Appily Ever After: The World of Dating Apps
Dating is a minefield. Navigating your way around the terrain can be scary, unpredictable, and downright exhausting at times, but needs must. It can also be a double-edged sword – try too hard and people will run a mile; don’t put any effort in and you might as well not even bother in the first place.
Apps have transformed the world of dating as we know it. But, they tend to come saddled with a bad reputation – just say the word “Tinder” in public and watch those around you squirm. While most of the hearsay is justified, dating apps really aren’t what they used to be. Of course, there will always be those just using them for fun, but there’s more to it than that now. With so many dating apps out there, I wanted to share my thoughts on some of the ones I’ve tried.
Undoubtedly the most popular (and infamous) of all dating apps is Tinder. In case you’ve been living under a rock or are one of those rare creatures who has never had to try the app (count your blessings), Tinder works by showing you pictures of potential suitors – you swipe right if you’re interested and left if you’re not. If you both swipe right, then you match. Is it shallow? Absolutely. But, whether we like it or not, everyone makes a split-second judgement based on how someone looks. Think about it – if you don’t like the look of someone in a bar or across the coffee shop, are you going to approach them? Nope. Tinder is just more upfront about it.
Tinder has came a long way in the time I’ve been using it. One of the best changes they’ve implemented is adding a restriction on the amount of right swipes you can make in a given amount of time. This is to try and deter cretins who sit and swipe right on every single person they see, only to go back and unmatch those they’re not actually interested in later. Cruel, right? Don’t get me wrong, you still get lazy people who do this and those who genuinely didn’t mean to swipe right (usually after a few pints), but it has definitely gotten a lot better. Another welcome change was getting rid of when someone was last online. Now you can only assume you’re being ignored, rather than know!
If you’re new to Tinder, it can feel a little overwhelming. If you’re a veteran, it can be tedious. But, it’s all about knowing what you want and weeding out those who don’t want the same thing. Trust me, it’s always better to be upfront and ask, rather than waste your time on someone who doesn’t have the same intentions. Oh, and don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t reply to your amazing opening line or just stops the conversation dead in the middle – Tinder is fleeting like that. While it’s a good thing that there’s so many people on it, that can also be its downside. Some people have the attention span of a goldfish and will move onto the next person that catches their eye without even a word.
Tinder’s feminist cousin, Bumble uses the same swiping format but only women can message first. Once you send that opener, your match only has 24 hours to reply before they disappear forever. This is to tackle one of the most frustrating things about Tinder, which I’ve mentioned above – silence. There may be numerous reasons why someone on a dating app has no intention of actually talking to anyone, but it’s so irritating, not to mention rude. I always try to treat people online how I would in real life – would you walk away from someone who made the effort to speak to you in person without even acknowledging them? If the answer is yes, then wow. If the answer is no, then congratulations, you’re a decent human being. Try doing the same thing online.
You’ll hear some guys complain that women never message first, but Bumble proves that yes, they do and we get ignored too. You’ll also hear others complain that “Hey, how are you?” isn’t an acceptable opener, even though that’s how you start conversations in real life – you wouldn’t walk up to someone you fancied and give them a convoluted life or death question to answer, instead of just saying hi. It’s nerve-wracking to start speaking to a stranger, especially when you’ve both acknowledged you like the look of each other’s face, so be kind. I like to use this GIF to start conversations – if that doesn’t get a reaction, they’re not worth it!
Alright, bear with me here. The premise of Happn is creepy as hell, but it’s not actually that bad. The idea behind it is you’ll only ever see people on the app that a) have it installed too and b) have physically passed you within a certain distance. It’s meant to be a missed connections thing – if you didn’t get a chance to speak to that person who caught your eye in Starbucks earlier, now you can. In reality, it’s just a barrage of people who have walked by your office or house at some point during the day. But, that makes it a little less weird I think.
Unlike Tinder and Bumble, Happn doesn’t show you people one at a time; it just dumps them all on the screen for you to sift through. This seems great at first, but trust me, it gets old fast. The more people you pass, the more people you’ll need to scroll through. They won’t disappear until you decline them; otherwise you’ll be able to see just how many times someone has passed you. This is a surefire way to find out who lives near you, so be careful who you choose to date if you want to avoid awkward run-ins.
An old-timer in the dating game, OkCupid has been around for a while on desktop, but it soon jumped on the app bandwagon. There’s no such thing as matches on OkCupid, which means anyone can message you and I mean anyone… What. A. Riot. I got bombarded with strange, inappropriate and utterly hilarious messages that have been screenshotted and saved for a rainy day.
I didn’t have much luck on this app at all because it was too much of a free-for-all. While it’s fun to answer the endless personality questions designed to test your compatibility with people, I didn’t have any meaningful conversations on it. Dare I say I missed the simplicity of swiping? OkCupid is what I imagine Match to be like if it were free, which is a huge red flag for joining Match! Oh, and here’s a couple of gems I was talking about:
I hated this app. As the name suggests, Once gives you one potential match at noon every day. One. If you don’t like that one person, then you need to wait a whole 24 hours before getting another. After being spoiled for choice on the other apps, Once strips it back too far. It tries to sell itself by “tailoring” its matches to you, so you’re more likely to be interested. But, just because someone lives near me and is within my preferred age range doesn’t mean I want to have their babies, thanks. It also notifies you when the other person is typing, which is pretty infuriating when they never actually hit send!
I heard about Bristlr through my friend at work and thought it sounded hilarious. In a nutshell, it’s Tinder for people with beards, sporting the tagline “connecting those with beards to those who want to stroke beards”. It appeared on Dragon’s Den and was an overwhelming success, with all five Dragons making an offer. So, I gave it a try. A very short-lived try. The problem with Bristlr is there simply isn’t enough people using it right now. Despite living in the fairly large city of Edinburgh, I was being shown bearded blokes from all over Scotland. There was also a ridiculous amount of men WITHOUT BEARDS on it, which is quite frankly, false advertisement. I might give it some time and try again, but here’s hoping I won’t need to!
If you’re looking to delve into the world of online dating, I’d recommend giving Tinder and Bumble a try. There’s a reason they’re the most popular ones and why more competitors are copying the swipe function. This may go without saying, but please be careful on these apps. We’ve all heard horror stories about meeting strangers online, so never feel obliged to do something you’re not comfortable with. If you are going to meet, make sure it’s in a public place and you’ve told at least one friend where you’re heading – and update them on how the date is going throughout the night. Cautionary tales aside, dating can be fun! So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, keep your expectations low and get out there.