have I missed out and should I go tell my ex-girlfriend that I love her and it’s… No, it’s not so literal. It’s a concept that says, You’ve likely already met someone great, and the next time you find someone great, invest in them, don’t keep looking, because there are so many people that knock on my door at 43, 44, or 45, who are like, I just kept looking and I thought the person person would appear, but it turns out I did date a lot of great people, I just didn’t commit to them, and now it’s even harder to find someone.

Brett McKay: Alright, so we talked about romanticizer, maximizer, what’s the third one?

Logan Ury: Sure, the third one is a hesitater, and there are many hesitaters right now during the pandemic. And hesitaters are people who say, I’m just not ready to date. They have unrealistic expectations of themselves, they think I’ll be eligible to date, I’ll be lovable when, you know, I lose 10 pounds, I get a better job, I clean up my apartment, I finally move cities. And so, they’re always creating this excuse why they’re just not datable yet. When the truth is that no one’s ever 100% ready for anything including dating. And so for the hesitater, it’s about the idea of stop waiting and start dating. Set a deadline for when you’re gonna start dating, maybe three weeks from now and hold yourself accountable to it or get a friend to do that. Take some pictures for your online dating profile, get some feedback, think of some good first date questions, some first date activities, and just get out there. And there’s really two reasons why it’s so critical to start this. One is, the only way to get better at dating is by dating, and two, the only way to figure out who you wanna be with, what kinda person makes you happiest long-term is by actually dating different people and seeing what side of you they bring out.

Brett McKay: And you can also see hesitaters within a relationship, there’s like, couples who have been dating for years, and they’ve been talking about marriage, but then it’s like, Well, we gotta wait until we both have jobs and we can have a house, and then they end up never getting married even though that is something they want.

Logan Ury: Yeah, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I think the concept of a hesitater can really apply in many places. I’ve done some interviews with entrepreneurs where I apply the three dating tendencies to business, and the hesitater is the person who says, Well, I wanna start a clean energy startup, but first, I have to get a Master’s degree in Energy, then I have to interview a hundred people who work in the space. Then I have to network with this, and it’s like, instead of just starting and learning by going and being willing to make mistakes, they create this perfect future scenario in which they’ll be ready, and it’s much better to be the person who’s in the arena practicing, making mistakes and learning, than the person who’s always creating an excuse about why doing something in the future will be better.

Brett McKay: So those are the three dating tendencies, another thing you do with your clients is you try to figure… Help them figure out their attachment style. And this is from the world of psychology or social psychology, how can understanding your attachment style help you in your relationships?

Logan Ury: So, this is something that’s really, really based in research, this is not something that somebody made up. This is based on years of developmental psychology research, going back to a professor named John Bowlby. And the idea here is that in our childhood we develop different attachment styles to our primary caregiver, and they’ve been able to trace those attachment styles to actually adult romantic relationships, and that’s what I’ll focus on right now. And so, there’s three styles. One of them is the anxiously attached dater. This is the person who fears that they’re going to be abandoned. So, they feel like, if you go to a bar and you don’t text them, you must have met someone else and you’re not interested, and they get very triggered and they get very worried that you’re going to leave them. And so, they go into this kind of danger zone, and once they’re in that danger zone, they do something called protest behavior. So they might call you a hundred times, send you 15 angry texts, they might threaten to leave.

They are basically acting out because they feel activated or triggered, and they want you to make them feel better and say, No, no, no, no, I was just… There was bad Wi-Fi or bad service at the bar and da-da-da-da. This person always wants to be in touch, because they’re afraid that you’re gonna leave them. Then there’s somebody called the avoidant attachment style. These are people who are afraid that they’re gonna be smothered, they feel like whenever they’re dating someone, that person takes up all their free time, takes up their space, they don’t have time to be an individual. And so the avoidant attached person is constantly concerned with pushing people away, this is the person who says, I just don’t have time to date, I need to focus on work, and she slept over, but she wouldn’t leave in the morning, and I just wanted her out of my apartment, right? It’s like they are just… Feel constricted and they wanna push that person away.

And then a securely attached person, they’re sort of the heroes of this, they are the best of both, so they’re comfortable with intimacy, but they’re also comfortable with independence. And they know how to have boundaries, but they also know how to get close to someone. And so, when you look at the numbers, around 50% of daters are securely attached, but when you’re out there dating, it doesn’t feel like that. And the reason is that securely attached people are really good at getting into partnerships, and so, they’re actually out of the dating pool, and they’re in relationships. And what you have are the anxious and avoidant people dating each other.

And this is really problematic because they reinforce each other’s worst habits. The anxiously attached person thinks whenever I date someone, they pull away, and the avoidant attached person thinks whenever I date someone, they smother me. And so they are actually doing those exact things to each other, in what we call the anxious-avoidant loop, and often the work that I do with people is help them understand, Oh, you are anxiously attached, you are obsessed with the chase, you get angry when someone’s not in touch, and you worry that they’re going to abandon you. Once you decide you like someone, you put them on a pedestal and you think that they’re perfect and you avoid red flags, and by helping them understand these habits, they can stop dating avoidant people, they can start looking for a securely attached partner, and they can work on their own triggers, so that next time something like this happens, they can actually help themselves before they go into that danger zone and start with all that protest behavior.

Brett McKay: Yeah. Just, yeah, it’s good to know your attachment style, ’cause then you can figure out if I need to go to therapy to help me be less neurotic about people I’m connected with, or to be less avoidant. That can go a long way.

Logan Ury: Yeah. I mean, I’m talking about a lot of frameworks here, but the whole point is know who you are, know where you thrive, know where you tend to get caught up, understand the premise, it’s helpful to have a term for it and then do something about it, so if you know that you’re an anxiously attached dater who loves the chase, who tends to date avoidant people, then learn what an avoidant person looks like, and next time that happens, say No, I’m not going down this path again, I am not making the same decision. I know where this ends, I am going to make a different choice, which is hanging up that relationship and pursuing somebody who’s more securely attached.

Brett McKay: Okay, so one of the problems that people have when they’re dating is that they think they know what they want in a partner, and I think this applies to other domains too, Oftentimes, we think we know what we want in a job or even a car or a house, but when we find that partner that has those qualities that we think we want, sometimes we still feel dissatisfied with the relationship, so the question is like, Do we really know what we want, and how do we figure out what we actually will like in a partner or in a relationship?

Logan Ury: Yeah, so I love the way you explained that premise, which is that, in general, people think that their preferences are consistent, so they think if you showed me any number of menus that had the same items on them, even if they were displayed in different ways, I would choose the same thing, or I would always get this bottle of wine, or I would always prefer this movie, and we just know from behavioral science research that that’s not true. Our decisions are heavily impacted by the environment in which we make them, and so what that means is you could make a different choice about food, if the menu present it differently, you can make a different choice about wine if you’re in a different type of grocery store, and when it comes to dating, you make different choices based on how the app presents the person how the person presents themselves, etcetera.

And so when people come to me for dating coaching, sometimes they say, Oh, I actually don’t need help figuring out what I want. I know exactly what I want, I just need your help finding this person. And then they tell me about their spreadsheets of all the different people they have dated, and they figured out exactly what they want, and it’s usually some combination of height, weight, certain type of graduate degree, certain income, it depends on who I’m talking to, but they have this very precise image of their head, and they feel like the only thing holding them back is that they haven’t met that person yet, and so I really like to switch things up and say it’s possible that the kind of person who’s going to make you happiest long-term is not like this person, and you could meet someone exactly like this, and it wouldn’t work out because they could bring out a sad side of you, they could not be that supportive.

They could make you feel self-conscious because they’re so accomplished. You have this image in your head of who you should be with, but it doesn’t mean that that’s actually who will make you happy long-term, and so I try to encourage people to really be more open-minded and date like a scientist, and that means dating different types of people, seeing what side of you that person brings out and actually be willing to embrace a different type of person.

Brett McKay: No, you make the point that I like how you describe it, is like you wanna look for a life partner not a prom date, but typically when we we’re asked, what do we want in a potential romantic partner, we describe the prom date. So they’re good looking, they’re popular, they’ve got a lot of status, they have a lot of money, but that might give you some satisfaction in the short term, might be a great date, but it might not be a great long-term partner. Instead, you should be looking at things like, do you get along well? Are they kind? Are they emotionally stable? Can you have the discussion about hard things? Those are the things that will give you long-term satisfaction in a relationship.

Logan Ury: Exactly, and I feel like somebody listening could be like, Yeah, that’s obvious. Of course, you should do that, but no, I’m telling you, when I work with people and they bring relationships to me or tell me about people they’ve dated in the past, they really are prioritizing the wrong thing. And so this is the idea that a lot of us are dating the “prom date” and think back to who you went to prom with, or who you wanted to go to prom with, and I can tell you for myself, it’s somebody who’s attractive, would be fun, would dance the night away with, and maybe you wanna hook up with them at the end of the night. You’re not thinking about are they reliable, are they gonna pick our kids up from the dentist? Can I depend on them? No, you’re just thinking about fun in the moment, and it’s fine to go to the prom with someone like that, but when you’re 35 years old and you’re dating, you need to move past the prom date and you need to move to what I call the life partner, and this is someone who’s going to be reliable, who you can make hard decisions with, who you trust, who you can take turns having issues and the other person is going to take care of you. And so if you are listening to this and you’re still dating the prom date, it’s time to make a conscious shift towards finding a long-term partner and not just a person who you wanna dance the night away with.

Brett McKay: We’re gonna take a quick break for words from our sponsors.

And now back to the show. And along the lines of this idea that you think you know what you want in a romantic partner in the abstract versus who you actually pick and end up with, you highlight research in your book from Paul Eastwick, and we’ve had him on the podcast before, and he did this study with students, where on the first day of class, they all gave each other ratings as to attractiveness, and those scores are really consistent, pretty much everyone said the same people were the most attractive or the least attractive, but then he re-did the survey at the end of the semester. And people’s scores had changed, and it really varied, it was all over the place. So someone who so someone who thought one person was not attractive at the beginning of the semester, now they found them more attractive, and then someone they thought that was attractive at the beginning of the semester, now they found them less attractive, so I was like their classmates attractiveness had risen and fallen as they had gotten to know them more throughout the semester.

Logan Ury: Yeah, I’m so glad you brought up that research, and one way that I would explain it is, one of my favorite ways to spend time pre-pandemic, etcetera, is going to these retreat weekends. So one of my friends organizes 50 people, you stay in this amazing house in Lake Tahoe, you cook meals together, you eat together. You have presentations. It’s kind of an un-conference. And if you lined up all 50 people the first day of the conference and you had to rank them in order of attractiveness, people would probably have similar answers. We all would say, this type of person is more attractive than that. Luckily, we don’t do anything like this, but theoretically, by the end of the weekend, if I said to you, Who did you find the most attractive or who did you like the most, the answers would differ because it would be based on, Oh, did we cook a meal together and talk about how actually both of our fathers passed away and we have that in common, or did you lead a hike with that person? And do did you admire them? And so, yes, there’s generally agreement on attractiveness, but that’s just based on first impressions of physical attractiveness. As you get to know people over time, different people stand out to you, and so the idea there is it’s not consistent, and it’s super impacted by the experience of being around a person.

And so this is a good thing to keep in mind. There’s a concept called relationshipping, which is the process of dating and getting into a relationship. Unfortunately, many of us are now doing what’s called relation-shopping, which is shopping for someone as if they were a Bluetooth headset that you’re getting on Amazon. But the truth is that humans are not searchable goods, they are not items that you can put into the specs and say, Well, this Bluetooth speaker is a little lighter, but this one’s a little cheaper, but this one has higher volume, no, humans are what’s called experiential goods. You have to be around us to see what it’s really like, and experiential goods are things like movies or wine where one person could love it, the other person could hate it. So if you actually think about, Oh, people are different, they have to be experienced to be understood, and I can’t just look at one image of them and decide if I like them or not, I actually have to spend time with them and see what side of me they bring out.

Brett McKay: And this is the problem of dating apps, because whenever you download a dating app, you… First thing you’re asked are is like what are your preferences and potential matches, and it’s typically focused on those really superficial things, height, weight, attractiveness, college, degree, job, etcetera. And so as soon as you set those preferences, you are immediately just eliminating potentially thousands or tens of thousands of what could have been great romantic matches.

Logan Ury: Yeah, so I work at Hinge, my title is the Director of relationship science, and I am constantly doing research into dating trends, understanding what works, what doesn’t, giving tips about dating to the press and to users, and it’s so interesting that I get to do this work because with my dating coaching clients, I say I’ve worked with hundreds of people. Now, at Hinge, I’m getting to look at millions of people’s dating habits and really seeing what the trends are, and so one of the things that I push is expanding your filters, and so that might mean, if you have really strict age filters, maybe you don’t wanna turn it off and have any age, but could you make the maximum a little higher and the minimum, a little bit lower. If your geography is set for one mile or five miles, could you make it a little broader? And it’s sort of metaphorical, but it’s also literal, it’s, can you be more open-minded and can you also open up the gates a little bit so that more people will show up on your app?

Brett McKay: And Then how can people use the apps more effectively? So Okay, first off, broaden your filters a little more, but how can you make sure you’re not just eternally swiping?

Logan Ury: So my first tip is just to really invest in your profile. I know that that sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised. People create a dating app profile, and they’re like, Okay, I’m gonna do it, I’m finally doing the apps, and they just rush through the profile, and they might just use the last six photos on their phone, even though they’re not very good. This is a huge mistake. Imagine that your profile is like a billboard in Times Square, and it’s your first impression, and it’s really what people are gonna judge you on, you would spend time on that, and so when people make changes and improve their profiles, they see immediate results, and so those are things like having a really good first photo, something that’s clear, we can see your face, the lighting is good, you’re not wearing sunglasses or using a filter, this is just a clear picture of your face, having photos that show what your body is like, so some sort of full body photo, and then using your photos to tell a story, Oh, this is me with my family or me with my friends. I have an active social life. This is me cooking; I love it. This is me speaking in front of an audience, that’s what I do for a living, whatever it is. It’s storytelling and having variety, and so really spending time investing in your profile, that’s the first major tip that I would give.

Brett McKay: Okay, so be picky with your pics, and you also give great advice, like get good friends involved, you wanna pick your six best pics to put on there, and then also write a thoughtful profile. Let’s say you do get a match, how do you get the conversation going, so you actually get on a date with this person? I know a lot of people, at least what I’ve heard… Again, this is all new to me because I dated… I met my wife in 2001. So this is complete… This is all new territory. I’m trying to learn about this. My kids, they’re 11, 8, and so in a couple of 10 years, gonna be dating, I have no advice for them really, I have some, but let’s say you get into a conversation going, I know a lot of people they just get stuck in the app, just talking to someone, never actually going on a date. How do you go from app to in-person date?

Logan Ury: Yeah, so one big thing that I wanna leave our listeners with is this idea of asking questions. It sounds so obvious, it’s like… Yeah, of course, but so many people that I speak to about dating tell me about people who are ZQ, zero questions. And so one person, oftentimes in a heterosexual coupling, the woman feels like she’s asking all the questions. Oh, you have an interesting job. How did you choose it? Oh, how did you wind up living in Michigan? What did you do? And the guy’s answering the questions, but he’s not asking them questions back, and they’re just like, What is this, this isn’t therapy, this isn’t a job interview, like Why are you not asking me questions back? And then when I talk to guys who are ZQ, they say, Oh, I just thought if she had something to say, she would say it, or… She must have found me so interesting because she just kept asking me questions, and it’s like, No, everybody wants to talk about themselves and everybody wants to be asked questions, and this is the number one easiest thing that you can do, is whoever you are, whatever kind of person you’re interested in, ask questions. And so on a dating app, I would say the goal of chatting is to gut-check the person, make sure they’re someone you wanna meet, and then actually get to the date as soon as possible.

And so you don’t wanna get into what I call pen-palling, which is when you’re going back and forth, texting a bunch, but then when you try to meet up, the person is… It’s not about the date, it’s just about texting back and forth, and so you wanna chat for a while, maybe you wanna do a phone call or a video chat, just to get a sense of who they are, the sound of their voice, can you banter back and forth, and then you wanna move to a date, and so I would ask questions, I would say to them, Hey, I’m really enjoying getting to know you. Do you wanna meet up in person or… I’m really getting… Enjoying getting to know you. Do you wanna talk on the phone tonight? Something like that. You wanna create momentum, escalate it, and move off of the app and onto texting, and then onto in-person dating, really, as quickly as you can.

Brett McKay: Okay. And I wanna talk to you… You have some great tips on how to craft a good date, first date, based on behavioral science, but you’re also… Besides, even though you work at Hinge, you’re a big fan of people in meeting potential romantic partners in real life. In your research, what are the best places to meet potential mates in real life?

Logan Ury: Yeah, I think the best combination is for people to be on an app and also be looking for people out and about. There’s no reason why doing one of those doesn’t mean that you can’t do the other. So one of the ideas in my book is called The events decision matrix, and this is basically a way of saying what event should you go to and how do you prioritize them, how do you figure out what’s a good use of your time? And so you basically think about any potential events and you plot them on two dimensions. So one dimension is how much would you enjoy this event, and the other one is, how likely are you to interact with someone at this event? And so you want to really prioritize events that fall in this corner of high likelihood of interacting with someone and high likelihood you’ll enjoy it, and here’s why. If you really like horror movies and you go to a horror movie marathon, high likelihood you’ll enjoy it, low likelihood of interaction. People don’t usually talk at the movies, or at least they probably shouldn’t. If you think about a workshop of learning how to bake, but you don’t like baking, low likelihood of you enjoying it, but high likelihood of interaction, people usually talk at workshops.

And so you really wanna find one that you’ll enjoy because even if you don’t meet someone, it won’t feel like a waste and interaction, because that’s what these events are for, you either are meeting someone and talking to them or you’re not. And so that’s why first big tip, is meeting people at events strategically. The next ones are getting people to set you up by asking them explicitly, making it easy for them and maybe even offering an incentive, like If they introduce you to someone and you go on a few dates with them, you’re gonna take them up for dinner, whatever it is.

Then other ones are looking around your friend group, is there someone that you’re friends with who actually could be a great partner, how can you approach that topic, just meeting people when you’re out and about, meeting people at an airport in a coffee shop, really just thinking about the world as having a lot of opportunities to interact and not just saying, Oh, dating is something that only happens on my phone.

Brett McKay: No, I think it’s a good point, ’cause when I talk to a lot of young people, it seems like they only do dating on the phone, and I’m like, man, you’re in college, you’re in… In a class, there’s gotta be people in there that you could talk to, that could be a potential date, why don’t you… Oh, I can’t believe. I would never do that. It’s like, Oh no, you should do that, it would totally just broaden your choices or broaden your potential romantic partners.

Logan Ury: Yeah, totally. I like to read a lot of the dating subreddits, and I saw one this weekend that was talking about, this guy went to a meet-up and it was a bonfire and he met all these people and he was like… It was amazing, like I could tell right away if someone was interested in me, if I like their smile, if I like the sound of their voice, I ended up making out with this girl at the end of the night, and this person was talking as if he’d never been to an event in person where you could potentially meet someone and people in the comments were like, Where is this event? How do I do more meet-ups? It was seen as so revelatory and it’s like no meeting in-person is a great strategy because it’s basically solving a lot of problems that you have to solve more slowly on the app, which is, do we have good chemistry? Do we feel attracted to each other, can we make conversation? It’s almost like that meeting is the first date or the half of a first date, and so I think strategically, people should be doing a combination of everything, you should be on a dating app because it helps you meet more people, it helps you get practice, you could meet someone great there. You should also be looking around you and seeing, who am I in the same room with, and how can I find a way to talk to them?

Brett McKay: Okay, so let’s say you meet someone, there’s a spark, there’s chemistry, you wanna ask them on a date, you ask them on the date, any tips on your experience as a coach and also from behavioral science to craft a really good first date?

Logan Ury: Yes. So, I will tell you that, but then you also mentioned the park, which I hope you’ll ask me about.

Brett McKay: Yeah, okay, sure.

Logan Ury: Yeah, a few quick tips for designing a great date. So one is you really wanna show the person that you’re putting effort in, so asking them, Oh, where do you live? Is there a certain place you wanna go or finding a place near them, just showing that you’re really prioritizing them and putting effort in. Another big one is skipping the small talk, so people have these first date conversations that are like job interviews, where are you from? Where did you go to school? What did you study? How many siblings do you have? And it’s like collecting information, but it’s not really having an experience. And look, you have plenty of time to get that information from them later, but that’s not actually what creates connection or helps you have a good time, instead you should be focusing on being in the moment with them, maybe being playful, can you go to a certain part of your city and try five different taco stands and get a little silly and you have salsa dripping down your face, how can you actually just be more playful and more open, more into being present and having an experience with them versus sitting across from somebody in a coffee shop, just exchanging information.

That’s not what leads to connection. And then another tip is be interested, not interesting. So, so often my clients are like, oh, I need to tell this story on a date, ’cause it makes me look cool, and I want them to know that I have this fancy job, blah, blah, blah, but having a fancy job is not what’s gonna make that person have fun with you. What’s gonna make that person have fun with you is you asking them questions, you being curious, you making them feel interesting, and so instead of focusing on being interesting and how you’re coming across, focus on being a good listener and a good question asker and making them feel interesting.

Brett McKay: One way I’ve heard of that put is interesting people are interested.

Logan Ury: Oh, I like that. That’s really great. Yeah, interesting people are interested, and I totally agree with that from my experience. And then the last one is this idea of ending on a high note, so there’s really great research from the behavioral economist, Daniel Kahneman, that looks at people getting colonoscopies. And so, of course, the colonoscopy is an uncomfortable situation, but what he found is that people would actually rather have a colonoscopy that’s slightly longer, but ends in a less painful way than a shorter colonoscopy that’s consistently painful throughout, and that’s because our brains disproportionately remember things based on the peak moment, and based on the ending, and this is called the peak end rule, and so you can take advantage of it by saving a bad or mediocre date by really ending on a high note, and so you can order dessert, you can give someone a meaningful compliment, you can say, oh, I actually have one more surprise for you and take them to a cool secret bar that they’ve never heard about, because people remember the ends of things more, you can save the moment with the great ending.

Brett McKay: What happen, let’s say you go on the date and you didn’t think it was great, and then it’s just like you just… There’s no match there for whatever reason. How do you handle that? Because the typical response a lot people do is ghost, but you make people take a, I will never ghost pledge in your book. [chuckle]

Logan Ury: Yeah. It’s funny…

Brett McKay: So, Why shouldn’t people ghost and then what do you do I think… I think a lot of people ghost ’cause they just don’t know what to say when they think of potential… When a date just didn’t go well, and they don’t think there is a match.

Logan Ury: Yeah, I’ve done tons of research on this thing, and I think there’s a big disconnect around ghosting, so when you ask people who ghost why they ghost, they say it’s really awkward to reject someone, and I don’t wanna hurt their feelings, and then when you ask people who’ve been ghosted they say, I would rather that you tell me I’ll feel a moment of pain and rejection, but then I can move on. And so it’s like somebody doesn’t wanna pull off the band-aid and hurt the person, but that person is saying, please do that. I want clarity. I don’t wanna swim in this ambiguous sea of not knowing if you’re gonna ever text me again. And so if two people go on a day, they don’t like each other, they never text each other again, I don’t think that’s a big deal. I call that a mutual opt-out, but if we go on a date, and I text you, and I say, hey, I loved meeting you, when do you wanna hang out again? And you never respond. I just think that’s hurtful and unnecessary, and why not take two minutes to send a kind but firm text, and so that could sound like, hey, I also enjoyed meeting you. Thanks for introducing me to that cool place, I don’t think we’re a good romantic match, but I enjoyed spending time with you, and I wish you the best of luck with dating. Look, you’re not promising that you’re gonna become friends, you’re not saying, hey, let’s hang out again, in a platonic capacity you’re just saying, I liked meeting you. Thank you. I’m not interested.

Brett McKay: And I think most people will accept and be like okay, yeah, fine, what happens if people continue to escalate, why, what can I do? What can I change? How can we make this work? I think that’s what people worry about with ghosting, its like I don’t… They might be able to do that initial text, but then they don’t know to do the potentially awkward rare follow-up.

Logan Ury: Yeah, I have done studies on this, and I would just say what you owe the person is clarity around how you feel about them, you don’t know them anything else, you don’t owe them a phone call to explain what they did wrong, you don’t owe them feedback, that’s just likely not gonna work out well, and I am talking about early dating. Obviously, if you’re in a relationship with someone, it should be a more intense sort of decoupling, but I don’t think you have to get into it with them. If someone’s like, What did I do wrong? And was it when I said this, I just kind of think that’s a no-win situation, and so in that case I would just not write back or… I don’t know, I don’t have the exact language, which is something about like… I don’t feel comfortable getting into it, but that’s how I feel about seeing each other again, something like that. And so I think the most important thing is to not leave someone hanging, but I think beyond that, you don’t owe them deep feedback or an explanation, and that usually doesn’t work out well.

Brett McKay: So you mentioned the spark thing, what would you wanna say about the spark thing?

Logan Ury: My philosophy is that our society is way too anchored on initial chemistry, fireworks feeling like you show up to a date and you love this person, you feel like you’ve known them your whole life, and people say to me, Oh, I went on a date, she was great, I really liked her. She was fun. She was interesting, I’m not gonna see her again. I’m like, what are you talking about? And the person says, Oh, I just didn’t feel the spark. And so it’s become this all-encompassing word that means I didn’t feel instant chemistry. And so I have this concept of the three myths of the spark, and so the first one is, this spark can’t grow over time, and that’s just absolutely not true, a lot of people develop feelings for each other after a while. That’s why you might end up marrying someone you work with or someone who lives in your apartment building. The more you see someone, the more you appreciate them, and so this part can definitely grow over time. The second myth is that if you have the spark, it’s definitely a good thing. That’s also not true. Some people are just very sparky, they might be charismatic, and are super good-looking, magnetic, and so you think, Oh, there’s a special spark between the two of us, but the truth is that they give many people the spark and it doesn’t mean anything about the two of you.

In fact, a lot of people who give the spark or are sparky are actually sort of narcissistic, and then the third one is that if you have a spark, the relationship is viable. That’s also not true. Many couples that are now divorced or unhappily married once had the spark, and so it’s enough to maybe get into a relationship, but it’s not enough to keep the relationship going.

Brett McKay: Gotcha. Okay, so the spark is nice, but don’t be misled by it, ’cause it could take you down bad paths.

Logan Ury: Exactly.

Brett McKay: Or misguided paths. So we mentioned how to end a relationship early on, the first date, second date, you decide this is not a good fit. You mentioned if you’re in a more intense relationship, a long-term relationship, that conversation you have in ending the relationship needs to be a little more intense. Any advice from behavioral science on how to end the relationship that you just think is not going anywhere?

Logan Ury: Yeah, it’s been a very unexpected and surprising part of my job over the last few years to do what I call break up consulting, which is just… People come to me and they say, I have this huge decision to make, something doesn’t feel right, should I stay with this person or not, and it’s a huge responsibility, it’s advising someone on a big decision, and it’s not just them, it’s also the person that they’re with, and I have an impact on that. And so I have a series of questions that I ask them. We have this thing, are you a hitcher or a ditcher? A hitcher tends to stay in relationships too long, a ditcher tends to stay in relationships too short. I ask people if your partner were a piece of clothing in your closet, what would they be. And that helps me gauge, do you admire this person? Do you like being around them? Are you actually sort of sick of them and taking them for granted. When it comes to actually breaking up, a big part is just holding yourself accountable and so setting a deadline, being clear about when and where you’re gonna do it.

Thinking in advance about what you’re gonna say. Not having sex with that person because that can really make things regress and make it hard to leave, and then not communicating with them after the break-up, because so many people try to be “the nice break up guy” and be in touch, but that actually makes it harder for either person to move on.

Brett McKay: So you give, yeah… You give a script, you can… It’s sort of like the ghosting script, but you can continue to have that conversation when people ask, what’s going on, what happens? Is there anything I… You owe that person some explanation or some conversation, but at the same thing, you gotta be loving but firm with the break up.

Logan Ury: Absolutely, yes. And yeah, I like how you called it a script. I think that’s really true because so often we don’t have hard conversations because we don’t know how to start, or we don’t know how to end, or we don’t know what to say. But if you can get some basic templates or practice with a friend or role play, it becomes way less scary, and I would really recommend that people keep a copy of that anti-ghosting, I’m not interested text on their phone and their notes folder, and they can just copy and paste it, or in my book, I have something called the Conversation planning document, and this is something I use all the time, not just in relationship conversations. And so the more that we can demystify Crucial Conversations and instead of avoiding them, actually tackle them head-on, the better.

Brett McKay: In your experience working with people, is it good to get right back into the dating scene after a break-up?

Logan Ury: It depends. So, some people have actually been over their relationship for a long time while they were in it, and so then the relationship ends, and they’re like, I don’t feel that sad. Am I a monster? Why am I not sadder? And it’s like, no, you actually mourn the relationship while you were in it, and so they might be ready to get out there. Some people are not ready for a while, and so I’d say give yourself some time to grieve, figure out how you feel, put yourself back out there, and you’ll see how you feel on that first date, and that will give you a sense of whether or not you’re ready.

Brett McKay: Well, Logan this has been a great conversation. Is there any place else people can go to learn more about the book and the work and your work?

Logan Ury: Yes, absolutely. So I teach a class, it’s a six-week interactive workshop called Date Smarter, and people can find out about that on my website. I also send out a weekly newsletter with research and tips on dating, and people can find that on my website. And people can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @LoganUry.

Brett McKay: Fantastic. Well, Logan Ury, thanks for the time. It’s been a pleasure.

Logan Ury: Thank you so much.

Brett McKay: My guest here is Logan Ury. She’s the author of the book, How Not To Die alone. It’s available on and bookstores everywhere. Make sure you check at her website,, where you can learn more information about her work. Also check out our show notes at, where you can find links to resources and we delve deeper into this topic.

Well, that wraps up another edition of the AOM podcast. Make sure to check out our website,, where you can find our podcast archives, as well as thousands of articles written over the years about pretty much anything you think of. And if you’d like to enjoy ad-free episodes of the AOM podcast, you could do so on Stitcher Premium. Head over to, sign up, use code, manliness, to check out for a free month trial. Once you are signed up, download the Stitcher app on android and IOS, and you can start enjoying ad-free episodes of the AOM podcast. And if you haven’t done so already, I’d appreciate if you’d take one minute to give us a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. It helps that a lot. And if you’ve done that already, thank you. Please consider sharing the show with a friend or family member, who you would think would get something out of it. As always, thank you for the continued support. Until next time, it’s Brett McKay, reminding you to not only listen to this podcast, but put what you’ve heard into action.

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