Toffee Dating: why I won't be using the new 'private school only' app
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I do sympathise with Lydia Davis, who has launched a new dating app called Toffee Dating, “for people on the posher end of the spectrum”. She was tired of feeling “overwhelmed” at the “dearth of potential partners” and thought others might feel the same. Others who, having been to private school, found themselves more alone than ever after endless internet-enabled dates with people that, one assumes, were educated at state school.By its very name, Toffee Dating makes clear the sort invited to pay its £4.99 download fee and £4.99 monthly membership: not just those who were privately educated, but those who believe that their fee-paying school background is the very key to their essential being. Toffee is to help toffs better twiddle that key. But as I say, I do sympathise. The sense of swimming through a sea of romantic junk food, subsisting on a diet of a piece of fried chicken here, a cheeseburger there, also hit me the second I turned to internet dating when a lengthy relationship ended in July 2016. After an initial and horrifying initial deep dive into a number of websites, as well as Tinder, the urge to cut out the dross was very strong indeed. At one end of the spectrum I didn’t think I could handle one more over-confident stud demanding instant sex, or at the other, another pretentiously lefty charity worker or architect deigning to arrange a date with me at snail-like speed and then, once on the date, telling me all about his love of some bearded songster I’d never heard of. I too would have jumped at the chance to narrow down the field to people like me. My dream utterance would have gone something like this: “Zoe, you’ll never need to meet another pushy hornball or guitar-playing Oxfam strategist again. There’s this new app that caters to people exactly like you: intellectual snobs with lots of degrees who hate prosecco and love champagne and Margaret Thatcher!” Somehow I persisted, though, and soon noticed something funny – whenever I tried a dating service that purported to be socially exclusive in any way, I made fewer and worse matches.
Radley meets RoedeanWhich brings me to why Davis’s idea, however good it sounds, is doomed to fail. First, when it comes to dating, promises of social exclusivity are bunk. Not only was this evident in my experience, it also emerged in the PhD research I was conducting at the time about the British matchmaking industry in the 1970s and 1980s. The dating entrepreneurs I studied all boasted about how exclusive their outfits were, but when I interviewed people who had actually used these services, they all said their dates were no better – and often worse – than the ones they encountered in less exalted forums.
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