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The Problem With The Online Wingman Approach

What really happens when you ask your friend to control your dating apps

By Ellen "Jelly" McRaePublished 10 months ago 8 min read
Letting your friends take control of your dating apps | Image created on Canva

I've made an evaluation about my dating skills that I almost feel ashamed to admit. I suck at dating apps.

It's not that there is a contest or anything. They aren't handing out medals for the person who makes the most connections, or who finds love first. That's not the end result worth celebrating.

I should clarify. I assume I suck at online dating.

I've never used a dating app; their prevalence in dating society only came about after I started dating my now husband.

We both get confused about the difference between swiping left and right. If someone handed me their phone and asked me to control their Tinder account, for example, I wouldn't know which way was which.

But that's what people do. They hand over control of their online dating life to a friend.

Sometimes it's for a laugh, sometimes it's to help break the cycle of disappointment and monotony caused by repeat match failures.

And sometimes it's because they secretly hope someone else will find them the one. And then they can sit back and enjoy the actual fun part; dating.

It's tempting to take the phone when someone hands it to you. It's equally tempting to pass it over as soon as anyone expresses interest in swiping for you.

But before the control takes over, it's not all fun and games when you invoke the online wingman approach.

Online wingman is just a repackaged version of blind dating

Let's look at the two concepts side by side. Blind dating involves:

  • Trusting someone else to choose a partner they think is suitable for you
  • Allowing that person to disregard other people who could be suitable
  • Bring you and the chosen person together through varying means - Setting up a blind date/double date/swapping of information.

Online wingman dating involves:

  • Trusting someone else to choose a partner they think is suitable for you through the chosen dating apps
  • Allowing that person to disregard other people who could be suitable and declaring they aren't a match
  • Bring you and the chosen person together through varying means - Setting up a match so that you can talk and exchange messages through the app

They aren't that different. It's just the way it's done changes depending on the method.

I personally hate blind dating. It's redundant in our day and age. 

And for many others, they would find the idea of blind dating repulsive, awkward, and a way of making them look like they need their friend's help in the dating department.

How is the online wingman approach any different?

You have to have a lot of faith in the skills of your wingman

As I mentioned earlier, I don't have the qualifications to be a good online wingman. I don't know how the app works to even control the basics of the process.

But unless you're hiring a dating coach to be this wingman, there is no expert guaranteed to get this right for you. Your friends/family/whoever you invest in to help you be this wingman isn't too different to you. 

They've spent their life dating the same way as you have.

Don't get suckered in by:

  • Their positive dating experiences - Just because they've had a great time using a dating app, doesn't mean it will work for you. Even with them clicking for you, success isn't dependent on the person controlling the app. It's more about everything that follows afterwards and who is on the other end.
  • Their sense they know how to use the app better than anyone else - They might think you suck using the app because you haven't had any success. And they think they can do a better job than you. Or anyone can do a better job than what you're doing now.
  • Their sense they know how to outsmart the other dater on the app - Tactics, strategies, how to play coy to win the other person over. Your loved one controlling the app might say they know everything to do to flirt online. But once again, what's worked for them doesn't guarantee to work when repeated.
  • Their promise to find you a date - No one can make this assurance to you. It's setting you up for false hope and heartbreak. If it were that easy, we wouldn't even be having this conversation in the first place.

Do you really want someone to have that much control over your life?

I don't love the idea of anyone telling me what to do. Fundamentally, most of us don't.

But I remember when I was fifteen, and I had my first boyfriend, my brother strongly disapproved of my choice. For reasons I'll go into another day, my brother protested and insisted I end the relationship with my man.

That wasn't the finest hour in my relationship with my family. It also demonstrated how someone trying to seize power and control over your love life sucks when it happens.

Now I know this situation was different. I didn't ask my brother to help me find a guy. But the feeling of being controlled hits the same way.

You might see online wingman as an innocent amount of control. But you can't:

  • Predict how seriously your wingman takes their assignment - They end up taking control of everything in your love life. They control where you meet, how often, what you wear etc. It became like you have a dating parent, hovering over your every move.
  • Predict how invested they become in the assignment - They care more about the outcome of their efforts than you do. They take more interest in it and become more obsessed with it than you.
  • Predict how this investment spreads to other parts of your life - Once they start controlling your love life, it's not a stretch for them to want to take over other parts, too. Whilst they're at it and all.

Do they know who would be the perfect lover for you?

If you asked Mum who would be the best guy for me, she would say XYZ. If you asked my best friend who would be the best guy for me, she would say 123.

And if you went and asked my brother, he would say Do-Re-Mi.

Sure, there might be some overlapping qualities between all three. But none of them would know any of the following like you do:

  • What physical qualities you find attractive
  • What emotional qualities you find attractive
  • What hobbies you want to share with a partner
  • What traits you find repulsive
  • What deal breakers you have for a new partner, based on previous experience
  • The way you want to someone to woo you

And whilst you could tell them, no one is ever going to get it right better than you.

Despite how many times you've got it wrong before, your wingman can't make the emotional and hormonal choices for you when you meet someone online. Even if it's just seeing a picture or reading a biography. That has to come from you.

What happens if this online wingman idea goes terribly wrong?

Have you thought about everything that could go wrong if this process is a disaster?

Sure, the worst outcome for your dating life is that you don't have one. Or you get your heart broken. I would argue, though, that you've put your love life on the line, so you know heartbreak is a very real possibility.

But what about the relationship you have with your wingman? What if they set you up with someone terrible? Or a psychopath? What do you do then?

The following can happen to your relationship with your wingman if the process doesn't go the way either of you wants it to:

  • You end up fighting with your wingman over their choices
  • You end up losing faith that your wingman has your back in these situations
  • You end up losing them as a friend/family member in your life forever
  • You end up with trust issues between you that may never get resolved
  • You assume this was sabotage to ruin your relationship or your love life or both

It might not be you who ends up disappointed either. I'm sure whilst your friend or family member is working their magic on your online dating accounting, you haven't turned off your dating approach.

You are still meeting people, using other apps, and using the app in your off time. What happens if you find someone without your wingman?

I know it can sound silly, but a hurt, offended wingman isn't a good thing. Can you imagine their face when you tell them you didn't like who they chose?

Can you imagine their reaction when you told them they wasted their time because you met someone at work? Or at the coffee shop?

I know, somewhere deep down, they will be happy for you. But you can't ignore the possibility they will assume their time and efforts were wasted.

You're better off being in control of your dating life

Here's what it all comes down to. Outsourcing your love life to a wingman sounds wonderful. But in reality, you're creating a scapegoat for your love life.

You're putting someone else in charge to be the person to blame when it all goes wrong.

It isn't fair for anyone to take this approach. You are the one who is in control of your love life. And you're the one to blame if it goes wrong.

Making dating mistakes is part of how we learn. There is no fun in getting it right the first time, nor does it teach us anything about life and love.

Remember, you have to kiss a few frogs before you kiss the metaphorical prince.


About the Creator

Ellen "Jelly" McRae

I’m here to use my wins and losses in #relationships as your cautionary tale | Writes 1LD; Cautionary tale #romance fiction |

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