It happens often enough. You ask your friend how they met that new person they’re dating, and they blush and mumble something about mutual acquaintances, or catching each other’s eye in Juan Valdez. If these vague stories seem too unlikely to be true, then they probably aren’t. You are probably being fed an invented tale, intended to cover up an embarrassing secret: that they actually met via a dating app.
In today’s world however, this awkward scramble to hide the truth is completely unnecessary. Almost everyone who owns a smartphone has dabbled in dating apps (even if they swear they haven’t). This makes it seem a little silly that people are so reluctant to confess to even creating a profile on one of these apps, let alone meeting someone through them.
Although they tend to carry a strong stigma, dating apps are generally fun, practical, and straightforward. They were created with the purpose of bringing people together, and that is exactly what they do well. Thanks to technology, innovation, and growing need, there are now different avenues for exploring your city, getting to know people, and even finding love.
With the success of applications such as Tinder and Badoo, there have been a wave of similar apps sprouting up in app stores. With newfound popularity and ubiquity, these apps are broadening the horizons of their intended use. Which means, contrary to popular belief, they aren’t limited solely to ‘hook-ups’. With the basic premise of connecting people with people, they can be used by many different people, for many different reasons.
If you are a beginner at Spanish, or English for that matter, using a dating app can be an easy and convenient way to chat informally with native speakers. With Google Translate just a few taps away, and without the pressure of actually knowing the person (and therefore caring about their opinion), you can practice your second language easily. The great part is that you (almost) always start with the basics- hello, how are you, where are you from- and progress from there. With a bit of practice, the sentences will be rolling off your fingertips with ease. Once you have been chatting online for a while, you might even feel confident enough to try out a conversation in person.
Despite what everyone says, dating apps can actually be used to make real and genuine connections that don’t necessarily involve sex. A 2014 Fortune article recounts anecdotes of people using dating apps to procure business advice, and find potential investors. It sounds a little ruthless, but this does make some sense. Often, apps like Tinder will display common interests and mutual friends, meaning you can stumble across connections in your field you may otherwise never have met. In a city of young entrepreneurs and skilled professionals, you never know who you might have the opportunity to connect with in Barranquilla via a dating app.
Of course, you can always use these apps for their intended purpose. Dating a local, or a person from another country, can be a fun, interesting way of exploring a different culture. Despite the embarrassment people often feel to admitting it, many a happy relationship has been formed from dating apps. Faster than dating websites, more convenient than trolling bars and clubs, and more reliable than having a friend set you up, these apps are ideal for anyone enthusiastic about meeting new people. Don’t be shy to give these apps a go: you never know what might happen.
It has to be said, however, that as with any kind of contact with other humans, there are a proportional amount of oddballs and weirdos out there in the dating-app-landia. Remember that there is absolutely no obligation to meet anyone you talk to online, and should anything get out of hand, or stray into territory you are not comfortable with, there is always the option to report and block the other person.
If things do progress to a point where you would like to see each other in person, even if you feel like you have established trust, you should always exercise caution. They are almost complete stranger, after all. For your first rendezvous, choose a public place, tell at least one friend where you are going, and have an escape plan if you need to make a quick getaway (have that same friend on standby to call you if a conveniently timed emergency should happen to crop up).
And of course, should things take the amorous route, always use protection.