Online dating & gender norms

advice interview feminism

Online Dating 101

Dating is a huge part of life. The joys, the struggles, the heartbreak, the advice - it has it all.

To me, it is fascinating. I am on a mission to learn more about it and discover the dating scene from different angles. For this, I have decided to start a series of interviews with a range of people, gathering different perspectives and opinions on love, sex, and dating; on & offline. To learn about something in depth, I believe you have to look at it from every angle – which is exactly what I am doing!

First up in my interview series is Suzannah Weiss. A writer whose work has been published in the New York Times, The Washington Post and many more. Suzannah is also a certified sex educator and sex/love coach. Suzannah has been in the field for about 6 years, with this extensive experience, her insight is invaluable. Suzannah’s work sets to challenge commonly held notions about gender and sexuality. Suzannah stated that with her strong message, her hope is “to challenge the way people think and inspire people to have healthier relationships.” As a love coach Suzannah speaks to people regularly regarding issues they face in their love life and works with them to find a resolution. If you need Suzannah in your life, all the information is at the bottom of the page.


What inspired you to question and challenge the gender norms set by society?

“The formative moment was probably when I was first slut-shamed in college for having casual hook-ups. The process of beginning to explore my sexuality was really powerful and healing for me and actually helped me overcome an eating disorder. But all people could see was somebody who was "giving guys what they wanted" or "being taken advantage of." This seems like a first-world problem, but I think it reflects a broader issue. Women are not viewed as having sexual agency. This idea plays into rape culture. If people believe women don't have independent sexual desires, then rape comes to seem almost normal, because sex is conceived of as a way to please men. This idea shapes ideas about gender in other areas, the idea that men are the "I," the self, the subject, and women are "them," the other, the object.


Suzannah writes articles about a vast array of topics, much of these are considered taboo topics. How important is it to you to get people talking about these topics and normalising these conversations?

“It's important because if we avoid certain topics of conversation, such as sex, we send the message that these topics are shameful, which leads people to feel ashamed of their bodies and desires.


What do you believe is a strong message of your character, something you hope people can learn from you?

“My advice to people (especially women and femmes, who are often taught the opposite) is to combat insecurity by directing your attention outward. We've been taught to focus on what others think of us, what we look like, and how desirable we are. The antidote to that is focusing on what we think of others, what we're seeing with our own eyes, and what we desire.”


With the digital world growing at such a fast pace, as a love coach, do you have any advice for online dating?

“Be assertive and take the initiative. Plan a date within the first conversation (or at least a video chat, during these times). People on dating apps have short attention spans, so you don't want to lose momentum or get stuck in a long chain of messages that may not go anywhere.” Suzannah notes that online dating is no picnic, and it is easy to feel like it is entirely useless but she recommends you stick at it! “The biggest mistake people make in online dating is to give up too soon. It takes a lot of misses before you get a hit in the online dating world.”


Do you believe your pictures on online dating profiles are important?

“Yes, what's worked for me and the advice I usually give others is to choose photos that show who you are, tell a story about you, and give people ideas for what kind of date they might take you on.” You can get help with this by using DATEnhance (Don't mind my plug).


How about dating in a pandemic? Should people give up?

“I think that if people can't meet in person... focus on forming deep and meaningful connections remotely so that they have a great foundation." "People are experiencing loneliness and hopelessness in this realm right now, but a lot of people are also forming meaningful connections from a distance.”


Do you believe there are unofficial gender expectations in online dating?

“I think there’s an expectation that men should make the first move but the great majority of quality connections I’ve formed online have been when I made the first move, and there’s research showing that women who make the first move end up with more attractive partners, so I would highly encourage it.” And that is coming from a professional! Don't give up ladies it will al be worth it.


What can we do in our day to day lives to become better at love?

“The foundation for romantic love is being able to love with your whole heart in all ways, so practice by doing selfless things for your friends, family, and even strangers.”


Do you think you approach dating differently to how people would have, say 20 years ago, before ever challenging how society thinks?

“I think it’s become more acceptable for women to make the first move and to be sexually expressive without needing to be in a relationship. Women are more empowered to decide that they don’t want a relationship and prefer something casual. It is also more widely accepted for people to seek out non-monogamous relationships.” Suzannah adds that we need to “give people the space to be who they are. Ask questions instead of making assumptions. Embrace everyone’s uniqueness.”


What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self about dating, love and self-confidence?

“I would say not to worry if things aren't happening for you yet. Sometimes when your path is unique it's non-linear and takes longer to develop. But things get better and you're right where you're supposed to be.”

Suzannah also stated that she has found many long-term relationships online – so here is your proof that online dating has huge success stories!


To reach out to Suzannah for advice and guidance, All the info is at or you can email at

A huge thank you to Suzannah once again for being our first interview-ee in our quest to find out more about love.