Whenever I begin telling people how much dating experience I’ve had, a little voice in the back of my head tells me to hold back my enthusiasm, lest I should look like an over-enthusiastic woman about town who’s a little willy-nilly about her conduct. While my grandmother and my Brazilian personal trainer would probably be horrified at the amount of dates I’ve been on in the last year, I want to assure you, readers, that 95 per cent of my sit downs with Sydney’s most eligible have gone no further than that.
I know within the first fifteen minutes of chatting over a glass of wine with someone whether they’re my type of guy, and unfortunately that doesn’t happen often. Being a writer, and too smart for my own boots, I can read a million meanings into the slightest turn of hand or curl of lip, and I’ll admit it: I’m still a little cut up about the bad experiences I’ve had in the search for love. It means I often flick men off just for looking at me crooked. I know. I’m nuts. I’m working on it.
But that’s another article. Today, I’d like to use my extraordinary culmination of online love-hunting experiences to review the best and the worst of dating phone apps and websites. I’ll illustrate with some stories of the calibre of customer using these sites (which I’m sure is hardly accurate, but it is fun). So let’s begin!
This site is arguably the most renowned due to its television exposure and online advertising presence, so for that reason it’s probably the biggest. A search on RSVP will return hundreds of matches, so the first-timer might be thrilled by the possibilities. The site is easy to use and straightforward to join, and has a range of paid and free subscription options. It costs to do just about anything on RSVP, from sending a hello or ‘kiss’ to viewing someone’s photo, which may get you into hot water if you’re desperate. For this reason, I prefer the all-in, once off payment sites.
Because RSVP is mainly free and very large, it does tend to turn into a meat market. How much emotional investment can you expect a potential match to have with you if you’re one of ten thousand on his list? Without match filters, you can receive a kiss from anyone at all on this website, which can turn the temperature down swiftly if you’re chatting up some gorgeous 27-year-old and MisterCreepy, 72, sends you a pre-written message saying ‘You’re hot!’ Most of my inboxers on RSVP were 50-60-year-old Indian men (I don’t know why!), one even assuring me that he would happily begin attempting to impregnate me as soon as we met. Thanks, buddy, but I usually like to have a drink first. I give RSVP a two out of ten.
Oasis is free to join, and you can begin chatting with others right off the bat, so it’s already got one up on RSVP. Still, the meat market problem; but at least you’re saving all your pennies for a wild night out? Right? Not in my experience. The few men I’ve met on this website have been such penny pinchers that the vast arcade of potential matches and the ability to organise a date with one using the ‘Who’s Near You?’ search option meant that I got my chance to impress over a single coffee at The Coffee Club in Maroubra, and that was it. When I asked if we should move on to dinner, my date assured me that I was welcome to order something where we sat, but that he already had dinner in line with his new low fat diet waiting at home.
When I refused the offer of a second date, this committed entrepreneur told me I’d wasted his time and money. Once again I’m sure this isn’t a representative of all the men on Oasis, but it inspired me to jump off the site. Oasis sends notifications to your phone every time someone takes a breath near your profile on the site, so if you turn them off you’ll have to check in regularly to ensure you catch an interested party before he moves on down the list. It’s was all a little too highly strung for me, so I give Oasis a three out of ten.
This is a phone application only, and it’s major pull is just that: you’re immediately in the presence of daters in your area in a distance range that you choose and live chat replaces the necessity for a detailed profile. When you log in, a grid of twelve faces appears with indications of their activity. It’s a little like picking a puppy at a pet-store. All those tragic, smiling faces. The site is free to use, and instead of purchasing credits to communicate, you can ‘earn’ coins through your activity on the site. Which begs the question: Are you just chatting with me to earn points on your lunch break? The site feels a little like an upmarket ‘Blender’ (I’ve not used THAT particular app, I can assure you, but the principle is the same, isn’t it?). After shopping around on Speeddate over a lunch break working in an office in Chatswood I three times picked up different council workers doing up the nearby Pacific Highway. Needless to say, they were straight to the point. Speeddate takes all the romance out of phone app dating. I give it a two.
For some reason, Okcupid is the dating app of choice for clever cookies. There are a lot of postgraduates and ‘geeks’ on the site, which suits my bag. The thing about really, really smart people is, however, that they’re either completely socially handicapped or their standards are impossible to meet (Remind you of anyone?). I don’t want to give you the impression that everyone on Okcupid is an ideal catch, either. About three out of every ten inboxes I get just reads ‘Hey baby’ or alike (What am I supposed to say in response? Hi sexy? By this time we’ve wasted two whole emails and probably eight hours of response time.
Why do men do this?). I’ve also been approached by four or five men simply seeking a ‘full time sex adventure partner’. After I refused such an offer, one of these copulation pioneers assured me he had a ‘huge **** and a python tongue’ to offer. Ewww. Save it for the strip club, mate. Okcupid’s client list is smaller than the big boys Oasis and RSVP, and membership is completely free – you can contact, view and even rate other members without financial commitment. I’ve been on Okcupid for a long time, so I suppose I’ll have to move on soon, as I’m starting to run into the same old characters. Overall the site and app are easy to use and cleverly arranged. Seven out of ten.
Considered the premier app in relationship arrangement, eHarmony has all the advertising power of RSVP without the devastatingly long client list. Rather than shopping online, users fill out a basic profile, and then answer five hundred (yes, five hundred) questions in order to have themselves mathematically equated into the proper group of potential partners. The questions range from your stance on abortion to how often you make your bed, so I suggest you find yourself something to do while filling them in lest you should spontaneously combust from sheer boredom (I’ve done this twice, both times while watching American Idol, and the survey seems to fly by).
Every morning at around eight your phone dings, and ten new profiles are assigned to you, with first names attached (Much more appealing than the Hawtbodi69 and Rockurpantys82’s of other sites). The app is beautifully designed, which helps in justifying the $30 or so per month you’ll spend being a part of it. The general consensus is that the time, money and patience required to be a part of this game means that most of its users are ‘serious’ about finding a relationship, but once again, assumed intentions aren’t universal. For its style, flair and commitment to finding a mathematical equation to love, I give eHarmony a nine out of ten.
In summary, I’d like to tell the online love-hunters out there that the trap in trying to find your perfect partner in cyberspace is that it’s all very pretty and sexy and exciting on your iphone screen, but real life tends to take that sheen away, and sometimes it can come as a shock. While his photographs might be gorgeous, his answers might be perfect and his stated intentions might be just what you’re looking for, the glamour of the internet is more often than not an illusion, so be wary of falling in love with a chimera. In other articles, I’ll be talking about online dating safety and etiquette, but if you can begin the mission simply by keeping your expectations in check, you should be fine. Good luck out there, shoppers!