Dating game

The perils of dating apps: When swiping left leaves one single — and swiping right brings harassment

Alexandra Tweeten, founder of Bye Felipe! (Instagram)

Swiping left and right can seem, at first, like an easy and fun alternative to the drudgery that can sometimes be the dating pool. But for more than 40 percent of women who have been using dating apps in recent years, fun and easy has quickly morphed into uncomfortable and even dangerous. Alexandra Tweten, 28, thought she found a great match on Tinder when a man named Nathan who shared all of her interests — beer, tattoos, pizza, music tastes — messaged her. But their friendly messaging became weird and “unhinged” when Nathan called her, aggressively ranting, yelling at her, trying to explain himself, accusing her of insulting him, and then telling her a story about how he had head-butted a stranger and was on the run from police.

“I’m relieved I hadn’t met up with him or told him identifying information about myself,” she said.

Tweeten launched the Instagram account “Bye Felipe!” to catalogue her and other users’ online dating nightmares, posting screenshots of awkward or harassing messages to a community of followers who can empathize. But Tweten and others say that beyond the fun Instagram account lies a dark underbelly of the online dating world in which female daters face unprecedented levels of harassment and abuse. Sexual assault related to online dating has increased sixfold between 2009 and 2014, according to the U.K.’s National Crime Agency. Tinder has been trying to reform its image as more than just a “hookup” app to help curb some of the negative behavior, but it hasn’t yet succeeded, while female-focused dating apps like Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Her have also attempted to offer safer, more comfortable alternatives.

But in the meantime, women are still choosing between risking engaging with men whose reactions to rejection can often be aggressive and offensive, or hoping for that rare alternative: an IRL date one meets (and likes) in the real world.

“That’s why I started Bye Felipe,” says Tweten. “To take that power back from these terrible people who are just insulting women and to flip it around.”

Read the full story in Fast Company.

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