The Bookshelf Test
Tinder. Bumble. OK Cupid. Coffee Meets Bagel. Online dating platforms abound, and they can suck up as much time as you let it. Whether you have tried out a dating app for yourself or not, you have probably heard of the “swipe left / swipe right” decision point. Swipe left, and the person’s profile is gone from view, not likely to return. Swipe right to indicate your interest. If both people swiped right for one another, it’s a match, and communication becomes possible.
I used to have a liberal right-swipe tendency. It felt rude to swipe left on someone who took care with their profile and seems a perfectly decent human being. I mean, what right do I have to swipe left? And so matches and messages would commence, and hours of my time would be consumed with a correspondence I knew in my heart to be fine and cordial, but ultimately futile and a waste of everyone’s time. I would reactivate my OK Cupid account one optimistic day just to leave two weeks later due to overwhelm.
A couple of weeks ago, I returned to OK Cupid—possibly as my last hurrah on the site—this time with a plan. I decided on two disqualifying criteria and one qualifying criterion when swiping.
- If it seems from someone’s profile or question answers that they do not believe that racism exists or that feminism is not a solid plan, heck no; and/or
- If their age range in their search for women does not include their own age, just no
Why these two? While I’m perfectly happy talking about racism and racial and gender justice with someone, it doesn’t need to be something I seek out in a first date context. And while I’m ultimately looking for a longer term partner, I’m not keen on spending even one date with a person who may feel women have an expiration date assigned to them by sexist norms of ageism with an underlying notion that women are objects. I’ve dated that person. Not again, thanks.
- Do I get the strong sense that spending time with this person would be at least as interesting as spending time reading a book on my bookshelf?
This one is a high bar! I have only swiped right a handful of times over the past few weeks. Maybe it’s too soon to tell, but early results indicate that this may just be a strong system. The few dates I’ve had have been truly delightful. I didn’t miss my bookshelf once (though in one case we did swap titles for later discussion). And the rest of the time that I would have been spending on polite, futile messaging? Actually spending time with my books or with friends. Winning!
What I learned at life today: “The Bookshelf Test” seems to be working for online dating. I wonder what else it could be used for?