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Just a number...how does age affect dating?

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Although we might not think it, we didn’t invent dating, it’s been around long before you or I. There is a number of things we could learn from the older and younger generations in the way we approach finding ‘the one’ or ‘ugh; that one’. Badoo is the biggest dating app in the world, bringing in a range of users, all ages, with plenty of features to keep everyone entertained. VICE took that as a way to explore how generations go about matching, meeting up and more.

From David Attenborough to the Queen’s speech, it’s always good to have wholesome things with an appeal that crosses the divide between generations. And, as unlikely as you think this may seem, a subject likely to come up over Christmas dinner ‘17 is dating apps. Yes, from siblings to cousins; exes to your high school teachers, everybody is dating online. But – having seen how long it actually takes my uncle to google the location of the nearest Londis - surely not in the same way? It’s well-documented that younger generations enjoy ‘Lols’ and finding a cat to take a selfie with, but how about the older generation? How does one use an app when perhaps looking for something a little deeper than pc4pc? To answer this question, we asked three people and dating app users, Maximillian, 23, Brian*, 33, and Erika, 62, to tell us how they roll in the dating world. Erika, 62, is a divorcee and restaurant manager in York, who began using dating apps intensely a few years back when looking for love. Maximillian, 23, is a student from Brighton. And Brian, 33, is a freelance photographer based in south London.

What is your main reason for using dating apps?

Maximillian, 23: Well, you don’t have to get dressed up and worry about how you act. You’ve already put up your best photos so you are starting from a strong position in that sense, or at least a more confident one. Plus, it’s far easier and more accessible. Essentially I wouldn’t be able to talk to a girl while dozing about the house without it.

Thank goodness for that. And what about you Erika, 62?

Erika, 62: Yeah – as strange as it sounds - quite similar to Maximillian. It was all about convenience. The whole thing felt like going through a catalogue to me. 

Brian, 33: And without sounding cheesy, mine is all about potentially meeting an awesome girlfriend.

So what is the first question you use when speaking with somebody new?

Brian, 33: Something relevant to their profile and photos. That’s what they’re there for.

Erika, 62: Their job status.

Maximillian, 23: I wouldn’t go in quite that strong. I’d most likely type and delete a few times before sending anything. Something like the usual ‘How are you today?’ is always OK but can be dull. I sometimes feel that reading their bio and commenting on it comes off a bit desperate. But I am one who struggles with small talk.

And what was the best experience you’ve had on a dating app?

Erika, 62: I have one for you. I ended up meeting a guy that looked like his photo, was honest about his age, unmarried and didn’t push too far on the first date.

Sounds a keeper!

Well, yeah – he’s the guy who I am engaged to, four years later!

Well that’s incredible. And how about you Brian, 33?

I met my ex who I dated for 3 years on a dating app. We’re still great friends.

Maximillian, 23: I can’t remember a single favourite conversation but I generally have a good time if we share the same humour from the get go, and they don’t mind that I’m a bit silly. Basically if they don’t take it too seriously then it’s usually a good time.

Any horror stories that taught you a lesson along the way?

Maximillian, 23: I would have to go with those times when you leave your phone on a table and your boys decide to ruin any half decent conversations with pictures and videos of some irrelevant stuff. Unseemly stuff.

Erika, 62: Mine was the guy who arrived, and seemed unhappy to be with me. I asked him what the problem was, to which he replied "Well, you’re bigger than I thought you’d be!”

Brian, 33: I’d go with those who have had great chat via message and absolutely no personality in real life!

Erika, 62, Maximillian, 23 – there’s a big gap between you two. Do you feel you understand why other generations who use this app? Or is there anything you don’t get?

Erika, 62: Well, I guess I thought younger people already had dozens of friends to go out with. And with so many pubs, clubs, wine bars, workplaces and the like, you’d have thought there were plenty of places where new 'friends' can be made. 

Maximillian, 23: I totally get why they do. There is no reason why people like Erika shouldn’t be utilising the new ways in which to find someone. Old people still need to meet people like the rest of us. I’d say it’s probably more beneficial for them, as their lifestyle perhaps doesn’t enable them to come into social situations as often as younger generations and have more responsibilities. So reaching people whilst being confined could be really advantageous.

And how many dates does your generation take to make it serious, as it were?

Erika, 62: As in real life there was never a hard and fast rule as to when I decided this. Definitely not on first date.

Brian, 33: Depends on the person. 1st night almost guarantees you won’t actually date each other, which is cool if that’s what you’re looking for. Second date seems to be perfectly fine for me!

Maximillian, 23: I think it depends on the person and the way the conversation has gone. If you feel like that you know the person well enough then go for it. For me, I like to think 3 is the magic number but it has varied from time to time. I guess with dating online there is an added element of uncertainty because you don’t know for sure if the person you are talking is really who they are. So there is an added precaution to the whole adventure.

Erika, 62: True, but I would say that anyone can tell you any lies, online or face to face.

And for the last question, the answer to an age old one: Do you prefer to be approached? Or the other way ‘round?

Maximillian, 23: I think it’s safe to say everyone prefers being approached rather than having to approach someone. It instantly gives you the impression that the person is interested, which is always the fear when approaching someone. You almost have the upper hand in that sense. But yeah it’s always nice to be appreciated even if it is just for your looks. 

Brian, 33: Yeah, I’d say this is the strength of dating apps. The way they’ve put old school theory out the window. If someone approaches me then that’s great. Otherwise I’m happy to send the first message. Anyone flatly refusing to send the first message is a red flag though. 

Erika, 62: Couldn’t agree more. Very rarely in real life would I have made the first approach unless the guy had made it obvious he liked me. So it’s been great for me.

Thank you so much, guys!

Coming away from our chat, I’m surprised how little, considering the 39 years separating them, there is between the three. Maximillian, 23, Brian, 33, and Erika, 62, seem to use online dating for ultimately the same reason: convenience. And, whether it’s younger people looking for a little fun, those ready to settle down, or older individuals who know exactly what they want but are struggling to find it, Badoo seems like an app inclusive of all generations and their goals. Accommodating both young and old, it ensures that - no matter how much it feels like you’re fighting an uphill struggle of Pizza Express dates with friends from work; handing phone numbers to fellow commuters - there’s always a place to go to find somebody who is looking for the same thing as you.

*Brian’s name has been changed.

Illustrations by Venus Libido