UBCO students share their best and worst online dating stories.

Unless you've been in a happily committed relationship for the past decade, there's a good chance you've found yourself downloading an online-dating app or two. In fact, according the business statistics site, DMR, as of September 2018 Tinder reports having an estimated 50 million users, with 10 million active users daily. These users each spend an average of 35 minutes on the app daily, culminating a whopping 1.5 million dates weekly.

Similar online-dating platforms yield similar statistics: 2.5 million conversations are started on Plenty of Fish every day; The OKCupid app gets downloaded 1 million times a week; 1 million babies have been brought into the world as a result of Match.com connections; Grindr has users in 234 countries.

Although often stigmatized as a platform solely for finding a hookup, it appears serious daters are also turning to the web in the search for love. According to a 2017 report from The Knot, 19% of brides said they met their spouses online. This has surpassed traditional methods like through friends (17%), during college (15%), and at work (12%) – and the use of online-dating is only expected to increase.

However, not everyone is met with success in their online-dating ventures – or at least, not at first. I asked UBCO students about their experiences within online-dating culture, and the responses were both oddly expected and shocking.

For Shanelle*, the men of Tinder seemed a tad "eager" for her liking – but it was worth it in the end:

"The first day I got Tinder I found myself talking to a gentleman who insisted I had to give him my cell-phone number and add him on Facebook and Snapchat (so that he could ensure my pictures posted were really me). I refused because my skittish little heart was skeptical of providing a stranger with so much personal information about myself. He began getting aggressive with me and swearing at me asking how he was ever supposed to marry someone if they wouldn't even add him on Snapchat (this was about twenty minutes into our conversation). I deleted him and promised myself I would stop using the app, but I'm glad I didn't, because about two weeks later, I swiped right on my boyfriend who I've now been with for a year and a half."

For Chris, on the other hand, chai lattes will forever be tainted:

"I met up with this girl who seemed normal at first. Her Plenty of Fish profile picture was her with her grandma, and early on in conversation she told me she had spent a summer teaching ESL at an elementary school in Ecuador. We seemed to hit it off pretty well, so we met up at Bean Scene for chai lattes. However, five minutes into the conversation she pulled out a binder of her own poems chronicling an erotic love triangle between her, Justin Bieber, and a grown-up Tino from The Weekenders. She wanted me to read them and give her my input then and there. Suffice to say, the first date was also the last date."

If Jennifer has any advice to spare, it's that the key to a successful relationship is to not appear desperate:

"I met this guy on OK Cupid who was desperate as all heck. On the second date, he told me that he had told his best friend about me, which I thought was kind of sweet until he looked me in the eye and said, "I told him, 'Luke, you're gonna be my best man'". This should have been enough of a red flag, but I shrugged it off. Then two weeks later we had to stop at Canadian Tire for some reason, and he parked his SUV in a stall marked Family Parking. I tried to make a joke out of it and said something like, "but Dan, we're not a family." And he responded with 100% seriousness: "Not yet." That was enough online-dating for a while."

Sometimes, dating experiences speak for themselves. Hannah's is one of them:

"I was in the middle of cooking him bacon carbonara, and the cops came and arrested him in the kitchen. Turns out he was a sex offender."

As Lisa points out, sometimes it's not the other person who is the bad guy:

"I know a lot of people probably have horror stories from Tinder, but I have one where I was the bad guy. I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship, and was looking for a few hook-ups to ease myself out of it. I made a Tinder account and met this guy I'll call Mike, who seemed decent enough. We met for frozen yogurt, but it was clear from the start of the date that we wouldn't be a good match. There were long awkward pauses, we didn't seem to have any common interests, and he let me know that I was actually the first girl he had ever gone out with. I decided in my head that there wouldn't be a second date, but when he texted me afterwards, I didn't have the heart to turn him down. We ended up dating for three or four months, but the entire time, I wasn't attracted to him. I was his first kiss, and he even cut his vacation to see his family short so he could come back to be with me for my birthday. I broke up with him a couple days later, because I couldn't handle the guilt anymore."

For Maggie*, the horror of Tinder has been so frequent it's difficult to make note of it all:

"Oh, where do I begin? I was catfished two times, and I also get asked a lot of weird, personal questions. One of my favourites was, "hey, when you wear a short dress and a thong, doesn't it feel weird when you sit on something cold?". There were some weird interactions too. One time I was at the gym and some guy came up to me mid-workout and said, "Hey, you're Maggie, right? How's it going?" He never introduced himself to me, and just kept talking to me as if I was supposed to know who he was."

But things don't end there for Maggie:

"Another time, I was looking for a hookup and met this guy for drinks one night. He seemed really cute, and I enjoyed talking to him. I noticed he was on his phone a lot, but I didn't really care about it at the time. Later, we met again to go for a hike to a waterfall. He was on his phone for the entire drive up and barely talked, but I still ignored it. We ended up going back to his place to have sex, and the first thing I noticed when we came into his room was a massive pile of condoms on his bedside table. I also used his bathroom and saw about ten opened condom wrappers in the garbage can. The sex was okay, apart from his massive package – like so big it was kind of painful. Afterwards we cuddled while he was on his phone the entire time – again.

"Later, I messaged him saying we should probably just be friends, which he saw and ignored for a month. When he finally replied, he we said he was super upset by my message and that he felt like I used him. Anyone with these views on dating is perfectly valid, but they shouldn't be using Tinder, where the majority of people look for hookups. Otherwise, they might get their feelings hurt like this poor man – who was obviously sleeping with about ten other people at the time."

Kate found out that sometimes second-hand embarrassment is more than enough to end a date:

" I met [a guy] on Tinder who took me to Scandia for some indoor mini-golf (this was before the renovations). He was cute and smart, and things were going decently well until we got to the second last hole, where you need to putt the ball hard enough through a tube that it goes up the stairs. But instead, he figured he'd skip a step and just hit the ball straight up the stairs, trying to show off. I guess he used too much force, because the ball hit the window at the top of the stairs, totally cracking it. I got out of there pretty fast."

And finally, Jenn, who gamed the system and ventured into online-dating without the use of conventional platforms:

"I guess this kind of counts as an online dating experience. I had an Xbox I wasn't using anymore, and decided to list it for sale on Kijiji. The first person who messaged me about it agreed to meet up later that day so I could sell it to her. We ended up chatting for four hours, and have been happily dating for the past six months."

* All names of students in this article have been changed for confidentiality purposes.

Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.