Dating in college used to depend in equal parts on luck and sticking your neck out to possibly have your ego chopped off by rejection. Thankfully the technology has come along to both give fate a little nudge and avoid undue damage to the old pride. A handful of apps are making permanent marks on finding that special someone at university, and we’re breaking down the most important ones for you. Happy hunting!
The app for the "fastest-growing" online dating service pretty much set the standard for location-based romancing with its Locals feature. It combines the best parts of Twitter and Foursquare with its dating database to facilitate searching for nearby potential sweethearts and getting suggestions on possible matches based on your dating criteria and personal info. The interface is excellent and the app is free, although the ad-free experience will cost you. And with over 8 million users, your odds of finding a mate without even leaving campus are pretty good.
Date Tracker Alert (iPhone, Android, Blackberry announced):
It has been claimed that one in four women will be the victims of at least attempted rape by the time they graduate from college. That number brushes the bounds of believability, but we can all agree college date rape is a rampant problem. Well, the folks from Date Tracker Alert LLC are here to save the day (or night, if you’re going out for dinner). The app allows the user to set up emergency contacts who will be alerted (even if the user’s phone is turned off) with the name, time, and location of a date if the user does not check in by a certain time. If the date’s canceled, no need to notify every contact — just delete the file.
In the dating world, the phrase "How about we" used to only be followed by "take this party somewhere a little more private." But now, through this app and its associated site, it could be followed by any of 700,000 or so suggestions for a romantic activity. Users post their ideas for an ideal date or find love interests by searching profiles or other uploaded date scenarios. Heck, you should sign up just for the access to so many great date ideas. Once you’ve found a steady partner, ensure you two stay together by checking out HowAboutWe for Couples.
Sure, you could try foursquare for dating, but leave that app for nonsense like becoming mayor of Au Bon Pain and trust your dating life to SingleSquare. With this app, embarrassing face-to-face shoot-downs will not be part of your college memories. SingleSquare lets you post your status as an eligible bachelor/bachelorette wherever you go, and helps you decide where to go in the first place based on where all the singles are. Flirt by sending a digital "smile" to another single or (gasp!) an actual message. And yes, you can still win badges (because those are way more important than finding the love of your life).
Grindr (iPhone, Android):
The casual hookup is a timeless aspect of the college experience for many (although not as many as you might think), and there’s no question Grindr has forever changed the equation for college-age and up gay guys. Over 4 million dudes use it to find the nearest males of the homosexual persuasion and meet up for everything from sex to a nice chat while a stranger sketches them for his wall. The app is so popular that the developer created another app called Blendr to be the hetero equivalent, but it hasn’t really caught on and it certainly hasn’t changed dating forever, at least not yet.
Springpad (iPhone, Android):
This is not a specific dating app, but trust us when we say it makes dating exponentially easier and more effective (if you catch our meaning). Just think how appreciative she’ll be when you remember your three-month dating anniversary, or her favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s, or that little necklace she said she wanted for her birthday. Springpad makes it easy to keep track of all those little things guys are prone to forget, plus it streamlines finding restaurants, movie times and reviews, saving important dates and getting reminders, and even sending your main squeeze a date invitation. The possibilities for stepping up your dating game are virtually limitless.
Skout (iPhone, Android):
When it comes to love, there’s always the nagging thought that the perfect person for you is out there, but they’re on the other side of the globe. With Skout, you can leave no stone unturned either at home or abroad. Chat, send photos and notes, and even shower crushes with virtual gifts to people down the street or 3,000 miles away. You can earn points by recommending friends use the app, which you can then use to see who’s checked you out and favorited your profile. Unlike Badoo, Skout is not chock full of scammers and spammers, just people like you lookin’ for love.
Circle of 6 (iPhone, Android):
We need to mention one more safety app. While Date Tracker Alert may be the way to go for planners, spontaneous daters should check out Circle of 6. It doesn’t have the phone-off alert capability but rather it works as a quick, effective way to contact up to six friends with your location, wherever that may be, through the magic of GPS. With two discreet taps you can alert buddies to come and get you, chat with you, or (a nice touch) call you to say "they need you" so you can ditch a bad date. You don’t have to be in danger to need that last feature, but if you ever are, this app has the Vice President’s stamp of approval for getting you home safe.