It is 2020. Our once-blessed, now-chaotic year where everything is topsy-turvy and who knows what’s next in terms of disasters. Given the rules seem to be firmly off, I decided to mix up my love life. By which I mean I put the usual apps to bed for a bit, and tried using TikTok as a dating app instead.

But first, some background.

I wanted a change from the people who don’t bother to fill out their profiles, and the psychopaths who go overboard in doing so. Too often, people either have nothing, or write an entire essay of superfluous bullshit that is no help in figuring out how compatible you are with them.

We’ve all seen the hollow cliches like “I’m awkward”, “looking for an adventure buddy”, or “not into drama”. How low must our standards be for not being into drama to be a primo personality trait?

Oh, and “mates and dates”? That’s why we downloaded the goddamn app, dingus. “Professional”? Professional WHAT!? If your job is that cool, show, don’t tell.

Some people rely on sharing their Insta, which does shed a tiny bit more light on what they’re like. But even this has flaws.

Half of the time the profile is set to private, and even if it’s not, photos are so carefully curated that we end up seeing an image of them which has no basis in reality. The inevitable first date was doomed from the beginning.

But then I realised there was an app on my phone all along that I hadn’t even tried to get a date with: TikTok.

I love my fans!

It’s a new decade! Cooking Mama is mining Bitcoin, RuPaul is fracking, Chernobyl is on fire, and TikTok is now a dating app. Why not?

I’ve been on TikTok since 2018, so the algorithm knows me well. Very well. As every TikToker knows, the For You page is where all the good shit is. On this page, the algorithm works in mysterious ways to somehow find TikToks it knows will take your fancy, and the same applies to the people in them.

If you’ve used the app for long enough, chances are it shows people who have either the same interests or same sense of humour as you. On top of this, they’re probably also a similar age (very important) and Aussie. Thus, the match goes far deeper than basic demographics.

So from the outset I knew I wouldn’t have to scream into the endless void of TikTok with the faint hope someone would take interest in me. Instead I could just wait for someone to stumble across me, or take my pick of any of the cute boys on my For You page.

Now we get to the TikToks themselves. When you see someone cute on your For You page, the first thing you do is click on their profile. What they’ve uploaded is a window into their soul.

You can see them hanging out with mates, doing dumb shit at uni or work, busting moves to bangers, or just shitposting the fuck out of everyday life. It’s the complete opposite normal social media. Instead of casting a superficial veil over our personalities, TikToks expose our raw, beautiful and unadulterated selves.

It is well-established that 90% of TikTok users post dumb shit all the time. Charli D’Amelio & co. aside, there are no carefully crafted online personas to decipher and there is no pretense. If you’re funny, great. If you’re unfunny, that’s endearing. Whatever you post, it’s bound to be authentic.

This, my friends, is how you realise you’re a match. By scrolling through someone’s TikTok profile and seeing someone’s hopes, dreams and darkest secrets, you’ll know if you’d click within about a minute.

Four guys, four awkward conversations.

So, we’re a match. Now what? This is where TikTok unintentionally took a leaf out of dating apps’ books.

You cannot DM someone on TikTok if you don’t already follow each other.

That’s a huge deal. It means no creeps sliding into your DMs, and no total strangers, either, for that matter. Surely, by the time you’ve looked at each other’s profiles and clicked “follow”, you have enough rapport to start a chat. And if you don’t like what you see, don’t follow back. Simple.

This has given rise to a kind of courtship. If someone likes 10 of your TikToks out of the blue, chances are you showed up on their For You page and they like what they see. This is their way of begging to enter your DMs.

My favourite conversation starter? The eyes emoji. Some of these guys are shy, so I’ve got to let them know I know exactly what they’re up to, and that I am down for it. Besides, who can resist the cryptic ominousness of two gaping eyes?

Things are going well. I have a steady flow of potential suitors at all times, and usually get a good response when I myself become one of those potential suitors for someone else.

You may be wondering how many dates I’ve been on with this method. The answer is: zilch. We’re in lockdown, dingus. I’m not gonna risk spreading the coronavirus just to prove a point about TikTok.

But what I can say is that I’ve met a bunch of great guys through the app, both in my city, in other cities and even overseas.

The interactions are always wholesome, too. Genuine friendliness, flowing compliments, and A+ banter. Sometimes, they even escalate to be a little more serious.

Over the past year, whenever I’ve met someone IRL or on a dating app, we always exchanged TikTok handles before we swapped numbers or added each other other social media.

Bringing the actual search to TikTok just makes so much more sense.

Image: iStock / golibo