Alison Taylor on relationships: 'Dating app Happn is all very stalkerish - how about instead?'


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The Independent Online

Romance-wise, would you rather be hunted down via GPS in the city or marooned at sea with a salty sea captain? I ask because both options are distinct possibilities now, thanks to two new dating services.

The first, a dating app called Happn, works in the same way as Tinder by pulling your Facebook info together to create a profile – so far, so usual – but then also takes your exact GPS location so you can, quote, "see who's crossed your path".

I witnessed this in action the other day when a colleague – and sceptical Happn user – declared that 'Marc', a Mexican diplomat, crossed her path just 27 seconds ago.

Woah. I immediately looked up from my screen, scanning the office for possible subjects.

Turns out he was actually four floors down, at street level just off Oxford Street (indicated on the map that pops up under the profile picture), which made a lot more sense, but still – all very stalkerish. As my colleague put it: "It's like Tinder, but creepier".

What's the intention here? Should my workmate have upped sticks from her swivel chair, jumped in the lift and made chase, Jason Bourne-style?

Or does this ability to know the proximity of a potential new beau act as a talking point; an excuse to connect?

I suspect the brains at Happn are using "cross paths" in a euphemistic way, so that when Friday night comes, if you're feeling frisky/lonely, there might be somebody half-decent that you could, well, cross bodies with. A bit like Grindr, the gay hook-up app.

One thing is for sure, there's no hiding, which might prove problematic when that persistent person you've been trying to fob off suddenly lands in your geo-lap.

For the more romantically inclined, how about cruising the dating site, And please do, if only for the surely-they're-having-a-laugh homepage featuring a bearded Captain Birdseye-alike with one arm around a long-haired blonde lady and the other in a firm salute.

"Is a sea captain a hot date?" mused my friend. It's a valid question, but individual fetishes aside, in contrast to Happn's instant, Big Brother-style surveillance, Sea Captain brings to mind epic journeys, heart-wrenching periods of absence and, somewhat topically, going completely off-radar. I know which I'd prefer...