There once was a time when blind dates were a thing. Then came the internet and, more precisely, dating apps. These programs allowed us to know everything about a person before even meeting them. Although this phenomenon might have diminished the spontaneity factor, it certainly has allowed people who are less familiar with traditional dating to find their match online. This just goes to show that developing digital dexterity has its perks.
Note to Self:
On the agenda tonight: date with Cassandra. Let’s look her up on Instagram to get to know her a little bit and find out what she likes. [...] No way! She toured Europe for the first time last summer. Me too! It also looks as though she likes the singer Pomme. And it just so happens that I have tickets for her next show in Montreal. If all goes well, I'll ask her if she wants to go with me. Wow! Her picture at La Buvette is absolutely stunning. According to her highlights, she often goes there. She must like that place. And I like wine. So, we already have that in common.
Cassandra: Hi Fred! Are we still on for tonight? I could come to your neighbourhood if you want – I have a car. I know, I know: it's not great for the environment...
Me: Hey Cassandra. I was thinking maybe we could go to La Buvette? It’s perfect for something to drink and… if we both feel like it, we could have a bite to eat. Worst case scenario, we’ll have had a glass of amazing wine.
P.S. - Don’t worry about the car. I’m actually looking to hitch a ride to go to Gaspésie next summer.
Cassandra: How did you know? La Buvette is like my favorite place! I’d go every day if my wallet allowed me to… Shall we say 7 pm?
Me: Lucky guess ;). 7 pm sounds good! See you later xxx
The Internet: The Great Matchmaker
Not so long ago, people met without first knowing each other at all, often through a mutual acquaintance who took their matchmaking role very seriously, or simply through life’s small coincidences. While this is still the case for some people who prefer blind dates, there’s no denying that the internet has reinvented the dating game. Even before seeing each other in person, people have access to a gold mine of information about their potential date on social media.
But before dating apps became commonplace, we collectively went through a somewhat strange period during which we had to hide the fact that we were on Tinder or another similar app.
“I’m on Tinder, But a Friend Signed Me Up.”
A few years ago (ten years in Tinder’s case – Happy birthday, Tinder!), when dating apps first appeared, quite a few people signed up with varying degrees of secrecy. The lucky ones – those who managed to find their match and who were nostalgic for the good old days when people met more “naturally” and monogamous relationships lasted a lifetime – made up stories to tell their families for when they would ask the dreaded question, “How did you two meet?".
Even though some people are still a bit put off by dating apps today, they are nonetheless part of the lives of nearly half of 18- to 29-year-olds.1 In 2021, 75 million people used Tinder every month.2 That's not to mention the ever-growing number of specialized dating apps in the online world.
Democratizing Dating, One App at a Time
While some people say dating apps are superficial, there's something inherently beautiful about them. They have democratized encounters for communities for whom dating is less accessible for all sorts of reasons. For instance, it's a lot more difficult to date when you're not white, cis, straight, thin, perfectly healthy, without any disabilities, and with a salary that allows you to go out every week.
One only has to think of the sexually- and gender-diverse people who live in rural areas and who therefore don’t have access to many resources that are conducive to meeting other people. Tinder, but also all the 2SLGBTQIA+ apps like Grindr, Her, Feeld, and Taimi have contributed to facilitating encounters and mingling. It's a lot easier to swipe right on someone who’s potentially attracted to you than having to ask a stranger you met on the street about their sexual orientation. Other people who come to mind are those who suffer from chronic illness or who have a disability, and who probably worry over when they should bring it up with their new date.
Nowadays, dating apps allow everyone to address their situation at their convenience either directly on their profile or during pre-dating discussions. There are even specialized dating apps like Nolu, a Quebec dating app that offers “a fun, safe, and inclusive setting” for people with disabilities who want to get to know each other.
More Intimate First Dates
Dating apps didn’t miraculously enable all vulnerable or marginalized communities to suddenly emancipate themselves from the social norms ruling the dating world. However, they did enable the creation of safe spaces to flirt and mingle while being 100% yourself. They have also become partner filtering tools. What I mean by that is that, thanks to dating apps, and therefore to the internet, it’s now possible to ask “filter questions” beforehand so that you can focus on pleasure (regardless of its form) during the actual date.
In the end, it’s the combination of the internet and dating apps that plays the role of matchmaker and dating accelerator. Because not everyone flirts in public spaces with ease, these ways of meeting people have certainly brought a lot of beauty to the world of dating, despite everything we criticize them for (dehumanization, fast dating, discriminatory algorithms, inclusivity issues, etc.). For the record, dating apps have allowed me to explore my sexuality and meet the most beautiful person in the world with whom I now share an apartment, a bed, a cat, a car, and, well… my entire life! In my book, that's worth the many times my fingers have hurt from playing “the Tinder game”.
Cassandra: Thanks again for the lovely evening yesterday, Fred! I don't know what I liked the most: your eyes or that vintage wine we shared.
Me: I don't know what I like the most: your message or the new Pomme album that I listen to on repeat.
Cassandra: No way!!! I love Pomme.
Me: How about I take you out to see her show in two 2 weeks in exchange for a ride to Gaspésie?