I Tried A Dating App For Women Of Color, But I Still Didn't Find Love Online
On the whole, the process of online dating is a great thing.
Singles dress up their bios with pithy zingers in an attempt to match with other bae-less individuals. Sometimes this pairing leads to an awkward exchange. Or, if both parties skip the coy act, it leads to a pre-first date.
As a black woman, however, trying to find love online isn't so simple. I've hit a few road blocks.
You see, it's an established fact that dating for black women is terrible. On dating apps, which were created to increase the chance of finding love, prejudice abounds.
OkCupid data shows that 82 percent of non-black men are prejudice against black women in some form, and I've found that to be true. My non-black friends typically receive right swipes from every Tom, Dick and Harry. Meanwhile, I can only guarantee matches with the Jamals and Akeems of the online dating world.
It's no secret Bumble and the like are largely used by non-black romance-seekers, therefore my chances of finding the one, if I want a black husband, are slim. This trend also makes BlackPeopleMeet, SoulSwipe and BAE (Before Anyone Else), a new dating app specifically made for people of color, absolutely necessary.
Brian Gerrard created BAE in April 2015 (along with his brother Justin and friend Jordan Kunzika) after seeing the racial disparities in digital dating. Scarred from their own letdowns, they wanted to stack the odds in favor of black singles.
Because of a few failed rounds of my own with Plenty of Fish, I'm averse to finding a boo online. Still, I downloaded the app to see if I had a better chance of snagging an eligible suitor.
As I expected, matching was easy.
The "find a bae" formula? Spot a fine guy and swipe right. Sprawled across my bed, I signed up via my Facebook profile and the app automatically plugged in four profile pics. I don't know how BAE knew to use my super-cute selfies, but I wasn't complaining.
Basic stats like the city I live in, my age and occupation were also automatically filled in. I skipped over the whole "witty bio" thing, then got back into the groove and browsed through my colorful options.
I was looking for medium brown-skinned cuties who were at least 5-foot-10 and had decent jobs. I'm also a sucker for well-lit photos and a smile. If you can't even find good lighting, a date with me certainly can't save you.
After I swiped on a few fellas I thought would be entertaining, it didn't take long for the match notifications to start rolling in. There were also a few non-people of color profiles, like one from a Channing Tatum lookalike I swiped right on. But, mostly I stuck to swiping right on black men.
Altogether, I racked up 28 matches over two days. Not too shabby.
But, the messages were still awkward.
There I was, poised to reply to 28 matches I'd gotten based on mindless right-swiping.
I wasn't necessarily shocked at the amount of replies, though, because connecting with black men online is truly as simple as the click of a button. The problem boils down to interest beyond superficial physical attraction, like a connection based on chemistry and correctly spelled words.
Most conversations started off as casual small talk, but quickly became banal. The worst of them revealed just how awkward and unfunny men can be toward women they don't know.
Don't get me wrong, some standout guys were pleasantly sweet. But, the fact is, I just don't enjoy inorganic interactions. I prefer reading a person's vibes IRL, striking up an easy exchange over Jameson shots or meeting in the pasta aisle at Whole Foods.
Additionally, men tend to be way more predatory behind the safety of a computer screen, which completely turns me off to digital dating.
Ultimately, I want to find bae offline.
While I love the fact that black women have tailored dating options with this app, it's just not my thing.
Online dating, as an idea, is cool. Even Twitter can double as a dating site if you play your DMs right. But, the cheesy lines about how gorgeous I am and the guy who spelled "together" as "2gether" reaffirmed my deep disdain for finding a mate online.
If I have to weed out f*ckboy BS, I prefer to do it in person. However, if I ever venture back to the Internet for a date, I'll stick to the kind (like BAE) with less racial bias.