Earlier this year, when we were still relative online dating newbies, L told me about a new site that she’d just heard of. “It’s like Okcupid,” she explained, “except everyone suggests an idea for a first date.”
Color me intrigued! I remember thinking the concept of men having to provide a date idea up front was not only incredibly attractive, but also borderline genius. I’d do pretty much anything to avoid receiving one or all of the following texts from my date prior to meeting him:
“So what do you want to do?”
“Got any ideas about where we should go?”
“I don’t know the city that well, so I’ll leave the planning to you.”*
*(This one infuriates me. Do you also not have the internet? Have you never heard of Yelp? Are you not in fact texting me from an iPhone 5, but from a Zack Morris monstrosity circa ’91?)
The thing is, I am not looking for some over the top first date featuring like, a hot air balloon ride (real talk, that idea was legitimately suggested by D, of movie theater yelling fame. He’s a rare date planning gem, that one. We never went, but I kind of secretly still want to. If it ever happens I’ll be sure to share with the class.) Drinks at a chill bar are fine. with. me. It’s not rocket science, gentlemen.
I realize we co-bloggers complain about the inability of men to plan dates pretty much every week, but my job involves a significant amount of event planning, plus I’ve been in a number of weddings this year. Like L, I am a bossy oldest child, so in many cases the logistics of making plans naturally fall to me. This is fine, and most of the time I prefer it that way (again, bossy older child). But I also absolutely love when someone else takes the reigns for a bit. Love.
Between my excitement over dudes doing the planning and my excitement over cutting down on senseless messaging before meeting in person, I was sold. I signed up for HowAboutWe (which I will henceforth refer to as HAW), since it was “free to try”.
“Free to try” is the favorite term of most online dating sites, with the exception of Okc (the cheap single 20-something’s dream). Basically, you sign up for the site and quickly discover that in order to do pretty much anything besides creep on the home page, you need to fork over actual money. And yet, even with your low level security clearance that gives you access to little more than their blog (responsible for groundbreaking journalism such as this) the site proceeds to bombard you with 1,500 daily emails about your “matches” (who you aren’t allowed to contact until you provide them with your credit card card number).
Here’s a sample of what’s been hitting my inbox at least once a day since I signed up:
Okay. As you can see, those are three fairly normal, innocuous date suggestions. Totally vague, yes, but they basically make sense.
More often than not though, there’s at least one dude in the mix who has managed to miss the site’s concept completely:
Sure, I’ve seen some decent answers:
Simple. Specific. Involving alcohol. Not bad.
But for every date idea I’ve come across that’s half decent, there are countless that fall into either of the following categories:
(Actually worried for the welfare of that child in the picture. Are you okay, kid?)
Due to the underwhelming nature of these prospects, combined with my proclivity to be distrustful of dating sites that cost money following The Great Match.com Debacle of 2013, I decided not to spring for the paid membership to HAW. I feel good about my decision, or at least I did until I stumbled upon one dude’s answer while doing research for this post:
Be still my heart. I’ve loved the Gin Blossoms (unironically) since preteen S first heard Hey Jealousy on Y100 all those years ago. (True story: senior year of high school, a friend and I made the wise decision to memorize the lyrics instead of study for our AP Calculus final. How did that work out for us? FANFUCKINGTASTICALLY. We’re both successful adults, and we both know every word to one of the sweetest 90s jams of all time).
What I’m saying is, I get this person. And I’d totally date this person. The question is, would I fork over a membership to this seemingly shitty dating site just to message him? The cheapo in me says hell no, although a Gin Blossoms themed wedding would be pretty epic. All that long flowing hair and loose fitting button downs, just in time for fall…
What do you think, dear readers? Has anyone out there tried HAW for real? Am I missing out?
A dude’s perspective: I joined up in May, and had you asked before the last couple of weeks, I’d have said avoid it. Now, having met someone pretty awesome on it, I can’t write it off completely. It is pricey for what you get, though – I’d keep the OKC account going congruently.
A few notes:
• Far more women are flaking out on this site than on OKC. I’ve been lucky on OKC, perhaps, but it’s pretty often that someone whom I’m speaking to on HAW and have even set up a date with have just vanished or bailed. It may be because it’s a new site, and they are advertising heavily, so a few people joining aren’t taking it especially seriously. I guess that’s how it goes on a service where, if your time expires, you’re SOL if you were messaging someone.
• I’ve had 3 dates from HAW, and in the same amount of time, 10 from OKC. Overall, it’s tough to find people because there just isn’t a whole lot of actual matching – you’re supposed to understand the person from a date idea (that 95% of the time is drinks) and a few pretty unrevealing questions. Not to mention most people aren’t paying, so sending a message to someone is probably going to result in it going into the internet ether, never to be read by a mortal. However, 2 of the 3 dates were serious dating material. Perhaps the price barrier is raising the bar for members?
• After paying for a 6 month membership, and meeting someone after a month or so (lucked out, first date on the service – didn’t end especially well, though), I put my account on hold. They don’t mention that when you do this, you are giving up any of your paid for time. (OKC just puts your account on hold, but keeps you as a subscriber for any time you’ve paid for, but it keeps the same expiration date) After complaining to HAW when I tried to turn it back on and waiting a week for an answer, I approached Apple and they gave me a full refund. Then, a week later, they responded to my complaint and reactivated the account for the original purchased time. Not bad face.
• Their user interface is flakey. The app is especially tough. They steal ideas from the OKC app pretty often, but do things just different enough that it’s confusing. Their answer to OKC’s “Local” toy, “Speed Date,” is identical, except that swiping either way is just a “not interested.” On OKC, swiping to the left means skip, and to the right means “like” or whatever – basically the same as giving them 4 or 5 stars. On HAW’s “Speed Date,” swiping either direction is a skip, and you have to double tap the date to say I’m “intrigued!” How am I supposed to be a shallow bastard and judge people within a half second, based purely on a single photo??
• I’m seeing the same people, and the same dates, over and over. Probably just because it’s new, though at first it seemed cool, but now it really hasn’t changed the lineup in the few months I’ve been on. While I saw a huge on OKC of messages and interest in the late summer, there really wasn’t much on the HAW front. Plus, the limited profiles make for very little to go on when sending a message out, and just clicking “I’m Intrigued” isn’t going to get you a message back, in most cases.
Basically, I’m sure they are trying, but it’s no replacement for OKC. Not yet. And each person I’ve met on HAW were also on OKC, so there’s that.
Wow, thanks for this super in depth review. Incidentally my co-blogger D just joined HAW so we’ll get to hear her first hand account in the coming months, too. If she likes it I may spring for the paid membership.
Good luck with your ‘pretty awesome’ new person, and thanks for reading! –S
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