Like many single women who are searching for long-term partners, I had set up carefully-curated Hinge and Match.com profiles, and I doggedly scrolled and swiped, messaged and liked, all of it adding up to absolutely nothing except lost time and compromised mental health.
I kept thinking, we’ve got to be missing something. This isn’t working, and it’s not just me — it doesn’t seem to be working for anyone. Not only were the dating apps not producing suitable matches, but using them was ruining my quality of life.
I kept falling into a cycle that looked like this; maybe it’s familiar to you:
- Decide I want to meet someone and join an app;
- Get initially overwhelmed by all the attention, even though 90% of it ranged from terrifying to stupid;
- Endure a lot of abuse and aggression from men;
- Go out on some terrible dates;
- Become obsessed with the app precisely because it was not providing good matches, which, paradoxically, encouraged me to spend more time on it trying to make it work — time looking and swiping and eventually hitting figurative “rock bottom” that is in reality not a bottom at all because of the infinite scroll;
- Throw up my hands in frustration, quit the app, and decide to try to be happy on my own;
- Decide I’m not truly not happy on my own;
- Join a different app, and begin the whole hopeless cycle again.
This time around, I decided to get academic about it. I have a Ph. D. in rhetoric and critical discourse analysis, which is a fancy word for “reading between the lines,” and it occurred to me that the research techniques I’ve applied in other projects might be the key to unlocking the dating apps.
I’d played around with this previously and had had some success using a few different techniques to write my own profile and to more accurately read men’s profiles. These tricks were helpful, but they were still hit-or-miss; I still felt too much at the mercy of the app, so I decided to ramp up my methods.