Expert guide to dating apps: From first date nerves to ghosting

A lot has changed in the dating scene over the past few years thanks to the abundance of apps bringing romance to our fingertips.

Whether you’re a pro or new to dating apps, one thing’s for certain - dating etiquette can leave anyone feeling anxious.

Claire Certain is Head of Global Trends & Dating Expert at dating app Happn, so she knows a thing or two about love and has seen many successful matches in her time.

Claire Certain

“One of my favourite Australian success stories is Iona, who met her now-husband, Christian, on Happn,” Claire says.

“She had gone through a devastating break-up, before trying out Happn around a year later.

“She created a profile with her housemate and became intrigued by Christian’s open-hearted approach, so she decided to message him and the pair met soon after.

“They dated for 12 months before Christian proposed, which was followed by a ceremony earlier this year in Berry, NSW!”

The first stage of any successful love story though is that all-important first meet. So how do you get over first date nerves? Claire gave us her expert tips.

First date nerves

1. I always recommend meeting your date in a neutral, public place. Given Happn connections are founded on those we’ve encountered in real life, it shouldn’t be too hard finding a venue that both of you are relatively familiar with.

2. Keep it simple - no need to go to a fancy place or do a very original activity. Having a drink or a coffee is a good choice to take time to know the person. If you connected through a specific common passion, there’s no hesitation what to do!

3. Chat to your friends first. If you’re really nervous, I recommend scheduling in some face time with friends or family before a date, as they will be your cheerleaders and give you the pep up you need.

4. Be yourself. You have nothing to prove, so ask questions, share your passions, be open and honest.

5. Have fun - just relax and enjoy your date.


Of course, not every date is going to be a runaway success, and it’s important to know when to let go and move on.

“I believe that keeping the lines of communication open and honest is the best way to let someone know you’re not interested in pursuing a relationship,” Claire says.

“However, there is never a reason to be nasty, so make sure you keep the other person’s feelings in mind, and let them down gently.”

1. The best way to turn someone down gently is by being honest. You’re simply not interested. Finding the right one isn’t an easy thing - you can’t be into all of your dates.

2. No need to go into extensive details though as you may hurt the person’s feelings. Indeed, the things you don’t like may be the things someone else will like about this person.


Ghosting is when someone you are dating suddenly goes quiet on you, with no indication that they aren't interested anymore.

One moment you are flirting, the next you are being ignored as if they have dropped off the face of the earth.

Ghosting can happen at any point in a relationship, and even between friends. That person is usually too afraid of confrontation to tell you they don't want to take things further.

The 4 stages of being ghosted:

1. Realisation: You’ve messaged your date, only to realise the previous message was also from you, with no response.

2. Disbelief: You’ve been seeing them, so surely they would message back if they weren’t horribly injured, attending an emergency, or saving the world?

3. Anger: You’re awesome. There’s absolutely no reason for them to be cutting you out of their world without letting you know why.

4. Doubt: You are awesome, aren’t you? When someone starts ignoring your messages or calls, it’s important you don’t start blaming yourself for their rudeness.

Claire says if you are a victim of ghosting, remember you don't know what's going on behind the scenes in their life - there could be many reasons for their lack of contact and none of them to do with you.

"The key thing to keep in mind, is not to become a keyboard warrior and hurtle insults at your date."

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