“Keep your cards close to your chest.”
“Be upfront early on.”
Honestly, which is it?
There’s a new trend in dating called “hardballing”. (Although let’s be frank, it’s not a new trend, it’s a phenomenon that’s recently been re-branded.) Hardballing suggests you be totally up front with a potential love interest before you go on the date: detail what you’re looking for. Of course, people have been doing this for years; the purpose is to weed out people who aren’t on the same page as you, saving time and effort you invest in this person – hardly a revolutionary idea. But doesn’t this go against what we’re constantly told; to be slightly mysterious and not give everything away? And does being upfront with someone risk them taking you for a ride and ultimately wasting your time?
If you tell someone over the first few messages you’re looking for someone kind, intelligent, attractive, a little kinky, with a get-up-and-go-attitude (for example… ahem…) might that person attempt to deceive you and pretend to tick all your boxes? Or is this actually too much like hard work?
Supposedly, hardballing shows potential partners you’re not willing to compromise and you have standards, boundaries and goals to be met in a relationship. Perhaps, but I’d argue it also risks framing you as uncompromising and rigid. Although hang on, doesn’t it also express your self-worth and show love-interests you hold yourself in high regard…?
Many would argue (and with good reason) that if someone isn’t willing to accept what you’re seeking in a relationship, they’re probably not the partner for you yet isn’t part of the joy of dating learning what the other has to offer in a relationship and considering if you’d shift your criteria for them? Doesn’t love require a bit of faith and flexibility?
I’ve been on and off dating apps for about 10 years. I’ve inadvertently hardballed people (not knowing the hot, new name for it), I’ve kept my cards close to my chest and slowly discovered if a boyfriend fits my relationship requirements (what a disaster that was) and neither approach has been overly more successful than the other.
What I have learnt, however, is that certain apps cater for more of a hardball attitude to dating than others. The casual hookup app, Feeld, is notoriously home for people seeking casual encounters, threesomes and friends-with-benefits, but that’s not to say some members aren’t looking for a relationship. Whilst Hinge is marketed as the relationship app, “designed to be deleted”, Feeld allows users to list their interests and desires (though it seems the difference between these is elusive to many users). Feelders openly admit to wanting FWB, casual fun, a shag for this weekend in London whereas you’d hope all of Hingers are relationship-oriented but word gets out where the Nice Girls are and fuckboys come bounding into the Hingesphere and Bumbleworld with their cock jutting out between their legs and their airs and graces at the ready.
On Feeld, it’s pretty standard to discuss kinks, fetishes and previous experiences within the first day or two of connecting. On Hinge, it can take a little longer to build up to these conversations (I’m not implying one is “better” than the other).
But isn’t dating a hassle?! So many friends begrudge the early stages of online dating; getting to know whether someone is worth your Saturday evening or if a Wednesday evening date might be more suitable. The small talk, the minutiae of days, the dating history – it’s all personal admin. Though we must bear in mind that life consists of trivial matters and people divulge their personalities, values and interests through menial discussions. Perhaps it depends on the number of potential dates? Is hardballing an efficient way to limit the hassle and get 15 possible dates next week down to three?
It seems obvious (but I’ll say it anyway), there isn’t a one-size-fits-all route to successful dating. We’re all different and whilst casual to serious worked for Becky and Andy, it hasn’t worked for you. You might find out that hardballing works well on Feeld but less so on Hinge although try not to be too steadfast with your approach to different apps. There’s an element of luck with dating and we all know dishonesty abounds on the Internet; you may hardball someone, they give you the perfect answer only for you to discover three weeks later it was total rubbish.
Take dating apps (and the profiles on them) with a pinch of salt.