I don’t know if this is the sort of subject that has already been widely documented, because in honesty it’s not really something I search for. Using apps and dating, however, are two things that many of my single peers and I appear to be doing on a more and more serial basis.

It’s been four months since my ex and I parted ways conclusively, and the temptation, of course, when a void appears, is to immediately try and fill it. No Sour Patch Kids in in the supermarket? Don’t lose your shit. Buy Tangfastics. Break up with boyfriend? Go straight to the App Store, download Tinder, Grindr, Happn, Hinge, Scruff and any other of the veritable cornucopia of dating apps and try and source a fresh one. Right? Hmmm.

What follows is by no means an analysis-rich report on the ways these apps have changed our dating patterns, although it’s a really interesting subject, as they undoubtedly and, perhaps, irreversibly have. Nor am I going to pretend that I’ve been sacrificing countless weekday evenings going on mostly failed dates in the name of research – I genuinely do it out of enjoyment, curiosity and, dare I let myself say it… hope. Besides, the alternative is staying at home alone, conceiving bile-like concoctions of vegetables and vodka in my Nutribullet, calling them things like ‘Kalemopolitan’, ‘Harvey Wilksbanger’ and ‘Cucumpirinha’ and gently sobbing into the habitually disgusting results. Basically, I want to air my own experiences of dating in the app-age and see what there is to be gleaned.

Firstly, don’t you just despise the word ‘dating’? It’s so turgid with formality, a bit like ‘interview’. Top tip: I find myself way less nervous in either case referring to it as a ‘meeting’. A meeting of like-minded individuals who are seeking to like the other. Getting into this habit also means you can be super cagey with friends or colleagues.

“Eurgh, I’ve literally been in meetings all week” would likely mean you’ve had a particularly busy spell at the office. Or, it could mean you’ve been feigning medical appointments, going to job interviews and/or meeting total strangers for anything between two pints (polite minimum) and nine pints (absolute limit unless you want to see that Kalemopolitan re-emerge). No one pokes for details, because who wants to know how your meetings went? I certainly don’t. A date or interview however… Gimme the juice!

Going on a date with someone you’ve only seen a meticulously-curated handful of photos of – someone you’ve only chatted to about various superficialities like what you do and your weekend plans and how you got battered and how you love coffee and “oh I stalked your Instagram and I was in NYC for Halloween too lol” – is not something that anyone did until really recently and now it is the absolute fucking norm.

After a date recently a colleague was prodding for details and, when she asked how we’d met, I replied indifferently, “How do you think?”. Not a single eyelid was batted. Another friend met a girl in a bar and they talked and he asked her out like they did in the olden days and they went on a date and the pride and sense of achievement he felt for adopting this ancient method, instead of swiping through a menu, was tangible. Hell, my sister went on a date with a guy recently and my own mother asked her, “Where did you meet him, Grindr?”

(Srsly though, isn’t it extraordinary that a person who considers himself relatively approachable and able in the field of communication, and who doesn’t think he looks too much like a Zip’n’Seal full of arseholes, depends on his little electronic cuboid to try and hunt down the person he might one day want to buy a house and raise children with?)

So yeah, I’ve been on quite a few meetings recently. I’m not going to divulge anything too personal, but there are patterns emerging – new rules that are only now being written as we enter into the brave and terrifying new world of cyberdating.

1. Timing

Timing is absolutely everything. When you drunkenly waddle home in the small hours and plonk your loquacious self on the sofa to tuck into that doner kebab and cheesy chips, it’s usually best to not simultaneously tuck into your app for a cheeky swipe or, worse, a chat. Beer goggles and talking shit happen on apps too, you know.

2. Talking

What is the best line to open with when you begin your courting quest? Approximately* 86.2% of the time, according to messages I receive, it’s “Hey”. 10% use a nicely rounded off “Hey there/man/bud/Harvey, how are you?” and the remaining 3.8% like to get a little creative, like, “Is it me or are loads of people on Tinder into lederhosen?”, or, “Nice to see there’s no picture of you petting a sedated, toothless snow leopard” , or those achingly self-referential ones: “I can’t think of anything really original to say so I’m just going to go ahead and say it… HEY. Anyway, how are you?” So Meta, like breaking the 4th wall. Do apps have 4th walls? I need a sit down.

*Fully made-up figure

3. Motivational Quotes

Don’t get me started on motivational quotes. Ok, I’ve started. So picture this: You swagger into a bar and make eyes with an attractive guy (or girl, it doesn’t matter). Truly, honestly, is the first thing you want them to hear erupting out of you, “Nothing is impossible! The word itself says I’m possible!” (- Audrey Hepburn), or, “Live today like u gonna wake up dead tomoro!” (- Anonymous)? You would absolutely, one-hundred-percent-ly find yourself on the wrong end of a stare so cataclysmically blank it could liquefy a cat.

4. Asking Out

In 2015 do heterosexual prospects still expect the man to do the asking out? That’s probably a question for another time. When you’ve had about 90 seconds’ worth of witty repartee painstakingly stretched out over four days, and it’s becoming clear that both of your arsenals of quips are teetering on exhaustion, who instigates the “So do you maybe, IDK, one day soon, like, fancy going for a drink or three?” With same sex, I guess it’s simple mathematics of gauging interest and mustering courage in equal measure, or common sense.

5. Leaving the App

This is also usually the same time that you migrate from [insert app] to Whatsapp/text, but you still don’t know your potential new husband or wife’s surname, so I devised a handy filing system in my phone: [insert first name] + [insert first letter of app I’ve used to snare them]. Your contacts list starts filling up with the likes of Pete H, Andy G, Tom T. Basically, when you’re in a meeting, or in a meeting or at a meeting, the last thing you really want is for a message from Simon Tinder or Grindr Guy to flash up.

Getting dangerously close to TLDR now so I’ll post Part 2 soon…

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