Swiping for the sake of swiping

Not everyone is constantly looking for a new partner, but if you are, there are a shit-ton of dating apps available for your phone. But are they all just smoke and mirrors or do people find hookups, dates, or even love?

Some apps lead to pre-existing online dating sites such as OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish. Some are self-contained apps, which don’t connect to a website backend, but function very similarly in that you upload a profile, answer some questions, post a couple pictures, and hope that someone likes what they see.

The mobile phone culture however, enabled an entirely new type of dating application, the swipe app. Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, and the like are very stripped down versions of traditional dating apps where the focus really seems to be instinctual reactions to uploaded images and witty little statements which pass for a written profile. You like the picture of the redhead (like I did), swipe right. You don’t feel the twitch in your nethers, swipe left. Then the backend tracks who you swiped right on, and if they also swipe right on you, “Boom! It’s a match!” Once you match, you are allowed to chat with the other person and make that love, or lust, connection.

Now, there is something to be said about this triage the application does on your behalf. It totally eliminates the standard complaint most online dating users have about being messaged by people who they would never be interested in. But just because you and your potential lover have liked each others pictures of their last vacation in Mexico, doesn’t mean that a conversation will actually be started.

The new complaint of users of these swiping applications is “why did you swipe right on me if you had no intention of actually TALKING to me?” As it turns out, a big reason for this is users of these apps trying to game the system. A common technique to make matches is to just swipe right on everyone and then pick from the people who have swiped you too, which kinda defeats the whole purpose of that initial triage, but whatevs. And let’s not even talk about “ghosting”, where contact is made, maybe some cybersex is had, and then your match just stops responding to your messages. That’s just as common as no conversation at all, if not more.

I have accounts on several of the major dating apps even though I’m not actively looking for a new partner or lover. It started out as test to see what these apps were like when they first came out, spurred by the Sochi olympics, believe it or not. There were a few news stories about the athletes using these apps to hook up while in the Athlete’s Village, and more disturbing stories about some douchecanoe journalists using the gay male hookup app, Grindr, making matches, and then outing these athletes in the press. So, based on these stories, I downloaded a couple and tried them out with zero success. I wasn’t really trying though, so my pictures were half-ass and I didn’t let it crush my soul too much.

Months pass and I have deleted the apps from my phone until I get into a conversation with my wife about how no one is beating down my door to date me…it is a semi-regular conversation we have, based on our joint self-esteem issues but the tl;dr version is “Don’t worry about me finding a FWB up here because no one is interested.” To prove my point, I reinstall the apps and put myself back out there. I spruce up my pics and my profiles and start swiping.

I didn’t go with the Oprah method…”You get a swipe…and you get a swipe…EVERYONE GETS A SWIPE!!” Instead, I swiped on women I thought I might be interested in. Days pass without a match. I change my pics and profile and…get a match! I’m scoring less than 1% return on investment but it’s still a match. I introduce myself, very politely…and crickets. No response.

So, after a few weeks, multiple apps, and several profile changes, I matched less than six times, and had a sum total of zero conversations. At that point, I logged out of all the apps and picked up the pieces of my ego, which took a blow despite my iron will to not let that happen, and told my wife the results of my experiment. A pyrrhic victory to be sure.

I’m not saying people don’t meet on these apps…I’m just saying I’ve never actually met anyone who has had success in real life. A ton of broken hearts and unsatisfied loins but no happily ever after or even a “don’t wake me up when you leave.”

If you have had a good experience or are HAVING good experiences, leave a comment!

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