“Dating with Intention” by Badoo immediately confuses me. I seem to have developed two different points of view, simultaneously. It’s either a really good idea, where all parties in the relationship know exactly what the other is hoping to get from it – oral sex; a two week fling; three children, a dog and a white picket fence – and are immediately upfront about that. Alternatively, it makes online dating feel even more forced and artificial, like the person you form a relationship with is only there because they want a spouse and you were the most compatible option who also wanted to get married.
But what, actually, is Dating with Intention? The term has been coined by Badoo, along with “mismatched intentions” and “repeated dating disconnection”. The idea is that people are matching up with others who want fundamentally different things. For example, one will want to settle down and buy a house, and the other wants to have an open, causal relationship and perhaps see where things go. According to Badoo’s research, this happens a lot and 78% of users feel stressed or burnt out when it occurs. This is understandable, really: romantic relationships take a lot of our time, money and emotional investment, and to discover that you’re not looking for the same thing can be extremely disheartening.
Therefore, Badoo is mandating that their users decide if they want to chat, date or find a relationship. Users will have to make this choice whilst completing their profile and won’t be able to use the app until done so.
They’ll then only be shown profiles of other Badoo users who have selected the same option. It all seems very robotic, to be honest. I don’t expect people to magically stumble across their other half like life is a Hallmark film, but sitting down and methodically deciding potentially huge things about the future is somewhere between misguided and highly impersonal.
We can fall in and out of love, we can change our minds: we’re fickle creatures and checking items off a list won’t make us happy. Anyone who’s watched an episode of Love Island will tell you the same thing – you might meet someone who is the right height, age, tax bracket and want exactly what you want, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to love you, or you them.
Leaving things as they are, though, also doesn’t seem like a good idea. Burnout is real and it’s awful, and it can come from so many different places. Work, childcare, caring for others and dating can all sap our mental energy and leave us physically unwell and exhausted. Relationships are supposed to be enjoyable and bring purpose and connections into our lives, not make things worse. Badoo’s scheme might not be perfect, but it will hopefully prevent people from wasting their time with someone who isn’t looking for the same things as them and prevent needless heartache.
Lies and Honesty
I wonder if people will even be honest with the new feature. Badoo’s research suggests that this was already an issue, with 25% of people saying they find it hard to be honest about their dating intentions and 27% saying they only “want” a serious relationship because it’s expected by friends or family. All of this is completely horrible.
If your friends or family are pressuring you to do something that you don’t want, you should be able to tell them to back off instead of dragging someone else into the mess and going through the motions until, inevitably, your new relationship and possibly family breaks down with betrayals and heartache. Lying to a prospective partner is also reprehensible and could easily torpedo other, more honest and promising relationships. It seems that these numbers indicate a need for a cultural shift, not just a change in a form on a dating app.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to fully endorse or reject Badoo’s latest feature. Perhaps the app will release data in a few years that shows this helped people to be upfront and honest, and this built a solid foundation for couples and led to fewer broken hearts. Or maybe people will continue to lie, change their minds and feel pressured and act how all imperfect humans do, and life will continue to be messy and not fundamentally changed by a feature on a dating app.