I’ve been single now for two years. And dating as a 30-something is very different to when I was last single in my mid-20s.
I’ve come to realise that most of the nice guys already have a ring on their finger, so the pool of decent, single men is significantly smaller for starters. Then there’s the issue of how you actually meet guys from that ever-shrinking pool.
These days, it’s all about dating apps. Tinder. Bumble, Plenty of Fish. Happn. And I’ve tried them all at some point or another over the past year or so.
Each app has its merits as well as its downfalls. We’ve all heard a dating app horror story through the grapevine, enough to make you delete your dating profiles and triple check your privacy settings on Facebook.
But I don’t want to be cynical and give up completely as I do have friends who met their boyfriends and husbands through an app. So, ladies, there is hope!
And so, for this week’s column, I thought I’d run through my thoughts on different apps and how they compare to my very first dating event, which I attended last weekend…
Tinder undoubtedly has the highest profile within the dating world, especially among millennials. It’s simple to use – you swipe right on profiles you like, or left for ones that don’t spark an interest. A decision that’s quite literally made in a split second. Ruthless. If you match, you can then engage in a conversation.
My story: From my experience, Tinder is filled with lots of time wasters and guys who don’t actually want to chat. I ‘almost’ met a guy for a date but was pipped by another girl he’d just met a few weeks before. He decided to stick with her and cut me loose. All other conversations with guys have, and continue to, fizzle out…
Plenty of Fish
Plenty of Fish is a bit of a free for all, as you don’t have to match with the person to initiate a conversation with them. Guys can swipe to say they’d like to ‘meet you’, they can add you as a favourite or send a message directly – and us girls can do the same, too.
My story: An eye-opener. I’ve had to block a few guys (I can’t even publish what they messaged as it’s unsuitable for Newcastle Sparkles’ readers!); was catfished (the guy was using someone else’s photos and identity) and also experienced ‘ghosting’ for the first time. I did go on a date with one guy who was actually really nice, but that so-called spark wasn’t there.
Happn is less popular and, in my opinion, borderline stalkerish! The app displays the profiles of guys you cross paths with as you go about your day to day life. The premise is that you’re likely to meet guys who frequent the same places as you, and who are therefore more likely to share similar interests. You can then like their profile and see if you match, or you can ‘charm’ them (which sends a notification to say you’re interested without hanging around for that elusive match).
My story: It’s interesting to see who you cross paths with on a regular basis and I found myself scrutinising passengers on my daily Metro journey to and from work, convinced I had seen them on the app. I went on a couple of dates with a guy I met on Happn. He was lovely but I didn’t fancy him. And…we still cross paths more than a year later!
Bumble is my favourite dating app. The concept is the same as Tinder except when you match, the woman has 24 hours to send the first message or the guy’s profile disappears – forever! The guy then has 24 hours to respond and afterwards you can chat away to your hearts’ content.
My story: When I first signed up and started swiping – my ex actually popped up; his profile picture was a photo I had taken while we had been on holiday together in Tuscany. I felt like throwing up and promptly deleted the app.
I downloaded it again a few months later though and I’m glad I did. I’ve dated three guys from this app – at different times, of course! The most recent lasted a month before things went pear shaped. I blame the 10-year age gap (he was younger, in case you’re wondering).
I also matched with an Australian guy who was travelling around the UK at the time and I now consider him a friend more than a year later.
Apps vs IRL
The problem with dating apps is that you don’t get a sense of what the person is like in real life – this relates to how they look, as well as their personality. We’re all guilty of overusing Instagram and Snapchat filters and posing at chin-flattering angles! And some people can turn out to be a complete mis-match to their more confident online persona.
Ultimately, you’re not going to figure out if you get on with one another – and crucially if there’s a mutual attraction – until you meet in person. And if I’m being completely honest, the guys I am attracted to in real life are not the type I would typically swipe right for on an app.
That’s why I liked the idea of Bumble’s dating event last weekend and the chance to meet guys face to face. No shying away behind filtered profile pics or Googling the best chat up lines. Just an opportunity for everyone to be themselves.
Bumbling over dinner
The Bumble event was a relaxed social occasion at local restaurant, artisan, in the Ouseburn. I’d describe it as a classy night out and probably not what you would expect from a dating event. The format was simple – a group of 18 guys and girls all dining together as one large group, in a private dining space.
The event had featured on the Bumble app the week before and users could swipe right to express an interest in taking part. The host, Laura, then selected an even number of men and women, matching them up beforehand to ensure everybody who attended would, in theory, be able to chat to someone considered their type. It turns out the guy I was matched with was a no show. Typical.
All in all, I had a lovely evening. It was nice to get glammed up and to experience those butterflies of excitement beforehand. I always enjoy meeting new people and despite not stumbling across a potential Mr Right, it was great to exchange dating stories, enjoy some fizz and indulge in a fabulous three-course meal.
If anything, the event reminded me that people – myself included – need to get off their phones and look at who’s actually around them. And rather than relying on swiping right on a photo, just smile and say hello to that person who’s caught your eye in real life. Or present them with a Christmas card with your mobile number enclosed (that’s a story for another column…).
The pre-social media gal in me much prefers this old fashioned approach, but I guess it can’t do any harm to keep my profiles active on the dating apps…just in case. And if another dating event pops up on the app – I’ll most definitely be swiping right!
What’s your experience of dating apps and events? Share yours in the comments below!
Until next time,
*Features described relate to the free versions of the dating apps