Now I’m no dating virgin. I don’t claim to be any type of virgin in fact. So when I started using the dating app for Plenty of Fish I was already familiar with the dating etiquette. Or possibly the lack of. The app itself is easy to get used to, and setting up your profile can take you minutes. It’s easy to navigate and work your way around, with a familiar layout to a screen on your iPhone full of five or six apps. This means that creating a profile while you’re laying in bed hungover couldn't be easier, but that you can also log onto the Plenty of Fish website and get a grip of the bigger picture. Immediately after login you’ll be met with a table of profile pictures, so at first glance you can see who is online and dig a little deeper. And from here the navigation bar appears in a similar style, just horizontal.
You can even describe your personality in one/two words from a long list of common terms. Unfortunately they haven’t added “sex pest” or “Catfish” just yet, so there are quite a few users that are giving us innocent daters the wrong idea. (If you have no clue on what a Catfish is, you need to watch MTV a bit more, or read this).
While setting up your own profile and telling the world how “genuine” “bubbly” or “up for fun” you are can be done in a matter of minutes, it’s clear to see that other members spend seconds on their own self-advertisement. Many don’t bother uploading photos at all, or simply pick group shots from their Facebook that making it impossible to tell which of the 10 girls in the photo that you’re actually talking to. Please be a hot one. Oh please.
Some spend far too long in listing every dislike of theirs under the sun, while others settle for our favourite online dating cop-out: “message me if you wanna know more.” Ooh how interesting. Try and stop me. However, there are fun and games to be had. In a similar way to Tinder there is a “meet me” option where you can have a quick glance at a shitload of profile pictures and click “yes”, “no” or “maybe”. I’m yet to figure out what clicking “maybe” actually does, but if you and another user click yes then you’ll suddenly feel pretty popular when it flashes up that someone, somewhere wants to meet you.
Of course if they’re in range, ish, Plenty of Fish will tell you. But if you want to narrow it down a bit more, their “locals” tab works wonders and lists all possible future dates in order of their distance. The web version gives users a little more information in the “Meet Me” category, listing their age, what they’re looking for and location. So it’s a little less judged on a picture, with the Tinder-esqe judgement not so prominent. While we all like the shits and giggles of swiping left or right, if you’re actually looking for a date, there’s more to find online on their website.
For those with a pretty specific type (and maybe a tendency to become an app-stalker) the experience is made even easier with a search option, filtering by height, age and distance, among others. However, when you find your Plenty of Fish princess, you won’t actually know on the app what their sexuality is. Of course they must have listed that they’re into women, but despite the narrowing search terms, the ability to separate bisexual and lesbian isn't there. So if you don’t fancy hooking up with a girl who bats for both sides, you might be shopping in the wrong section.
It appears that the use of an app is as far as it goes for some users, with a severe lack in basic spelling and the ability to steer themselves clear of the common dating sins. With a fear of listing that they’re actually looking for a quick shag or full-on relationship, many settle for a vague “wants to date but nothing serious” to avoid an overly keen approach and to stick by the ‘never know what might happen’ attitude. Messages have varied from the direct-but-useless “wanna come over to mine?” to the wannabe-heartbreaker “do I know you from somewhere?” So nightclub familiarities will just come running back…
The website is pretty good at tempting you into messaging someone, from listing those last online to those "looking” for the same thing, so pick your status well or you might be paired with someone a little eager for wedding bells.
But before you go messaging anyone, please, oh please, think of something interesting to say. You’re looking for a date; this isn’t LinkedIn, so there’s no need for essays on your previous conquests and ‘hi’ just doesn't cut it. If you’re curious who has been checking you out, look no further, Plenty of Fish offers a ‘Viewed Me’ tab on both their website and app, so the first step can be made for you if you’re feeling shy, and if the feelings mutual, what harm can a message do? Just make sure you spell most of it right…
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