Frustrated with the Apps? Try the “Burned Haystack” Dating Method

Jennie Young
5 min readAug 15

I’m going to introduce you to a method called “Burned Haystack Dating.” It’s far more effective and efficient than what most people do — but before I explain it, you must understand a few things:

  1. The method was developed as a result of an academic research project that is entirely non-monetized, non-promoted, and not-for-profit. I am not a “dating coach,” and I do not consult for monetary compensation. I am a researcher and professor who studies dating app interactions, and I moderate the Burned Haystack Method group on Facebook and Instagram. The group is crowd-sourced, grass-roots, and unapologetically feminist. There is no bait-and-switch: you will never have to click to another platform or pay for anything to access the information you need to apply the method. It’s open to women and nonbinary folks who dates cisgender hetero men.
  2. My expertise is in rhetoric and metaphor analysis. I teach women to use the tricks of my trades to game the dating apps. I have used the method myself, which you can read about in this article published in The Independent. I also employ a lot of humor, which is arguably more useful than my academic Ph. D. when it comes to surviving digital-era dating.
  3. All of life is metaphorical. We cannot communicate, understand, or function without guiding metaphors. If you’d like to nerd out on this topic, you can read my book or the much more famous book whose theory laid the groundwork for mine. You don’t need to read either book to use the method, but you do need to understand the burned haystack metaphor, so let’s do that:

The Burned Haystack Metaphor

You’re looking for the needle in the haystack, right? The one man who will show up, come through, and stick around (those are all metaphors, by the way). You’re looking for the man not holding a fish in his profile, the man not glaring threateningly down at the camera while cutting off his own head in the frame, the man not gazing into the mirror of his crappy bathroom with bad lighting and dirty towels in the background (those are not metaphors, as you well know).

Let’s begin with a very pragmatic question: How do you find a needle in a haystack? Not metaphorically, but in real life. The answer is

Jennie Young

Professor and humor writer in Green Bay. McSweeney’s, The Independent, HuffPost, Ms. Mag, Education Week, Inside Higher Ed, Slackjaw, Weekly Humorist, others.