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Will You Be My Virtual Valentine?

Nicole Decsey on entering the dating app scene as a dancer...prepare to cringe at what some of these dudes had to say about it!

I never thought I would use dating apps. They always seemed like a poor substitute to the real thing. But what is the real thing? In a world where we are stuck inside, maybe online dating is as close as we are going to come to that elusive real thing.

Dating is hard no matter which way you slice it, and no matter how you go about it, you have to sort through the rocks to find a diamond. And sometimes I feel like it can be especially hard for dancers. As soon as we mention what we do, we open ourselves up to a whole slew of comments from the cheesy to the terrible. Questions like “do you actually make money?” and “can you show me a move?” to comments like “it’s so nice that you are doing what you love” which is really just “wow you are never going to make any money” and “why did you choose to do that” in nicer dressing.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, Rachel, my fellow Dance Way of Life writer convinced me to conduct a little experiment. At the beginning of the new year, I created my first ever dating app profile as hitherto I had been a dating app virgin. The plan was to see what all of these dating apps were like, and in particular what they were like for dancers. Thus, I created not one, not two, but five different profiles on five different apps. These included of course the most popular ones Tinder, Bumble and Hinge plus two less known apps Ok Cupid and Coffee Meets Bagel. These five apps have taken over my life in more ways than one for the past month. From swiping left and right, to responding to messages, to agonizing over whether someone was going to respond to me, I have been on my phone way more than usual. My average screen time has been much higher than it’s ever been – iPhone users will know what I am talking about. And these apps have had drastic sway over my daily mood. Because even though each of these apps have their own perks, you will still find the same dirt bags on all of them and it’s hard to not get pulled into the excitement and devastation they offer.

Now, let’s get into nitty gritty of my very first dating app adventure. On each profile I created, I was careful to include dance pictures (as well as regular pictures to avoid suspicion) and I made sure to mention my performance career. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for guys to comment, whether good or bad, on my dancing. And it worked.

Tinder – Home of the Undesirables

Starting with my least favourite, Tinder still feels like an app solely for hookups. I don’t think I had one meaningful conversation on Tinder. To be fair though, I didn’t try very hard to start anything meaningful. One of the first comments I got on this app was “Wow, you’re in gymnastics gymnastics” and I knew I was in for a rough journey.

Needless to say, I never responded to this comment and I quickly learned that having dance on my profile was an easy way to weed out the undesirables. This was the first of many comments that I never replied to. As soon as I got a crude comment about my dancing, I knew that it was time to stop the conversation. There is a whole range of dance comments you can get from those who seem generally interested, to those that are simply using it as pick up line, to those who are just icky. Sorry there is no better way to describe it. You can find guys that fit into each of these categories on every app and I encourage you to use your dance as a way to start conversations. Find someone who is genuinely interested, and find those from the start that you do not want to talk to.

I think the worst comment I got on Tinder was, “What’s worse your dancing, sex or writing? I think I am better at all of them” … I am just going to leave that here and you can make up your own mind on what you think of that comment and what you would have done in my position.

Coffee Meets Bagel – Starts Off Strong Until the Bagel Goes Stale

This app started well and then it crashed and burned. My problem with it was not that it became a cess pool for jerks – which let’s face it most dating apps are – it was the general layout of the site that I despised.

For the first five days I signed onto the app I received coffee beans, not knowing what they would be for I didn’t worry about them. Then every day the app would match me with a few guys, and I had the options of liking them or passing. Once a match was made, either myself or the guy I matched with could start the conversation. Every day I also saw about 5 or 6 guys that had already liked me and I had the option of liking them back. For the first little while I only used these two parts of the app and it seemed to be working, I had started some good conversations. Then I decided to look for guys on the “discovery” portion of the app. But in order to like someone this way you have to use coffee beans. Well after the first 5 days of signing onto the app I stopped receiving coffee beans and I had no idea how to get more. So, I couldn’t use the discovery portion of the app very often. My matches on Coffee Meets Bagel ended up being few and far between. Even more infuriating was if I forgot to respond to someone in a few days, the conversation would expire. This ended some good conversations prematurely. But then again, you can extend the conversation if you have enough coffee beans.

And I think that in a nutshell describes my biggest problem with this app.

But Coffee Meets Bagel had other problems too. Like all the other dating apps it had those guys who say things that just make you want to barf and guys who are so cheesy and pushy that you just have to take a few virtual steps back. One of my personal favourites was a guy who started the conversation by saying “Hey baby” and then proceeded to say, “You are flexible huh”. And just like that I knew it was time to stop messaging this particular bagel. To be honest the “Hey baby” should have been clue enough, but I thought I would give him the benefit of the doubt. Turns out he wasn’t worth it.

OkCupid – Or Hello Putrid?

OkCupid was better than I was expecting it to be. I had a few good conversations like I did on Coffee Meets Bagel, but I also found a few interesting quirks on this app. There is a passport section that allows you to chat with people around the globe, you get match percentages with other users, and people can send intros before a match has been made. The match percentages are generated based off your profile and questions that you can answer about yourself. These are yes and no questions like "is pizza on your top 5 favourite food list" and "could you date someone who doesn’t vote" and so on and so forth. The intros are the only way to see who has already liked you without paying for an upgrade.

I received many intros, but one that really got to me was a guy who said “95% match :/ I think sometimes OKC pulls these match percentages out of its as*e. So far from your profile summery I can see we barely have anything in common.” Then he proceeded to tell me how different we were and that we were probably only a"20% match.” Yet, this guy had liked me. I was dumb founded, but this was not the only ridiculous comment I received. There were also many, many bad pick-up lines and of course the occasional flexible comment.

Hinge – The One Worth Going on A Binge

Now this app I liked a lot. The ability to respond to specific parts of a person’s profile made it easy to start a conversation and actually helped me with how to chat on other apps. Another upside of this app was that not only could you like whoever you wanted to like whenever you wanted to like them (no beans required), it was also one of the only apps where you could pretty much see everyone who had already liked you without paying for an upgrade. But this could also be seen as a slight drawback. At least for me.

Sometimes, I felt pressured to like people when I knew they had already liked me. I eventually got over this dilemma after I had been in enough conversations that I really did not want to be a part of. Aside from my terrible decision-

making fiascos, I had some really good experiences on this app. There were a lot of genuine guys and I had some great conversations. But even though Hinge is not supposed to be the app for hookups I still found guys who straight up asked me if I wanted to be friends with benefits.

Since the app was designed to be deleted, this may also be the reason why I had so many guys ask for my snap or Instagram “hun”. Ugh, let me tell you, another clear sign to stop the conversation is if they start calling you hun or they ask for your snap too soon and won’t budge when you say no.

To prove my point, one of the guys who started calling me “hun” also ended up saying “you’re a dancer” followed by five drooling faces… really? That’s not cute that’s just nasty.

Bumble – Sweet As Honey

Finally, this was my favourite app. I know, I am kind of shocked as I really thought I was going to like Hinge the best after everything I had heard. But the set up for Bumble was much better for me, especially after I had the practise from Hinge with starting a conversation. I liked the profile prompts on Bumble better than the ones on Hinge because they were more interesting. Examples include “my real life super power is”, “never have I ever”, “something I learned way later than I should have is”, “two truths and a lie”, “if I could travel to any time in the past I would”, and my personal favourite “my zombie apocalypse plan is.” Also, on Bumble I had all the power to start the conversation which made me feel a little less pressure. After I matched with someone, I had 24 hours to decide if I really wanted to talk to them or not. And then, if I did choose to message them, they had 24 hours to decide if they wanted to chat with me or not. This made for some pretty good conversations, some that even went beyond the app. But there were also guys who just stopped responding to me, and this hurt the most. With this rather sophisticated selection process, comparatively speaking, I experienced a surprisingly low amount of cringe worthy comments. The only way conversations ended was if they became stale.

Experiment conclusions

This is how you end a scientific paper right? Well here goes nothing.

It may have been overwhelming, but I definitely was able to figure out these five different dating apps…eventually. Especially with the help of my friends who I vented to constantly about the things I was experiencing. And I learned a lot from this experience.

One of the biggest questions I was asking myself when I started this experiment was not just which app was the best – which in my opinion would be either Bumble or Hinge – but it was: do dancers need their own dating app? My final consensus is no. A dating app for dancers or artists would just run into the same problems as all the other apps, and it could even be worse by unknowingly putting all of the guys who ask those disgusting questions into one place. Besides, there are probably too many dating apps out there already.

But if you are lucky you may find those people online who are actually worth talking to, maybe it could turn into something more. And maybe I found somebody worth talking to, maybe I will have a date this Valentine’s Day (socially distanced of course). Who knows, anything could happen.



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