Diary: A Week without Dating Apps

blog pix week without dating apps

Monday morning:

I deleted all of my dating apps and hid my profile on the dating sites I belong to. Feeling both free in a good way and strangely untethered in a bad way. To motivate myself, I made a schedule of activities for the week. The hope is that I will get out of the house more and possibly meet men in real life. Oh foolish heart.

While working on this blog’s social media pages, I experience what can only be described as online dating withdrawal.

I have various random thoughts and questions such as, “If there were no apps, would I ever have any dates?”

Wednesday morning:

I woke up from a strange dream in which I meet an attractive older man in a friend’s group house. The setting seems to be a mishmash of my early college and current days. I’m unsure about the meaning of the dream but I think it must have something to do with worry about a lack of romantic possibilities.

Yesterday I tweeted an article from Bustle about a young woman who has been app-less for a year. She recounted the things she missed about online and app dating. After two days, I could relate to all of them except the one where she longed for the ability to immediately ask out and meet a guy she matched with on a dating app.

Although some of my online encounters rapidly progressed from messaging to an in- person meeting, the man initiated them. Sometimes I gently pushed a guy toward a meeting, but I haven’t opened with, Hey you want to meet for a drink? Perhaps I should. Just to see what happens. My guess is that given her younger age, the writer of this piece has done better than I would if I went offline for a year.  She likely has a bigger “single” social circle and more professional connections compared to a single, retired woman of a certain age. But I’m just speculating.

With no apps or sites to check, no emails to write or respond to, I have more time for other things. I’m reading more and per usual I tend to read fiction about relationships and romance (not romance novels per se – though I enjoy them too). I discovered Laurie Colwin, a delightful writer who sadly died much too young. I devoured Happy All the Time and now I’m thoroughly enjoying Goodbye without Leaving. Of course, reading doesn’t get me out in the world…so perhaps I’ll finish the book at a café or coffee shop.

I realize that a week without online dating is not enough to fully plan activities where I might meet someone organically. I signed up for an archery Meet-up that’s getting together Saturday but it looks like the members are in their 20s and 30s. It won’t lead to any romantic possibilities but that’s okay.

Wednesday evening:

I felt better this afternoon…but evening brings on feelings of loneliness. Where are the phone pings that someone winked at me or sent me a message?

Thursday morning:

Another weird dream night – nothing about men per se and now I can’t even remember the story…but obviously an app-less week is affecting my subconscious.

I receive an email from Hinge that someone likes me and his picture is not bad. I wonder if I should go back on Hinge briefly to check the guy’s profile and possibly respond to him. I ponder whether that would be cheating on my app-less week. Then I notice Hinge sent the email at 2 am. A late or middle of the night “like” is often a signal that the man lives in another time zone, possibly in another country. So I decide to “hold” for the moment and not break this online dating fast.

I receive another like from someone on OurTime. Notifications from this dating site don’t include photos of those who like or message you so I’m not tempted to go online. Holding fast to my fast.

I hope to make it to an art museum tour this afternoon. I’ve heard this can be a good way to meet people. At the least, I will increase my knowledge about art and get out of the house.

Friday morning:

I missed the tour so I ended up wandering around Georgetown and the waterfront. It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was good for my soul. I didn’t meet anyone but enjoyed the afternoon.

I confess that late last night, I semi-cheated (briefly) on my dating fast with a quick Tinder check related to a previous match with an attractive man. Although he lives 160 miles away, this guy visits his adult son who lives not too far from me.

The man said he would reach out next time he comes into town. Since it’s a holiday week, I thought I should reinstall Tinder just to see whether he had contacted me through the app. You guessed it (possibly): There was no message because he had unmatched me. After a couple of accidental super-likes, I delete the app again.

Saturday morning:

After seeing that the archery Meet-up is now filled with 7-to-10 year olds on spring break, I decide to cancel and go another time.

I’m looking forward to the end of this fast. I plan to go back online tomorrow rather than Monday as originally planned…still it’s a full 6 days without online dating.

You may be wondering about my rationale for breaking the fast one day short of a week. Sundays are typically the best days for connecting on the dating sites and holiday weekends also have more activity. Holidays bring out the urge to connect. A lot of people feel nostalgia for past celebrations and yearn to once again be part of a family or relationship “unit.”

Perhaps the lesson from my app-less week is that it’s okay to get back on the sites and apps since despite their problems, they give me hope. The key is to supplement the online world with real life activities and to check the apps less frequently.

Two years ago (I cringe as I think of how long I’ve been doing this), I tried to limit my online dating check-in frequency without much long-term success. I’m convinced that this April’s dating app “fast” is a better transition to healthier online dating behavior – similar to the way a food fast retrains your appetite so you are more satisfied with fewer calories.

At the same time, I plan on binging tomorrow.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Update on Dating Sites and an Old School Breakup

blog post penguin love 2

There are dating sites and apps that I like (tolerate may be a better word), ones I used to like but now can’t stand, and sites that never worked for me (so I don’t like them).

Let’s review while munching on pasta primavera with grilled veggies.

OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB) are now in my “can’t stand” category. The reason? They are both overrun with catfishers and scammers. These sites worked for me when I first used them. I even had one of my 3-month relationships with a guy I met on OkCupid. But over time I noticed an increase in members with false or stolen profiles. It got to the point where almost no one I matched with on OkCupid was genuine. I’m not sure why this site above all others contains so many scammers (at least in my dating pool). Perhaps the idea of a free dating venue appeals to guys with less than honorable intentions.

Free may also be the problem with Coffee Meets Bagel. I miss my daily bagel from CMB but more often than not that bagel was bad. It must be a common problem since a number of people find their way to this blog by searching for Coffee Meets Bagel scammers.

I deleted both OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel and now spend less time deleting dishonorable daters and more time on general whining about dating.

An abundance of catfishers is not the only reason to dislike a dating site or app. EHarmony was not my cup of tea, coffee, or glass of wine. After filling out the endless Meyers-Briggs-like questionnaire, I ended up with a pool of boring and geographically incompatible matches. And the inability to search for matches on my own felt very paternalistic (though Coffee Meets Bagel also prohibits searching of members’ profiles).

JDate is another site that never worked for me – and I tried it twice. I wasn’t attracted to anyone in my dating pool. It might be worth trying JDate again since new people are always joining dating sites.  Unless a site is poorly constructed, I will usually consider a second or third membership in a site.

Our Time is now on my “good” list after an unsuccessful first round 18 months ago. I classify a site as good if there are a reasonable number of appealing matches who reach out to me or respond to my outreach and I actually go on dates with some of them.

I like OurTime despite a recent “old school” breakup with a match — if you can call it a breakup after two dates. I’m still confused by it and that’s not atypical in the online dating world. You may never know the real reason why someone doesn’t want to see you again. In this case, at least the man gets points for phoning me to tell me he didn’t think we were a “fit.” The only reason he actually cited was the 1-hour geographic distance between our homes. I was surprised by the break-up – first of all because he had the decency to phone me but also since he appeared to be fairly smitten. Perhaps I’ll probe this interaction more in a future post…and after I have completed a wonderful online class on how to be a human lie detector.

My other go-to dating staples at the moment are Zoosk, Plenty of Fish, Match, and Bumble.

I’m less enthusiastic about Tinder, JSwipe, Hinge, and Fitness Singles but hold out hope that one of these venues might be worthwhile. The Clover app, on the other hand, is almost worthless as a source of reasonable matches and I’ll probably delete it soon.

You may think I’m on too many dating sites/apps. However, I look at online dating as a numbers game and the more times I present myself to eligible men, the more likely I’ll find Mr. Right. In the meantime, I’m also putting myself in “real life” situations and activities that not only interest me but also have the potential to expand my romantic horizons.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Dating Attention Deficit Syndrome: A New Epidemic?

blog-pix-dating-attention-deficit-syndrome

I am convinced that a significant number of men on online dating sites are suffering from a severe case of DADD — Dating Attention Deficit Syndrome. Women share this affliction but I suspect there are fewer of them and that they have a milder version of DADD.

Let’s discuss over Anthony Bourdain’s omelet with salmon and chives.

You have heard me rant before about the window-shopping or candy store experience of online dating. A recent virtual encounter on Zoosk triggered the naming of a real affliction I call DADD. (Apologies to all the fathers.)

DADD is backed up by research. A 2015 Pew Research study found that one-third of people who used online dating have never actually gone on a date with someone they met on these sites. I imagine these people emailing and texting ad nauseam until the end of time.

Case in point: A recent 10-day text exchange I had with Mr. F from Zoosk. I kept encouraging an in-person meeting but Mr. F was equally adept at promising and delaying.

For example, in a discussion of food and cooking, I suggested we get a drink to plan a salmon throwdown. Mr. F liked the idea and we continued to volley about this and other topcs — on the site and then offline (using my Google voice number).

Mr. F began sending me a daily 5 p.m. text asking how my day was. Sadly, he failed to advance the discussion significantly so that we could learn something substantive about each other. I continued to pursue an in-person meeting. And the kicker? He was constantly online. Every time I went on Zoosk to check messages, I got a notification that my connection, Mr. F, was on the site.

Finally, I’d had enough. At this point, the flirting by text lost its appeal. After a weekend of no contact (although Mr. F was certainly online), I was convinced he was either playing at dating and never intended to meet or he had lined up dates with so many other women that I wasn’t a priority. When he sent his usual 5 p.m. text on the Monday after the no-contact weekend, I decided to rebuff him in a snarky way.   See below for the end of our “relationship.”

text-with-frank-for-blog

My last “Ciao” was cut off in the screen shot.

As I suspected (and hoped), my response ended this merry go round. When you’re pissed off, having the last word is deeply satisfying!

Mr. F wasn’t the first man with DADD I have encountered. Some have admitted to me they know they are online too much. Even if they meet some of the women they encounter, they can’t seem to stop looking for the next best Ms. Right.

Hope we all find someone who has kicked DADD – or never had it.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Dating Roundup: Safety, Security, and Truth in Advertising

blog post woman on phone

It’s time to revisit safety, security, and fabricated profiles in online dating. It’s an ever-present topic for me as I sift through profiles and interact with matches. When I started online dating, I spent a lot more time vetting matches. I still vet them but I’ve become pretty good at recognizing the scammers so I often don’t need to go through all of the investigative hoops such as doing Google image searches. Along the way, I found some shortcuts and tips.

Pass the salmon burgers with sweet pickle relish while I discuss the issue and the shortcuts. Warning: parts of today’s chat get a bit geeky.

Coffee Meets Bagel recently sent me a good reminder about online safety with a list of common scammer behaviors and profile characteristics:

-Profession in the military or engineering, works out of the country

-Recently widowed with children

-Overly complimentary with flowery, romantic language right off the bat

-Poor English and grammar, but high level of education (Master’s, Ph.D., etc.)

-Quick to get you off the app and into email/some other messaging app, but not text (they don’t have a working cell phone).

I disagree about the texting. I find scammers will sometimes text but rarely will they speak on the phone to you.

One of my go-to security checks is the Google image search mentioned above. This tool searches the web for photos that match the one you’re checking out. So, for example, you can see if a person in another geographic location has the same photo. Sometimes you will find that the photo is of a celebrity in another country.

I’m often using dating apps on my phone or tablet rather than my laptop. I wondered if there is a way to do an image search on these devices.

Mobile Image Search Tools

Of course, consult Google whenever you have a question. Not only are there reverse image apps, but there are a couple of other tricks. A PC Magazine article about image searching from a cell phone identified one strategy: using CTRLQ, a so-called Google Image search “wrapper.” Created by Amit Agarwal, this website tool can be used to search images on mobile devices.

To search an image from a dating app, you must first save it.

How do you save those Tinder and other app profile pictures? Take a screenshot of the image. On an iPhone or iPad, simultaneously press and hold the sleep/wake button on the top or side of your device while also pressing and holding the home button. You’ll hear the click of the camera. Your saved image will be in the camera roll. You can then select that image when using an image search app (see below), CTRLQ, or the desktop version of Google (another way to do an image search on your phone). Try it; it’s an easy process.

If you have an Android phone, you can use a similar technique to save images. Digital Trends reviewed screen shot techniques for a variety of Android devices.

Image Search Phone Apps

If you have an iPhone, type “image search” in Apps and you’ll encounter a number of tools. I downloaded Veracity and found it to be seamless. I’m not aware of any Android image search apps but CTRLQ should work on these mobile devices.

Non-Geek Tips

Safety is not always the issue with false profiles. Sometimes it’s a matter of misrepresentation. For example, how many men have you dated who have obviously lied about age and height?

One possible clue that a man has lied about his age: he is willing to date women 5 + years older. An older age preference doesn’t necessarily mean a man is 5 years older than he says, but look at his picture and see if that could be the case.

Age fabrication may not bother you. However, some of my friends say, “Well, what else is he lying about?” I tend to be forgiving if there is only a couple of years difference…but a bigger lie is more troubling and a likely deal breaker.

Another quick way to check out a new match is to search his screen name. You may find his alias on other dating, sex, and general sites. You can learn a lot from this easy sleuthing.

An Almost Meet Cute

Enough about online issues! I’m still working on meeting men in real life.

I had a brief almost meet cute Friday night. Walking up a long subway escalator after a night of jazz at Westminster Church, a man was about to pass me on the left. “Wanna race?” he asked. I quickly looked at him (age appropriate, too short but nice face), smiled, and went into high gear escalator racing. He laughed and said, “I didn’t think you would.” “I’m very competitive,” I said as I gave him a run for his money (placing first in the Olympic sport of escalator racing). Several children trailed Mr. Racer. Grandkids? His kids? You never know. And I was with friends, so the exchange ended there.

Just another almost meet cute in DC. I’ve got a million of them…. some day, one has got to fully develop.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Dating Sites & Apps: The New Old and the New New

blog new old andnew new

Some days it’s hard not to be discouraged by online dating. It helps when the old dating sites and apps offer new tweaks to their services – or new products are launched.

Join me in some bone-building rainbow trout with garlicky yogurt and kale while I review the latest updates and inventions.

Match didn’t send me a heads up about their latest App improvement (not available on the computer version). I discovered this refinement accidentally when viewing a profile on my phone.

At the top of the screen, under my match’s picture, was an “activity meter” and message to “View MatchIQ.”

Match activity meter front page

When I clicked on it, I was presented with the percentage match of my target and the age of my competition. Sample: “You’re the same age as the girls he usually talks to.” I like having this information and it gives me incentive to proactively message someone.MATCH ACTIV meter you're same age

The next screen provides additional information on the matches your fellow responds to. See below.

Match activ meter interests of matches

I like this feature as well and I can imagine that if I really liked someone, I might update my profile to include additional interests (as long as they really are my interests).

The activity meter shows how active a match is:

Match how active is he

And how often he responds:

 

Match activ meter response level

The update also suggests ice-breakers (mostly lame: e.g., how do you feel about decaf coffee drinkers?) and tips and tricks to help you.

I’ll share an observation based on my viewing of one man’s activity meter. Mr. M is 60 years old and, according to his activity meter, talks to women in their early 60s. Yet, his profile says he is seeking women age 29 to 45. I don’t know if this means he’s happy to email “boomer age” women but will not consider meeting women in this age group. Perhaps I should write to him and see what happens. I share many of his interests and don’t need to revise my profile. Stay tuned for any worthwhile updates.

Tinder’s latest wrinkle is a feature called Tinder Social. Once you “unlock” Tinder Social, you’ll see Facebook friends who have also unlocked it and they will see you. You can then invite 1, 2, or 3 friends to go out. Your group will then appear as a choice when men are swiping in search of dates. One person from each “going out” group has to say yes to the other multi-person match. Then you can message each other and make plans.

When you unlock the feature, you will see groups even if you haven’t yet formed one yourself. I guess there’s no reason you couldn’t say “yes” to a group and then invite some other non-Tinder friends along.

To date, I have been presented with several groups of friends – some mixed sex and some mixed ages. This reminds me of group dates in high school. Perhaps Tinder management hopes Tinder Social will help to change public perception of the app as a hook-up vehicle. As the Tinder blog says, ”Often your best nights are when you’re hanging with friends, someone makes an unexpected connection with someone in another crew. Maybe you spark a romantic connection. Maybe you make new friends. Either way a good night out with your friends becomes something better.”

Coffeemeetsbagel has a new ladies choice way of operating. Women used to receive a “bagel” at noon (provided the CMB gods found you a bagel). You and your bagel then indicated whether you liked each other. If there was a mutual like, you were “connected” and could chat. With ladies choice, women are presented with bagels who already liked them. So, there’s no waiting and wondering. CMB wrote me about the new feature: “This is #LadiesChoice. You’ll only see a curated list of Bagels who already liked you. No more endless swiping. No more dating games. You have the final say on who gets to start a conversation with you.”   Highly doubtful this will be the end of dating games. On a positive note, CMB is morphing into a Bumble-like app where it’s up to women to initiate the conversation.

And now for something completely new: Lovenotes and Bernie A.I.

Lovenotes matches you with people who share similar music preferences and vocal characteristics. As a music lover, I like the idea of a music-themed dating app. I’m on Tastebuds but it’s not just for dating and hasn’t brought me much luck.

Love notes

I decided to sign up for Lovenotes since this blog encourages me to be an early adopter. Like many of the dating apps, Lovenotes draws your basic public information and photos from Facebook. I was asked to pick a song that best describes me and to select 5 other “favorite” songs. My next task was to record several voice notes with my phone. In addition to recording some random phrases, there is a free choice recording. I found the recording process easy technically but otherwise challenging. I felt like I sounded forced and stupid but it’s an awkward situation. Fortunately, you can delete and re-record ad infinitum.

You also write a very short bio and set the usual age and distance filters. Once all this is done, Lovenotes provides a “science-y” algorithm based on musical preferences and vocal characteristics. When you get your matches, it’s up to you to say yes or no. If someone likes you back, then there’s a “connection” and you can start talking.

I’ve been on Lovenotes 24 hours and received one match who is 32 years old. That’s likely a function of the app being new with few members in my age category.

Lovenotes, like Bernie A.I. (see next), is proud of its science base and for the edification of its users, the website offers links to 19 studies on various aspects of voice, music, and attraction.

Bernie A.I. for artificial intelligence is still in a public beta testing mode. Billed by its developers as “your personal matchmaking assistant,” Bernie learns your type and does the work for you. It finds your matches on dating sites and apps you belong to, swipes for you, and even messages your matches with customizable introductions that you write. Once you sign up through Facebook, you make 60 yes/no choices to photos to teach Bernie who you find attractive. There’s also an anti-spam feature, per the Bernie A.I. website, that detects spammers and automatically reports them.

I didn’t sign up for Bernie A.I. yet. I have to think about whether I want big brother Bernie sending introductions for me (even if they’re based on what I write). I know some dating coaches do this but where does the farming out end? I’m certainly not going to farm out the cuddling.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Serendipity, Tiny Things, and Facebook

blog post facebook

I’m a big believer in serendipity — something good like a meet-cute happening by chance. It comes with the hopeless romantic territory of my mind. I love every movie that explores the issue of serendipity, including its namesake film.

Serendipity relates to my theory of tiny things making big differences. Am I confusing you? Eat something before you faint and all will become clear.

Here’s what got me thinking about this issue. In my quest to say yes to fun and to “get out there,” I recently went to a jazz concert with a gal pal. We learned about this concert from a DC jazz events newsletter.

After the concert, we approached the newsletter writer (let’s call him Mr. B) and had a nice chat. He introduced us to the singer and star of the show. Mr. B’s love of the genre makes him a one-man jazz PR machine and he seems to know everyone connected with music in the DC metropolitan area.

When it was time to leave, Mr. B suggested I friend him on Facebook.   (No, he’s married; this is not where I’m going with this.)

It’s time to think of Facebook in a new way. Many dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Coffee Meets Bagel use Facebook friends and the connections of Facebook friends as the fodder for your potential matches. These Facebook connections make up a good number of the guys or gals you will be asked to swipe or select.

A new Facebook friend becomes not only a social media connection but also the possible entrée to the love of your life. When I was married and later when I was newly single, I didn’t devote much time or energy to Facebook. Now, not only do I care about this blog’s Facebook page but I also care about my personal Facebook page. The reasons are two-fold – to stay in touch with real life and potential real life friends AND to open the door to more matches.

After I got home from the concert, I sent a friend request to Mr. B. He accepted a couple of hours later. The next day, when I went on Tinder, Bumble, and Coffee Meets Bagel, I was pleased to see a bigger than usual crop of matches (many with a connection to Mr. B.)

I matched on Tinder with the head of a high school music program. We haven’t messaged each other yet…but that’s par for the course.

The key take away from this post is that a new Facebook friend can indirectly –through dating apps — open up your dating possibilities. Facebook can also be a direct link to love. You may have heard about people who have connected on Facebook and found new or renewed romance.

No, Mark Zuckerberg did not pay me to write this blog post. But if you are on Facebook-based dating apps, be more proactive about acquiring new Facebook friends (reach out to your real life friends) – even if you never post updates or look at your newsfeed. It’s a tiny thing but it could make a big difference in your dating life.

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia