A less than comprehensive guide to dating apps for the modern Perth man.
I had it all worked out. We were going to bump into each other at a bookshop. Not a bargain one. A trendy one that for some reason also sold tote bags. She was there to buy Girl on the Train but accidentally wandered too far into the arty book section. I was there already having got lost looking for the Asterix and Tintin section.
It was there we accidentally brushed hands as we reached for the same book. Our eyes met. An embarrassed apology became a nervous chat, which blossomed into a spontaneous coffee date, leading to a soul searching discussion and finally halted by a sullen staff member kicking us out to close the café. As the weeks went by every phone beep, long phone call or walk on the beach cast us deeper and deeper into an unbreakable, all-consuming love.
Fast forward a few years and I am sitting on my couch with a milkshake, half watching Ninja Warrior and half flicking through potential love on my phone. I jokingly call it ‘Netflix and Choc-Chilling’ in order to disguise to myself that this isn’t even remotely like my dream plan.
Would it be cheating if I asked her to meet me in a bookshop?
Anyway, that’s assuming I get a match. And here’s the problem as a guy looking for a girl online in Perth. There’s the promise of endless wonderful ladies to talk to, yet in reality I only have a few matches and most of them don’t reply. This was going to be a review of the different dating apps, but it doesn’t matter if I am on Tinder, Bumble, Zoosk or that one I mistook for a fishing app, I don’t feel like I have much to compare.
Going out in Perth as a single person also has it’s unique “quirks”. Having lived elsewhere, I am well aware that Perthonalitiess like to go out in groups, stick to those groups and glare at anybody not in those groups who dare to say “hi!”
With dilemmas both on and offline, I decide to recruit help. It’s not hard. Every non-single girl in my world has designated themselves as my dating coach. “It must be your profile. Give it to me!” I hand the phone over in the same manner someone who has just won lotto hands in their winning ticket. She hands it back.
“There, you’ll have plenty of matches in no time.”
Two days later I open the app, watch a tumbleweed roll past and close it again.
“It’s definitely your opening lines. Let me look” my dating mentor advises.
I hand over the phone in the same manner a driver hands over his license to a roadside officer.
“That’s pretty funny… that’s okay… she’s just being a jerk… what’s with all the dad jokes?”
I absorb the wisdom. A look of enlightenment on my face and dreams of wild success in my mind. Yet despite my specialist consultation, things more or less stay the same and through other consultation (this time with other single blokes) I realise it’s a different problem.
You see, the thing with dating apps is that they are superficial. Everyone is selecting their ideal. If you don’t fall into that spectrum, you’re not even in the running. It’s a snap judgement of an entire person based entirely on a few pics and bio made of emojis. And you know what? I’m guilty of it too.
I feel like perhaps I am outside the ideal spectrum. I like to think I am a good catch, but I am also a single dad who has been adulting for a while now (I’m almost 35). But, I am far enough out of that spectrum to realise it’s real. Probably not just for guys, but for a lot of users.
I also realise the subtle drag this is having on my confidence.
I delete the apps. Until someone invents an app that rewards me for being me, not pretending to be someone perfect, then I’m going to stick to bookshops.