Online dating is weird. One day you’re harmlessly flirting over text with someone you’ve never met and organising a date at Brewdog, and the next you’re on a self-imposed ban from Upshot Espresso because you’re ghosting the owner. (Side note: try not to ghost people. It’s a shitty thing to do.)

There’s something much nicer about using dating apps at uni than at home. For one, there’s little worry that you’ll see people you went to school with. There’s something uniquely awful about someone you fancied in year nine cropping up, and having to decide if they’re as out of your league now as when you were 13. One of my friends uses every app under the sun at home (Tinder, Her, OKCupid, the list goes on) and doesn’t let that worry affect her, but I’m not brave enough to do so. Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be more of a stigma around using dating apps at home.

But whatever opinions people voice about dating apps, trust me, they’re using them. Tinder has 50 million users, making 26 million matches a day and 79% of its user base are millenials. It’s little wonder that dating apps have seeped into the cultural fabric of university.

It has been argued that using apps takes the passion out of dating.

Of my five flatmates in first year, three of them used Tinder. We turned it into a communal activity, deciding who to swipe right on and who looked like they were creepy/unpleasant/an axe murderer. There was a kind of thrill to it: would we spot a course mate? Would we find a friend who had a painfully cringey bio? Would we accidentally superlike someone we hate? If you are, or find yourself, single and want to enter or re-enter the dating world, any shame about using apps is non-existent at university.

There are more options than just Tinder. Her is women-exclusive, Grindr is well-known for the male dating scene, Bumble deletes matches after twenty four hours if the woman hasn’t sent a message, OKCupid has its own following, and for the kinkier among you there’s always FetLife. As a general rule, there’s an online dating site for anyone who’s interested. The crucial thing is to be totally open with yourself about what you want, and then make sure that information is clear to anyone who might be interested. Are you looking for love, or just casual hookups? Make sure you’re open about your expectations from the very start. When it comes to finding the right app for you, Google is your friend and it’s well worth asking for recommendations from people you know who have had success.

One thing to remember is that success isn’t always immediate, and it might not be long-term. Furthermore, it has been argued that using apps takes the passion out of dating. Nothing says romance like “let’s listen to redbone while we bone ;)”. Another potential problem is that people painstakingly cultivate their profiles to the point where it’s almost fiction. It’s easy to get attached to people based on the profile alone – after all, people are portraying themselves in their best light. In the same way that real products never look as good as advertised, people rarely live up to the expectation they create on dating profiles.

Dating apps also aren’t necessarily for everyone. I went on a couple of dates as a result of it, all of which were perfectly nice, but I was reminded of exactly why I hate dating. My own undesirable experiences with dating apps were hardly uncommon, and many people agree it’s not the place to find true love.

Words by Connie Coombs
Image credit: b_earth_photos (Flickr)

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