Modern day dating is constantly changing. Apps go in and out of fashion at the drop of a hat, switching our tastes between booty call Wednesdays and red wine Fridays.
Ruby Hinchliffe takes a look back through the evolution of dating apps and the many phases they put us through…
Illustration by Sapphire Ink
When Tinder began to go off trend, taken over by its more classy parent Bumble, it suddenly became apparent that baby Tinder had become a playground for the 18-20-year-olds.
In this awkward transition it’s fair to say many of us encountered our share of unevenly matched dating experiences before jumping ship to the adult’s table.
Never before feeling the pressure to date someone under my own age, I suddenly began to consider matches I once would have swiped left at in a heartbeat.
I went on a handful of dates with 20-year-olds, myself 22 at the time. Not a huge age gap but in terms of life experience, my god it couldn’t be bigger. I found myself being labelled as “too intelligent” for mentioning Theresa May, or shouted at down the phone for “being a tease” after cancelling on a racist ‘self-made’ insurance salesman(boy).
I felt like they all hadn’t really learnt enough about themselves yet, so conversations were very self-conscious, limited, sometimes dismally immature and often a series of indirect put downs which left me questioning my own sanity.
It was about time the dating app industry targeted more specific age groups.
Queue Bumble. The Abercrombie and Fitch of dating. It had six packs. It had tans. It had countless boat shoes and linen shirts.
Yes, the men all looked identical but, in all ashamed honesty, inexperienced me found it flattering that any of them were even replying.
Bumble, for me at least, turned out to be a catch-22. On the one hand, I met some stunning 10/10’s totally out of my league. But on the other hand, they were often absolutely snoring boring.
The dates were okay if I focused more on the white glint of teeth and less on the poor conversation starters like: “So, do you have any pets?” Even if it was just for the brief confidence boost and your flatmate yelling in disbelief at their picture: “Well done girl!”
Plus, I suddenly started hearing myself becoming raucously funny when compensating for my date’s lack of humour. That felt so good. But it soon felt lonely too, because there was never a quick witty backhander in reply.
I went to a Bumble promo party in Austin, Texas last year when I was over there for work. The hosts were your typical beached blondes in strappy tops, tight denim shorts and white converse. Occasionally they’d grab the Dj’s mic and shout “Let’s party!” before turning up a generic club house beat probably taken from Ibiza Top 40.
It was then that I decided the St Tropez filters weren’t for me, so I ditched the hunky 25-year-olds and completely revamped my age settings – it was time to go find my sugar daddy.
So I’d got it into my head that I wanted an ‘older man’. Whatever that meant. Late thirties and early forties, we’ll see how this goes.
Let me tell you, not well. One word: Catfishes.
It turns out older men on Bumble can be pretty generous with their lightings and filters.
I agreed to a date with one man, 39, who looked like a mix between Mark Ruffalo and Gerard Butler. He looked very suave in his black and white Whatsapp picture wearing a denim jacket and the angle suggested he was reasonably tall.
Well, lets just say, I’ve never felt so utterly betrayed in my entire life.
Let me try to paint the picture. In no particular order: He was severely balding, he was wearing a stained striped t-shirt which clung to his pot-belly and, to top it all off, his teeth were severely jagged and stained yellow from what I soon learnt were decades of rollies.
One drink and I was out of there.
This obsession with men old enough to be my dad all came to a grinding halt when I found myself messaging a 45-year-old whose second picture was of him with his three kids. What was I doing?
A total rehaul ensued. Yes, again.
Being bisexual, I thought I’d try the lesbian dating app, Her. I met girls on gay nights out but I’d never tried a female-only dating app.
It was an educational experience. I suddenly realised how many different kinds of gay or bisexual women were out there. I chatted to a few women through the app, but it was in its early stages of development so it wasn’t the easiest to navigate. I didn’t always get notifications which meant, purely for convenience sake, I returned to the drunken 2am digit-sharing whenever I found myself in the gay hot-spot, Dalston.
Of course since then rival lesbian dating app, Just She, took off and plenty of my gay friends use it now to meet women.
So by now I’d tried a few apps and the success rate was look pretty abysmal. Then I got a Whatsapp from my Mum. It read: “Hey girly! Thought this might be your thing now you’re living in London.” Attached was a link to a Times article about Inner Circle, a dating app which selects its’ members based on their annual earnings.
Yes, this really exists. But out of utter curiosity, I had to give it a go. So I applied and got in almost immediately. How flattering, I thought. I started scrolling and I matched with a gorgeous Mexican man who was a medical researcher.
No longer one to beat around the bushes, I asked him for a drink straight out. He said yes, and picked a members only club to meet. When I arrived it was all very swanky but when I got to our table I once again felt a little betrayed. Though not old, he did not look like his picture.
Nevertheless, I stayed put this time, mostly because I became convinced Francis Boulle from Made In Chelsea was sitting on the next table.
The conversation was interesting. He was a vaccine specialist and I suddenly found myself learning all about the Meningitis B vaccine my university forced me to have. No sparks but top marks for learning something new.
Then it got weird. He proceeded to stand and show me around the club as if it was his own house. A deluded rendition of MTV‘s ‘Welcome to my Crib’ ensued. Clearly he’d taken many a girl to this spot before so I let him do his thing, biting my lip to stifle a laugh when he pointed out the coveted spot where he likes to smoke a cigar alone to ‘think’.
Needless to say I didn’t stick around.
Gradually my relationship with dating apps fizzled out and eventually I gave up with them all together. Soon after I ditched them I met someone through a mutual friend and since then I’ve never looked back.
But I hear dating apps are finally getting more personal. Hinge offers you a literal tour through someone’s personality, giving you their favourite quotes and answers to make-or-break questions such as: ‘Your go-to dish?’
It seems the filtering process is far more refined now than it once was. No catfishes. No weirdos. No snorers. It’s all looking up for those still relying on dating apps to find some half decent matches.
Edited by Stephanie Kleanthous