Yesterday, Duda declared dating apps dead. Now, I don’t know who appointed him the Grim Reaper of mobile dating, the Angel of Death of swiping, but if he wants to be the coroner pronouncing the time of death, that’s his prerogative. I’ll just have to appoint myself Gotham’s White Knight, the Melisandre to the dating apps that are Jon Snow’s lifeless body, the dating app defibrillator.
Duda postulates that with dating apps, you find yourself in a never-ending cycle of the same monotonous conversations, and even when you get to an endpoint – say, scoring a phone number – you’re still hard-pressed to get that to materialize into anything substantial. Additionally, he doubles down, suggesting that a better tactic is to “go out into the jungle and cast a net. You’ve got to talk to people in real life, whether that’s at the bar, in a grocery store, or in a line at a hot dog stand at three in the morning drunk out of your mind,” (Duda J., 2017).
Here’s why Duda is wrong. Well, maybe not “wrong,” but rather, misguided. Dating apps are a tool. If I were to give someone a knife to cut into a steak, but they used the handle instead of the blade, they’d come back to me and say it “doesn’t work.” My counterpoint is that you’re not using the tool correctly. Dating apps are no different. They’re not for finding a pen pal. They’re not for strengthening your thumbs. It’s not a game. The ONE purpose of the tool is to put you in contact with someone in which there lies a mutual-ish attraction.
If you can’t go from getting a match to a date in less than 10-15 back and forths, (even less in most cases), you’re not using the tool correctly.
My main goal, every single time I interact on a dating app, is to steer the conversation towards a date. Right now, my go-to is talking about my neighborhood (Murray Hill), then asking if she’s been to Bar XYZ, and whether it’s a yes or a no, I’ll something like “it’s a cool spot; next Thursday?”
I recognize that getting this far into the conversation is a hurdle that Duda says is hard to even overcome. Sometimes he’s not wrong. I’ll get a match on Bumble, and the girl will say “hey” or “sup” or send me some dumb GIF. But if you’re not creative enough to steer the conversation onto the track you want it to be on, that’s your fault, and I can’t see how that somehow translates better to texting with someone you met drunk at the hotdog cart at 3 a.m. or being creative enough in a real-life face to face conversation.
Let me show you a real example:
Her: hey hey whatsup
Not a great opener. Now it’s my job to come up with something catchy enough to get a response. I’m not going to say something she’s heard from ten other guys. I’m going to say something creative enough that if she doesn’t come back with a response, I’m not sure she’d be able to hang with me in real life, anyway. So I came back with this:
Me: Oh you know, typical Wednesday night. Getting WAY too into the WNBA finals game. What about you
Her: Oh yea? I thought I was the only one who watched…
Why did this work? Because it’s not every day she hears from some dude that he’s watching a WNBA game. I said something creative enough to get her attention, and she bit on the hook.
Me: Think it might just be the two of us to be honest
And away we went. Then I found out we lived near each other in NYC, then I steered it towards talking about a bar, then bingo bango bongo, you ask them to go. You don’t become pen pals. You don’t talk about minutia like cooking dinner. You have to stand out from the crowd. The dating app is a tool to put you two in the same room, so to speak. If you can’t be witty on the app, I can’t comprehend how you can be in real life.
Now, Duda’s other example is that you get a phone number, but you never text her. Um, why the fuck not? To be fair, he says it’s because you probably went drinking with your buddies on Friday night and didn’t text her. Well, yeah. Everyone is out with their friends on Friday (including the person you’re supposed to text). That’s why I never do weekend first dates. Never. Wednesday or Thursday. Fuck, even a Tuesday. And don’t leave it open ended, like “would you be up for a drink this weekend?” The asker needs to be more definitive. “Oh, you’ve never been to the PGP Tavern?! That place is dope. Let’s go on Thursday.” Sidebar – ladies, I know I’m saying that this is what a guy has to do, but there’s nothing in the rule book that says you can’t ask a guy out, too. True story.
I do love the idea of meeting someone out, be it at a bar, or the grocery store (psycho move, but ‘tevs), or at the pizza place drunk at 3 a.m. The problem with this? I’ll wake up with a number and a drunk convo from the night before of a girl I was probably making out with at the bar, but neither of us really remember what the other one looks like, and the skepticism of “who the fuck was that rando” is a real barrier to entry.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled a number, but had no idea who she was, or only had a vague recollection. And when I do get excited the next morning, thinking that the girl I met out was awesome, and I go to text her? The no response is almost 100%, probably because she was so drunk too she hardly remembers me, and why would she want to take a chance on a guy she barely remembers when there’s someone on Bumble who’s being funny and she can see pictures of him?
Meeting someone organically is becoming more and more romanticized with the rise of online dating. I get that in 25 years you want to be the one couple that actually met in some “meet cute” a la Serendipity (great flick). But we’ve been given a tool – be it Bumble, JSwipe, Hinge – that other generations didn’t have. My parents met on a blind date. Bumble? Basically the same thing except going into that first convo you know there’s already some form of mutual attraction.
If you’re one of those people who feels like they’re in the dating app spin cycle – hey sup not much hbu rinse repeat – you’re using the tool you’ve been given wildly wrong. Everything you say, you need to be thinking a few steps ahead, try and drive the conversation to a spot where it makes semi-sense to ask the other person on a date, go on the date, be witty and magnetic, fall in love, and then thank me on your 50th wedding anniversary that I was the one who reminded you that dating apps are not dead, if you know what the fuck you’re doing when you’re using them..