Image description: a drawing of the Rad Cam surrounded by love hearts
If you’ve been lucky enough to find yourself young, single and carefree for any significant period during your time at Oxford so far, you will no doubt have felt the irresistible pull of the dating app. Especially if you spent any time in Oxford under lockdown, unable to achieve a sweet organic meeting-in-real-life story, or even to drunkenly kiss strangers in a club, online dating apps really were the only option – unless, of course, you chose to search for that special connection within your own college, and we all know how well that goes…
Writing this on Valentine’s Day, as my Instagram feed is once again overrun by the annual avalanche of sickening couple-posting, I am moved to reflect fondly on my own, largely unsuccessful, forays into dating in Oxford which have, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, been largely characterised by The Apps.
The Apps in my experience have been comprised of the big three, Tinder, Bumble and Hinge. I must admit that I have never sampled the Oxford dating scene on OkCupid or Plenty of Fish – so perhaps am writing this article from a position of ignorance. I have used all three – and I’m not ashamed to admit it (once more for luck – I’m not ashamed to admit it).
I can tell you from experience however that there is absolutely zero benefit of having more than one app at the same time. They are all filled with the exact same people and the only thing you could possibly gain by downloading more than one at a time is the excruciating scenario in which you match one person on three different apps in the same day, revealing you both as pathetic swipe addicts and spoiling any potential mutual respect or admiration in one fell swoop (ok, maybe I am a little ashamed).
While these apps are supposedly designed for meeting someone new, few pleasures rival that of seeing somebody you already know on Tinder. Whether it’s that beautiful but elusive course-mate that you’ve made lingering eye-contact with in the faculty library, or whether it’s stumbling across an acquaintance who has always seemed sweet and mild-mannered but who has inexplicably filled his profile with aggressive topless selfies – it’s all part of the fun.
The sheer number of profiles you can view and interact with in a short space of time on these apps has revolutionised modern dating around the world. In a small city such as Oxford, especially when you are mostly pursuing other students, all of whom cram themselves into one of three tiny nightclubs every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, this quickly presents itself as a problem. In fact, if you spend enough time swiping, you could quite easily cover most of Oxford’s population. This becomes particularly obvious whenever you set foot in Atik/Plush/Bridge and instantly recognise at least three people on every floor from Tinder/Hinge/Bumble and spend the whole night avoiding eye contact and trying not to think about the awkward coffee date you spent together, or that overly keen message you sent which was met with cold silence.
And when all your friends are single and dabbling in the apps, Oxford suddenly becomes a hostile environment with awkwardness at every turn. My friends and I have recently had to stop our regular visits to one Oxford pub, previously a favourite, after one of our number was suddenly and brutally blocked by its kitchen manager after a Tinder date. When it becomes impossible to visit Cornmarket Pret without frantically whispering, “Oh my God that’s *****! Hide me! Hide me!” to your long-suffering friends, you know you are doing Oxford dating right.
If you’ve somehow managed to stumble across the modern miracle of meeting your soulmate in-real-life in Oxford, then congratulations. I hope you’re very happy. However, when it all goes wrong – as love inevitably does – don’t be too proud to press that download button. Trust me, you’re missing out