There is no shortage of online dating sites that aim to capitalize on people’s desire to find a mate and live happily ever after.
From Plenty of Fish to Gluten-Free Singles and everything in between, over the past 10 years, online dating has gone from being a shameful last resort to a necessary evil.
The latest online dating fads are smartphone apps called Tinder and its Jewish version, JSwipe.
Both are free, mobile apps that users download to their phones. Based on little more than a few of your cutest pictures, a couple of lines about what you’re looking for, and your physical proximity to potential mates in the area, users swipe right if they like what they see, left if they don’t. If two people swipe right on each other’s profiles, a match is made and they’re free to begin chatting.
Perhaps it has never been easier to meet people, but Orna Serruya, a Toronto-based matchmaker for Jews who are keen to settle down with a Jewish partner, said those who are serious about finding a spouse shouldn’t be wasting time on dating apps.
“I feel like the people on those sites are looking to have fun, hook up. I don’t know if they are all single. I’m wary of them. If people are on there, I’m not sure it is the right vehicle for them to find their potential bashert,” said Serruya, who has about 1,000 clients in Toronto, Montreal, Miami, Los Angeles and Israel through her matchmaking service called The O Network.
Specializing in matches for modern Orthodox Jews, as well as a few clients who are ultra-Orthodox, and others who are secular, Serruya said she tries to make matches based on at least five things they have in common, as well as religious status and culture.
Since she started her network two years ago, people have been sending her names “non-stop” and it has grown.
“What I’m doing is personalized. If you’re really looking to find the right one, it’s the only way to go,” Serruya said.
Angie (not her real name), a 25-year-old Israeli-born online dater who works in the film industry, understands why someone would brush Tinder off as nothing more than a hook-up app, but when it comes to apps like JSwipe that cater to Jews looking to match with other Jews, users are likely more serious about finding a mate.
“My theory is that people on JSwipe probably are more serious. If you’re on JSwipe or JDate, I’m assuming it’s because ending up with a Jew is important to you. I doubt religion would matter to someone who’s just looking for something casual. When you use Jswipe instead of Tinder, you’re essentially limiting your options. I don’t know why someone would do that if they aren’t interested in something more serious and long-term,” Angie said.
Still, Serruya said, if people are serious about settling down, matchmaking is the way to go.
“You can get lucky, and you can find someone of quality on there. There are good people. My brother is on the site, and he is a good guy. So if someone were to find him, they’d score. So I can’t generalize and say they’re all bad. But I would say nine times out of 10, you’re better off with a matchmaker who will find someone who is 90 per cent of what you’re looking for,” she said.
She suggested that the reason people are having a hard time settling down is because society promotes the concept of instant gratification.
“People used to commit and they committed for life. Now, if you commit, and something doesn’t work, well, goodbye. It’s so easy to leave.”
Angie, who downloaded Tinder in 2013, understands that argument.
“These apps are definitely not benefiting our generation’s FOMO [fear of missing out] culture. That’s the downside of having such a large pool of people who are presumably single. You’re always thinking someone better could come along with the next swipe,” she said.
Amanda Day, a 31-year-old Toronto-based comedian who uses online dating sites and apps, also recognizes the downside to the modern dating culture.
“It’s so easy to get distracted by someone else. You could be talking to someone meaningfully for a while and then you could be talking to someone else and that conversation falls completely to the wayside. And it’s not that you weren’t interested, or that you didn’t want to go out with them, but it’s just that there is a lot of stuff thrown at you. There are just so many options out there,” Day said.
With dating apps, Amanda Day says she doesn't
have to worry about looking good at the grocery store.
David (also not his real name), 33, who has been single for more than three years, said he downloaded Tinder, not to find “the one,” but to learn more about the latest dating phenomenon.
“I’m more interested in the psychology aspect. To me, this is more of a social experiment than taking it very seriously. Unfortunately there are some girls who take it very seriously,” he said, adding that women who are looking for love and marriage on Tinder are “delusional.”
He said when people are on Tinder trying to find meaningful relationships that end in marriage, “they come off as being desperate and pathetic.”
Perhaps David’s approach to Tinder explains why the apps are viewed as little more than a way to find casual sex partners, and why both Angie and Day, and countless other women, are often subjected to crass, sexually driven opening lines.
“It wasn’t long before I started receiving really creepy and inappropriate messages from men,” said Angie, who has since started a blog called Tinder’s Finest Bachelors to expose some of the shocking exchanges that are commonplace on Tinder.
“They’d say things that you wouldn’t dare say to a person you just met at a bar – sexual things they wanted to do to me, called me derogatory names. I was really horrified at first and extremely offended, but then, as sad as it is, I learned to get used to these types of messages. I think most girls have as well. We’ve all gotten used to the fact that these types of messages just come with the territory of online dating.”
Day also decided to publicize some of the vulgar messages men send her. She recently launched a podcast on SoundCloud and talkhole.co called Date Fail, which features discussions with other online daters about “sex/courtship/romance in our social media age.”
“[Publicizing the sexual comments] has become such a big part of my online presence. When I post those messages, I get so much feedback from it.”
Despite the downsides to online dating, Day said the positives outweigh the negatives.
“I like the way Tinder works, because of that initial attraction, seeing a picture and deciding if you’re attracted to the person and taking it from there,” she said.
“But before this, I wasn’t getting a lot of dates. It was hard for me to meet up with people and have that connection. Now I don’t have to worry about looking good at the grocery store. Now I can just go get my eggs.”
Angie herself had a meaningful relationship with a man she met on Tinder and knows of many others who developed relationships through the app.
David said he does want to get married, but “the old-fashioned way.”
“It’ll happen the natural way. I’ll find someone in my travels, or here, and hook up the good ol’ fashioned way.”