Dating North London:  Happn vs Dog Walking

Written by: Sophie Taylor

We want to know what the difference is between the online or offline approach when it comes to finding ‘a mate’. I am currently embarking on a series of test dates to compare digital vs real world dating approaches. Because it’s 2017, Spring has us all randy like March hares and we will never get enough of reading potential cringe material.

Life’s too short. If you like someone tell them. If you want to bone them, tell them. If they’re pissing you off … tell them!
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Firstly, let’s get the latest depressing dating lingo but out the way. This month I have learned a new phrase and I’m here to share the wealth.

While you may have heard of the fade out – when someone ghosts on you, but very slowly and gently – have you yet discovered tuning?

It’s basically the opposite, when you want to get involved with someone but you’re a frustrating level of shy and end up just liking their Instagram photos, commenting on the odd Facebook status or sending the vaguest of emojis that could be misconstrued as flirty but they’ll never really know. You’re tuning.

Which makes me think of reverb channels and echo samples and getting stuck inside a never ending feedback loop of my own name and white noise. Life’s too short. If you like someone tell them. If you want to bone them, tell them. If they’re pissing you off, again, tell them!

Wooh communication. 

This time on Online vs Offline, your bemused participant is trying out Happn vs Dogwalking in the name of dating research. Who will win this time? Yes, the tension is unbearable. 

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I know for a stone cold and semi hard fact that your eyes will not be at head height.

Online approach: Happn

For the uninitiated, Happn is a dating app that’s basically Tinder for people who get out rather than enjoy swiping from the sofa. Although you do have to participate in some sofa swiping at some point. “Find the people you’ve crossed paths with! Walking down the street, at a café, at work, at a party…”

The adverts usually show some unfortunate fool getting all doe eyed over a random hottie that’s walked past and not turned around for a second glance. Which, I find myself pondering, does anyone? The pervier among us might, but I know for a stone cold and semi hard fact that your eyes will not be at head height. In the name of research I have downloaded Happn and let it tick along in the background as I roam around North London with my eyes firmly fixed to the ground. For that is where all the dogs / lack of social awkwardness resides.

The thought of someone checking me out and thinking anything other than “ooh, roots” or “she likes her leopard print” is hilarious. But also FUN. Imagine! I even start to drag my eyes off the pavement and give some poor unsuspecting sod some actual eye contact for a tenth of a real time second.

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It was nothing like the advert. And no, that guy was definitely not interested in starey eyed bottle blondes. Or just not on Happn. Meh. However! All was not lost. The old romantic in me got spirited away with the idea that if I crossed paths with the same person more than once, (on every profile you can see the exact number of times you were ships in the night) then it was fate and this app was a mere tool in the grand tapestry of our universally bound love story.

One particularly lucky fella happened to graze past this hot bag of mess a grand total of seven times. Fate Fate Fate I chanted whilst liking him secretly with the Heart button. Not creepy, exciting! The interest was in fact mutual, you sceptical hater child, and we got chatting. There were other matches to speak of, but my wonderful fusion of fatalist laziness meant all future Happnings stopped with this chap. I ignored the fact that the same friend (/probable love of my life) who haunted me on Bumble popped up again as I definitely would’ve seen him and said hello (/jumped in to a bush). 

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There is an option to send a ‘charm’ which is basically the digital equivalent of prodding someone in the back when they’re ignoring you. Because if they haven’t liked you, the ‘charm’ function is totally going to make them turn around and say “oh thank goodness I’m so glad you’re a rib prodder! They’re my favourites.”

In other news, there’s also a Cross button in case you decide you don’t like the ‘notice me notice me’ types so you no longer have to see them popping up on your shiny little app. I’ve started employing this in real life and it’s gone down very well.

Another thing to note, for anyone worried about the stalking potential of this app, is that only the approximate location of where you have passed each other is saved and definitely not your current whereabouts. Phew. “Sophie is currently butt naked bent over awkwardly removing hair from the shower drain, 3km away”.

Ed* the Creative Director and I decided to meet up in Victory Mansion for cocktails. Since downloading Happn I can’t seem to get Kate Bush Running Up That Hill out of my head. Anyway, we meet on a Thursday eve and bar some initial small talk discussing work and the weather, we end up having a big old laugh till last orders. Amazing what a mojito can do to help you giggle away the memory of ghosters and breadcrumbers. We leave on a (natural) high and hug for what feels like a strangely long time before skipping off separately.

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Offline approach: Dog Walking

Getting carried away with learning tricks and throwing sticks, I forget I’m supposed to be the one sniffing ass and rolling over, ultimately.

Much to my delight and convenience for the sake of this article, I find myself dog sitting in Seven Sisters for a dog called Meg*. After a day of walks, treats and an evening of photographing her beautiful face, I realise I’m supposed to be trying to meet people with her help.

We make a pact to pound the streets tomorrow and get chatting to other dog walkers. Clissold Park beckons.

Thing is, when I’m dog walking, my mind doesn’t seem to wander from poo bags, making sure she doesn’t eat all the park bread and checking out what other dogs are up to. Meaning my gaze is roughly two foot high, max.

Getting carried away with learning tricks and throwing sticks, I forget I’m supposed to be the one sniffing ass and rolling over, ultimately. Hmm.

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I contemplate running around Clissold Park with my nose to the ground, arse out, occasionally shouting at anyone that tries to mount me.

Fortunately fate intervenes once again and, besides a few rogue Schnauzers and the odd lone Yorkie, a rather sexy individual wanders up and begins performing a ritualistic circle around us. Well, around Meg, but I enjoy standing on ceremony.

His friend is pretty hot too though and I even tilt my head up to attempt conversation. We share a knowing smile and while a thrilling chat may have been on the cards, our furry friends pull us away and we’re off again on the liver treat lined path to pooper scoopered horizons. 

Meg is absolutely killing it on the grass and lapping up an unsolicited amount of attention left, right and dead centre. I contemplate following suit and running around Clissold Park with my nose to the ground, arse out, occasionally shouting at anyone that tries to mount me.

But as I decide to save that for the fresh hell of Ridley Road Market Bar, a distant yell interrupts my thoughts.

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I bet they have to share a bowl and a bed and secretly resent each other’s existence.

The real life equivalent of “Fentoon!” is barreling towards me and Meg, hell for leather. Some Barbour clad gent has thrown his Labrador’s ball a little too far and I’m about to witness a Clash of the Titans collision as both dogs dive for it at once.

Amidst a small flurry of hair and growls, the owner catches up red faced, reattaching his lead muttering apologies. I smile, distractedly, as a fetching Tibetan Terrier trots past, hair flowing seductively with each step.

I decide to pull up a pew and find the nearest bench to get a better view of the talent bounding past. I’m very comfortable with my canine-philia yes, and incredibly open about my dog fuelled perverted ways it’s true. Oh look Meg! A chihuahua cross! Check out that Shih Tzu’s tail, so bouncy. I wonder if those playful wire haired Daschunds are friends or twins. Or both? I bet they have to share a bowl and a bed and secretly resent each other’s existence.

Meg could sense my anti-love mood descending and steered me home again. Over a shared chicken dinner and The Jim Gaffigan Show we conclude that using dogs to meet people is for the sitcoms and rom coms.

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What was my favourite?

As much as I was sceptical of dating apps since Bumble, I enjoyed the novelty of knowing we’d crossed paths IRL on Happn.

What would I have done differently?

It felt more forced trying to get a date in a park. Perhaps I’ll try skulking through the trees of Hampstead Heath of a Saturday eve instead?

Want to see anyone again?

Me and Ed* are currently organising a second date.

Online vs Offline winner = I don’t wish to blame my unhealthy dog obsession, but online wins this time. Dogs are far too fun and distracting and I took my eyes off the proverbial ball. 

While I don’t feel I’ve gathered any life changing conclusions from this particular experiment, I did enjoy using a dating app that is essentially Pokemon Go for the lusty, complete with Lures and Charm(ander)s and a whole load of Poke balls.

*names have been changed

Original illustrations by Julia Potocnik

Read more online vs offline and learn about doggy dating opportunities.

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