Fancy a Date Sometime? App-solutely!
Do mobile apps that offer the chance to meet new people live up to their promise?
Like many young women, I’m disappointed when I hear people joke that women only go to university to find husbands. The idea that degrees, achievements and lifelong friendships mean nothing in the face of looming spinstery is, of course, rubbish. Yet it’s an idea that’s still oddly persistent in society.
I love being single. I don’t have to make time for anybody and I could potentially take any job anywhere in the world without discussion. Maybe in the future I’ll feel that tug towards homeliness and quiet Sundays with a significant other, but not just now. I like being able to date, hook up and have fun without having to listen to anybody talk about their feelings.
However, I attended my friends’ wedding a fortnight ago, and while I have no immediate desire to tie the knot I couldn’t help but be reminded that I had emerged from four years of higher education without a single long-term or serious relationship under my belt. I had some valuable romantic experiences, and some I’d rather forget, and I was recently seeing a good guy but it ended when I moved away. Missing a bed warmer and recently finding myself with a lot of spare time on my hands, having moved back home without a job to walk into, I decided to foray into the world of online dating.
I downloaded a few free dating apps – Skout, BeNaughty and Badoo – and, with some measure of apprehension, signed up. The moment I signed into one I was inundated with messages of ‘hi, hello’, ‘where are you?’ along with nudges, pokes and winks; and this was without a picture or even any acknowledgment that I was reading their messages. Another dating app seemed to be composed mainly of adverts telling me that there were ‘hot, single women in your area now!’ I wasn’t looking for hot, single women in my area; I am a hot, single woman in my area. None of these apps seemed to be particularly female friendly, allowing me to browse at my leisure, undisturbed, the handsome young men proffered up. Women should be able to cruise the cyber joint without worrying about their safety.
Then I tried Swoon. The Android version of Tinder, Swoon gains access to your Facebook to pull your profile picture and users swipe your picture to the left or the right of the screen depending on whether or not they like you. Features include setting a search radius to find users in your area, and if two users like each other then the app alerts you both, allowing you to start a conversation. In this way, I got chatting to a nice young chap not too far away and within minutes we had set a date for that Friday. What was originally going to be drinks turned into a tapas meal and, while I was worried about potentially spending an entire meal on a dull date as opposed to a drink that could be chugged if necessary, I found myself applying make-up on Friday with more than a few butterflies.
We met in the restaurant and, after a strange should-we-shouldn’t-we-handshake-or-kiss-let’s-do-a-half-hug-awkwardly, we sat down for our meal. The conversation flowed reasonably easily, but I knew from the first few minutes that I wasn’t interested in him romantically now that we were meeting in the flesh. His photo wasn’t fake but it was from a distance, a gamble I knew I was taking with an online date. But a tasty dinner with nice company is better than a poke in the eye.
We shared a bottle of wine and the cost of the meal and made tracks at a respectable hour, heading to the station where we could get the train and tram respectively. At the train station I decided that a kiss would be a nice way to end the evening; even if I didn’t see our relationship developing into anything more, the right kind of kiss could still change my mind. This kiss wasn’t the kiss to end all kisses so I don’t think I’ll be going on a second date.
The next day, I signed into an alternative Android app, Swipe, that uses the same idea as Swoon to scope the new talent; I saw my date with the same photo on this app, too, but swiped to ignore. How can I stay single and fabulous if I keep repeating the same dating patterns?