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Dating Apps – Yeah or Nah?

Aug. 16, 2016
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I’ve recently become single. I had no idea how to get myself back out there and start dating again. It’s been over a decade since I’ve been single, and the dating game has changed drastically since then. All of my single friends recommended the same thing – dating apps. Sounding like someone’s grandma, I was like whaaaat? Online dating? I don’t know – what if I’m catfished? My friends brought up a good point – people who you meet in person can catfish you too. When I thought about it, I found this to be true. How many people have you met in real life, went out on a date or two, and quickly learned that they were just liars? A lot, am I right? Whether they say they drive a BMW but really drive a Kia, or they say they work in IT but really they are a cashier at Best Buy, people often embellish. Online dating is no different. 

So, thrust back into the dating world, it was up to me to find out which apps (if any) were the best for finding good, viable candidates for companionship, dating, and possibly love. My research was a mixture of talking with friends as well as my own personal experiences. 

Plenty of Fish
No – just no. Plenty of Fish is a dating app that uses the left swipe/right swipe method. Basically, you are able to see pictures of men or women in your area (based on your zip code); you swipe left for people who you do not find attractive, and swipe right for people who you do find attractive. If you swipe right on a person (anonymously) and they also happened to swipe right for you, you receive a notification that you both find each other attractive. At that point, you can look at the person’s profile and learn more about them, including: their city, age, height, weight, occupation, education level, likes, and dislikes. You can then decide if you want to take things further by messaging that person or not. Seems simple enough, right? Well, that depends on what you consider simple. 

First, I realize that physical traits are usually the first thing that you notice about a potential mate, and the first part of the attraction. However, looking at someone’s profile picture is not a viable way of deciding whether or not this is someone who you want to meet and potentially date. Especially since people often do not look the same in person as they look in their profile picture. After all, your profile picture is how you sell yourself, how you get right-swipes, how you advertise yourself to potential mates. So of course that picture is going to be super hot. But do you look that way in real life? Possibly not. 

Second, is that really a good way of deciding the fate of your love life? Based on a picture and a one-minute long profile? You may get lucky and find someone awesome. But believe me, you will run through a lot of losers first. I recommend reading the profiles thoroughly before deciding to reach out to anyone. Also, if they have only one picture on their profile, something is not right so beware. If and when you do decide to reach out, have a few conversations via the app before deciding to give them your phone number or meeting in person. 

Whether or not Tinder is a good app depends on what you are looking for. Similar to Plenty of Fish, Tinder uses the left swipe/right swipe method. Again, you cannot really find a viable mate based on swiping alone. In my opinion, this method was created to appeal to men more so than women. Men are visual – they can and often do decide whether or not they would date someone based on looks alone. But for (mature) women, I don’t believe that this method is the way to go. I’ll date a not-so-attractive guy if he makes me laugh and treats me well. I have no way of knowing if a guy will treat me right just by looking at his picture and swiping away. 

In my opinion, Tinder is just a hookup site. If that’s what you’re looking for, then it’s great. It seems to me that it was created with the purpose of making casual sex more accessible to all. Also, beware: there are a lot of women on the site posing as people looking to date, but in reality they are prostitutes looking for clients. But no worries – they will make their purpose clear pretty early in the conversation. I can definitely see apps like Tinder and Plenty of Fish being appealing to men and millennials, because both like instant gratification with minimal investment. However, if you are a man or woman of a certain age looking for a meaningful relationship, I would not recommend Tinder. 

Match is much more mature than Plenty of Fish and Tinder. You fill out a fairly thorough questionnaire about yourself and what you are looking for. Your matches are based on what you have in common with others based on your profile answers. It’s obvious that most of the people on there are looking for serious relationships, or at least real companionship, and not just a hookup. To access most of the features, it is necessary to have a paid membership. However, if you’re looking for something of substance, the monthly fee may be well worth it to you. Also, Match sponsors in-person dating events, so you’re not restricted to just online dating. This is a refreshing change to get people from behind their screens and into the real world. Match has a pretty great track record of leading to many marriages and long-term relationships. I would recommend this app for mature people on the dating scene who are looking for love and/or companionship. 

No matter who you are, dating can be difficult and frustrating. To make it a little easier, be clear on what it is that you are looking for – to yourself, as well as the people you meet on dating apps. Just like in real life, it’s not cool to mislead or lie about who you are and what you’re looking for. Online dating is convenient, but at what cost? The age of instant gratification has made us all lazy and entitled. If you want to find the man or woman of your dreams and you want to do so via online dating, just know that you are going to have to work hard to find them, and it may take a long time. Persistence can pay off if you can stay encouraged long enough to find someone special. In the meantime, have fun with it, make good and smart decisions, and stay safe. 

Cover Image by Jodeci Zimmerman