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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 Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love 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!

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."