Am I un-datable without a smart phone?
March 24, 2014 8:18 PM   Subscribe

No, seriously. Should I buy an iPhone just to get on Tindr. And yes, I'm that desperate.

This isn't just me being bitter about online dating. Or at least, not entirely. I've been rocking OkCupid on-and-off now for a couple of years, feel familiar with the terrain, refined my profile, market-researched my photos—and am still ignored by 94% of women I contact.

But that's really not new. Everyone knows that women get bombarded with oafish, offensive come-ons and that men get crickets. The world is a frustrating, unfair place.

What *is* new is that *everyone* I complain to about online dating tells me they have exponentially more success on Tindr. This is especially persuasive coming from female friends, who increasingly tell me they don't even *read* OkC messages anymore. Why waste their time?

So my fear is that my flirty little ice breakers—which faced long odds to begin with, given the signal-to-noise ratio—now might not even be read.

Of course, Tindr is getting gamed by the same real-estate agent douchebags that wreck...well, all dating, really. But it seems pretty clear that the future of dating, for better or for worse, is mobile.

I have no other immediate, urgent uses for a smart phone. I pay $25 per month for talk and text on my prehistoric phone, and that's served me quite well. I would hate to triple this just to expand my dating options, but...well, I don't want to be left in the dust. I should add here, for the record, that I'm 31 and generally acceptable to women in terms of appearance, manners, self-expression, etc. I just need to get that foot in the door.

So, frustrated daters of AskMe, am I doomed without a smart phone? Is the experience worth shelling out for?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had a nice coffee date today that I secured through Android Tinder. It seems like my rate of talking to people on there indeed wildly exceeds my luck on OK Cupid. I have spent what feels like a lifetime investing energy in OK Cupid only to be ignored astronomically. Literally I am a published author and cannot come up with anything that will result in an OK Cupid bite. Destroy your OK Cupid account right now, you have nothing to lose but your shame and suffering at being spammed all the time about 90 percent matches "checking you out right now, we think she is an amazing match!" only never to respond to your inquiries.

So far Tinder seems a lot better. It has cracked the OK Cupid problem of women being swamped by terrible messages and not having the energy left to single out yours. I say check out Tinder. Maybe you can run it on your desktop through some sort of mobile environment emulator??
posted by steinsaltz at 8:22 PM on March 24, 2014

If it's on Android, you might be able to get away with BlueStacks and a desktop.
posted by pompomtom at 8:25 PM on March 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can buy a used Android or iPhone (or iPod Touch) for cheap, use it as a wifi-only device and play with the apps without adding to your monthly bill.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:25 PM on March 24, 2014 [17 favorites]

Of course you're not un-datable. You have to realize how ridiculous that sounds. Even at a 94% failure rate, that's a 6% success rate, and especially if you're only sending short messages, it doesn't sound like you're exactly investing all your free time on this or anything. People who are actively on OkCupid are not there just to look tantalizing while refusing to respond to all messages. This is catastrophizing of the highest order. Most of the users are straight; if women are getting dates, then men are getting dates. That does not say, however, that using other popular methods of meeting people would not be good for you.

Mostly, though, if you are not seriously broke, having a smartphone is increasingly expected for all sorts of things, and why not? There is a sort of message that still using a feature phone sends today, and it is basically "either broke or really not fond of technology". That may not be the message you really want to send. You will almost certainly find other things to do with it once you have it. I have Ting at the moment, and my monthly bill for my Nexus 5 is, in total, a bit under forty bucks. It's not a huge amount.
posted by Sequence at 8:29 PM on March 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you can get a smartphone for cheap, Aio Wireless is only $35/month for unlimited text and voice with data. So, you know... it might not actually get you dates, but it's not as expensive as you might think.
posted by youcancallmeal at 8:38 PM on March 24, 2014

I pay $30/month on T-Mobile for 100 minutes (more than I ever use) and unlimited texting and data.
posted by naturalog at 8:45 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can get a used Verizon smartphone that has a clean ESN (in other words, not reported lost or stolen or turned off for non-payment), Page Plus has a $30 plan that gives 1200 minutes, 3000 texts, and 500mb of data a month. I use most of my data on wifi but even using my phone to check email and web while out and about, I rarely come even close to the 500mb in a month.
posted by azpenguin at 8:55 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tindr is getting gamed by the same real-estate agent douchebags that wreck...well, all dating, really.

Do you really believe you are competing against douchebags for the prize of a woman's attention? Do you think that what's wrecking dating for you is that women you would want to date are dumb enough or shallow enough to fall for douchebags despite the fact that these women would deep-down rather be with you?

If so, this attitude is probably a bigger dating impediment than the lack of smartphone.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 9:08 PM on March 24, 2014 [34 favorites]

imo dudes come at me with "dtf" a lot more often on tindr than okc, but i just had a nice couple dates with a dude recently from tindr so who knows. it's all about the approach and if i'm attracted. if a dude can do both right then i give it a whirl. i don't think it's worth getting a smart phone ONLY because of tindr, so if you can think of a couple other reasons to get one (email on your phone, google maps, games to play, etc.) then go for it.

a couple things about tindr - since it's pretty much mostly photos, make sure your pics are 1) not blurry or pixelated, 2) don't have pictures of other people in them, and 3) don't have you in sunglasses and a baseball cap in your main or all your pics. i skip all these. i'm sure other folks have their gripes to contribute :)
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 9:14 PM on March 24, 2014

I agree with cristinacristinacristina on the skippable photos. I must say that while I've had a few chats on Tinder, some that were quite pleasant, none have ever progressed to real-life interaction, and this is true for both the men and women I've discussed it with. But geography and demographics play a huge role in such things, so if you know that Tinder is popular in your area and among the age group you're interested in, then it's probably a viable addition to your dating toolbox.
posted by Superplin at 9:28 PM on March 24, 2014

Yo. Listen to the question you are asking. Anyone suggesting that you are undateable without a specific product is trying to sell you something.
posted by threeants at 9:31 PM on March 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

Tindr is available for Android. Don't feel you have to specifically get an iPhone if you'd like to use tindr.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:34 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take a peek at MetroPCS. They've got some real good rates, some pretty damn decent android phones for $30, costs $40 per month unlimited voice/text, good high speed data up/download but it[s capped at like 250MEG. They are a T-mobile reseller IE they use T-Mobiles infrastructure so they've got great reception everywhere, at least everywhere I've been.

Shoot me a msg, I'll be glad to tell you my experience with them, what's a good phone etc and etc. Oh, and no contract either, which is a huge selling point for me.

I have an old virgin mobile android that I'll be glad to give you but it's pretty much a piece of shit, and virgin mobile is DEFINITELY a piece of shit. So that ofer stands but it's not a good one, not really.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:13 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I haven't done Tindr, and I'm new(ish) to the online dating thing, but I am certainly still using okcupid, and having really good luck meeting cool people on it. I (female) certainly don't respond to all the messages I get, even the ones that aren't just misspelled exhortations to have random sex written, apparently, by headless torsos. But I have met up with a number of lovely people on that site. It would seem that I am weird in having no complaints about okc, but I did want to step in and note that there are indeed still people using it, and happily at that.

I admit I cannot imagine wanting to live without a smartphone for any reason, though.

(By the way, Bentobox, I got the impression that the OP meant that the douchebags were making women uncomfortable, souring them on whatever dating platform and driving them away. Which is a totally reasonable speculation. I certainly didn't leap to the conclusion that he thought the douchebags were successfully Stealing His Women. I know women who have told me that they don't go on okc because they are "horrified" of getting the copy/pasted "lets have sex" messages. While I don't understand what's so horrifying about it, this is certainly a case of the douchebags keeping lovely women away from places where perfectly nice human beings like, I assume, the OP can meet them.)
posted by Because at 4:44 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Back in the fall I asked this question and ended up getting a used Motorola Atrix from Amazon for $70 and a plan on Airvoice Wireless that is costing me roughly $5 a month. I'm not a big user of the phone, but there are a number of other pay-as-you-go plans that won't cost an arm and a leg.

As far as dating goes, this site offers some practical advice about online dating, including quite a bit about how to best craft initial messages.
posted by lharmon at 5:06 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you think that what's wrecking dating for you is that women you would want to date are dumb enough or shallow enough to fall for douchebags despite the fact that these women would deep-down rather be with you?

No, he's saying these Asshats are overwhelming the communication channels with ass-hattery, rendering the channels mostly noise, leaving the channels ignored by many potential dating partners. He, along with several other decent, thoughtful dudes, has no good way to say "Hey there, this is me, would you like to have coffee?"

OP - maybe get an iPhone for Tindr. But also recognize that people will screen you out for all kinds of reasons, one of which might be having a dumb-phone. I have a dumb-phone. But if I were in the market, I'd get an iPhone.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 6:03 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your parents met without an iPhone.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:39 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

OK, I downloaded Tinder immediately before I started seeing my boyfriend (who I did not meet on Tinder) so I've really only played around with it, but I would say the nice thing about Tinder compared to OkCupid is that you don't have to seem like you're trying so hard. On OKC I felt like it was kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation - I judged guys for having lazy profiles, but I also judged guys for having overly-engineered profiles that they had clearly spent a lot of time on.

I also have that $30/month T-Mobile plan and I love it. If having a smartphone cost me $75 or $90, I'm not sure what I'd do.
posted by mskyle at 6:43 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think this is a silly reason to get a smartphone. If you do this and it doesn't work out, will you be annoyed you got a smartphone?

I'm your age, found okcupid to be pretty easy and very effective (and still had to ignore about 94% of all messages that were sent to me) and never used Tindr. The only reason I stopped using okc was because I got into a relationship with someone I met there.

I don't know, if nobody in your area is using okcupid then you need to use what they use, I guess, but if people are using OKC then your problem isn't that you aren't on Tindr.
posted by Polychrome at 7:51 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

You are willing to consider putting an extra $50/month into your budget if it might get you dating. I propose that you try the following instead:

Sign up for a/nother hobby that is of interest to you. It could be joining a climbing gym, volunteering somewhere (free!), going out for coffee a couple times a week, joining a community garden or a basket-weaving group. There are many possibilities. You get intrinsic reward, and you'll already have something to do with whoever you meet. The point of a smartphone is to connect us to the physical world. So go your foot in the door!
posted by aniola at 8:32 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I believe that a smart phone is essential for modern online dating. I do not believe modern online dating is essential. But the kinds of women one meets at such sites do, from what I've experienced, expect their mates to be able to text and google and use the taxi app and all that. I'm 47, and having an old flip phone made me look like a crotchety old man--maybe not such an issue for a young dude of 31, but the risk is there.

I've not done Tindr, but I had such good luck at OKCupid that I and a lovely lady took down our profiles last week. So there are success stories.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:53 AM on March 25, 2014

OKC seems to have quite a lot of data aggregation that they make available on their blog--is there some way to tell whether your specific geographic area is in fact abandoning the site en masse?

When you look at profiles, are you checking their last login date? If you're mostly finding idle profiles, then you may be right--your desired demographic might be on Tindr. Dating sites, like anything else on the internet, wax and wane in popularity. But find out first whether this problem is even actually happening. And then just get the smartphone already. ;)

I do feel your pain, man. I held off on the smartphone thing for a really long time, and in fact it was a dating situation that finally prompted me to get one--a long distance relationship with lots of texting/emailing that was an absolute bear on a dumbphone.

At the time I resented what that said about "modern dating," and "millennials" and blah blah crank. But two years later I can testify that while I regret that relationship intensely, I haven't regretted the smartphone for a second. So if you can afford it, you should probably do it. It'll honestly improve a dozen things you didn't even think about, and possibly dating as well.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:41 PM on March 25, 2014

So I thought Tindr was a straight up hook up app and that Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel were the relationshippy apps. I've never used Tindr and am a little afraid to put my picture on there and then see my neighbor from down the hall on their or something, but anyway.

I've been on Hinge for a bit, which is a similar dating app. Initially I really liked it because the quality of the matches seemed much higher. However, I've now gotten a mutual match with probably 20 guys and only 2 have ever messaged me and after I replied nothing... I think the apps require so little investment that a lot of people do it casually with no real intention of following through. It sort of sucks because there is a lot of potential, but it hasn't been any sort of online dating break through for me. I certainly wouldn't pay $50-100 a month for a membership to it, which is functionally what you are proposing. Also, I've seen a lot of people on Hinge that I've seen on Ok Cupid, so I think there is a fair amount of overlap.
posted by whoaali at 7:32 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm late to the party, but I should say that I've had exponentially more success with Tinder than with OKC (and don't even bother with Match, what a bore). Yes, it can be a mere hookup app and I've used it as such, but I met my current boyfriend via Tinder -- hookups can turn into much more, it seems. I never had a smartphone at all until about 3 months ago. Like you, I thought I didn't need it. I could still without it, but there are so many conveniences (that I was totally unaware of) that I'm very happy I finally made the leap.
posted by pleasant_confusion at 9:53 AM on March 28, 2014

« Older Lexapro and Dextomethorphan - Am i going to die?   |   Car went crunch. Help me find a new one quick! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.