Let’s start with a moment of honesty: No one really likes online dating. While Tinder lit a spark under our collective horny asses when they reduced matchmaking down to the basics of “hot or not,” we’re seeing people become increasingly disillusioned with the blasé nature intrinsic to the left/right swipe. At the same time, no one wants to go back to filling out profiles that ask you 234,256 questions before they start matching you with the babe of your dreams.
And yet it’s doubtful that online dating is going anywhere any time soon. Are we doomed, then, to solutions that annoy us more than they satisfy?
Shannon Ong thinks the answer to the online dating conundrum lies in taking a female-centric approach, gamifying the process so that it’s fun for everyone, and introducing a bit of healthy competition. Her company is called and she bills it as a cross between The Dating Game and The Bachelorette.
“It’s not as easy as a swipe but not as complicated as, say, an eHarmony profile,” Shannon explained. “We wanted to provide a safe space for women to really screen men.”
The premise is simple and fun: a woman tells the app some general perimeters of what kind of guy she’s interested in and the app gives her back a roster of potential dudes, from which she picks four. Their photos are then hidden from her until all but one of the men are eliminated through a series of questions, which can be fun, flirty, sexy — whatever the woman wants. And, of course, the last man standing “wins” a date.
The Catch is run by a woman who has clearly done her research into how online dating works and what women are missing from the current online dating experience. As Shannon put it, they’re “bringing flirty back."
Shannon told me that so far they’ve gotten great responses from both men and women. The ladies are loving the fact that there’s finally a dating site that puts them firmly in control, and the fact that, unlike with traditional dating sites, the profiles of women on The Catch are totally private. That means there’s no spam, no nasty messages, and no unsolicited dick pics.
And with men outnumbering women three to one on traditional sites, the guys on The Catch are reporting that they enjoy a chance to rise above the fray and really show a woman what they’re about. The fact that the whole process is framed as a game also takes some of the scary/awkward seriousness out of what can be a fraught process for all genders.
The app is currently in private beta in San Francisco. If you live in the Bay Area and want to get on the waiting list, you can sign up . At the moment the only games available are for men competing for women but Shannon reassured me that once they work out all the kinks in that format, there will be new games with men as the catch, as well as LGBT-friendly games.
To top it all off, The Catch is one of the few dating sites or apps that I’ve come across that is truly “female friendly.” While plenty of apps are trying to claim that quality — usually because they know that without the ladies they’re not going to succeed — The Catch is run by a woman who has clearly done her research not only into how online dating works but also into what women are missing from the current online dating experience. As Shannon put it, they’re “bringing flirty back,” which is a mission pretty much everyone can get behind.
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