Arrow icon Being single is a time of endless possibility. It's a time to explore your own interests. It is, above all, a time for generous helpings of unsolicited advice from coupled friends.
This year, as a relationship came to an end, the advice converged on one point: Because, as I learned from asking questions probably off-putting, prying , most of the men I met were on not just one app, but two, three, five, or more.
One sheepishly opened a folder on his iPhone to reveal an entire constellation of free apps, with names like Bumble, Hinge, and Happn. He said, "To increase my odds. Swarthmore College psychologist Barry Schwartz tells us, in The Paradox of Choice, that endless options only make us more miserable.
It leads to what he calls choice paralysis: Overwhelmed by variety, we can't pick just one. And all that window shopping raises our standards, while, Schwartz says, "the secret to happiness is low expectations. First, choose from a buffet of apps. Then, navigate a bottomless, unfiltered pool of potential dates, curated by proximity and little else. I decided, in the name of service journalism and maybe love , to try it. I downloaded as many apps as I could find.
Dear reader, it was both humbling and excruciating. Here's what I learned: Tinder The Target of dating sites, it's one-stop shopping for every make and style of mate. It pulls your photo, job, age, and education from Facebook, offers space to write a brief biography, and allows you to match with people within a given distance.
Swipe right to match with a guy, and, if he consents, engage him in conversation; swipe left to banish him from your consciousness. It is the land punctuation forgot, a realm where people say "haha" and "lol" when nothing humorous has been uttered, a place where everyone is into mixed martial arts or CrossFit, and where there are strong opinions regarding tattoos. At least one in five users is "living the dream" or "loving life," while others "don't take life 4 granite.
It's a place for people who take selfies in cars and in bathrooms, and who pose for photos with children but insist, "The kid's my niece. This has happened to me mid-conversation. It's as if the guy not only hung up the phone, but changed his number and threw his phone in the Schuylkill. Still, everybody's on it.
It's a cross-section of humanity. So, I kind of like it, for the same reasons I love living in a city. I had some terrible conversations, and also some pretty good ones. Some of those led to multiple dates, if not, as yet, to a lasting relationship. Happn A more fitting name might be "the app that shows you the person you just went on a date with from Tinder. Thanks to Happn, I know, for example, that there is a cute veterinarian named Matt who lives somewhere near me.
On the app, you can secretly "like" or aggressively "charm" someone, or advertise your availability for a drink, a walk, or a movie. The goal is to set the stage for serendipitous connections.
For me, a week on Happn yielded one conversation, and a first and second date. But, ultimately, it felt like an invasion of privacy. Bumble It's like Tinder, but the woman must initiate the conversation.
If she doesn't do so within 24 hours, the match expires. If the man doesn't respond in 24 hours, the match expires. In my experience, messages on Bumble, whether short or long, clever or straightforward, fetched about a 25 percent response rate. Watching a thoughtfully written message sit unanswered for 23 hours until it expires is, by my estimation, somewhat less enjoyable than a trip to the dentist, but more pleasant than public speaking.
It is by no means the most uncomfortable experience I've had on the internet. I'm sure, for example, any online comments on this story will be worse. I gave up on it after a week. Hinge Ostensibly, this app is a way to match with people you're connected to through friends on social media. Practically, that means it can't offer the endless pool that exists on sites like Tinder. My experience on Hinge?
In a week, not a single person messaged me. In the spirit of journalistic tenacity, I tried to start conversations with three people. Only one responded, and the only thing he said was, "Werddddd.
That, combined with the fact that it doesn't use members' real names, may lend to the culture of carelessness on this site. Many of the most degrading things said to me via online dating apps were said to me on OK Cupid See "Conversation starters - and stoppers". Coffee Meets Bagel In theory, this app, which likens men to "bagels," is meant to curate your experience by offering up only a handful of profiles to review in a given day.
If you're a child of the s, you may remember Tamagotchi, an incredibly needy handheld "digital pet" that nagged you for attention and care.
Coffee Meets Bagel is almost as demanding. It pings your phone constantly, threatening to send you worse matches if you're not active on the site, putting countdowns on conversations, and then luring you back with second chances. The app does encourage users to write more than a sentence or two about themselves.
J Swipe It's like Tinder, but for Jews and those "willing to convert. One week, two first and last dates. All the apps do have a few things in common. There are men in Philadelphia I've matched with on four different apps but never conversed with.
Others picked up conversations that ground to a halt on Tinder and tried to rekindle them on J Swipe where they still faltered. One person a friend tried to set me up with I also matched with on three different apps; the attempt was a failure across social networks, real and virtual. I recently went out with someone I'd known for a couple of years, one of the few people who responded to me on Bumble.
I did not write him an especially clever pickup line; he did not claim to be living the dream. It was just a date, the way people have always done it. Some things technology can't improve.