Canada

Dating apps are a 'total crapshoot,' but new offerings give hope for meaningful dating

Online dating has been around as long as the Internet. But for some, finding someone who's looking for something serious isn't easy. New dating apps are emerging to deal with this issue and think they have the answer to finding meaningful relationships.

Vyve, Huggle and Facebook dating just some of the new options aiming to create meaningful, real relationships

There's undoubtedly a growing market in Canada for dating opportunities. According to Statistics Canada, close to 30 per cent of households are now one person, the highest percentage in the country's history. (Getty Images)

Canadian comedian Christina Walkinshaw started using dating apps about five years ago. She loved that it was an easy way to see who was single and enjoyed meeting a variety of people.

"When I first started online dating, I absolutely loved it. [Now] when I connect with somebody online, we can have great chats back and forth, but very fast we turn into pen pals."

Walkinshaw says too often people will connect online but won't leave the house. She chronicled her dating stories on her blog in the popular series "My Week On Tinder," writing about going on 50 different dates with people she met on the dating app Tinder.

Canadian comedia Christina Walkinshaw chronicled her dating stories in the popular blog My Week On Tinder (Leah Good)

New dating apps aim to build 'real long-term relationships, not just hookups'

Tinder's popularity exploded in recent years, partially due to its quick and easy nature: swipe right to like a profile and indicate your interest in the person or swipe left to move onto the next. But for some, it's too superficial, and new dating apps are cropping up to address the issue.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg recently announced at Facebook's F8 developer conference that the social networking service is moving into the world of dating, with a focus on "building real long-term relationships, not just hookups."

The social media giant's treasure trove of personal data is expected to help match people, including using upcoming events that people plan to attend, to pair them with potential suitors. The hope is that it will draw people together who are best suited for each other. And Facebook isn't alone in this.

A recently launched dating app Vyve aims to "make relationships real again." Their strategy is to emphasize interests and personality over looks. You don't even see a picture of someone until you've written back and forth a few times.

Another option, Huggle, makes matches based on locations you frequent and the kinds of posts you like on social media. The hope being that this will lead to more meaningful connections for people who feel online dating has run its course.

There's undoubtedly a growing market in Canada for dating opportunities. According to Statistics Canada, close to 30 per cent of Canadians live in one-person households, the highest percentage in the country's history.

'The idea of having people connect through shared interests is not a bad way for people to connect, but it's more their lifestyle, their mindset, their worldview and their value system.'

Canadian therapist and relationship expert Natasha Sharma frequently hears about client frustrations with online dating.

"They don't feel good about it because they think it's a bit of a dead end," said Sharma. "I think there's this idea that there's just a disproportionate amount of people who are not really out there to be serious."

Sharma says Facebook and other new dating apps are trying to capitalize on that sentiment. 

"People are now seeking this idea of 'meaning' because this is something that has become a value to consumers and people in this day and age."

That emotional chord is powerful, according to Sharma, but there's a lot more that determines whether something is meaningful than merely discovering you frequent the same coffee shop.

"The idea of having people connect through shared interests is not a bad way for people to connect, but it's more their lifestyle, their mindset, their worldview and their value system. That's the trunk of the tree and that trunk needs to be the same if they want a lasting relationship."

The nuanced complexity of finding something meaningful is why Christina Walkinshaw isn't buying that any one dating site can figure it out.

"I like everybody's optimism that there's a company or people out there that have all the answers as to how you can find the perfect relationship. But let's not kid ourselves, it's a total crapshoot."

About the Author

Jason Osler is the national 'trends' columnist for CBC Radio.

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