The "date" in dating website
Two new love gurus create first dates that are more active than awkward.
Mon Mar 29 2010
A picnic date with Aaron!
What’s the best part of online dating? On a new NYC website, it’s the part that happens nowhere near a computer. The newly launched How About We (howaboutwe.com) will match people based on a shared date idea. “There’s a huge amount you learn about someone based on what they want to do,” says Brian Schechter, 31, who came up with the idea with childhood friend Aaron Schildkrout, 31, while on a long hike in Turkey.
The pair have a lot in common—they both taught high school after graduating college and have taken meditation retreats in India. And both wanted to provide restless daters like themselves with a new way to connect. After briefly using the massive site eHarmony, Schechter became frustrated by how few actual dates it was producing. “I’m awesome,” he says. “There must be other people out there like me!”
Schechter and Schildkrout’s website, which launches first in New York City, has singles suggest activities by completing the phrase How about we..., and users are sent possible matches based on their activity preferences. From getting a beer at a dive bar to making home movies, the first date is planned as soon as two singles connect online. “The whole ethos is about getting people on, getting a good idea, then going out in the real world,” says Schildkrout.
Though the pair is relatively new to the city—they were raised outside Boston—launching the site in New York was a no-brainer. “The cultural landscape is here,” says Schechter. “People try new things.” Schildkrout puts it more simply: “New York felt like the funnest place.” The user-suggested dates already range from mundane (“How about we spend the afternoon in a dive bar playing pinball?”) to wacky (“How about we buy 11 lobsters, then go to the ocean and set them free!?!”). Both founders pledge to date through their new site; look for Schildkrout’s sporty dates—he imagines meeting up for a tennis rendezvous at outdoor courts, or he suggests, “How about we go play pool—and you’re good enough to beat me without me letting you?” Schechter prefers “a productive date, something I’d have to do anyway,” like picking out books or shoes for each other on a shopping outing.
In a world where sexting, instant messaging and even Chatrouletting can replace actual human interaction, the site hopes to revive the “date” aspect of dating. “It feels like we’re ready for a new kind of dating,” says Schildkrout. “We being the world right now.”
Tired of surfing profiles? These services produce real-life interaction
“It’s almost like you’re going out on a date with 15 or 20 people of the opposite gender,” says founder John Blesso of his monthly foodie gatherings at city restaurants (chancedinners.com). About 35 people, mostly singles, pay $50--$100 each for a chef’s choice meal, then connect with fellow attendees on the website’s Morning After page.
Eight at Eight
Urban professionals accepted to this exclusive 11-year-old service (8at8.com) can purchase a package of five dinner parties ($700), where straight singles are carefully matched in groups of eight at a restaurant (four men and four women, with new ones each time). The fee only covers only a drink, but once a hostess makes introductions, dinners usually produce at least one couple. Members range in age from 23 to 55, but, says founder Sarah Kathryn Smith, “Our sweet spot is helping people in their thirties and forties.”
Crazy Blind Date
The founders of free dating site OkCupid (okcupid.com) realized that some people like to date without a net, so their service sets up two people who know next to nothing about each other (crazyblinddate.com). Adventurous singles receive only a place, time and blurry photo, and must commit just to showing up. The site produced about 10,000 dates in the past year but has taken a brief hiatus to update; it’s expected to be up and running (and still free) within a month.—AW