Connected: The dating game
Online dating has been around for years, but improving technology – smartphones in particular – has led to a rapid rise in usage, particularly by under 35s.
By Asher Goldman
For many people, the traditional dating scene is just not that fun. If you are looking for a partner, and you are in a stable group of friends who have been together for a long time, chances are you might find it tricky to meet new people. If you are feeling too old for (or just not interested in) the nightclubbing scene, then online dating can be an excellent alternative.
There are a number of different dating websites and apps, each with their own quirks, user base, and mix of strengths and weaknesses. For those interested in online dating, below are some of your options:
Tinder is the former upstart challenger turned establishment beast. Tinder requires an iPhone or Android smartphone, and a Facebook account (which it uses to source your photos and interests). You can search for other Tinder users by age, gender and how far away they are from you. You can’t restrict searches by sexuality, so it is harder for people looking for a non-heterosexual match. Once you have defined your search, Tinder shows you a profile picture of a person, along with their name age – you can look at their profile in more depth (usually 2 to 5 photos and a few lines of text) and then either “tick” or “cross” them. If you and another user both tick each other, Tinder will notify you. From there you can privately chat with them, and, if you want, arrange to meet up in person. Tinder is primarily used for hook-ups rather than those looking for long-term relationships, and the age range tends to skew younger (under 26).
OkCupid has been around for more than 10 years, and is one of the dominant worldwide dating sites. You can use it on a computer or an iPhone/Android phone, and it claims that its algorithm provides you with the best quality matches of any site. The standard OkCupid profile offers significantly more detail than apps such as Tinder, and in addition to listing attributes such as height, ethnicity, and age, you can also list whether or how often you drink or smoke, if you want children and more. Lastly, OkCupid offers a near limitless number of questions, often open-ended, to which you can provide answers if you wish. This means that a complete profile on OkCupid give you an insight into how a person thinks. The system compares your answers with someone you are looking at and gives you a percentage compatibility rating. OkCupid is used for both hook-ups and dating.
FindSomeone is owned by Fairfax (publishers of Stuff.co.nz and some of New Zealand’s most-read newspapers), and is New Zealand only. Unlike Tinder and OKCupid, many features, including seeing compatibility, on FindSomeone are pay only. In other words, heavy users may need to stump up the cash for a premium account to get the full benefit although you can jump in with a free account to get a taster. The pay option means that FindSomeone tends to skew a little older than other services, while also being more focused on relationships rather than hook-ups. It is only available as a website, but the website is fully functional in a smartphone browser.
There are plenty of other options out there too, including Grindr (for men looking for men); NZ Dating (the first major local site, more used for hook-ups), and Match.com (the world’s biggest, but not as well used locally).
A few pointers
Just like trying to meet people offline, online dating can be fun but it can also be frustrating or infuriating. Keep in mind that people may not be who they appear. If you are meeting someone in person, do it in a public space, and never give out your address or credit card details to someone online.
Lastly, a word for our male readers – men on online dating sites have an (often deserved) reputation for some unpleasant and downright gross behaviour. Harassing women who have said they are not interested, getting angry if someone does not respond, or sending unsolicited naked pictures of yourself just isn’t ok. Don’t be one of those guys.
In the coming years, more and more couples will be able to say that they met online – will you be one of them?
This article is from the March 2015 issue of the PSA Journal. You can read back issues of the Journal by clicking here.