I’ve always been a “traditional” dater. You know the type: someone who relies on introductions via common friends, or chance encounters. Online dating was (and still is) something I wouldn’t choose to do.

But for several days in late 2014, that was exactly what I did. Only it wasn’t because I suddenly wanted to jump-start my dormant love life. I tested two dating apps for 2nd Opinion: the more established OkCupid, and the then-upstart Tinder.

TL;DR: I’m still not into online dating, and I uninstalled both apps in 2015. But maybe you are. In that case, good luck!

Aside from using my subhead as the head, ditching the print subhead altogether, and adding a few quotation marks, the magazine published my draft in the November 2014 issue as is. Read it below.

A Few Days of Digital “Dating”

Or: Dipping into OKCupid and Tinder

by KC Calpo

There’s nothing wrong with being single, either by choice or circumstance. But when it seems that most of the people in your age group have paired up and settled down, you can’t help but feel the (spoken and unspoken) pressure. If you want to (and are fully ready to) get back into dating, and interested in trying something new — yep, there are apps for that.

We spent several days using two very popular free apps: OKCupid and Tinder. OKCupid has been around for much longer; it marked its 10th birthday back in March. Tinder’s a toddler compared to OKCupid, launching only in 2012.

They may be focused on matchmaking, but their approaches are very different. OKCupid allows signups via e-mail or Facebook; and will have you updating your profile, setting preferences and search parameters, and answering Match Questions immediately after your first login. While this can make for better-calculated matches, at times we felt like we were answering job application or employee forms; we wanted to ask if this came with full medical and dental.

In contrast, Tinder facilitates signups only with Facebook accounts. After login, you’ll tinker a bit with account preferences and search parameters, then you’re off swiping to the left (Pass) or right (Like). The app also shows you users’ profiles, how many Facebook friends you have in common, and your common interests via Liked Pages.

Anonymity also works differently on these two apps. OKCupid will tell you if a user “Likes” you, but won’t show you the full list. You’ll have to pay for A-List for that perk, along with invisible browsing, username changes, and read receipts for messages. You can also pay for OKCupid Boost, which will give you 15 minutes of extra profile promotion.

Tinder, meanwhile, will only tell you if you have a Match — that is, when you Like someone and you get Like-d back. Either party can then send the other a Message, “Keep Playing”, or share that particular Match on social media.

OKCupid also has a feature called Quickmatch, something very similar to how Tinder works. However, we got more matches on Tinder than on Quickmatch.

…there will always be a certain amount of judgment and superficiality in dating, but apps like these seem to amp them up even more.

This stopover in Dating App Land made us realize a few things. First, there will always be a certain amount of judgment and superficiality in dating, but apps like these seem to amp them up even more. You’re evaluating people only through profile photos and limited personal information. People get to be extra judgy and shallow, and have those be the norm.

Next: We already know this with social media, but dating apps in general also give users added (or needed) validation. Everyone wants to be liked and Liked. Learning that there are people out there who are interested in us… we have to admit, it did feel nice.

Third, it seems some things will never change. We’re still terribly picky, and spent more time Passing than Liking. We don’t know if this is because of our search parameters, or if we just don’t like our options. We can also have bad personal judgment: a quick check on Facebook told me that a Match on Tinder is, in real life, a married man and a father to two kids. Oh, hell no.

Which leads us to the fourth and final point. It’s possible to get into monogamous, long-term relationships via online dating. But there will always be those who see it only as a game.

Dating/Matchmaking apps may give users more visibility and convenience, but the usual complications will still be there. Of course, it all depends on your intentions and expectations. Sometimes, you just get really lucky online and meet The One instead of The For-Now.

As for us — we’ve logged out and are hedging our bets back on “old-school” dating. But the apps are still installed, just in case we change our minds. ⦾