This summer, I found myself single for the first time since I was nineteen years old.
A young woman, unattached, in Paris: it’s an artsy film just waiting to happen.
Sorry to disappoint, but I’ll tell you right now that this is not going to be one of those flowery pieces I write from time to time, about some beautiful Parisian cliché or other, come to life before my very eyes.
Nope, this falls firmly into my other (more prevalent) category of blog post: the lightly ranting, “what the hell?” one. If you’ve read much of my writing, you’ll be well-acquainted with this category. Sarcasm tends to feature heavily.
Newly single as I was, it didn’t take me long to realise that dating / meeting people as a woman in her mid-twenties was going to be a whole different ball game to doing likewise as a university student still in her teens. So I decided to try something new and ventured, tentatively, into the weird
and wonderful world of dating apps. (Very tentatively – I deleted and re-downloaded the first app I tried, Bumble, several times in the first few weeks).
My initial experience definitely wasn’t a normal one and I’m not even going to try and tell you about it right now (sorry). Suffice to say, I met with the first guy I spoke to on Bumble, and it started out brilliantly, before crashing and burning faster than you can say “baguette”. Tant pis.*
It was tempting, after this, to write the whole dating app concept off as a total disaster, but like I said, I knew I hadn’t exactly had a representative first encounter and I thought I should give it a second chance. So I got straight back on the horse, as they say you should. I recreated my Bumble account, and downloaded Tinder and Happn too, for good measure; I figured, if I was going to give this a go, I might as well do it properly.
I’ve become fairly well-acquainted with the three apps over recent weeks, and the more time I spend on them, the stranger the whole thing seems to me. Which is not usually how things work in life, but there you go. Anyway, between endless swiping, a lot of trying (badly) to explain my job in French, and a few dates of varying success, I decided I’d accumulated more than enough anecdotes, pearls of wisdom, and – most of all – points of irritation, to write a blog post on the matter. Enjoy.
Dating apps are literally human catalogues.
This is an uncomfortable conclusion I came to after a week or so of fairly heavy swiping and I haven’t been able to shake it off since. I do not enjoy the idea.
Matching with someone doesn’t mean you’re going to talk to each other. Weirdly.
For those of you who are unacquainted with dating apps, the way they usually work is that you only have the option to speak to someone when you’ve sort of “liked” each other (done by “swiping right”, with Tinder and Bumble). You’d think that if two people had mutually “liked” each other, the natural course of events would be for a conversation to ensue – or at least a greeting. But then, there’s absolutely nothing natural about dating apps, so it shouldn’t be surprising that this is very often not the case.
With Bumble, it’s on the woman to instigate the conversation – the men she’s matched with can’t send her a message until she’s made the first move. So all those unmessaged matches sat at the top of my little dashboard thing, they’re entirely on me. (I’d say, at this point, I probably end up speaking to about 1/3 of my matches, maybe fewer). But then, sometimes I say hi (or use some witty / ingenious conversation starter) and don’t ever receive a response. Or I ignore someone else’s greeting or witty / ingenious conversation starter. And on Tinder or Happn, where it’s on either party to initiate conversation, I have a whole host of matches where neither of us have tried to open any dialogue at all.
Why swipe right for / like someone you’re not going to bother talking to? No idea. But I’m as guilty of this one as anyone. Like I said, it’s a weird old world.
It’s somehow really boring and really addictive at the same time.
I don’t know how this works, but it’s true.
Tinder is the go-to for… unorthodox preferences
Having started with Bumble, I didn’t encounter this darker side of dating apps until downloading Tinder a few weeks ago. There are a surprising (to naïve me, anyway) number of people with, er, interesting search specifications. Including, but not limited to, couples looking for a third “participant”; married men seeking mistresses (and you thought I wasn’t going to give you any French clichés); and a whooole lot of requests of the “Fifty Shades” variety. If you don’t understand what I mean by that, I will not be the one to taint your innocence.
Anyway, of the three apps, I’ve only really seen this stuff on Tinder, so apparently there’s some kind of unwritten code at play here.
Although I was offered a video strip-tease by a guy I spoke to briefly on Bumble. I politely declined.
And finally: WHY DO PEOPLE DO THESE THINGS?
1. Share no photos in which you can in any way see what they look like (or even no photos at all) AND give no information about themselves. What do you think people are going to swipe right for? Your online aura? Why are you here?
2. On a similar note to #1: Share (only) memes in lieu of photos / interests / information. Is this a legitimate way to express yourself as a person in 2019? Yeah, I laughed at your four consecutive Star Wars jokes – but apparently you have nothing else to offer, other than funny pictures made by someone else. So now I’m going to banish your profile into left-swiped oblivion. You are not the droid I’m looking for.
3. Share only photos in which they’ve got some kind of
deranged “cute” animal filter on. You know the ones, from Snapchat or Instagram – the dog face seems to be a favourite. It might be acceptable if you’re 14. Less so at 30. I can still see your receding hairline under those floppy ears, Antoine.
4. Create multiple, identical profiles simultaneously OR keep deleting and recreating the same profile. I don’t know if this is in the hope that women who were initially uninterested will eventually start to find them attractive purely through familiarity, or if the culprits are trying to trick poor, gullible app-users into thinking that it must surely be fate that, yet again, they’re somehow seeing this face that they’ve rejected six times in the last two days. But whatever the reasoning behind the method, I can’t see it being terribly effective.
5. Upload photos upside down. It does not make you seem quirky. Please stop.
6. Share blatantly couple-y photos with another person. Her face may or may not be awkwardly covered by an emoji icon. In either case, it’s baffling. No-one cares how drop-dead gorgeous you look in that suit if there’s another woman wrapped around it. Duh.
7. Exclusively share photos of their torsos. Okay, so I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for, and maybe this works for some. But I can’t see a whole lot of women swiping right for a man without even seeing his face. Sorry.
And on a similar note, my personal preferences are such that I actually almost automatically dismiss anyone sharing a topless photo (apart from the vanity thing, if your body’s your main selling point, you’re probably not interesting enough), and definitely wouldn’t swipe right if there’s a) no smile or b) no visible eyes. SO many profiles don’t have a single un-sunglasses-ed photo. I know your Raybans were very expensive and I’m sure your potes** think you look cool, but if I can’t see your eyes, I’m not interested. I don’t know about windows to the soul, but apart from anything else, they’re a good first indicator of potential psycho tendencies.
So, once again, this post was somewhat longer than intended, but hopefully you found it instructive, or entertaining – or both. After all, what’s the point of having a chaotic love life if you can’t use it to make people laugh?
* “Oh well”