Mother of All Hook-ups For You This Valentine’s

We’ve done the dirty work for you!

Online dating – sure, you hear a lot of success stories, but those are needles in a haystack (or fairy tale unicorns) compared to the all-too-frequent ridiculous exchanges. From creepy pickup lines to unresponsive recipients, online dating is one weird jungle to explore.

Well, time to spread my seed.

And since I offhandedly suggested it, I’m writing this piece. I’m doing it by default anyway, since everybody else in the team is in a loving relationship.

Just a fair bit of warning though: online dating can be a very expensive proposition, so you might want to get your credit cards ready.

Mind you, this is a strict comparison of the few dating apps I’ve used, and not my journey to becoming (hopefully) not-single. That’s reserved for Part 2.

So here goes.

Swiping for Sparks

If you want it easy and you aren’t very picky, then the (in)famous Tinder suits you. It has the lowest point of entry – just install, use your Facebook account for verification, and you’re good to go. You should know the drill by now: Tinder searches the vicinity for other Tinder users. Swipe right if you find the person attractive, swipe left if you don’t. If the feeling is mutual, you can then proceed to message each other. Simple, yes?

Tinder profiles aren’t very wordy, so you’re working on very limited information. It’s basically “Judging A Book By Its Cover – The App”. The ease of use is also a double-edged sword, as Tinder is also notorious for being an app for hookups.

Hopping on the monetisation bandwagon, Tinder recently introduced a subscription model called Tinder Plus. For less than RM10 a month, you get to overcome geographical limitations, undo your previous left swipe, and more “Super Likes”, when you really, really want to get the person’s attention – the free version only gets you one Super Like every twelve hours. Compared to the other apps I’m going to talk about, Tinder Plus is pretty affordable, all things considering.

Wordsmith’s Choice

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For all you wordsmiths out there.

On the other extreme, if you’re the wordy type and like to express your preferences to the fullest, then OKCupid is up your alley. It takes quite a bit of time to craft your profile and you can answer some multiple choice questions to further bolster your profile. Potential matches can be filtered and ranked based on your preferences, and you don’t need to mutually like each other to message the other party.

Another online dating service, another subscription model. For the case of OKCupid, it’s A-Lister service lets you browse anonymously, see who “Liked” you, as well as other assorted goodies. It is quite pricey though, with a US$20 price tag. You’ll get a deal if you subscribe for multiple months, but you have to consider if you’re going to stick with the service for a long period of time.

Now I Ain’t Saying She A Gold Digger…

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Why bother approaching me if you're not going to respond?

I tried a third service, and I’m not sure whether to call it a dating app. Singapore-based Paktor is some weird amalgamation between dating app, social media network and gaming ladder. It’s also the app that annoyed me the most.

You have your Tinder-style rolodex interface, but you don’t need a mutual like to message someone. There’s also a gifting element, where you use intangible points to buy intangible gifts and give someone. As for the “gaming ladder” bit? There are leaderboards, from “Most Popular” to “Most Gifts” and “Most Generous”.

Using Paktor means participating in a game of one-upmanship. Say you message a lad or lass, and they reply. The conversation window will now also list every gift they have received (as well as the value) from other Paktor-ians since you first made contact. If that isn’t scummy, I don’t know what is.

Paktor also has a subscription model, and unlike Tinder or OKCupid, you are basically screwed if you don’t subscribe. Almost every interaction in Paktor requires points, and the measly points you start with is enough for just one. A subscription gives you a certain amount of points, which are replenished daily. If you’re not satisfied, you can part with your wallet in exchange for more points!

Fancy Lunch?

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A (potential) match a day – set it and forget it.

If you’re not keen on swiping through profiles like an automaton, you can try the comparatively laid-back LunchClick. You complete your profile and suggest a date idea, and then you wait. Really, you just wait. The app suggests a possible match around noon every day, and you have 24 hours to think long and hard if this person fits. So like a crock pot or slow cooking, you just set it and forget it.

The best part of LunchClick? You are not obligated to pay for a subscription – the app works just fine. There is a paid tier, but it doesn’t lock you out from the core features. You only pay for a “Love Assistant”, where LunchClick ups the ante and tries their absolute darndest to get you an actual date, consultants and all.

Skip the Foreplay

If you want to skip the “dating” bit and get straight to doing the nasty, there are apps for that too. There’s Down (formerly Bang with Friends), Pure, SKOUT, and WeChat, to name a few. Aside from WeChat, subscriptions open up more perks, and for the case of Pure, a monthly subscription is required (you get a 7-day free trial).

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Many surprises await (your mileage may vary).

Of course, there are users in these apps who are looking for proper, stable relationships, but there is a significant “naughty” population in these apps, so looking for them can be harder than just using Tinder.

WeChat’s “Discover” feature lists people within your vicinity, so you can contact your person of choice. Depending on where you are, you can get perfectly normal people, escorts, performance enhancers (you know the type), gambling site promoters and other business-minded folks.

There are so many dating apps and services that I have yet to list, but these are probably the most popular around. With so many options, it does look like you won’t be single if you (to be a bit crass) “diversify your portfolio” and “spread your seed”. But that isn’t the end of the story. You’ll have to read Part 2, where I chronicle my journey to be un-single. ◆