Want to find a way to instantly piss off a stranger and guarantee they’ll never speak to you? Tell them you fancy their friend.
This unfortunate behaviour is a permanent fixture on dating apps. It’s the digital equivalent of getting chatted up by a beguiling stranger at a bar, only for them to lean in and whisper that they’re only talking to you because they fancy your friend. People on TikTok routinely share their experiences of matching with someone, only to be asked about their friend who happens to be in one of the pics on their profile.
Invariably, when people share their experiences of this behaviour, the reactions are divided. Some will argue that it’s completely fine for someone to “shoot their shot” and “this is a dating app, after all” — but just because it’s a dating app doesn’t mean anything goes. Others will reveal that actions like these are the very reason why they don’t post photos with friends on their app profiles.
But, should we really have to edit our profiles and hide parts of our lives just so our potential matches can control themselves? I don’t think so. And, frankly, if that’s how a person chooses to behave, I’d rather they head me off at the pass before things go any further.
During my time on dating apps, I’ve had my fair share of messages asking about my friends. “Cute pics. Who’s your friend tho? 👀” “Hey, is your friend single?” “Sorry but your friend is fit.”
My friend is beautiful. She’s not single. And even if she were, I don’t think she’d want to date someone who made her best mate feel like sloppy seconds.
The reality is, being on the apps isn’t always the most fun. Putting yourself out there is a vulnerable act. It comes hand in hand with getting rejected, having your feelings hurt, being disappointed, getting ghosted. Sometimes, your self-esteem can have a bit of a wobble. Body image issues can rear their ugly heads. Insecurities can show their unwelcome faces.
Just like any IRL interaction, you never know what another person is going through or what baggage they’re carrying.
That’s why the way we behave towards other people on dating apps really matters. Just like any IRL interaction, you never know what another person is going through or what baggage they’re carrying.
In my own case, feeling like the “ugly friend” is an old wound I’ve carried with me since adolescence. Receiving messages on dating apps about my friend instead only serves to reopen that wound. To you, it’s just “making your move” but to me, it’s a painful reminder of the past dynamics which caused me emotional pain. And just like that, I’m 15 again, swapping numbers with a boy from the skate park, only to find out (after several days of texting) that he’s only talking to me because he fancied my friend.
You might wonder: Why don’t you just delete the photo of you and your friend? Well, why should I have to?
We spend time thoughtfully crafting a dating profile, selecting photos which strike the perfect balance of cute/authentic/funny/interesting. We are dipping our toes in the dating pool in the hope that someone will like what they see and want to get to know us, with the end goal of finding someone to love and who’ll love us in return.
Advice on how to build a successful profile abounds. Don’t have too many selfies. Make sure you have at least one photo that shows you have friends. But make sure you have enough solo photos so people know who you are. The photos on my profile have been curated with care in the hope of showing the parts of myself I want others to see — that I lead a full life surrounded by people I love.
If I can ask one thing of fellow dating app users, it’s to consider how you’re treating others. Ask yourself if this is how you’d choose to behave if you were meeting this person in real life. Reflect on how it’d make you feel to be on the receiving end of something like this.
If you fancy my friend, I don’t need to know. Just keep on moving. If she’s single, you’ll find her on the apps. Until then, keep your thoughts to yourself.
Sex & Relationships