Dimitri Woolman’s experiences with dating apps; Nightmare to fairy tale

Published by Jazmin Ode on

Users of dating/hookup apps need to be mindful of the dangers of using each specific app.
Jazmin Ode / The Mainstream

Dating apps have been known to be a quick way to meet other people but have also gained the reputation of being dangerous and a place for murderers to find victims. In what ways can users find real people that just want to go on a nice date?

Dating Safety; tips to follow

UCC general education student Dimitri Woolman started his journey on dating apps about two years ago. “I tend to like to find people I meet in my day-to-day life and date those people, so the dating app was new for me, but I was like ‘I’m of legal age now so why not try.’” Through this journey, they learned that having to filter through the people they match with can be a hassle. “Usually, you have to filter through a bunch of really impolite and disrespectful judgmental people until you can find one or two good people,” Woolman says.

When Woolman first talks to a matched user, if the conversation is going well, they will move the conversation from the dating app to Snapchat and ask for a live picture. “That’s how I filtered out catfishers,” Woolman says. Catfishing is using fictional information online to lure someone. 

(Left) Christian Moore, Woolman’s partner, (Right) Dimitri Woolman, second-year general ed student.
Photo provided by Dimitri Woolman

Woolman also explains that vetting is very important. Vetting is making sure you have a good understanding of the other’s background, personality and hobbies. They also check to make sure the date prospect’s answers stay consistent throughout at least a couple of week window, something they find just as important as asking the questions in the first place. 

Through Woolman’s two years, they only went on seven dates using the app, saying that some were fun and others not so much. 

As many others have, Woolman has been a victim of assault through a dating app. Through this experience, Woolman learned the true importance of vetting. “After that happened, I would talk to someone for two weeks usually before I was like ‘hey, we can go on a date?’,” Woolman says. Woolman describes the guy who assaulted them as nice, genuine and respectful before he violated them.  

After his assault, Woolman started to vet the matches they had longer. “Watch out for those types of people. Vet them and talk to them for a while. Wait till you have a better feeling of who they are as a person until you go on a first date because it can be really crappy, like I was assaulted, or it can work out really well.”

Woolman also offers self-defense advice: “Definitely bring a weapon, like mace or, you know, those rings that have prongs in them. They’re called cat rings. Some type of self-defense thing.”  

In addition, Woolman uses safety tactics, “A little practice of mine that I would do is I would take a picture of the back end of somebody’s car like a license plate, and you could tell the make and model of the vehicle,” Woolman says. “Because I didn’t drive, I would get picked up for a date, so I would take a picture of it and have it in my phone, or I’d send it to my mom or my sister.”  

University of South Caroline, Law Enforcement and Safety: Dating Safety suggests, “Let at least one friend, or more if possible, know where you are going and who you are meeting.” 

Woolman also practices this: “(I) let my mom or my sister know ‘hey, I’m going on a date’ or a friend here in town. I think that’s pretty important because I was assaulted because of a guy that I met on Bumble. I learned to be a lot safer after that.” 

Should people give dating apps a second chance after an assault?  

“I actually stopped using Bumble (for a while) after that happened to me,” Woolman says. “I met my current partner on Bumble, and we talked for a couple of weeks, probably like one or two. They were super sweet and like awkward and nervous. I was like ‘Ok, I may have been screwed over in the past, but this person is very cute; I’m very into them,’ and we went on our first date, and they picked me up. It ended up being very fun, and they spent the night, and we went on a second date later and we hit it on, and we’ve been together ever since. It’s been like six months, almost seven.” 

Woolman warns, “I think you can end up being assaulted in any situation: church camp, dates, work, school, wherever. It can happen anywhere. A lot of times, it’s the people that are close to you or people you know that end up assaulting you,” Woolman says. “I think if you’re putting a lot of effort and a lot of stress into being careful then it’s less likely it’ll happen. But if you’re going out and dating, it still can happen.” 

Woolman’s partner is Christian Moore. Moore says, “(Dating app people are) kind of like dead weight as there are lots of ‘Hey’s’ and ‘how are you’s.’ Bumble has the option of putting a bunch of interests and goals and stuff like that together. Ok Cupid and Plenty O’ Fish basically are giving you a 100-point survey,” Moore says, “interviewing every aspect of your being and trying to strategically pair you up with people that are similar to you.” 

Moore’s experience with dating apps has resulted in many awkward situations, like ghosting. “I’m at the very bottom tier of the millennial age bracket, so the whole concept was pretty confusing to me,” Moore says. “Maybe I felt like I was getting really committed to an experience that didn’t really have any real impact on my physical life. I’d have three conversations going and I would feel like I’d need to put in a lot of mental effort into caring for them, and if it went wrong, then I’d feel pretty bad about myself early on.” These experiences helped Moore try to exercise and practice what the right amount of investment was. 

Understanding the community on each dating app platform is also important to get the prime experience for a student’s dating app journey. Tinder and Grindr mostly consist of people that expect hookups instead of committed relationships. Ok Cupid and Plenty O’ Fish are for those who are looking for their forever person. 

“My biggest advice, something I wish someone would have told me a while ago, is that you shouldn’t be afraid to list things about yourself that are the real you; if you still play RuneScape, if you’re a 23-year-old and still obsessed with Pokémon, if you collect Neopets, if you go surfing in 40-degree weather, if you snowboard every weekend come winter, if you’ve been playing guitar for 15 years and still play like you did the first 6 months, list that stuff,” Moore says. “You should embrace the quirks and the things about you that make you so different from the people around you. Even if it takes a little longer, you’re going to find somebody that doesn’t just accept (you), they love those things about you. You’re going to find a Pokémon nut; you’re going to find someone that still collects Yu-Gi-Oh cards and loves Digimon. You’re going to find somebody that binges Anime and eats ice cream on your bed till three o’clock in the morning. You’re going to find your weirdo. So don’t be afraid to be yourself.” 

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