When I first moved to London a year ago, I lived in a flat with two older students. We would frequently discuss their hook-ups, whether from Bumble or Tinder, and I would stare in fascination: the concept of online dating was so foreign to me. I often used to just download the apps and swipe in curiosity, feeling at times lonely and overly bored; I made plans to go meet people but never went acted upon them. Until now.
My Freshers’ week was different this year. No longer living in halls, it was much quieter, but also a lot more boring. To spice things up, I decided to try out three dating apps: Tinder, the go-to hookup app, OkCupid, which claims to find your true match by asking you a billion question, and Bumble, where women are the ones to make the first move.
First up: Tinder. I match up with a guy, we have similar tastes in music, and eventually go to a Weatherspoon’s where we end up talking for five hours. It’s all very fun, we have a lot in common, but that’s about it. We spent five hours just agreeing with each other. He joked around how I was friend zoning him, and he wasn’t wrong. It was a little frustrating; it’s not my fault I feel zero attraction towards you, so don’t guilt me into feeling that way.
Next, OkCupid. This one was surprisingly the most active one. It was also a lot of fun to answer thousands of questions, and easier to match with people when I wasn’t judging them for superficial reasons. Granted, there were some bizarre encounters:
Nonetheless, I matched with a 25-year old man who ticked the box. We were a 92% match (Black Mirror anyone?), and made plans to go on a date a few days in advance. He suggested a few locales, and was the one who has originally asked to meet up in real life. So I dress up, walk in the pouring rain, and then, at exactly 4pm, I receive this message:
Now, I wouldn’t mind at all had he blocked me and cancelled even an hour beforehand. 4pm exactly, though? I had to walk in pouring rain and get my shoes all dirty. This is the downfall of online dating, though. In just a few taps, you can completely block a person from all communication, and never interact with them again (again, Black Mirror anyone?).
Last was Bumble, my least favourite. It was a bizarre version of Tinder, where women had to send the first message in 24h, and then the man had 24h to reply. However, almost all the people I matched with unmatched me. I assume most guys swipe right on everyone and then, only after receiving the first message, decide whether to reply or not. Bumble is, essentially, an exercise for women to experience the rejection that men usually experience on dating apps.
Now, I entirely understand why he was so cautious. If his career ever thrust him into the spotlight, I could bring out receipts of unsolicited pictures he had sent me. He’s right to ask for consent. It just didn’t feel like the right way to do it. It felt like he was asking me to sign some contract, and once I agreed, he had the license to do whatever he wanted. Consent is situation-specific. It ruined the mood for me, personally.
Overall, I didn’t find love, but I wasn’t expecting to. The biggest issue with every dating app is that it assumes compatibility is synonymous to similarity, when that just isn’t true. There’s a reason we throw around the saying “opposites attract”. If I wanted to date myself I could just talk to a mirror. There was also something so wrong about looking at a photo and swiping left or right. Then again, the choices are so overwhelming you are forced to judge quickly and on ridiculously specific criteria. Dating apps are fun, and they help with the isolation that London brings, but when it comes to love, I think I’ll keep technology out of it!