Finding Real, Lasting Love In Our "Dating App" Culture

As Valentine's Day approaches, and you find yourself single, as I am, you might find yourself looking online for "the one." As the Founder of SCRUFF, one of the largest gay dating apps in the world, I'm regularly asked if it's realistic that guys can find real love and long lasting relationships on apps. The question is so prevalent it has even made its way into pop culture; it's a central point in Hulu's new series Casual.

I've learned that the answer is yes and the reason I feel so passionately about this, is because I've heard so many success stories first hand. Many times I receive them through Facebook and other times I'm approached at bars and clubs. I also travel a lot as part of my job, so I'm lucky enough to befriend guys across the U.S. and the world, who share beautiful, layered stories about meeting the loves of their life through what many might simply categorize as a hookup app.

Seeing that genuine spark of love on someone's face when they describe a first encounter that led to something more has become one of my favorite parts of the job and it's extremely fulfilling. I've even been able to keep in contact with many of these couples and become close buds. One even asked me to ordain their wedding!

There are tales where a simple WOOF (think of that as a poke in our world) led to a marriage, and even one from a couple that threw themselves a SCRUFF-themed wedding! These stories kept popping up. Successes. Real, lasting, love. Our team was so thrilled to hear these stories that we began featuring couples who met through our app directly on our Facebook page in a weekly nod to those looking for love! Just as you can stumble upon the love of your life while strolling through your own neighborhood or workplace, it's totally possible that you can find it on an app as well.

One great example is AJ and Mikey who had been chatting on the app for weeks until they finally met for dinner. According to Mikey, he said the moment he saw AJ across the street on 1st Avenue and their eyes met, it was love at first sight. Mikey said he was nervous but the beer, wings, and tater tots did the trick and they had a great dinner date. They are now engaged and will be married soon!

Another couple, Jan and Tom, met while they were vacationing in Spain. Tom had come from Paris and Jan from Cologne, so when they met in person they assumed it'd be a one-time thing. But as love would have it, sparks from a short-term trip can quickly turn into a five-alarm fire and so they decided they needed to see each other again... and again. Two months later, they were living together in Paris and have now lived together for over a year!

Osiel and Jacob's story began with a WOOF. After Jacob received a WOOF from Osiel, they began chatting and made lunch plans. Osiel thought "lunch" really meant a hookup. Instead, when the WOOFing Jacob arrived he suggested they go to Osiel's favorite taco restaurant. Fast forward and now they're engaged to be married! So, a WOOF really can lead to a meaningful relationship if you're open to it.

Since last Valentine's Day, we've been sharing the stories of more than 60 couples and all of them are a testament to the fact that you absolutely can find love and relationships on apps. That said, there are some strategies that work better than others. When listening to these various stories, I can't help but notice some common themes and so I've come up with some tips that might prove helpful -- if you find yourself looking for love on an app.

My first tip is to be honest in your dating profile. A misleading profile is a sure way to guarantee that your first date is your only date. Whenever someone tells me what they like most about our app, they almost always mention that they can find friendly and honest guys on it. Apps have made it easier than ever to connect and find the guys you like, so there is no need to amplify your stats. It very well may prevent you from finding that fellow Game-of-Thrones-loving, board-gaming bear you've always dreamed of!

Also give some thought to how you express your personality in your profile. Most apps give you plenty of room to add details, and while less can also be more, specificity helps someone get to know the real you. Sharing a photo that shows your face also helps; guys with face pics as their profile image receive more messages.

My second tip is to keep an open mind when searching for love, because you may find it when you least expect it and with someone you might not have considered your "type" in the first place. Many stories begin with a hookup that leads to a date, which then leads to a relationship. Personally, I've had several hookups that have led to some fantastic dinner dates and eventually friendships.

Number three? It's probably the hardest -- but do not throw in the towel easily. Try not to be that person in an endless cycle of deleting then re-downloading dating apps after becoming frustrated. Dating can be real work and it's easy to get burnt out on hooking up, so don't be so quick to give in. I've wrestled with the same frustrations, so I understand. Adversity can bring people together, and a lot of the guys who are now happily partnered talk about how they met each other after both having gone through tough break-ups.

Apps can provide one of the best ways to meet other guys. There's this stigma that apps in the gay community are merely for hookups, but I've seen guys who have built solid, long-lasting relationships and even gone onto become married as a result. Apps are helping guys find meaningful, long lasting relationships despite distances, age differences, and communities. With the gay community bigger and more diverse than ever, the right guy for you is out there - and most likely, is using an app in search of the same meaningful connections as you are.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Johnny
XO