How to date like a millennial

Dating has changed since I landed on the dating scene a couple of decades ago (eek).  I am now learning how to date like a millennial.   In my late teens I was wide eyed, excited and optimistic.  Gaggles of girls met packs of boys at discos, birthday parties, in pubs whilst pretending we were old enough to drink (I had some very dubious looking fake I.D.)

The university dating scene wasn’t that much different.  We met in pubs, at parties, in nightclubs, in lectures, in our halls of residence. We had face-to-face conversations.  Often drunken conversations, or short and embarrassed conversations, or a conversation with a wing-man or woman, but a real conversation nonetheless. 

Then came speed-dating.  These were still face-to-face conversations, just ruthlessly efficient conversations lasting three minutes, but speed-dating did at least give you the chance to meet someone in the flesh and talk to them, rather than just relying on a selection of photos to make an assessment of whether you might like someone. 

Internet dating sites like or e-harmony represented a bit of a shift about a decade ago.  You wrote your profile and added a few photos.  This was essentially your sales pitch, your advert, your CV and your chat up line.  The shift was that your first encounter with your prospective suitor was on-line rather than face-to-face.   This was the dating scene that I exited about eight years ago. 

I re-entered the dating scene last year only to find that the dating world is a very different place. I had to learn how to date like a millennial.

date like a millennial

First, millennials don’t date.  Millennials hook-up.  The idea of a ‘date’ always felt a bit formal and pressured.  I quite like the idea of just meeting for a coffee or for a drink after work.  Upon entering the millennials’ dating scene about eighteen months ago, I had naïvely assumed that we’d maybe kiss at the end of the date (if the date had gone well) and we’d agree to meet again, or we’d politely say “thanks for a nice evening” and then go home and neither of us contact each other again.  That’s how things used to happen.

These days you meet your ‘date’ via an app rather than in person.  Tinder, Bumble, Happn, Once, okcupid, they are all very similar.  There is a lot of swiping, a load of ‘matches’, proportionately very little text contact, and proportionately even less face-to-face contact at the end of hours of swiping. 

You see the thing about these apps is, like all social media, they are highly addictive.  They are probably more addictive than other forms of social media because there are statistics involved.   There are people on these apps who are just there to see how many matches they can get. 

Ever been on Tinder?  When you get a match and you think “oooh, somebody likes me”.  You get a little hit of dopamine – that infamous brain chemical that is released whenever you experience something pleasurable.   It feels good.  You smile to yourself and carry on swiping.  Lots of people on these apps spend hours swiping, receive hundreds of matches, hundreds of hits of dopamine but never send or respond to a message.   

I am not a normal dating app user.  I make a point of only choosing people who I would actually like to meet in the flesh and I always message my matches.  I have no interest in knowing how many random strangers like the way I look. 

Once contact is made on these datings apps and a conversation actually gets going, and it does occasionally, conversation will usually transfer over to WhatsApp.   I once had a conversation lasting over an hour on WhatsApp.  Texts back and forth, one word, two words, truncated sentences.  I looked back over the conversation a couple of days later only to realise that over 900 messages had passed back and forth between us.  It did get a little bit dirty.   That’s the weird thing, not that it got a bit dirty, but the the fact that you’d have such a long and uninterrupted conversation via text.  Why not speak to each other?  A decade ago we’d just call.  If you want to know how to date like a millennial you need to know how to spend hours on WhatsApp.

After millennials ‘hook-up’ they leave.  If they are sober enough, the tube is still running or an uber isn’t too expensive, then they may leave that evening.  If not, they will leave very early in the morning.  It has to be clear, crystal clear, that this is a hook-up, not the exciting beginnings of a new relationship when you might have brunch in bed, maybe a bit of kissing and then shower before going home. 

This is not a criticism.  There is nothing new about trying to avoid getting hurt, but millennials seem to have perfected the separation of the physical from the emotional. 

If you truly date like a millennial, you will also learn that hooking-up, no matter how good the sex or how many orgasms were had, does not determine seriousness, exclusivity or commitment.  There is no such thing as exclusivity when you truly date like a millennial. 

how to date like a millennial

Hooking-up does not mean that your partner will respond to your messages either.  There is no obligation after sex, no obligation to reply to a WhatsApp from the person you have slept with.  If you want to date like a millennial remember that, unlike in other parts of life, having the last word is the ultimate weakness as it means being the person who doesn’t merit a response.

I have met a guy a few times.  He’s nice enough but I find him quite boring. We have very little in common and very little to talk about. I don’t know that I can be bothered to see him again.  I am currently debating whether to tell him that it isn’t really working for me, or just not to reply to his messages.   If I were really dating like a millennial I would just ignore his messages – ‘ghosting’ it is called.  ‘Ghosting’ somehow feels wrong, so I will tell him.

To date like a millennial you need to have a thick skin and a cold heart!

Now don’t get me wrong.  Dating like a millennial has its advantages, especially for me as a single mum who doesn’t have time to meet someone and then nurture a relationship.  I know that, by dating like a millennial, if I have no plans for Saturday night when Cygnet is with his dad I could get on an app and meet someone for a drink.  The drink will lead somewhere if I let it.  I can have an evening of escapism.  It is easier than ever before to meet up with someone and I have said before that I can see the merits in an unconventional relationship.

The thing is though, I am not sure that my skin is thick enough, nor my heart cold enough to date like a millennial much of the time.  After a while I hanker after some good old-fashioned courting. 

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  1. January 14, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    Yeah I re-entered the dating scene 2014 via the online way. It was fun, frustrating, and I definitely missed the “old” days of dating. It wall worked out though after a year of misfires and weirdos as I met my fiancee on and it has worked out.

    • thesingleswan
      January 15, 2017 / 9:22 pm

      Yay, congratulations! Worth carrying on then. Pen x

  2. January 16, 2017 / 5:49 pm

    I don’t know how you do it! I know what you’ve said about keeping all your universes separate and for a while I really thought that maybe the whole ‘millennial dating’ thing might work for me for all the reasons you mention (filling the time when the kids are off with their dad, etc.) but I definitely don’t have a thick enough skin for all that. I lasted literally 24 hours on Tinder and it bothered me that someone would make the effort to talk to me on and off for an entire evening and then just completely disappear. I feel that, despite the difficulties of instigating a ‘real’ relationship as a single mum with majority parental responsibility, it is actually worth it, particularly when they are relatively young because they have a chance to form a bond with my partner and we have the opportunity to establish a ‘family’ of sorts over the course of time. I know it’s early days and there’s no guarantees but I feel very lucky that I’ve met someone who genuinely wants to get to know my children and be involved in all of our lives. I always suspected that that would be the most difficult thing to find in a partner under the circumstances. Whatever works though! X
    Layla recently posted…Facebook misdeeds and affairs of the heartMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 16, 2017 / 10:09 pm


      Lovely to hear from you again. Yes, I suspect you are right. It probably is worth investing the time, but I really can’t be bothered. I have actually been on a few dates and wished I’d stayed at home and read my book.

      I have now deleted all of my dating apps. I am going to stay off them until the end of March. We’ll see what happens.

      Loads of love

      Pen x

  3. January 16, 2017 / 8:30 pm

    I’d have to go for the courting too. Hubs and I have been together since I was 17 so I’ve never really had to date. I truly wouldn’t know where to start if I ever had to. Dating like a millennial, as you say sounds cold! How the world changes hey! Thanks so much for linking up to #Blogstravaganza, it’d be great to see you again next week xx
    The Tale of Mummyhood recently posted…Blogstravaganza – #2My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 16, 2017 / 10:07 pm

      Thanks for your comment. And congratulations on being together since you were 17. That’s a great achievement. Pen x

  4. January 18, 2017 / 3:25 pm

    I don’t envy you and I’m so grateful to not be a millennial. (Don’t tell them I said that.) I miss life pre-iphone, pre-facetime, and yes, even pre-internet. God, I feel so old now. LOL

    Much luck on the dating scene…be it via app or even the good, “old fashioned” way.


    • thesingleswan
      January 18, 2017 / 8:59 pm

      Haha, thank you. Pen x

  5. January 20, 2017 / 3:19 pm

    I feel pretty out of touch when I admit I’ve never tried internet dating! It sounds like there’s a whole bunch of unwritten rules lol
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂
    Random Musings recently posted…Blogger Spotlight Interview: This is Me NowMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 21, 2017 / 12:14 am

      Hi Debs, good to hear from you. Yes, it is a whole new world. Pen x

  6. January 21, 2017 / 6:47 am

    I’ve been dating like a millennial my whole adult life and I can tell you I am exhausted. I have had more of these hook ups than I can remember and am more than happy to hang up my dating shoes and stay in on my own with a bottle of wine and Netflix. Since having Piglet I have been a lot less worried about anything to do with men or dating and frankly I don’t think I ever want to go back to dating! Best of luck.
    Min recently posted…Twenty Questions I Have Asked Myself Whilst Watching Kids’ TVMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 21, 2017 / 9:19 pm

      very very wise! There have been many evenings whilst, on a date, I really wish I hadn’t bothered. Here’s to solo wine and netflix on the sofa. Pen x

  7. January 21, 2017 / 10:45 pm

    Have the days of courting really gone? Do you no longer meet a nice person at a party or at work? That sort of makes me sad….#KALCOLS

    • thesingleswan
      January 21, 2017 / 11:10 pm

      Maybe. I don’t really go to parties these days. I have also made a resolution not to meet anyone at work. Guess that leaves dating apps or the train. Hmmm. Pen x

  8. January 21, 2017 / 10:50 pm

    It’s funny because me and the hubby had a conversation about this the other day. I said I don’t know if I could handle the dating scene as it is now with all the dating apps etc. Although there is something refreshing and fun about meeting someone for drinks and sussing them out. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      January 21, 2017 / 11:09 pm

      Hi Becky, It is indeed a different world. There are good and bad bits about it. You’ll receive more updates. I promise. Pen x

  9. January 21, 2017 / 11:16 pm

    Reading this makes me quite pleased to have been married for 21 years. the thought of modern dating is my idea of a nightmare, though my kids think it is just the norm! #KCACOLS
    Fiona Cambouropoulos recently posted…Cornish Daffodils and SnowdropsMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 22, 2017 / 8:21 pm

      That’s true Fiona, for those who have grown up knowing nothing else millennial dating is the norm. I have known old fashioned dating so this feels strange. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  10. January 21, 2017 / 11:19 pm

    the disco parties and the giggles, I remember that! I am very nostalgic about it because it was so innocent at the time! Now things have changed so much. SO happy I don;t have to get into that (well, yet! We never know! LOL) . I would be terrible! #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      January 22, 2017 / 8:20 pm


      thanks for your comment. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      January 22, 2017 / 8:20 pm

      Hi Rachel,

      It is harder and easier than dating in the ‘olden days’. It is easier to get a date, but harder to find a decent one. thanks for your comment. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      January 22, 2017 / 8:19 pm

      thank you. Pen x

  11. January 22, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    I’m a millennial but an engaged one so I’m not dating like one. From what I can gather from my single friends, dating other millennials is the worst! I think you just kind of confirmed it!


    • thesingleswan
      January 22, 2017 / 8:18 pm

      Hi Jenny,

      thanks for your comment. Dating like a millennial is different, you just have to be thick skinned. Pen x

  12. January 22, 2017 / 6:59 pm

    goodness what an insight into something I know nothing about! the last time I dated anyone was my now hubby and that was back in 2001. the thought of all this millennial dating and ghosting sounds scary!

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday!
    Emma me and b make tea recently posted…How to Make Valentines Marmite Love Bites!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 22, 2017 / 8:10 pm

      Haha, it’s not scary, just different. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  13. January 22, 2017 / 10:08 pm

    It’s brave enough reentering the dating scene anyway but this whole internet thing… I really don’t know how you navigate it. Hopefully you’ll find someone who wants to date ‘properly’ and talk on the phone, rather than text, and you’ll be perfect for each other 🙂 #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      January 23, 2017 / 8:36 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      Maybe, hopefully, I let you know. Pen x

  14. January 22, 2017 / 10:21 pm

    Dating, hooking up, however you want to describe it seems completely terrifying to me so good on you!! I can’t imagine doing it any differently to the way I did it the first time around…a few mistakes with people I met in the pub and then eventually end up dating someone I work with! #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      January 23, 2017 / 8:35 pm

      Hi Nicola, that sounds very familiar. It is not terrifying though, I promise. Pen x

  15. Mimi Rose & Me
    January 22, 2017 / 11:30 pm

    I have been with my husband since we were 19 so never needed to go online dating. But I know my brother did and he met his now wife and had 3 beautiful children. It’s strange to think how much the dating scene has changed! #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      January 23, 2017 / 8:34 pm

      Thanks again for your comment. Pen x

  16. January 22, 2017 / 11:31 pm

    I have been with my husband since we were 19 so never needed to go online dating. But I know my brother did and he met his now wife and had 3 beautiful children. It’s strange to think how much the dating scene has changed! #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      January 23, 2017 / 8:34 pm

      Ah that’s a lovely story. Congratulations to your brother. Maybe its worth trying. Pen x

  17. January 23, 2017 / 12:05 pm

    I last dated when I was 15 and I am now 49! You can imagine how utterly lost I would feel in this situation and I found your post so interesting and informative especially as I have three teen/tween daughter. Oh my god I hope they don’t come to me for advice because I don’t know what the ‘rules’ are anymore! Your post was a huge help – thank you. Have shared and pinned! #KCACOLS
    Sharon Parry recently posted…5 reasons to use school breakfast clubsMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 23, 2017 / 8:32 pm

      Hi Sharon,

      thanks for your comment. If it helps, I think the rules are still the same, and the message to your daughters should be the same: DON’T LET ANYONE PRESSURE YOU INTO ANYTHING, EVER. Oh, and tell someone where you are going so that they can watch out for you. Pen x

  18. January 23, 2017 / 8:41 pm

    Oh gosh, I’m not sure I could hack the dating world nowadays. Having said that I’m going to a wedding in June of a couple that met on Tinder who is such a gent (he even called. On the phone. OMG)… Maybe you just have to kiss a lot frogs before the prince calls… #kcacols

    • thesingleswan
      January 25, 2017 / 10:45 pm

      Haha, yes, you are right. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before the prince calls is a nice title for a blog post… Thanks. Pen x

  19. January 24, 2017 / 11:23 pm

    Dating apps are so addictive! I was single in 2012/13 and spent an embarrassing amount of time on tinder! I don’t know what’s more embarrassing, the amount of time I spent swiping or the fact I never met up with a single guy. I guess I was addicted to the matching but couldn’t be bothered with the actual ‘dating’.
    Been single is hard work! #KCACOLS
    Becky Clark recently posted…Things my child would rather play with other than his toys!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 25, 2017 / 10:41 pm

      Hi Becky,

      I love that you spent hours swiping but never actually went on a Tinder date. You probably had a lucky escape. Being single is hard work – you are right. thanks for your comment. Pen x

  20. January 28, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    I skipped dating altogether. I went out once for the first time in years met my wife at a gay night and married her eight months late and didn’t go out again. Simples. lol #kcacols
    Bread recently posted…My Sunday Photo: 22nd JanuaryMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 28, 2017 / 11:30 pm

      Haha, excellent. Maybe I will just go out once – but make it count. thanks for your comment. Pen x

  21. November 11, 2017 / 4:25 am

    Gone where the days of formal dating and chivalry. But I think even with this new trend in dating, you can still have a good find as long you take time to get the person better before going to bed. Great read! Thanks 🙂

    • thesingleswan
      November 11, 2017 / 8:58 pm

      Thanks Lily for your comment. you are very optimistic. I’ll keep trying. Pen x

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