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Move over, Tinder: 5 ways the dating game is changing for the better.

Technology is changing how we connect online and in person. Here are some ways to use it to your advantage.

Move over, Tinder: 5 ways the dating game is changing for the better.

In 2016, we will face a Tinder-triggered dating apocalypse.

Just kidding! I don't know about you, but I'm happy to say good riddance to the romance-and-dating-are-dead alarmism of 2015.

But chances are dating is going to continue to be pretty hard (and pretty awkward). Which is why I'm excited about the new trends in dating that have emerged.


The things we do in the pursuit if love. GIF via "Millionaire Matchmaker."

As one of the 107 million unmarried adults in this country, I'm still on the search for a special someone. And while many people have had success with traditional online dating tools — half of us know someone who found their partner that way — I am not one of them. (Perhaps it's related to how few messages black women get or some other racial bias.)

Or maybe I need to work on my eyebrows. Hers are really nice. Photo by Eva Hambach/AF[/Getty Images

Sometimes it feels like there are only three options: get set up by a friend, use online dating, or luck out with a random meet-cute while in line at your favorite organic grocery co-op.

But things are looking up for us singles. Turns out, there are some more interesting options out there.

For instance: matchmakers!

No, no, no. Not this one. GIF from "The Millionaire Matchmaker."

I just got one! A living human being whose job is to find people who would be a good fit? And actually meet them in person? Without that endless messaging?! It's a match made in heaven (HA!).

While not everyone wants someone who is that hands-on in their dating life, there are quite a few other gems out there. So if you are tired of just swiping the night away, rejoice. These approaches to dating are changing how we meet and match in 2016.

1. More opportunities for women to take the lead.

GIF via "Girls."

What better way to celebrate another year in the 21st century than by flipping dating gender roles? Apps like Bumble and Siren (which reports ZERO harassing messages so far!) are made by and for women to create a better experience for everyone. Both require the woman to break the ice.

Once you match with someone on Bumble, the woman has 24 hours to initiate contact before the connection is lost forever. Siren takes it a bit further: Everyone answers a question of the day to accompany their profile, but only women control whether they want a potential date to see an unblurred version of their photo.

2. Have someone do the work for you.

No, not like that.

Everything old is new again! Matchmaking services like The Dating Ring (where I am currently a client), Tawkify, and Three Day Rule are bringing a human touch back to a world that has become dominated by algorithms. Finally, you don't need to waste hours browsing profiles, crafting that perfect message, waiting to be ignored, and never meeting someone in meatspace.

You fill out a profile just like you would on Match or OKCupid, but it's not for your potential suitors: matchmakers use it to get to know you on top of a 1-on-1 conversation. After they get an idea of what you're looking for and would likely work for you, they go out into the world to sort through eligible singles and find the best picks for you. Nifty, eh?

3. Share what you really feel (and see) when regular romantic emojis just won't do.

Close, but not quite. GIF via "The Voice" Australia.

Yes, emojis have become more racially diverse and have same-gender couple options. But what about some interracial dating options?! Well, apps like flirtyQWERTY offers images that fill the gap left by the traditional emojis, featuring interracial couples, queer folk, and more!

With the rise of interracial dating and marriage equality being the law of the land, having tools like this just make sense. It's about time!


Screenshots via flirtyQWERTY app.

4. Use hack-resistant apps to get your flirt on.

GIF via "Wet Hot American Summer."

The lines between our professional and social worlds are getting increasingly blurry (thanks, smartphones) and sexting has become more common. Chance are you might have an ... intimate convo or two that you don't want your baby cousin accidentally finding when they're trying to play a round of Angry Birds on your phone.

Apps like The Plume let you get your digi-fun on with more peace of mind because of features like password protection and message encryption for your text messages and private pictures.

5. Go on that first date ... without leaving your home.

Getting to your date will be as easy as a spin in a park.

OK, so we might not see it in 2016, but ... THE POSSIBILITIES. According to a report by Imperial College London and the dating website eHarmony, "full-sensory virtual reality dating" might very well be a thing. Internet speeds have been improving considerably, and by 2040, they predict speeds will reach 952,000,000,000 bits per second — a rate much higher than what scientists think is necessary to create a virtual reality that replicates all our senses.

Imagine all the time saved on prepping and traveling to see someone before you decide whether you're up for that whole "real life" thing! I dunno about you, but I'm pretty pumped about this.

What makes all these options so exciting is that they provide more opportunities to make the dating and relationship experience our own.

Let's face it: We humans are pretty darn diverse and complicated. Why would we think that the same few things would work for everyone?

Here's to a new year filled with love and new experiences!

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Tod Perry

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