Vanity Fair recently published an article, which likens the current dating scene to online shopping—only you’re ordering a person, not a piece of clothing.

“We are in uncharted territory,” says Justin Garcia, a researcher from Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. The rise of online dating and dating apps is rewriting the way people have interacted romantically for hundreds—maybe even thousands—of years. How, then, do you wade through such uncharted territory? IVY member Laurel House has some ideas.

Laurel House is the “Famously Single” Dating Coach on E! Network, and she’s appeared on Good Morning America, Nightline, Glamour, AskMen, Brides.com, Thrillist.com, and dozens of other print, online, and television outlets. As a relationship expert and dating coach, Laurel knows the ins and outs of the dating, and she sat down with IVY Magazine to share some of her best advice.

Laurel is an IVY Member (LA). Connect and collaborate with her here

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Do you really think we’re in a dating apocalypse (as Nancy Jo Sales wrote in Vanity Fair)?

I wouldn’t go that far. But the romance of dating is dwindling and that’s sad. And it’s something that I am holding onto tooth and nail because that’s one of the most fun elements of dating. Sure, chemistry is fun, but it’s the chivalry, the conversation, and the connection that is magical.

Dating apps and online dating make casual “hangouts” not only easy, but expected. Instead, you need to take control of the dating platform and set the expectation by creating opportunities for real connection through pre-date conversations where you ask real substantive questions and make an effort to prequalify. Then go on a real date. Not a coffee date or a quick drink, but a date. Linger for a little while over that gimlet, or make reservations for dinner.

Why do you think people have trouble committing these days?

BBM (Bigger, Better, More) is out in full force! There is literally someone richer, hotter, funnier, more intellectual, more interesting, more “your type” just two swipes away. But more than opportunity, daters are less aware of their dating purpose and their needs and more driven by their wants.

When it comes to dating purpose, it’s having confident clarity on what you are ready for: fun, friends, or a relationship. Then you have to be true to that dating purpose and make sure that you date on purpose. Oftentimes a dater’s purpose and style don’t align. You might want something real, but you are acting like you are looking for fun. That’s a huge mistake.

When it comes to Wants vs Needs, here’s what I mean:

Wants = hot, fun, funny, spontaneous, great body, witty, exciting, similar likes/dislikes.
Needs = mutual respect, mutual admiration, communication, shared core values, consistency, and feeling safe, sexy, and seen for who you truly are.

Drop the façade and you can be yourself, unapologetically and without judgment. What actually matters in a relationship are your needs, not your wants. If you get what you want all day and everyday, you will never be happy. If you get what you need, you’re set for life. The problem is that most daters are unaware of their true relationship needs.

What’s your take on dating apps? Which is your favorite? Which one do you think has the most potential for finding the ideal match?

Any dating app can result in love, if you take control of the app and prequalify your dates before you actually go on a date. I help my clients to date on purpose, giving them ice-breaker conversation starters as well as tips to dig deeper and truly get to know someone through the app.

What are other great ways to meet people?

Beyond online and app dating, the real world is still one of the best places to find love. Events where like-minded people come together like meet-ups, charity events, museum mixers, and IVY events are a great start. And then it’s all about how you communicate, which includes both nonverbal and conversation. Forget the surface topics. If you want to be memorable and create something real, you’ve got to get real and create a connection, quickly! And that takes practice.

What are your opinions on ghosting, and do you have any advice for people dealing with it?

Ghosting is a huge problem. Especially with today’s casual dating culture, ghosting is on the up and up. Whether it’s sudden or slow, the withdrawal without confrontation, without reason, without a firm end, without a conversation, can happen after 1 date, 1 month of dating, or even 1 year. It leaves the ghosted feeling insecure, wondering what they did wrong, questioning their datability, and likely becoming jaded about the entire dating “game.” Yes, it’s hard to utter those painful two words, “it’s over,” and it’s also necessary. If you know how to do it and exactly what to say, it’s less difficult.

What’s the most important thing to look for in the first five minutes of a first date?

Forget chemistry. Don’t put your blinders on to the sparks or make a snap “they’re not my type” if there aren’t any. Instead, go onto the date with an awareness of your dating purpose and true relationship needs.

There aren’t many needs that you can suss out within the first 5 minutes, but you will be able to see how they greet you, if they are a happy person or a downer, if they treat it like a “proper” date and practice chivalry and manners, if they treat the wait staff and service professionals well, if they look you in the eye, if they smile, if they are on time, if they don’t immediately dive into talking about themselves and instead make sure to ask you questions, showing you that you are a priority and your time and insight are valued too.

Then forget the small talk. Dig into deeper and real conversation, conversation that actually creates a connection. Because it’s not just about the spark, it’s about who they are as a person and if you two are on the same life page.

IVY is a social university dedicated to inspiring connection, collaboration, and growth. To learn more, visit IVY.com.