In the brave new world of hybrid dating, women get to chase, too.
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Ever spot someone cute on a crowded train, but can’t work up the nerve to say hi? Or spy someone oh-so-fine at Starbucks but can’t find a way to break the ice?
Now there are two new companies looking to make life a little easier. Flip Me and Cheek’d aim to serve singles in general–and women in particular-who are tired of traditional online dating, but find meeting people a little intimidating. Their strategy? To combine real-life interactions with online dating.
Users receive a pack of cards to hand out to sexy strangers they encounter whether it’s during their morning commute or at a club. Say adios to “Missed Connections” on Craigslist. Now when you see someone who gives you a tingle, you can casually walk by and place the card in front of them, slip it in their pocket, or hand it to them. The unsuspecting person picks up the card and sees a witty phrase inscribed on the front. For example, “Act natural. We can get awkward later” in the case of Cheek’d. Or on the Flip Me cards, “I’m playing games. It’s your move.”
If the recipient is interested, they use the code on the card to log on to the Cheek’d or Flip Me website where they can send a message to their admirer. A pack of 30 cards and a six month subscription costs $25 for Flip Me, while Cheek’d is $9.95 per month and comes with a pack of 50 cards. For those who have received a card, it’s free to login and communicate.
And here’s the thing-while Cheek’d markets itself to both men and women, Flip Me is strictly for women. Founder Rachel DeAlto, 32, from New York, says that “men simply “don’t have the same motivations.” That is, men are expected to chase while women are used to being chased. So Flip Me cards give women a chance to literally flip the script and take charge of their dating lives as they do with their careers, their finances, and all other facets of life. In a subtle way, lady-like way of course.
For Rachel, the idea was inspired by her own life. She was quietly eating dinner with her parents at a restaurant one day, when John DeAlto spied her from across the restaurant where he was sitting with friends. Not wanting to interrupt her, he sent a napkin with his phone number to her via the server. She called him after three days. Six weeks later they were married. (They divorced eight years later, but that’s another story).
This made them both wonder: How often do people give up in those awkward situations? And Flip Me was born.
“It’s a hint. An icebreaker,” she says. “We’re not looking to create soulmates unless it happens. For the most part I just want people to have fun. To go after what you want. They’re really good in awkward situations. If you’re at a bar, you’re going to be talking to them anyway.”
One might consider the cards a tad creepy. After all, why not just slip the other person your number on a napkin, or give them a business card? Or better yet just talk to them?
Take Shannon, 30, who was recently approached by a man who saw her walk past a café window. He waved, she waved back, and then continued walking. So he ran after her and asked for her number.
“Had he given me some sort of pre-made card with a code on it, I would have wondered if he was just sitting in the window handing them out to girls all day,” she says. “The spontaneity and sweetness of his gesture would have been lost.”
Isn’t that what dating is supposed to be about, that fine art of spontaneity? That special something that makes you want to shout ‘carpe diem!’ and chase someone down the street? After all, ready made cards can seem contrived. And isn’t there something sweet about meeting someone the old-fashioned way? Googly-eyed at a bar over shots of tequila?
Susan, 44, a single mom and Flip Me user, says “it allows you to control your dating life the way you control the rest of your life. The thing with online dating is you’re just put out there, whether you’re interested in them or not. With Flip Me, at least I know there’s an initial attraction. It allows you to be in control.”
DeAlto agrees. “A lot of times women are dealing with what comes to them,” she says. “I’ve heard horror stories from women who had to change their numbers because they gave their number to the wrong person. So we’re trying to prevent that. It’s like giving out your business card, but not your real business card. Even if you just wrote down your personal email address, they could find you on Facebook. So it’s really about keeping it private and personal until you’re ready.”
The cards also serve purposes that aren’t always met through conventional dating methods. Cheek’d’s creator Lori Cheek maintains there are plenty of situations where it would be very difficult to approach someone. “If there are four guys at a business dinner and I’m making eyes at one of them, there’s no way I’m saying anything to him. But I could drop a card and walk away. On a train commute people don’t talk. They would think you’re crazy. This is a playful way of saying ‘tag, you’re it.’”
Perhaps dating cards are just a sign of the times, part of our shifting attitudes towards the online interface. We make our career connections on LinkedIn, we stay in touch with old friends on Facebook, but perhaps we want something more than a purely online experience when it comes to dating. Perhaps we’re looking for a hybrid of real and virtual.
It may be a while before dating cards hit a critical mass. And in the meantime, they may be perceived as a little off-putting. But dating is meant to about the butterflies. The spontaneity. The magic of seeing someone you like and acting in the moment.
With these cards you can.
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