Dating Apps Are Terrible. Related: I’m Terrible At Them.

Fact: there’s an inverse correlation between a person’s IQ and their ability to take a selfie.

Time To Read: 3 mins | October 24, 2016

What I mean is, the better you are at making yourself look attractive in a self-shot photo, the worse you probably did on your SATs.

I learned this from dating apps. Because without fail, the witty and charming ones don’t use multiple self-shot airbrushed photos with their torsos twisted just so. The fun girls are laughing or making stupid faces or — I know this sounds crazy — actually have real-life friends to take photos.


But when you’re half drunk and about to go to sleep (the only time anyone’s using a dating app) you’re likely to pass on Jessica with the clever & grammatically correct bio, and instead swipe right for Vanessa with the cleavage selfie. Because you are stupid, like me.

This exact scenario was playing out during my last night in Los Angeles. My entire life was already expertly stacked in a storage unit, and I had an early flight the next morning. Thus all I had to entertain myself was a phone, a laptop, and a bottle of rum. Which always ends well.

I decided to spend my final LaLaLand evening on Bumble, an app I hate for an extra bonus reason: the schitck that separates this swipey matchmaker from others is requiring the girl to communicate first. So, even if a guy matches with someone that he’s super excited to chat with, he has to wait for his potential lady love to make the first move. And 9 times out of 10, that ends with either:

A) her saying nothing forever, or
B) her saying nothing but, “Hi!”

The latter of which is worse than silence. If you’ve chosen to use an app that empowers you to make the first move, you should bring more communication skill to the table than my great aunt’s parrot. You don’t ask your baseball coach to let you bat when a home-run could win the game, then bunt.


So out of unrighteous angst, I hadn’t looked at Bumble in months. But if bored and drinking aren’t a recipe for romance, nothing is.

And because of my online dating absenteeism, I had a queue of girls who’d already looked at my profile and thought ‘meh, OK’. Thus for a few minutes, anyone I swiped right on was an automatic match. And thanks to Sailor Jerry’s influence, most of my ‘yea’ votes went to clever combinations of high-held phones and low crop shirts.

I am not proud.

I made maybe six matches. Then I decided the Sailor and I would watch Rush for the twelfth time until he became empty or I passed out, whichever came first.

The next day, sitting in the airport & curing my Irish guilt with a double Bloody Mary (always, always order the double at airports), I became half-drunk and bored again, and decided to check Bumble once more. Of my six matches, 3 had sent messages. And it was *almost* totally predictable:

“hey! ;)”
“What house of Westeros do you think you’d be in?”

Guess which one of those profiles didn’t have any selfies?

Mary (fake name) is a cute vet from Santa Monica with a snarky bio that mentions her two dogs are named Dumbledore and Hedwig. Nothing’s ever been better.

I send something back about the Lannisters, she responded immediately, and for the next 45 minutes the banter was great. All we did was deadpan about Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. It was going so well, in fact, that my almost-tipsy brain thought that I shouldn’t leave LA. She’s perfect, this is the way Bumble is actually supposed to work, and the first time I find a unicorn amongst the weeds of dating profiles, I’m boarding a plane to leave the city permanently?

So, after chugging the rest of the bloody, I said what anyone would say in the same situation:

“Will you marry me?”


Surprisingly, she never responded. Our previously quickfire repartee stalled harder than eleven-year old Daniel Radcliffe plowing into the wall at platform 9 and 3/4 .

But as I trudged to my plane, being careful not to breathe on anyone, I smiled: at least I didn’t go out bunting.


photo: this dog could fetch conch off the island’s dock. this dog is cooler than you or i will ever be. just off hopkins, belize

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.

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1 Comment

  1. Em

    I just stumbled upon your website and read through a handful of articles…it doesn’t seem like they’re are any recent ones, which is unfortunate! They’re all funny but none of them made me laugh as hard as this one. Also I appreciate your call out to LOTR, it’s easy to find Harry Potter and Game of Thrones nerds, but I have trouble finding people who love Lord of the Rings.

    *I relate to your situation, I’ve been spending the night with Stone IPA and she convinced me this comment was clever and a good idea, we’ll see if I agree (or remember) in the morning *


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