Still waiting to be “swiped” off my feet…

In 2012 Tinder ushered in a new era in the history of romance and revolutionised the dating game. The introduction of the swipe left for a no and swipe right for a yes formula was quickly adopted by many other dating apps. With a mobile-first generation; the carefully put together profiles quickly lost out to photo-led profiles designed to be swiped through whilst on the go. It’s evident Tinder has racked up some impressive stats over the years — as it stands, users swipe 1.6 billion times a day across 190 countries! However, eight years since entering the market, it appears the once thriving “dependable wingmate” has gone from fringe novelty to a dating apocalypse.

As we become bound to the excitement of matches and neurochemical “rewards,” it’s no surprise that us online daters get hooked on these apps. Essentially, whenever “it’s a match” pops up on our screens, the brain releases a flurry of dopamine chemicals, giving us small bursts of happiness. While the swiping process is meant to help us discover potential romantic partners more effectively, it seems the excessive app usage and mindless swiping is weakening ties between individuals rather than fostering connections.

I’ve had the pleasure of letting Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, POF, Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel grace my iPhone’s home screen. I’ve also had the pleasure of deleting them… then reinstalling months later (😩) in hopes that something might actually come from it. Unfortunately it’s the same thing over and over — an exhaustive, repetitive, daily thumb-swiping exercise consisting of nothing more than three-second photo evaluations, half-hearted bio scans and a few dead-end conversations. Indeed, I’m not the only one that feels this way. According Badoo’s research with 5,000 British 18-30 year olds, 68% dislike swiping and matching based on appearances alone, claiming there’s very little going on when it comes to meaningful engagement.

So what are dating apps doing to address the low quality interactions and improve matches?

In the last couple of years, several apps started experimenting with video features. In 2018, Badoo introduced “Badoo Live” — allowing users to receive messages from interested parties while live streaming. A principle similar to Facebook Live, the feature also offers the ability to watch in playback mode. Once a match is made, users can start a live video chat with each other within the app. And with the recent growth in video dating during the pandemic, many apps capitalised on video-chat. Hinge unveiled the “Date from Home” option to facilitate safe dating as well as aid users in transitioning from message ping pong to a virtual date.

By allowing people’s real personalities to shine through, it not only solves the problems of misrepresentative photos, catfishing and delayed responses; but video could also increase your chances of having a personable connection sooner and save time and energy to focus on dates that you’re genuinely excited about. When two individuals hold face-to-face communication (whether physically present or over video call) — the use of voice, gestures, body language and facial expressions help to build stronger relationships. This particular form of exchanging personal information is known as “Dyadic Communication” — and due to its intimate nature, this practice simply cannot afford to be impersonal.

So if we’re really looking to make meaningful connections then perhaps now is the time to start embracing video within dating apps. Many of us will find the thought of recording ourselves rather daunting but we need to keep in mind that dating should also be about having fun, stepping out of our comfort zones, building confidence and utilising our time more effectively. If we can begin tweaking our profiles and incorporating video, I’m confident that the matches will be of higher quality. No doubt it will eradicate or at least reduce the snap judgements made, help us look past the heavily filtered photos and present users/ourselves in a more authentic light.

It’s worth mentioning that I’ll be trialling out a new video-only dating app called Oneder in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing what impact video-first will have from a user experience in comparison to the usual swiping apps, and of course, seeing what romantic potential it has to offer! Who knows… I might actually find “reel” love this time around – watch this space 😉

Is more less when it comes to dating?

Remember when choices were as simple as “regular latte” or “skinny latte”? These days it’s more like “decaf latte, double shot, caramel syrup, half-soy, half-oat, 180-degrees, no-foam, with a sprinkle of chocolate powder on top”. Let me tell you something… the online dating landscape is not too dissimilar! The challenge these days for many singletons, particularly where dating apps are concerned, is not just about dishonesty, but decision-making as well.

Once upon a time I found dating apps fun and interesting but after using them for a few months, the novelty quickly wore off. Now I merely see them as tedious and exhausting… it’s like an endless stream of “potentials” along with endless swiping (left), every time I open the apps. While the barrage of choice should make connections easier, it also makes us more picky. Whether we’re looking for something better or just completely overlooking, do we miss a good opportunity when it’s presented right in front of our eyes?

The paradox of choice

“Maximising” is a term coined by Barry Schwartz, a psychology professor at Swarthmore College and author of “The Paradox of Choice”. Briefly summarised, “maximisers” are those who believe the grass is always greener on the other side. This particular pool of people treat dating and relationships very much like clothing. They might try a few options before committing to the right item, perhaps they’ll stay on the look out “just in case” or if they really can’t decide, it’s possible they’ll end up with two similar garments and flit between them. The only difference is, there’s no refunds or exchanges in the dating world! Have you ever found yourself in this type of situation? I know I have… and I’m talking metaphorically and literally.

I once dated two guys at the same time… whilst also lightly entertaining three others potentials just because I could. Normally I’m someone that likes to stick with one person, at least that way they can have my full attention plus it means less faffing around. But for the sake of trying out a new strategy, I decided to run an A/B split test.

The subjects

Although the two had very different personalities, I found them equally attractive. Guy #1 was the extrovert. In a nutshell I’d describe him as extremely social, well dressed, nicely built, perfect height, super chatty, great fun, hilarious, confident but not cocky. Guy #2 was quite the opposite. Totally introverted. Had a whole lot less to say but any time he opened his mouth, there was good, intellectual substance behind his words. Slightly more mature in the mind which was a nice change in comparison to other men I’ve dated previously! A little on the short side( though that didn’t bug me too much), kinda geeky, generous, thoughtful, well put together and also had a great build!

Activity

After a couple months in, I realised it was getting a bit too much! Multi-dating is honestly so mentally and physically draining. It’s the constant upkeep of texting back and forth trying to maintain several conversations at once, managing dates to ensure there’s no clashes, getting paranoid in case one guy would see me with the other, the effort of getting dressed up to actually go out on these dates (between 3-4 times a week!) …all of this while you’re still trying to suss them out. And that’s just the dating side of my life! Your mind is always in a pickle about which one to eventually kick to the curb, not to mention date requests coming in from the other potentials! This was a mess. It was time to optimise the strategy.

Results

So I ended up getting rid of both guys… and deleted all apps from my phone. Sometimes that’s the way it needs to be. Truthfully I was getting bored and felt overwhelmed with the whole dating palaver. I couldn’t be arsed to make a choice and I definitely couldn’t be bothered to go on any more new dates. It was all unnecessary drama that I didn’t need in my life.

What I found particularly interesting about the “A/B test” was the correlation between my handling of the situation and one of the studies discussed in Schwartz’s book. It concluded that while having increased options can be beneficial to a certain point, giving people too much choice would likely cause poor decision making, feelings of dissatisfaction, regret, or we become exhausted and make no decision at all!

If you think about it, it’s not just dating where we might experience over-abundance of options. It happens in everyday life. At restaurants when looking at a menu, down each aisle during grocery shopping, choosing a Netflix film to watch, figuring out which stocks to invest in, etc. Dating apps are great in bringing you closer to someone compatible, but if you’re hitting it off with one person and still have another 78 others waiting for you to match with them; is it worth having a look through? Or do we focus on this one person and keep those as part of an “emergency stash”?
In my opinion, if you’re someone who is actually serious about making a real, long term connection then the approach needs to be adjusted to fit your objective. Here are a few of my suggestions/thoughts:

1. If you have multiple dating apps, why not stick with your preferred one? At least this will cut down your swipes and choices.

2. If you’re already dating/chatting to someone, spend the time to get to know them properly before jumping ship. Don’t be quick to judge and learn to give people the benefit of the doubt… no one is perfect!

3. We need to stop treating a people as if they’re disposable or some type of commodity. It’s only fair to base a person on his or her own merits and not in comparison to 3, 5 or 10 other people. If I’ve instantly clicked with someone and things have progressed to a second date then they definitely warrant 100% of my attention.

From “DTR” to “DTF”. This is your 2020 Dating Dictionary.

Swiping your way to be the real thing, or next fling, has left many people understandably bamboozled and frustrated. However, it doesn’t need to be that way. As the dating landscape has evolved, so has the language; especially when we’re focusing on the language of millennials. So to help navigate your way through the modern dating world, I’ve collated a handy little list on some of the latest terms, phrases and acronyms.

Benching
Think of sports. When you’re on the bench, you’re not actually playing but you’re still on the team, ready and waiting… until the coach decides to bring you back into play – which might not happen. The person who chose to bench someone will make minimal effort to keep you as an available option. This means a few texts here and there, making plans to meet up that never come to fruition.

Breadcrumbing
Now I don’t know if this dating tactic is slightly “better” or worse than “Ghosting”. Either way, it’s a term used when someone is doing exactly what I’ve described in my last two sentences above. Think morsels of bread… a trail of them. Each morsel representing a tiny slice of attention, ie. likes on Instagram photos, maybe a comment if you’re lucky, sporadic flirty text messages, making vague plans with you, setting up a date and cancelling, appears then reappears weeks later like nothing, usually an individual that’s all talk and no action. Breadcrumbs are for the birds – and you’re not one of them!

Catfishing
Personally I find this one creepy. It is the act of someone creating a fake profile to trick people into thinking they are somebody else. This sort of deception can be extremely damaging for victims. The dangers of being catfished include being tricked into a false relationship, fraud, extortion and cyberbullying among others. These people clearly have issues.

Cushioning
I’d describe this like… taking out insurance on your relationship incase it doesn’t work out and you’re scared of being alone. In essence, you’re creating a “cushion” for yourself to fall on. It can be one or several cushions. The tactic is getting people interested in you by having a chat or flirt, you’re building them up and giving them hope that something may occur in the future. Those who fall in the trap don’t even realise that there’s another person in the picture in the first place. It’s dishonest, disrespectful, and it’s something that emotionally insecure people do.

DTF
Down to Fuck. Need I say anymore?

DTR
Define the Relationship

FWB
Friends with Benefits

Gaslighting
It’s a form of psychological manipulation that causes the other party to question or doubt his or her sanity, feelings and judgment. The warning signs are hard to pick up early on but generally the people who do the gaslighting will be habitual and pathological liars. They will blatantly lie to your face and never back down or change their stories even when you call them out. They will also shift blame, twist conversations and be sweet when they want to smooth over a bad situation that they’ve caused. Sickos.

Ghosting
Now you see me, now you don’t. A person who ghosts will simply disappear from a relationship, or even a potential relationship with no explanation because it’s a quick and easy way out. No drama, no questions asked, no need to justify their behaviour, no need to deal with someone else’s feelings. Which brings me to the next term…

Haunting
When the person who was initially ghosting comes back to haunt you. The audacity!
Out of nowhere, they’ll (usually) slide into your DMs on social media and hit you up with the “Hey stranger!” bollocks – they just want to remind you they’re still there and very much alive. 😒

Kittenfishing
I’d describe this as a low-grade version of “Catfishing”. This person is excellent at presenting themselves unrealistically on their dating profile. With their skilled use of Adobe Photoshop, they’ll put up their heavily edited or upload old ass, throwback photos. They might lie about their age, height, lifestyle… all to seem more appealing to their matches.

So there you have it! The lingo of online dating, in a nutshell. Noticeably more absurd words and phrases are being introduced to explain each and every terrible occurrence. I’m sure there’s a good handful of jargon missing from my list (I think I’ve barely scratched the surface) but nonetheless I hope you found this post useful, if not amusing!

I’m not picky. I just have standards.

Yeah okay I do have a fair share of dating disaster/failed relationship stories (partly why I started this blog in the first place)… so when I spill the latest to my various groups of friends, they seem to think the “pattern” is due to my pickiness and high maintenance attitude. Well, I humbly disagree. I’m far from picky and not even close to high maintenance – really, that’s the truth. Besides, I’m from South East London… say no more init!

In terms of qualities and characteristics, I don’t ask for much. Just someone who is capable of being honest, can hold a good conversation, has a sense of humour, respectful and has direction/ambition in life. For some reason though in today’s society, even those 5 things can be a challenge to find in a person!

For those who are unfamiliar or new to the online dating scene, I want to give a bit of detail on how I filter out the absolute lunatics from the ones that appear “normal” (not to put you off but a good percentage of these “normal” people still end up having major issues, they’re just pros at putting on a facade!)

Anyway!!! Before I get into it, let me quickly explain why I decided to flock over to dating apps. Firstly, I (and I’m sure the majority of people) would prefer to meet someone in real life. It enables you to cut through the bullshit, see if you have chemistry right away and figure out if you’re attracted to the person (not depending on or being disappointed by misleading photos!) However, currently, for me anyway, there isn’t much opportunity to meet someone in the traditional way (i.e. social events, during a night out) and there’s a few reasons for this:


1. My circle of friends are mostly married with kids so getting dolled up and going out to clubs/bars/lounges are a thing of the past. Besides, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I stopped going out years ago, and even if something did crop up, I’d happily pass and spend the evening in bed!

2. I also want to highlight that the types of people approaching me at clubs/bars/lounges were usually very sleazy and after one thing. It’s the same grotesque kind that have the audacity to ask for your number when they’re parked up in their cars or stopped at traffic lights.

3. Social gatherings – yes these happen once in a (rare) while but it’s highly likely that I’d be familiar with everyone there already!

4. Meeting people at work… hmm, not a big fan of mixing business with pleasure but okay I wouldn’t rule it out. As long as we worked in very different departments! It’s how I met one of my exes to be fair… but clearly that didn’t last (nothing to do with work, tell you about it later) but truthfully… finding a potential partner when I’m at work is the last thing on my mind!

5. Meeting people through friends – I find it very cringeworthy when a friend tries to play matchmaker. Not to mention that I don’t trust their taste and judgement in character! Lol! Sorry guys!! …Look, it’s not like I straight up say no, I do ask for a few details and a photo. Then I’ll get a response like: “Yeah so he works with me, he’s really nice, super smart but… he does dabble in drugs.”


A couple years back, with a lot of convincing from my old work colleagues, I finally gave in and created a few accounts across 4 dating apps. Tinder – which lasted for about an hour. Plenty of Fish… well, that’s another topic for later. OKCupid – great for blog fodder. Bumble – meh, guys look good, not much substance though.

Since it was unfamiliar territory, I asked my colleagues (a bunch of lads) how it all worked. Apparently the best way to find “hot chicks” was to continuously swipe right on everyone, then save the filtering for after… “it’s the most efficient way of getting matches” they claimed. Erm… sure? Except I wasn’t looking for “hot chicks”!


Not many females I know use dating apps (I can see why!) so I had to figure out my own filtering style.
And seeing as photos are the first thing people look at, I’ve listed the kind that instantly make me swipe left:

USING ON PHOTO (EVEN IF IT’S A GOOD ONE)
I can’t trust that.

MYSTERIOUS PHOTOS
Wearing sunglasses in every photo. Blurry photos.

HALF NAKED/GYM POSERS/AB SHOTS
No.

THROWING UP GANG SIGNS
Are you not like… 37?

PHOTOS OF PRIZED POSESSIONS
Cars, properties, gadgets… *yawn*

WTF PHOTOS
i.e close up of a beard, close up of an eye, a photo of a garden shovel.

SOMEONE I RECOGNISE FROM SCHOOL/WORK

OMG.

…okay, that’s the first stage of filtering out of the way.


The second filtering stage focuses more on the substance. Below are things I find rather off-putting or consider deal breakers:

CHEESY QUOTES/STATEMENTS
i.e. “Live laugh love.” or “I’m looking for my partner in crime.”

NO BIO/MINIMAL EFFORT
“Ask and find out.” – This displays laziness to me. Make some effort please? Bullet points will suffice.

THIS KINDA STUFF…
“Hookups”, “I’m only here for the weekend”, “Want to have fun”, “I’m very kinky and need a submissive woman”

WEIRD NAMES
i.e. Rubber Alien (the dude was wearing a gimp suit), Black Magic, FootSlave, Mr. Nice Guy

“HAVE KIDS”
Works for some. Just not for me unfortunately.

“ENTREPRENEUR” OR “SELF EMPLOYED”
I fully respect anyone that has their own business and built it from the ground up… and if I can see that displayed on their profile, it’s all good. From personal experience, I find that the genuine people will include the name of their company. The “dreamers” however… they like to talk a good game. You’re basically unemployed.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE
That’s their business. I’m not judging but it’s a deal breaker for me.


So there you have it! My two stages of filtering. It’s much easier to be cut throat when you know what you want and don’t want. The only thing left after second stage is to figure out whether these “normal” people are actually wearing a mask!

At this point, some conversation would have started and that’s when the third stage of filtering kicks in… it’s a bit tricky from here but don’t play detective too much, you don’t want to kill the vibe with a nice, genuine person!

Oh and please don’t go stalking them on Facebook / Instagram / LinkedIn (unless you really feel the need to). The best thing to do is just enjoy getting to know each other, go out on dates, have fun, don’t set any expectations but also:

1. Don’t neglect that intuition!
2. Be aware of red flags!
3. Don’t lower your standards out of desperation/fear of loneliness!