Date 13: The Sleazy Hookup

So, I've always maintained - this is a dating blog, not a sex blog.

But, the mission is to explore the wild wastelands of online dating, and lets face it, a huge amount of the people who are dating online are in it for the sexy-times, and many of the websites are overtly sexually weird and/or sordid. It's become a regular pastime of mine to open emails from friends that make my jaw drop, as they find new, more extreme "dating" sites that they want me to try out. Actually, the sexually strange ones - like Diapermates.com,"The internet's largest adult baby personals site", worry me less than the really sordid "normal" ones.

Probably the most sordid site I've seen is LocalSlags.co.uk. I mean, where do you have to be in your life to look at yourself in the mirror and think, "Yeah, I am a slag, I live in a small town. I suppose I am, therefore, a local slag! I'll register on that website!" 

I mean, I'd want to be a Global slag ("Your online portal for all things slag-related" is quite the tag-line) or a Europe-wide slag at the very least. Maybe I'm just too ambitious.

 I did create a profile on LocalSlags (sister site - Granny slags, for when your Local slags are just too damn young), but the messages were so unbelievably grim I never replied to any - although at one point I was offered the sex act of my choice, as long as I was willing to "dog" in a particular Croydon bus-shelter, which is not something many other people can probably claim. Or depressingly, probably something absolutely loads of people can claim.

So, online hookups - even more sordid and weird than online dating, and that is really saying something. But, of course, that brief look didn't leave me with a date. At the shallow end of the creepy waters of the online hookup pool is Facebook dating app Bang with Friends

The core concept of this is that plenty of us have friends we would like to sleep with. I'm sure we've all been in that situation where you have a crush on someone you know, and then years later you find out that they had a thing for you at the same time, but now you're both with other people.

You can't help but wonder "what if?" though. It all sounds like a reasonable idea, apart from the fact that the app itself is almost indefeasibly sleazy & chock to the brim with UniLad style casual misogyny. For example, the website logo, basically speaks for itself:



The "how to use the website" page features directions for using the site, with accompanying illustrations of how to put on a condom. It's the kind of thing you can imagine that three fratboy dudebros came up with in their college dormroom, hi-fiving the whole time, occasionally shouting "AWESOME!", "YOLO!" and then headbutting each other and chanting "PSI-ZETA, PSI-ZETA!" The tagline is "Skip the chatting, get to the smacking". Ahem. It's classy like you wouldn't believe.

The way it works is, you load the app, and then you select the gender you are "down to bang" with (yes, that is the site terminology). It then gives you a full list of all of your friends of that gender, and you click a big button under their portrait that says "DOWN TO BANG". Nothing happens, unless they also have the app, and click you, in which case you both get a message, informing you both that you are into each other.

So, I fired it up, (just to have a look, you understand). Here's what it looks like:



You'll note that prominent among my allegedly heterosexual female friends is Mr.Benjamin Paul James Williams. His female heterosexuality will probably come as a shock to his lovely girlfriend, for a start. It seems the app isn't very good at identifying gender, which is even more mystifying in Ben's case, as he has not one, but four male names. I suspect it must have seen him dancing. 

Now, other than the problem with spotting genders (which, lets face it, is important), the other problems include the fact that the app claims to be completely confidential, but a bit of playing with facebook's code certainly lets you see which of your friends have it installed. 

It also only works if both sides have it, and men outnumber women on it about twenty to one, for fairly obvious reasons. I circumvented this problem by ticking literally every  friend I had on Facebook. (yes, even the ones where their profile pic is them in a wedding dress, their cute child, the male ones, my boss, literally everyone), and then announcing I was on the app. There's actually no search function I could find, so this seemed to be the "best" way to do it.

Aside from the obvious messages from male public schoolboy friends trying it out to see if I was serious ("Foxman, this is Sambo. You down to Bang? LOL!"), there was little fanfare, and I pretty much forgot I had it switched on.

That is, until out of the blue, I got a message from a female friend on it. She was indeed exactly the sort of person I'd always had a thing for - a foreign lady, who I knew from university debating, who now works overseas, who I see about once every other year. Whenever she's in London, we usually go for dinner, catch up, but nothing has ever happened. So, I was pretty taken aback by the message - indeed, I initially assumed it was a joke, just her trying out the app.

However, before I could write her a message asking her if it was indeed just her trying things out, she sent me a facebook message, telling me that she was going to be in London in a week's time - but also that she'd always had a bit of a thing for me, and could we make it a date? I must say, I was immensely flattered, as she's extremely attractive and incredibly successful, exactly the sort of person I'd always considered out of my league. I must admit, I consider 95% of the women I've dated as part of this experiment "out of my league", so maybe I'm overly harsh on myself.

Anyway, I met her at Kings Cross Station, and we went to the champagne bar upstairs for drinks. It's actually lovely, although frighteningly expensive (£13.85 for a Gin & tonic). Fortunately, the very large, very evil organisation indeed (tm) that she works for was picking up the tab. We talked through old friends, how her career was going (short version: well), compared notes on old times. We decided to go on for dinner, and went to a lovely gastropub nearby. I regaled her with tales of what I've been doing over the last few years; she told me about a few fun adventures she's had. We compared notes on the horror of living in hotels, having your whole life in a bag; I'd traveled around the states for a couple of months during the recent election, so had a tremendous sympathy with her plight.  

We agreed that if we were both single and both living in the same country, we'd love to date. Of course, that brought the issue to a head - while we were both single, I live in London, but she's totally rootless, and travels all over the place. She'd been on three continents in the preceding four weeks; and she claims that the only furniture she has in the actual flat she is supposed to live in is an ikea bed and a champagne fridge. We skirted around the issue of what would come after dinner.

We were having a great time - the date didn't feel unnatural or weird at all. It was fun - all the things that make her an appealing friend were present, but there was a fun flirtatious edge to the proceedings, as we both knew we were interested in being more than friends. 

I mean, isn't a lasting relationship at its core a really good friendship with added attraction and sex? Indeed, I think there is something in the concept of hooking up friends who have crushes on each other - I just think Bang with Friends is probably just a bit too misogynistic to be the answer to this problem. 

Anyway, as the evening drew to a close, she asked me to... well, like I said at the beginning - dating blog, not a sex blog. Again, use your imagination!

Next week, 28 Dates Later dates another Date Blogger (who has already written me up, so you can get an idea of what I am like on a date...) and then gets weird with Beyond Psychic Dating...

10 comments:

  1. Hugh O'Brien said...

    I get the feeling that this whole endeavour is turning out better than you initially imagined.

  2. Anonymous said...

    Have you considered howaboutwe.com? Not 100% sure it is available in the UK, but if it is, it might be fun and have a semblance of normality.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Congratulations for finding women to have sex with you.

  4. Mike said...

    How many of these dates have led to second and third dates? Perhaps that's where you'll establish if you've been to harsh on yourself or not, and if these ladies really are out of your league. Would love a follow up update. Mike

  5. Anonymous said...

    "Indeed, I think there is something in the concept of hooking up friends who have crushes on each other - I just think Bang with Friends is probably just a bit too misogynistic to be the answer to this problem."

    I think you've spotted a gap in the market...

  6. Anonymous said...

    Thank you, Willard, for a brilliantly entertaining blog. I recently had an interesting conversation with a web developer who runs dating sites, and he explained to me that many sites actually run off the same back end database (for example www.whitelabeldating.com), and developers simply pay for access to the database and build their own front end, filtering the results according to whatever niche they are catering for. So you can end up exchanging messages with someone who actually signed up to a completely different site. For example if you happen to have red hair your profile could end up on here (www.dateginger.co.uk/). I always wondered how there was enough demand to keep so many highly niche sites in business, and this goes some way towards explaining it. Whitelabeldating.com appears to be pretty respectable, but I'm sure there are sleazier "white label" databases out there.

    So it's quite possible that the "local slags" on that site had no idea they were signing up to be identified as "slags" (of course it's equally possible that they knew exactly what they were signing up for!).

    I can't help wondering whether these companies are potentially breaking the law (doesn't the DPA say something about using data only for the purpose for which it was collected, or words to that effect?). Given that online dating involves sharing some quite personal information about yourself, it's also a bit worrying how many people might have access to the database. (I speak as a former internet dater myself!)

  7. Hi. I am very much confused that dating with best friend is a good idea or not. As I had never date anyone and now I am thinking to date a guy. So please help me.

  8. streaky said...

    "I think you've spotted a gap in the market..."

    Agreed, bit less sleazy (and frankly, more secure) and there's genuinely something to. I see a weekend project coming up..

  9. Dan said...

    Brilliant!

  10. Anonymous said...

    When I first heard of Bang With Friends I was astonished. First of all that it was an absolutely brilliant concept (Why didn't I think of this!?). Secondly I was shocked at the poor execution: its sleazy misogynist tone and style (that logo!).

    While it is beautiful in its simplicity, the achilles heel is that both parties need to use the app before you are discreetly alerted about each other's crush. I doubt many of my intelligent female friends over 23 on Facebook would really opt for an app called 'Bang with Friends'.

    Anyway, it does seem a very American frat-boy type app. Fortunately I found this more European version of the concept which is very decently called WouldLove2 (www.wouldlove2.com) and doesn't come with those 'execution issues'. I've got it on my phone now and selected a few friends, let's see what happens…

    I am not sure it it would make sense for you to try it separately, though. One the one hand it uses the same Facebook friends as BWF, on the other hand it is more likely that more grown-up friends use WL2 than BWF.

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