Many of today's dating apps have some sort of superficial quality to them. With Tinder, you swipe through other users' photos, and the only way you can spark up a conversation with someone you find attractive is if he or she likes your photo too. At least OkCupid provides a questionnaire to help you get a sense of someone's personality—but still, users rely heavily on people's photos to tell if they are a potential "match."
Thankfully, there's a new app that's aiming to make the online dating scene a little less shallow and a little more deep. It's called Willow (via Jezebel).
Twenty-three-year-old Willow founder Michael Bruch told Elle, "What I realized was missing from a dating app, or an app that is meant to be social, was an actual conversational aspect. I wanted to create an app that got people talking."
Here's how it works: You browse through questions other users have posted, like "What is your most embarrassing memory from childhood?" or "Who are some of your personal heroes that have influenced your life?" Message the users your replies, and see if a conversation sparks up. If it does, you can then share photos and unlock more information about the person on the other side.
It sounds simple enough, so I downloaded it on the iTunes store and signed up. But before signing up, you have to log-in through your Facebook account. This immediately puts up a red flag (Do I really want my friends to know I'm on a dating app? Yeah, right), but the app reassures you that it does not post to Facebook.
Next, you start by posting up to three questions for Willow users to answer. At first, posting three questions seems like a daunting task. I want them to be good, not generic (ie "What's your favorite color?"). But I realized there's no reason to stress out that much about it, so I quickly typed:
Question 1: "Out of the seven deadly sins, which one do you consider the 'deadliest' and why?"
Question 2: "If you could travel to only one exotic destination, where would it be and why?"
Question 3: "Name a cocktail that most accurately describes your personality."
Then, it's time to start answering other users' questions. Instead of swiping through photos, you're swiping through questions. If a question interests you, tap on it; if it doesn't, swipe.
The app uses your location to guide you to nearby users' questions, so I'm assuming most of these people are from the Los Angeles area. A 23- year old wrote "In Europe, what country would you visit first?" (hmmm...England?); another wrote "What is your favorite pet?" (Dog, duh); and a 26 year old posted, "What are you passionate about?" (That's a good question, why didn't I think of that?).
It seems that in order to spark a good conversation, it would be wise to post a question that doesn't require a yes/no or one-word answer. But even if the question is simple, repliers should provide an in-depth answer regardless. And once you get a reply, you have to be thoughtful in your response to keep the convo going, as Bruch explained.
The jury is still out on Willow (we'll see if anyone answers my questions), but for students who are finding it difficult to date in the college scene and thus turn to mobile and online dating, this might be a more beneficial app. It lets you get to know a person before automatically dismissing them based on their photos. And trust me, a person's intellect and ability to keep a conversation going should be a major reason why you agree to go on a date with him—not just because he looks hot in his profile pic.
For more information on Willow, click here.