Is Dating Just Like Shopping Now?


Today is “Love Is Blind” Day on OKCupid, which is a great inspirational quote to put on a coaster or something like that, but it means that if you get any messages from people and OKCupid says that statistically you’re a perfect match, um, you have to wait until tomorrow to see their face! Not to be like superficial or whatever, but if it says we’re a match, I kind of want to know what you look like. Sorry!

On the one hand, this OKCupid experiment tries to reverse a dominant feature of the online dating world: that dating is just like shopping. The whole point of dating websites is that they are basically shopping carts, and dating in the 21st century means putting people people in shopping carts. There’s nothing wrong with that — it is what it is.

But whether we like to admit it or not, we are drawn to people because we are attracted to them in some way. It’s not that they have to be absolutely the hottest girl or guy in the room, but that they have whatever traits excite us in another person. I, for instance, am always drawn to tall, skinny artist types with flawless jawlines. Every. Time. This is not my only type but it’s one of the more prominent ones. And based on looks alone, it always seems like I date the same guy over and over.

When we are looking for new gear on ASOS, we numbly scroll through hundreds of images, matches, and profiles, trying to find the ones we like best. In the same way, when we hit the dating pool, we have a set of characteristics or traits we’re looking for in another person. Not that we have them written down per se, but we know what they are. Maybe you just CANT date a Republican or a person who majored in Art because you don’t think that’s a “real” vocation. But sometimes we surprise ourselves and stray away from what we think we’re attracted to, but in general we are all attracted to something. And as we scroll through OKCupid, Grindr, and dating profiles, our well-honed shopping skills help us find a mate.

If online dating is like shopping, returning an item is just as easy as pressing “block” or “I’m Not Interested.”

OKCupid’s “Love Is Blind” experiment, which is meant to launch a new free blind date app called Crazy Blind Date, wants us to connect to one another on a human level, at the level of our interests and compatibility. And that’s a good thing, and it’s why something like speed dating can be so fun. But the reality is that part of that compatibility has to do with how attracted we are, for whatever reason, to another person. How many times have we ignored people or either politely declined people who have written us online because we’re not attracted to them — or how many times have we been that ignored, blocked person?

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