Location-Based Apps Make Online Dating Even Less Fulfilling

There’s a reason I have a profile on OK Cupid.  I work in an office with all women, and the prospects that live upstairs are all Republicans.  I spend my free time decompressing at yoga class, purposely avoiding eye contact in the hope that no one will say Namaste and then hug me.

The truth of the matter is, my life in a new city, post-college, is a lot less social than it was when I was an undergrad.  And less social means that I resort to addictively playing Quickmatch in an attempt to see if anyone will spark with me.  I find these all to valid reasons to have a 70% active profile.  There’s something slightly comforting knowing all the guys who look at my profile are doing it from behind a computer screen.  I’m safe from them knowing anything tangible about me until I choose to reveal it. Until now.

Thanks to phone apps like Blendr, StreetSpark, Loopt Mix and the new Locals feature on the OkCupid app, all my online dating information is easily accessible to the person walking their dog in front of me.  Or the creepy guy who smells like cabbage who sits in the corner of the coffee shop reading yesterday’s New York Times. Or the horny broseph.  All these people show up as matches on those mobile apps, and the scary part is they have a semi-vague idea of where you live/work/play – because you’re now this little high-rated dot on a map on their phone.

As the creator of StreetSpark will tell you, there’s supposed to be an air of serendipity in knowing there’s a person (sadly not John Cusack) that’s perfect for you just around the corner — if only you reach out.  It plays perfectly into the idea of one’s life becoming a Sandra Bullock movie.  But do location-based dating apps really make one feel romantic?  Or does mobile just make casual sex with the local pastry chef (even) easier to come by?  I say the latter, based on the timing of the phone notifications of a potential “match” – which usually reach me after 10 p.m. on a weekend. (A sure sign of a booty call.) It’s the equivalent of a Facebook Poke. My response is, “so what now?”  We may all be online-dating, but some ladies still like to keep it old fashioned — why not follow up that wink with a message?  We like to be wooed.

But maybe I’m saying “No” too quickly to smartphone dating.  Blendr lets users adjust settings to hold back information and a “location toggle” to adjust the accuracy of the location mapping. StreetSpark won’t reveal your exact location unless both parties agree to “ignite.”  And based on anecdotal evidence, the Locals feature on OkCupid will most likely match you with someone within a two mile radius.  But then there’s the chance of dealing with the aftermath of a series of awkward dates.  I should know, the last guy that I agreed to meet via OkCupid Locals showed up behind me in yoga class a week later.  There were no Namastes.

But then again, it’s like college all over again, with the unexpected run-ins with bad daters.  Who knows, maybe this is really the way to make online dating more social?

What do you think? Do you use the mobile apps for your favorite online dating sites? Tell us in the comments!

Valeria Villarroel Recent College Grad, New Employee, who's media-obsessed. Straddling the line between low-tech and new-tech. Writer. Personality. Fangirl. I love thinking about and debating brit-pop, media, politics, and social issues. I have a lot of things to say, and probably not enough words to say it. Find me on twitter @Maleria_withaV

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