Dating apps were “getting old.” Why not try something older?


Every Saturday when Randa Sakallah sends out her free newsletter, Hot Singles, she hopes to make a match. Maybe not an eternal love, but a connection, however fleeting, between two people who are interested in something more.

His emails feature profiles of eligible New Yorkers framed in the old-fashioned style of personal ads. One day, subscribers might discover an “extraordinary techno dancer loving seltzer, beat-boxing and extraordinary”. Another, a “31M Pomodoro Papi” looking for his “Bucatini Baby”.

Each subject answers at least three questions: What is your toxic trait? What makes you hot? What are you looking for?

“It’s a good prompt which is a bit ironic in getting people to speak positively about themselves when in this dating environment where self-promotion is a bit awkward,” said Ms. Sakallah, 27. , during a last telephone interview. month. Interested readers are encouraged to email him with their personal information to forward it to the “hot single,” which takes them from there.

Ms. Sakallah started Hot Singles, a Substack newsletter, when she moved from San Francisco to New York City last October. At the time, many singles, hot or not, were in despair about the pandemic and how it had complicated the dating equation. Finding a potential partner was difficult enough in the age of apps.

“The existing ways of meeting people had become obsolete,” she said.

Back in the Bay Area, Ms. Sakallah had tried the matchmaking game: she hosted an event where participants asked each other the 36 Questions That Lead to Love, developed by a psychologist to help couples to assess their potential for intimacy. She had also taken note of an Instagram account called Personals, which borrowed from old-fashioned text-based methods to help strangers connect in new ways. (The account then gave way to an app called Lex.)

“I thought it would be cool to do a dating profile that focuses on the whole person,” Ms. Sakallah said, “rather than“ why you should date them. “” She added that the Q&A format “gives you a sense of the person’s voice.

Avery Bedows, 24, a subscriber who contacted a featured single, said, “Personality is screaming through Hot Singles, and it’s very confusing through something like Hinge.” It wasn’t a game, but he’s still reading.

Spenser Mestel (“32M Prince of Polls Seeks Active Voter With Kindred Soul”) described the newsletter as “one person’s dream”. He had met Ms. Sakallah in a group of writers at Substack and was intrigued by the alternative she had concocted to the “stilted and stilted prompts” common to dating apps, like Hinge’s “Two Truths and One Lie”.

“I’m just missing the will to live apps,” Mr. Mestel said. Being on Hot Singles meant others could do the chase. (Indeed, two people contacted him to express their interest.)

Application fatigue is a feeling that many people experience, according to Stephanie Tong, director of the social media and relationship technology lab at Wayne State University. Navigating online dating started to feel, she said, “like a part-time job.”

It helps that Hot Singles function as an interview, Dr. Tong said. When asked questions, people think and present themselves differently than if they were writing their own profile. Also, as the profiles are written through an intermediary, “it seems more truthful,” she said. “It’s not just you writing how awesome you are and posting it on your own profile – someone else might be more likely to believe it because it’s featured by someone else. . “

Success has been modest so far. Responses ranged from zero to five per single, and some connections resulted in a month or two of dating. The newsletter subscriber base remains low: around 800 people, where Substack’s most popular publications have nearly 100,000 subscribers. But Ms. Sakallah has a growing waiting list of singles looking to be listed – over 60, and those are just those who have passed her Google Form exam.

Ms Sakallah has since started a monthly advice column as part of the newsletter. While she doesn’t make any money with Hot Singles – she works in tech – she has a few ideas for the future, like increasing newsletter frequency and sending out personalized blasts.

“Personally, I’m more interested in how that makes the experience of dating and finding people so far more fun,” she said. As long as it doesn’t involve slipping, it should.

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