While online dating has lost its once-creepy reputation, those of us who date on a regular basis are still aware of the risks that come along with meeting someone you’ve never met before. There’s always the risk they’re not who they say they are — or worse, they might cause you harm (this feels especially true if you’re a single woman). It would be great if there were more features built into online dating that made us feel safe, while also making the whole process more efficient.
Here are a few online dating features I wish existed (listen up, dating apps!)
1. The ability to filter out trolls before we even open their messages.
One of the most annoying parts of online dating is having to deal with creeps and trolls — people who want to insult you, get overly sexual or a combination of both. This feature would work similar to a junk-mail folder. Messages would be pre-screened for potential red flags (for example, sexual language, profanities, hate speak, offensive content/photos) and lack of content (therefore filtering out messages that just say “u R hott”).
Also useful: a feature that allows you to add specific words and phrases to your red flag list. Dating would be so much nicer if all of those annoying, offensive messages just ended up in a folder you didn’t have to see, unless you decided to open it. Therefore, reducing inbox clog and allowing quicker access to the legit, non-creepy messages.
2. Built in background check.
You know how when you sign up for airbnb, you have to verify that you are who you say you are by scanning your ID? Well, this feature would work the same way. Your name and personal information wouldn’t be visible, but the system would do a search to make sure you are in fact the same person you are representing yourself to be. This would include a “Catfish detector” that would check your photos to ensure authenticity and a background check that would flag any potential safety issues (for example, a criminal record for partner violence.)
3. A banner indicating who your potential date voted for in the last election.
If we’ve learned anything over the past year and a half, it’s that these things matter. Whether political views are a deciding factor or not for you, it would save time if you were able to get a sense of where someone stands before you invest energy into getting to know them romantically.
4. The ability to filter matches based on photo content.
Because there’s nothing worse than finding someone you think is cute and funny online, only to flip through their photos and discover a shot of them standing over a bleeding animal carcass, this feature would allow individuals to filter out people whose photos contain certain “nopes” (guns, cigarettes, photos of recent hunting kills) while helping them connect with singles that have featured “yes!” factors in their images (pets, animals, canoes… whatever you’re into!)
5. Verified dater.
Back to airbnb. You know how some properties are listed as having been photographed by airbnb? Well, the same feature could work for online dating. Think about it: a built in service that actually goes and personally checks out dates beforehand and susses out any issues, so you don’t have to. Do they look anything like their photo? Is their apartment a biohazard? Do they secretly sleep in a race-car bed? Now you won’t have to wonder!
6. Shirtless selfie detector.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’d much rather see a photo of a man in a nice suit than a shirtless selfie. Something about these photos (usually shot in a cloudy mirror) scream bad judgement to me. It would be great if there was a feature that just eliminated all of the profiles that feature them right from my stream of potential dates.
7. Vocabulary screen.
While some online dating platforms allow you to search based on profile keywords in order to connect with more people, the inverse doesn’t yet exist. Similar to the “troll detector” inbox feature, it would be nice if you were able to filter out profiles that contain profanities and certain keywords. For example, “my ex” and any non-ironic mentions of Nickelback.
8. Anonymous feedback.
Wouldn’t it be nice to let other singles know that someone online is potentially dangerous or has poor dating etiquette? At first glance, providing a feature that allows users to leave feedback about a date may seem like an invite to trolls, but think about it — online feedback is a huge driving force in today’s economy. Most of us won’t spend $5 on an item on Amazon without checking out the reviews first. Dating would feel a lot less risky if we were able to get a sense of other people’s experiences. A member who consistently receives good reviews might even earn a gold medal next to their name.
At first glance, it’s easy to write off these proposed features as yet another way for us to become increasingly picky when it comes to dating. However, I think a lot of these would actually make dating feel safer and more intentional, while pushing us to be better to each other.