As much as we (want to) think that dating is not a big deal, it actually is. As a gay fella, I find dating quite difficult as I have a pretty weak functioning gaydar.
I imagine it must be equally difficult in the straight people scene, because the majority of us are probably too shy or too afraid of rejection. Matchmaking is one solution, but most of the time it doesn’t work, and, worse, often leaves us in awkward situations.
So thank God for technology! And for apps developers who understand the depth of our despair. They make looking for potential dating partners as easy as the swipe of a finger on a smartphone’s screen. Numerous dating apps are available for downloads, from the shady ones to the practical and respectable looking ones.
Of course I downloaded several of them, in fact, I usually run up to five apps simultaneously. Each app has their own ups and downs – some work well, others simply fail (read: nobody pays attention to my profile).
The first app I got is Hornet. Back then I wasn’t aware that the fewer the users, the more likely that my chance of getting a response is second to none. The lack of flesh exposed on my profile picture didn’t help either. Well, there was a cute guy of Chinese descent for whom I mustered the guts to send an introductory message. Unfortunately, my feeble mojo meant I wasn’t game enough to ask him out. The conversation was bland anyway, so I ended up alone still.
A month passed, and I decided I didn't want to end up miserable in my mid 30s without ever going on a date in a fancy restaurant, so I decided to download the more popular apps, Grindr and Jack'd. Much to my expectation, both apps are the virtual equivalent of a meat market. Not that it's a bad thing – to each his own – but I found that I needed to take a break from opening those dating apps, because the numerous profiles pictures of hotties and beefcakes made me feel intimidated, even lose a wee bit of my confidence.
Finding a potential person to date turns out harder than I thought, especially if, like me, you're a gay guy who listens to System of a Down instead of Madonna, or Guns and Roses instead of Lady Gaga, but that’ another story. Most people seem to use these apps to look for casual sex, or in more popular term: looking for fun.
I have developed my own protocol on dating someone I meet on dating apps as follows:
- Exchange messages
- Check background: ask for the dude's name, photos (yes, plurals) and how he makes a living
- Exchange phone numbers
- Chat on Whatsapp, NOT SMS and especially phone calls
- Decide if he’s interesting enough for a real time meet-up
- Ask him out on a date, or, if you think the chemistry isn’t there, keep it at Whatsapp-chat level.
After a while, I found out that I actually prefer dating apps in which people can write more about themselves, whether their interests, music preference, favorite movies or even their dying pet. Grindr & Tinder don’t provide much space for this. In those realms, physical appearance counts more than what you have to say.
For me this is intimidating, because I don’t have a six-pack abs, or that adorably scruffy- hipster’s beard. OKcupid, on the other hand, provides a lot of room to say about yourself, but way too much. Being a person who works with numbers instead of words, OKcupid is a bit daunting and it makes me dizzy because there are just too many letters on it. Plus, not many gay men use the app.
So Jack’d is my main tool to meet and score a date with other available gay guys in the city. This app has a feature that displays up to three public photos and the ability to browse the profiles of men living in some other areas (not limited to those in your proximity). You can write an informative description of yourself, and most of all, it has a good number of local men in it.
There are skeptics of course. Some of my friends believe that people on these apps are mainly looking for fun, but I know for sure there are some men who seek real proper dates and are more into long-term relationship than a one-night stand. Of course I also have to be ready for rejections, messages that are never replied, a handsome face that writes like a dumb 15 year-old, and other hassles and minor deal breakers. But all are just parts of the hunting game.
The app adventure turned into months and months of trials and errors that included several failed coffee dates with no follow-ups. Does it get tiring? It does. Has it stopped me? Nope.
If I did my math correctly, within eight months of using the apps, I have made about 70 contacts on Grindr, Jack’d, OKcupid, Tinder and Scruff, which is the least popular app. But out of those people, I only met fewer than eight of them in real life. I let Whatsapp conversation do the natural selection. If the conversation doesn't flow, sooner or later the intensity of the chat will die down eventually.
This experience itself opened my eyes a bit and raised my tolerance level. I used to prefer to date men around my age, but I've since started to get drawn to younger fellas with a smaller body frame than mine (which is easy because I’m 185 cm tall). Musically, dating apps have opened up my horizon, from a listener of mainly rock music before, I can now tolerate electronica (though I draw the lines at Ariana Grande and Kesha).
So, has my hunt come to a stop? Have I found the right person? Not really. But I managed to meet some good guys via the apps. Not all of the dates ended happily ever after, but the technology works. And where is this hunt going to take me? Hell if I know, I’m just as curious as most of you probably are.
Having said that, I can pretty much conclude that if you know what or who you’re looking for, these online dating applications rightly serve their purposes.