Dating Sites and Apps: A Rodeo Roundup

blog pix online-dating

It’s early Sunday morning (really early – before sunrise) and I’m sipping coffee, reading my latest OkCupid email. What a lovely note from a cultured man but he lives 2,384 miles away in Vegas, is 4 inches shorter than me….and he’s 86 years old.

You have to give him credit for desiring intimacy and going for it. And perhaps I’ll take him up on his offer of a road trip to see the Southwest…but it would be a friends-only no benefits excursion.

Before I pack my bags for Vegas, it’s time for a rodeo roundup of recently tried dating sites and apps. There’s a chill in the air so let’s have some cioppino to warm our bellies.

I tried to come up with a theory about why I like or dislike various sites and apps. Thoughts swirled around and I had a vague notion of why some of them worked better than others. My theories jelled after reading Maureen O’Connor’s recent article on dating apps in New York Magazine’s The Cut column. As she wrote, “We choose our dating apps the same way we choose bars, parties, coffee shops, concerts, and everywhere else we go with the vague hope of finding a mate – based on the people.” According to O’Connor, “the make-or-break factor in whether you stick around to flirt, or clam up and leave, is the crowd.”

My successes and failures with various sites and apps are certainly crowd-based. I hated eHarmony because the eHarmony folks picked the wrong crowd for me: they were boring and unattractive, and they all lived hundreds or thousands of miles away. To top it off, the site gave no option to scroll through and select guys I wanted to communicate with. I could only view men preselected for me.

Ms. O’Connor’s article presents a quick summary of the populations she encountered on 15 dating apps. Different users will, of course, see different crowds based on their profiles and search preferences. I tried some of the same sites/apps but my “crowd” is composed of older guys in a different location. Interestingly, in some cases, I must be getting older DC-area versions of the younger guys Ms. O’Connor found in NY.

Here’s my rodeo round up of sites and apps I tried, including a “senior” dating site geared to baby boomers and a couple of niche dating sites.

My assessment of online dating venues is based on whether there are a good number of dateable guys who are attractive, educated, and interesting; whether the men reach out and contact matches rather than just viewing them; and whether the site has a lot of scammers and fake users.

Dating Sites and Apps Round-up:

Match: I continue to find “dateable guys” seeking relationships on Match and they have the largest subscriber base of all of the sites so this one’s a keeper even though I receive a greater volume of inquiries on some of the other sites.

OkCupid: This used to be my favorite site and I have had a couple of 90-day relationships from matches on this site. However, lately, the site seems to be overrun with scammers, fake users, and strange guys. I’m not giving up on Ok but it’s gone down a notch on my list.

Plenty of Fish: I like this site and have had a number of dates from fish in this sea. No winners yet but at least the guys are dateable and reach out.

eHarmony: see above. Grade: F 

JDate: My matches did not appeal and the guys did not seem to reach out as much as men on other sites.

OurTime: At first I loved OurTime, a site for those 50 and over. The users are active. They reach out frequently. However, too many of the guys are not appealing or educated and none of my conversations resulted in actual dates. I deleted it after a few months.

Ebony and Ivory: My foray into this niche dating site was a bust and I have stopped using this site. I was seeking ethnic variety but I was presented with mostly older, white dudes out of my geographic area. The “personal” emails I received were generic bits of profiles. The one time I wrote to Customer Service, I received a canned response to my complaint about geographic incompatibility.

How About We: Hardly anyone is on this site and no one appealed. The concept is clever: you suggest a date idea and an interested party can respond to that idea or suggest an alternate one. There’s also a nice feature that says you’re available to go out that night.   I never received a “match” for the “go out that night” feature. The only date I had was with a widower who acknowledged he was not ready to date. I’m no longer a member.

Bumble: As a child of the ‘60s and ‘70s, I was immediately intrigued by a “feminist” dating app. Created by one of the co-founders of Tinder, Bumble’s “shtick” is that only women are allowed to initiate contact with a guy. I like the idea of women being in control. I am proactive on traditional sites/apps, but prefer to have men make the first move on these platforms. On Bumble, I feel freer to be the pursuer.

I was worried at first that there wouldn’t be enough men my age on Bumble. And that appears to be the case. I haven’t received many matches and the only date I scheduled was with a younger man who cancelled at almost the last minute due to a work crisis. I’ll keep using this site but due to the small number of matches I’m getting, I feel like the likelihood of my finding someone is the equivalent of a needle hole in a haystack…or perhaps a tiny bee in a big hive. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Tinder: I have to give credit to Karen Yankosky of the Women of Uncertain Age podcast for inspiring me to try Tinder. Apparently Tinder is not just a hook-up App. Women and men can – and do — indicate they are seeking a relationship, not a one-night stand. So I bit the bullet a few days ago and quickly and easily created a profile.

Both Tinder and Bumble pull your public info from Facebook. Only your first name shows up on the App. If you feel nervous about exposing your Facebook info, you can follow my example. I pruned the public info on my profile. There is nothing in my Facebook profile that a stranger could use to identify or find me.

In addition to pulling information and photos from your Facebook profile, Tinder displays your location information and age. If you like someone, you can swipe right or select a heart. If you don’t like the guy, you swipe left or select the big X. If two people swipe right, they are both alerted by the app that they like each other and can start messaging. There seems to be an endless supply of men on the app (many of whom I recognize from other dating sites). I have my first Tinder coffee date set up for next week.

I love Tinder. It’s addictive. I especially like the fact that you only communicate with someone when you both like each other. Of course, this is my latest App download…and so I’m still in the crush phase.

To wrap up my rodeo, I leave you with two summary points. I think it IS a good idea to be on as many sites as you can handle. Some dating advisors suggest limiting your sites and apps to 2 or 3. I disagree. For one thing, if you have started dating someone from one of the sites, but you are not exclusive yet, you might want to browse on another site without your possible keeper guy knowing about it. Plus, with more sites, you’ll have more options. Maximize your possibilities!

If a site is not working out, stop using it but consider another trial period in 6 months. There may be some new users or app upgrades that change the experience.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

View from the Trenches: At Peace with Dating or Not Dating

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It’s always good to hear about the dating life of other single women. If nothing else, it’s comforting to know that you are not the only one on the receiving end of some strange male dating behaviors. And when things go well, you give or receive hope from your support group.

Let’s find out about Gina Sangster’s dating experiences while we have Marcella Hazan’s classic pesto. This is my favorite pesto recipe and my go-to summertime staple.

Well, things have flat-lined – again – in my latest dating effort. Inspired by a recent ageist comment about Senior People Meet (I think it was something about denture-wearers) I re-upped my subscription. I’ll show them, huh? I had sworn off all dating sites for the past year and while not a hermit, my day to day life affords few opportunities to meet potential dating partners. That reality, and closing in on 65 which equals being invisible, irrelevant, disposable and even at times pitiable in public make my chances slim to none.

I keep forgetting that having gray hair means you can’t stand up on the Metro and while I still swoon for chivalry in a young man, it really bugs me when a woman close to my age offers me her seat. Hidden within this aging body with its head of silver curls lurks a formerly hot chick, a babe, a true blue pretty girl that even the women’s movement of the raging 70’s couldn’t squelch. So I decided to give on-line dating one more whirl.

I could stomach doing this because I stopped caring about whether or not I’ll ever meet someone, unlike when I was first sprung from my 20-year marriage just shy of 50 on the edge of the millennium when print personals were still in fashion. I met Rick, sturdy-looking, bald, divorced with a winning smile. He was wearing jeans and a nice shirt, just the pulled together casual style I like, and we made out like teenagers in front of the Library of Congress fountain with its spraying turtles, serpents and bold, muscular nudes. It seemed like we dated for years but it was only a few months. He slid right into my family, picking up my teenaged daughter from a friend’s house, sharing Thanksgiving dinner with us, showing a genuine interest in my young son’s martial arts practice. But I soon discovered he wasn’t over his last girlfriend, so he bowed out just before Valentines’ Day when I’d imagined us spending a romantic weekend at some bed n’ breakfast in the Shenandoah. Rick set the bar pretty high and in some ways my dating experience has been downhill ever since.

Not that I blame all the men. I’ve chosen to devote time and energy to relationships that were doomed from the start. How about a man calling from Saudi Arabia who even when he’s at home in the States would be about 500 miles away? I carried a torch for him for a couple of years, though we only saw each other maybe half a dozen times. Or the dapper man I dated for about 9 months who had habits you’d expect of a 15 year old: not calling when he said he would, coming up with lame excuses like he left his phone at home or fell asleep watching TV, all the while professing how much he cared for me and wanted our relationship to be meaningful. These ventures into dating boot camp help me stay grounded as a psychotherapist; though I reveal none of this to my clients, they feel my compassion as they share the disasters of their lives for which they suffer terrible guilt and shame. I’m pretty good at curing most cases of guilt and shame.

So my latest half-hearted return to on-line dating through Senior People Meet netted me a brief flurry of activity, headed up by the man who was especially excited because we’re about the same height which is less than five feet tall. I know it’s crass and superficial of me to admit that I just couldn’t cope with the prospect. Perhaps if his voice on the phone had been less grating and he hadn’t made one more joke about us “seeing eye-to-eye,” I might have considered it. Then the guys from Texas, Florida, and all over the South and Midwest who ignore the plea in my profile for contact only with men local to the DC area; and the men with little education who can’t write a complete sentence and wouldn’t know a comma or capitalization if it sat in their lap; never mind the beloved semi-colon. For me, education doesn’t have to be Ivy League; in fact, I prefer if it isn’t. The School of Hard Knocks is fine with me, as long as he’s literate. No picture? What is it about men who like a woman’s photo but post none of their own? We’re visual creatures too and while a man’s looks may not tell the whole story, how is it fair that we get to be seen but can’t see who’s watching? Oh, and the penchant for not answering a nice, inviting message? Even if the answer is no, why the silent treatment?

Here’s what I’d like: a man in a decent shirt, no tie; jeans or some other form of casual garb, photographed recently – let’s say within the last year – with no hair dye or hair piece, looking like he’s at home in his own body. No pictures of his kids or grandchildren need to be featured; that can come later. A dog or cat would be fine. If he’s snow-boarding, skiing, sky-diving, sailing around the world or clocking in under three-hour marathons, we may not be a match. Athletic is good, but not to excess; I love my weekly yoga class and long walks but I’m not going to keep up with an Iron-man competitor. Some extra poundage is fine; in fact, better than skinny in my book. Bald is okay too; Yul Brynner and Telly Savalas were stars of my formative years. I like smart and funny, curious and passionate; someone like me, only taller.

I’ll let my Senior People Meet subscription run its course and will check in when I get a “flirt” or message, but my heart isn’t in it. And there’s relief in that, to be at peace with my life as it is, with work that I love, friendships to nurture, and great relationships with my kids and grandsons. A wise woman once told me, “Well, you know, you can’t have it all.” Not something we hardcore feminists wanted to believe, but it’s true.

Gina Sangster

June 13, 2015