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Mapping + Dating = Romance??

Posted by Barbara Fordyce on

Anyone on the dating scene knows one of the most important questions about a potential match up is where the person is located. Potential dates that are GU, or “geographically unsuitable”, often take a back seat to other more suitably located people.

GU Suitable, or Unsuitable?  The Criteria Varies

Sometimes a potential date is GU because they live too close. Which is understandable, because most people don’t want to risk a chance meet up in their ratty gym clothes when they are hoping to make a good impression in a new romance. Also, if a relationship sours, people want to avoid awkward encounters in the grocery line. The NYT recently published an article on this topic in the Real Estate section!

More often, GU refers to a potential date that lives in a place that is far away or otherwise difficult to travel to. When it’s too hard to meet up, relationships don’t have time to develop. Then pressures develop as to whether one partner should move closer, and things spiral from there.

Location Is Important

So regardless of what the location criteria are, it’s clear that geography is important for dating. That’s why popular dating apps offer ‘location-based’ features, and these features go far beyond identifying the home of a potential matchup. 


Using the GPS signal on mobile devices to match users in regards to proximity, apps alert users when someone in their favored list is in their current vicinity.  For example, the tag line Happn uses is “Find the people you have crossed path with”. And the Happn app literally lets you do that. Every time you cross paths with a Happn member on your list in real life, their profile shows up on your timeline.

Why Location-Based Dating is Good

Location-based dating is popular because it brings people together very efficiently.  One of the strongest predictors of whether any two people will form a relationship is sheer physical proximity, so that’s an obvious advantage.

Location-based dating also saves time. Assuming circumstances are right, users notice that someone they’re interested in is nearby, and they can connect with a minimum of planning.

Users move from online to real life very quickly. They can expeditiously determine if there’s a mutual interest, and if not, everyone moves on. So there’s less time wasted.

Why Location-Based Dating Is NOT Good

We all love location-based apps for some things, like finding area restaurants, emergency services, traffic jams, and more. But in terms of dating, some people find it a little creepy because it can come off a little Big Brother-ish. Users are basically advertising their location all the time, in real time.

Popular dating apps such as OkCupid, Tinder, and Bumble have vulnerabilities that compromise users’ personal information.  App users assume that only people they have favored can see their location, but security specialists identified ways that hackers, without much sophistication, can pinpoint the location of anyone on the app.  And this makes them vulnerable to stalkers, black mailers, and hackers.  

In the January 2018 issue, Consumer Reports raised questions about security on Tindr. The app does not encrypt photos and some other data, such as swiping, which gives an opening to hackers, especially in shared WIFI situations, such as coffee shops.

Read their advice about how to use location-based apps safely.

Another Way for Geography to Help You Find Dates

For singles who want to don’t want to mess with location-based dating, but still want to harness geographic information to help them find a mate, there’s Jonathan Soma’s interactive map showing the percentages of single men and women in any given area.

If you’re willing to move, and even if you're not, it’s loads of fun to play with.

Look at data for the entire country, or zero in on NYC area.



Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!


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