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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!

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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