Crazy Blind Date diaries: A new way to score dates through iOS

For almost one month, I’ve been using Crazy Blind Date, an app for iOS made by popular online dating service OKCupid that sets you up on a (relatively) blind date with a (relatively) crazy person in your local area. Crazy Blind Date originally debuted as a web-based dating service by one of the OKCupid founders, but was recently re-launched in app form to show off a new style of matchmaking.

The app will set you up on in a date in one of two ways. You can take initiative and say that you’re available at a local hotspot and wait for someone else to say they want to meet up at the appointed time and location. Or, you can scroll through a list of singles who match what you’re looking for to see who is available and where on a given night, and ping them to set up the date. The list of people who appear in your searches will be pre-screened by OKCupid as being good matches for you, but all you can see before your date is a person’s scrambled photo, their age, and their sexual orientation.

While using my iPhone as a personal matchmaker, I’ve discovered new and exciting ways to be humiliated. Here are my stories.

January 20: Win a Date with Chris Holt

My CrazyBlindDate profile picture leaves much to the imagination.

I’ve been assigned to review the Crazy Blind Date app. This should be easy: I’ll just install the app and find a (crazy blind) date.

With Crazy Blind Date, you can only see a person’s scrambled photo, their age, and their sexual orientation. So on the app, I indicate that I’m available at a local bar and I wait for someone to say they want to meet up later. I’m excited—this removes a lot of the time I usually spend looking at photos, messaging people, and haggling over location, which is the normal protocol with full-fledged dating websites.

January 22: Failure to Launch

OK, so I’m not completely new at online dating. I should have known this. Most of the time, despite living in a rather progressive city, men still are expected to make the first move. No problem: I cancel my outstanding plan (you can only have one plan per night on CBD) of women coming to the location that I picked, to which no one replied to, and try searching through the list of women that say they’re available and where they’d like to meet up. I pick a date with one for the next night at a bar in SoMa, San Francisco (most of my bar locations are based on proximity to public transit).

Even with her scrambled picture, she looks attractive. That’s not weird to say, right?

January 24: Sleepless in San Fran

Securing a date is harder than I thought.

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Every date I’ve tried to set up, the girls have declined. They said they were available on the app, but are now telling me they’re unavailable after I expressed interest. I can believe it the first time, but the third? And how come every time I search for that day of the week for dates, these same women still appear? I thought they weren’t available? I wonder if they see my photo pop up and think “Oh no, not him… I just politely declined once, do I have to do it again?” It’s like trying to bury yourself in conversation so you can ignore the guy across the room making eyes at you. Yikes. I’m suddenly that guy.

I mean, in other online dating situations, I could say their lack of interest was based on my responses to the questions asked; my humor doesn’t rub everyone the same way. Not everyone appreciates the Muppets, ska music, and gimlets. I get it.

But with Crazy Blind Date, I’m being rejected on the most basic of information: my age, gender, sexual orientation, and scrambled photo. That’s all there is. Maybe my age is just too old for a girl who is 23. Yeah, that’s it.

After three days of second-guessing myself, I alter my scrambled photo.

January 27: The Ugly Truth

I finally get a date set up! Hooray. Saturday, we’re meeting at a bar in the Lower Haight. Great.  Fantastic. Can’t wait. It must have been the scrambled photo. My new scrambled photo must be much more attractive.

January 28: Say Anything, Really

My date cancelled tonight. She’s working late on a Saturday. Said we’d try again some other time. Normally, this is the part of my dating grieving cycle where I wonder what I’ve said that was wrong, what part of the elaborate mental game I’ve screwed up on. But in this case, I haven’t said anything.

I keep thinking about the name of the app, and if it refers to the mental state of the people who have signed up.

I contemplate joining the clergy.

January 30: Chris and the Real Girl

These are the only hints about my date.

Finally got a date, and we met tonight at a bar near Market Street. She described herself as the tallish girl in the black coat, which at this bar was not narrowing it down. With very little to go on, I message her through the service and hope I can find her in the crowd. Ten minutes in, I do, and we have drinks.

She’s a fashion designer named E who is new to the area. We exchange pleasantries and talk for an hour. We’re meeting, I realize, at an ambiguous hour, since I had already eaten dinner and she has not. Now she’s hungry, but I’m not. I accompany her to a burger place and watch her eat fries and a burger. I realize, halfway through, that I should have paid. I realize this entire experience is terribly awkward. I also realize that I have nothing in common with her.

I get a message from Crazy Blind Date asking me if I enjoyed my time with her, and I say sure. And then it says, “Do you want to give her kudos?” Kudos are the points that you obtain by being on crazy blind dates; they’re a currency that apparently helps your standing and makes you pop up more on searches. But here’s the catch: in order for her to get kudos, I’d have to pay money—$1 for 10 kudos or $3 for 100. But see, if I didn’t want her to date other people, I’d presumably have already gotten her number and want her to not see other people. Giving her kudos would encourage her to keep dating, and thereby undercut my potential as a future boyfriend.

I end up giving her kudos because I have no idea what else to do, and leave it at that. She was an attractive, articulate, worldly woman, but unfortunately not quite my type. I’ve decided that I am the embodiment of the crazy person in the app.

February 5: Along Came Leslie

My second crazy blind date met me at a coffee shop in North Beach. Her name is Leslie, and she went to a women’s college out East. She’s way into nerdy stuff and we talked for like two hours about science fiction. (Hey, I’m a nerd.) This constitutes a good date. This time around, we actually find out we have a lot in common. We exchange numbers and promises to meet up soon. I don’t give her kudos, because hey, I don’t want her to keep seeing people. Call me selfish or strategic: I don’t care.

February 11: 50 (Potential) First Dates

Wish my calendar was a little more full.

I tried to set up a third date with another random girl. The issue, again, is the lack of women who have populated on any potential date night. The women I do find all decline when I indicate that I’d like to meet up. With CBD, my investment is much smaller, so the feeling of rejection is proportionally smaller. Crazy Blind Date is a death by a thousand paper cuts.

Final thoughts

Despite my initial hesitation, the entire Crazy Blind Date experience has been a positive one. I can understand the allure for people who don’t want to bother with the entire process of online dating—the messaging, the negotiating a place to hang out, the searching for matches—which is time consuming and ultimately about just getting that first date, anyways. While you’ll still find yourself searching for dates and haggling for meeting time, you’ll only be spending a fraction of the time and emotional investment you’d put into conventional Internet dating. Crazy Blind Date provides a bit more randomness, but in my limited sample, the “crazy” was a bit of a misnomer. Which, I’ll be honest, was kind of disappointing. 

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