by Gena Kaufman
Kate PowersRemember the olden-timey days of the mid-2000s, when online dating sites just helped introduce you to other people who also wanted to meet people to date? Remember when we used to think that was complicated enough? Hahahaha. We were so naive. Nowadays, online dating is more and more frequently attached to a new set of complications involving gift exchanges and questionable tradeoffs. Dating for free stuff is a trend that needs to get out of my face and fast.Let's look at one newish site that came across my radar today. LoveRoom is a site that purports to be a cross between OkCupid and Airbnb, two sites I have used and enjoyed. On their own. Together, my brain is exploding. So, the date is…you stay at their house/apartment? For free? If you don't hit it off, do you have to leave? Because where are you even going to find a last-minute hotel room in that case? And also, is the best place for blossoming romance during your travel plans, when you probably forgot your toothbrush and you may be washing your underwear in the sink? My brain is spinning, and bear in mind that I totally made out with an Airbnb host once, so I am the last person who should actually judge this idea. (Ahem, but I still paid in real money.)
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In all fairness to LoveRoom, at least it tries to be gender-neutral and open to different sexual orientations. That's a good detail. Whereas another new site with dating tradeoffs, HiDine, dispenses with unpleasantries like "equality" and asks women to pick the fancy restaurant of their choice while men volunteer to pony up the money to take them there for dinner. Gee, thanks, HiDine! Guess that gift certificate to Olive Garden I'll definitely get in my family's White Elephant gift exchange this year is totally gonna go to waste since I'm a lady!
And it's not just these sites. Remember Carrot Dating, the site where men are supposed to bribe women for dates? Or Must Love Travel, the site where generous men take attractive ladies on free vacations? It's not that I hate free things (I'm not crazy!) but I don't really think they belong on my dinner dates, especially when they come with heaping sides of condescension and sexism.
So, note to those who want to get in the dating business: We're thrilled when you launch cool new sites. Just make some that will actually be useful to our online love lives instead of generating outraged headlines.
Are you as over this type of dating site as I am? Would you ever try one?
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