Originally published for DatePerfect here.
We see a fundamental shift happening in how people approach connection.
We believe this shift is coming from an awakening in human consciousness. It’s driven by connection, by the ways that technology both brings us together and drives us apart. Because of this, we are exposed as people in ways we have never been before. And to most of us, vulnerability means risk. But what if we shift our perspective and look at it differently?
What if we’re living in a world where the deep connections we share with people have become our great resource? Shouldn’t we seek and explore that which creates these bonds? To truly know someone and to let them know us is vulnerability in the most basic sense. And in the context of online dating, that vulnerability can be terrifying because it happens ”at scale” when an app “connects” us to hundreds of thousands of people in the blink of an eye.
We have a new opportunity for authenticity.
If we approach this new paradigm of human connection like we have as a species in the past, we are undoubtedly doomed to fail. It’s a new world and, as such, it provides us with new opportunities. And what is it the new opportunity that technology makes available? We finally have the chance to be and lay claim to our most authentic selves.
In fact, getting to know ourselves may be the only way to navigate thousands of potential “matches.” Why? Because getting to know who we are and what we want is the only way to meaningfully evaluate these many possible partners. It has become our job to opt matches out rather than opt them in.
As technology erodes our ability to separate our public and private lives, we hope that more and more of us can lean into who we are and disclose ourselves authentically. Many of us fear that privacy is a thing of the past. But what happens when we shift our stance away from fear and empower ourselves to take ownership of our stories? And even more importantly, what if people were able to use the release and management of their story as an asset to find and connect to others with shared needs and values? We believe that leaning into our own authenticity allows us to find a safe path through a life lived so publicly via data collection.
Self-representation is hard.
Dating apps can sometimes reduce us to the simplest common denominator. Yes, there are buttons we can press and switches we can toggle to describe our interests, hobbies, religious orientations, and the type of relationship we seek. But what gets missed is our truest selves.
These kinds of general descriptors do something to communicate what we’re made up of as human beings. But they still leave a wide gap where real connection is concerned. And if you’ve ever tried to write a dating profile, you know how hard it is to do the work. First, you have to know yourself, then be authentic in representing that self online, and finally sit with the vulnerability that follows.
It’s just unrealistic to expect people to do this since most of us don’t inherently know how to do this kind of work. Again, it is work and, as with all work, it requires training and support.
At a high level, we believe in connecting people and making the world a safer place. So how do we intend to accomplish this lofty goal? We use DatePerfect to make dating easier and safer. With our platform, people have access to all the tools and trusted experts needed in today’s complex and sometimes exhausting dating landscape. So what does that mean, exactly? We meet today’s online daters where they’re at. How? We provide them with profile writing assistance, dating coaches, matchmakers, and more. If you’re not ready to date because you’ve got some internal work to do first, we’ll help you find mental health counselors and resources for mindfulness training.
We believe in the whole self and we are not alone.
As a company, we too have been doing difficult interpersonal work. We used to feel very alone on the path of connection as we sought to improve the dating industry from the inside. We struggled to survive in a crowded and often untrustworthy industry while holding true to the values that matter most to us as people. When we finally took a step back from the dating space, we saw that a connection movement was growing up all around us.
Below you will find a list of individuals and organizations we admire for their vision and accomplishments. Some may be our friends or collaborators. Others are the voices of movements we have long admired in a friend-crush sort of way. We invite you to get to know them, too.
Dating and human connection can feel very complicated in today’s world. Maybe they don’t need to be. Yes, the internal work to prepare ourselves for true intimacy can be hard. But we think the world would look different if more of us had access to and knowledge of the resources we needed to grow into the happiest and most fulfilled versions of ourselves.
Our lofty goals are the real ROI .
What’s the point of all this, you ask? Our objectives are more grandiose than you think. We believe we can measure and quantify the happiness people experience from meaningful human connections. And we believe that when we as people feel loved, supported, and truly understood by our partners and our communities, we are healthier, safer, and more productive. Finally, we believe that at this kind of scale, the positive effects of human connection can have a truly profound impact on global mental health, conflict reduction, and the way we relate to and care for our living planet.
We know, it’s hard to see this grand vision from up close. But what we’re really trying to do as a company is to develop metrics that allow the data of human connection to prove the truth that our hearts have known this whole time. First, that love is the only hope for our fractured world. And second, that we must all begin with love, acceptance, and understanding of ourselves.
Please get to know those we admire.
Brene BrownHow Human Connection Can Save the World
Her breakout TED Talk taught us about the power of vulnerability and the courage it can engender. She’s studied courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy for a couple of decades. Now she’s inspiring a movement.
Brene Brown has been researching courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy over the past two decades. Her research and example have had an incredible impact on many millions of people. But she never planned for her research to take her down these paths. She’s brave in a way that is truly meaningful to the rest of us humans. How? By trying to find our way through this messy, complicated, and uncertain life with courage and empathy.
Her work encourages us to take ownership and responsibility for our own stories. In practicing this kind of courage, we inspire others in our local and greater communities to show up fully and face life with our whole hearts. Brene’s encourages empathy, connection, deep relating, and responsibility. She says, “owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”
Over the course of her studies, Dr. Brown has published five #1 New York Times best-selling books. She published The Gifts of Imperfection in 2010, which aims at accepting ourselves just as we are. Daring Greatly was published in 2012, followed by Rising Strong in 2015 and Braving the Wilderness in 2017. Her most recent book, Dare to Lead, was published in 2018.
Her most recent book is the culmination of seven years’ research on courageous leadership. She sums up its three main themes like this:
“You can’t get to courage without rumbling with vulnerability. Embrace the suck.
Self-awareness and self-love matter. Who we are is how we lead.
Courage is contagious.”
We can’t wait to see what she has to say next. Thank you for leading by example and teaching us how to embrace courage and wholeheartedness by accepting our tender humanness. We love you, Brene!
The Loneliness Project
Loneliness is a modern-day epidemic that presents clear physical and mental health risks. We want to help you learn more about what those are and how the Loneliness Project is shining a light on the human experience of loneliness, among other things.
The Loneliness Project is a collection of stories, an “imperfect archive of us.” Three new stories are published each week and anyone is welcome to submit a story. There are no rules or guidelines for submission and the prompt for these stories is: Tell us about the time you felt the most lonely.
Stories range in tone and length, style and experience, creating an online community where all of us have a chance to relate and feel understood. The site exists as a place to capture and contain the loneliness that all of us feel. Loneliness is a natural part of the human experience, especially these days. And these stories help all of us heal from the idea that we are alone or separate.
But they say it much more elegantly:
“At The Loneliness Project, we believe that stories have power—the power to heal both listener and teller, and to show us that we aren’t ever truly alone. Stories are powerful tools for building empathy and growing kindness. Those shared here are deeply personal yet profoundly universal. They reveal something about being human.”
We’re happy to report that An Imperfect Archive of Us is working on some new projects that sound equally compelling, important, and most of all, human. Look out for these new experiences coming soon: The Guilt Project, The Failure Project, and The Insecurity Project.
Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness
This organization looks for innovative strategies to help human beings stay connected in meaningful ways. They base their innovative work in the practices of listening, awareness, and solidarity with the objective of fostering belonging and a shared sense of humanity.
The non-profit research and advocacy center was founded in 2017 by Kim Samuel. She is a professor of Practice at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development in Montreal. In just a couple of years, the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness has grown substantially in size and purview. We’re so encouraged by their guiding principles, the research they’re conducting, and the policy changes they seek to fight isolation. As one of the students in Kim’s course says, “if you tackle social isolation, so many other problems are resolved.”
Their mission statement is moving and ambitious. The members of this group seek to affect change in the lives of individuals. But they don’t stop there. They also work toward change in our shared communities using connectedness as the nexus of change. This is how they define “social connectedness”:
“a society where everyone is valued, seen and heard; where everyone can exercise their basic human rights and live a rich and fulfilling life; where solidarity, trust and cooperation pave the way for inter and intra community bonds; and where people can exercise their agency and have the opportunities to achieve substantive freedoms. In essence, it means building a society where everyone- no matter their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or political affiliation- has the opportunity to belong.”
The guiding principles in their movement for connection are respect, recognition, and reciprocity. We absolutely love the work they’re doing on behalf of all human beings. But we especially appreciate those groups that have been historically disenfranchised or separated from the dominant culture. We’re so excited to see what a more connected world looks like.