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Dating : The birds and the bees — my UX of a dating app

h2>Dating : The birds and the bees — my UX of a dating app

my online dating profile pic
Sanisha C. Naidoo

I am an organised person, I mean: I own, can find and do use my shoe horn for gods sake. Yet for all my organisational sensibilities, I have left my dating life to random chance and perhaps not surprisingly, have been single for the last 3 years. Enter: my coupled friends who, out of pity and perhaps also frustration, convinced me to get over my romantic myself and use modern technology to assist me to solve this seemingly easy problem. That is another problem initself – the assumption that meeting a match online will solve that issue of finding a partner. As another smart and attractive online dater said, these apps solve one part: meeting people you would not otherwise meet, especially if you’re not prone to walking up to strangers. But there is still the whole funnel to go through and maybe even get stuck in. More on that later…

A bit more about me: in a world explained by Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point — describing the 3 types of people who can cause something to go viral — what I am not is a Connector with many acquaintances, I have a cupboard full of microwave popcorn to attest to that. I am also not a Maven, I mean, I only just heard that axe throwing is a thing that people in Johannesburg do for fun. I conceded then to go through a dating app for my digitally created Salesperson persona, to whisper, and sometimes shout, the nuances of me to the thousands of potential mates out there. I decided that a Bumble profile would do my bidding. Off we went to create my dating avatar. We? Yes, my coupled friends assisted with photography and copy, they helped me come up with my tagline. You get one chance of making that first impression. One half of the couple, let us call him Renaissance man, says poetically: your picture is the most important thing here. His wife, the Surgeon, insisted that I be precise in describing myself and what I want: I love to laugh, so show me the funny.

Then the swiping began. Six months prior, when I first tried Bumble, I was a bit anxious and put off at the start because swiping left could mean swiping from left to right? Who knew that swiping left means simply swiping to the left? To be fair, it took me years to learn to drive and I still can’t salsa. I was unsure. This mentality possibly explains why today I am a UX designer. Swiping from left to right would have left me on the receiving end of a pool on the right side (or wrong side, depending on how you look at it) of a 50/50 chance or choice. And in actual fact, with that logic, we would all be victims of poor design and its consequences. Kind of like Brexit. The UI of Bumble now has a cross or tick mark as you swipe left or right, so you don’t have to think.

In a short time, I also learnt the subtle and not so subtle cues (a MAGA cap, really?) of the type of people in the queue. I think I can now tell very quickly if a person will date outside their race group. I compared my pickings with a younger colleague of mine who is also on Bumble and found that indeed some of the potential guys out there must have an under 35 yrs old age limit set and so I would not even get past the filter bouncer. Do they care that my gynaecologist said I am as fertile now as I ever was? But that’s fair enough, I also had an age range and once, just for fun, I set it to 25 and older. I realised that am not attracted to six packs. Was I ever? I will never know. I came across people I knew and guys who the Surgeon also knew and even dated. It is encouraging to match pure and simply on a mutual physical attraction. Ping! #winning

The next step in the funnel is chatting to the matches. Here is the worst-case scenario: A bestie of mine who is now married to a bumble date and is mom to their 1 month old, had a horrible experience of being catfished by a guy who basically said all the right things for a month, it was long distance so they emailed, until finally he was about to come to Johannesburg to visit his sick grandmother. I was having dinner with bestie the night before her big date, and we were planning her outfit. Literally, mid swoon, man calls and says he is at O.R. Tambo airport and being held in a cell for bringing too much cash with him from Mozambique so can she “bail him out” by please transferring R5000 into a bank account…*she trails off * A quick google of my friend would give this guy all the intell he needed to appeal to her. Similarly, I matched with a german guy who I decide to chat to, because his entire profile was in german and I said, yay, let’s practice my german. The first red flag was that I know enough to know that this dude was using google translate and was not a german native speaker. The next flag, surprise surprise, he was on his way back from Mozambique! Wow. On second glance his pics were like a North Face advert or stock photos tagged Nordic. Renaissance man helped me to try identify if this was a catfish, and his investigations proved inconclusive.

Google is not always your friend in the world of online dating where the conditions are ripe for bad guys to prey on that information and take advantage of trust and vulnerability. Yet, Google can be your friend. Note to anyone who is using online dating or thinking about it: When you are chatting to someone and start to become interested, just google them, or facebook them. You’re already halfway there, by finding this person on a dating app. That said, I could link to my Insta profile but what if it is full of pics with me and cute babies, will that give the wrong impression? Note to the developers: It would be great to have an AI bot to handle small talk on my behalf. If I do not ask you a question about yourself it is probably because I already know the answer or I just don’t care. I also become quickly impatient with the chats where I am asked what I do and where, when I have already said so, and it’s a small detour to just re-read my profile! C’maaaaaan! Am I being unfair ? Maybe I need to cut these guys come slack. Ironically, Slack is actually where I communicate and banter most of the time, at work, and there it’s fine, it’s fun! Summary: I matched with many, chatted to a few, and met with one or two.

Best case scenario: you match with someone that you find instantly attractive but there is mystery as to whether you have anything in common. You are pleasantly surprised that you do and chatting does not seem like a chore. You meet, and bam! they are even better in real life. The date is like going for a walk in the park, nothing can be easier…or feel more relaxed. That was great!

Meeting was fun but at the end of the day, the bumble beehive is just like the real world. When an attractive woman walks into bar, heads turn and most guys on some level need to feel that they are competing for her affections. The same with the hive. It’s implicit that if you get to match and meet, the queen bee has her pick and she will mate with who she chooses. The hive thrives on that: the queen has choice and the males are always competing for her. Males, and bees love nothing more than to win the queen bee, it is in their nature. They are programmed like that. So, nothing kills their buzz more than the knowledge that perhaps the queen bee is not a queen bee, but an imposter, because why would she choose to have lunch with only one of us? So there is no competition?! What’s wrong with her? This is akin to a woman walking into a bar, alone, with her laptop. No queen bee does that. It is not in her nature. I realised I am not a queen bee when it comes to dating, but rather like a hummingbird….singular in what I want and copious amounts of energy to go for that when I have identified it. I am a hummingbird. And this is why I left the Bumble beehive. Surgeon gave up, Renaissance man said I told you so.

This is my next foray into dating — being conscious and purposeful about where I spend my time. Meeting people in real life, becoming a connector and a maven, a raven…. *she thinks to herself, as she makes a new entry in her calendar: freeze my eggs*

psychedelic pastel chalk drawing done by author with some help from a friend

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Dating : How do u interpret this

POF : Those people who chat away with you and then just stop replying