Humans are naturally curious, which means we’re also prone to nosiness, particularly when it comes to other people’s lives and relationships. I know I often find myself listening in to the conversation the couple sitting next to me in the pub are having, trying to figure out how long they’ve known each other, who likes who more and exactly how they met. For other keen earwiggers, you’ll be glad to know that there’s no need to play guessing games anymore, as there’s plenty of people documenting the ins and outs of their dating lives on TikTok.
Oversharing on the internet is the norm and it’s also one of the best ways to get yourself placed onto the infamously enigmatic For You Page, as well as build a following. And unless you’re an influencer like Alix Earle or Molly Mae, sharing details of your make-up routine or everything you eat in a day might not be intimate enough to help you rake in views, not when there are people vlogging their one night stands.
“Come on a first date with me” is a fairly bizarre phrase, given that dates are generally supposed to be intimate meetings between two (or three or four, depending on your approach to monogamy) people. But it’s how plenty of creators — let’s call them singlefluencers — start their videos, vlogging their dates from start to finish, sharing details including how they met their date and what they’re expecting, even secretly filming themselves during the date with updates on how it’s going, which has the effect of making you feel like you’re FaceTiming a tipsy friend.
These influencers are mostly women in their 20s and 30s, and they’re appealing to a new generation of young people seeking out content that reflects their own lives. In the early 2010s, when influencerdom was in its infancy, aspirational content reigned supreme, with plenty of millennials tuning into couple and family vloggers, or travel influencers, despite living in a flatshare and eating beans on toast for dinner. But now, many people see through traditional influencers, who post shiny Instagram photos and vlogs that are professionally edited and, are more interested in smaller creators whose lives look like their own.
“I feel like maybe I’m doing this one for the content.”
“I’m a pretty open book when it comes to sharing stuff online,” says Hannah Zaslawski, who has become known on TikTok as “the 50 first dates girl”. With the aim of finding a long-term romantic partner, at the start of this year Zaslawski set herself the challenge of going on 50 first dates and documenting them all on TikTok. So far, she’s filmed 33 dates. “I’m going to be honest I don’t know how I feel about going on this date,” she said in one of her most recent dating vlogs. “I feel like maybe I’m doing this one for the content.”
It’s certainly content that people want to see, as the video — during which Zaslawski outlines how she met the person she’s going on a date with, how she feels about it beforehand, then provides updates during the date and afterwards — has nearly 500,000 views. “Weirdly enough, I find it easier to talk about [dating] with a bunch of strangers on the internet than I do with people who actually know me,” Zaslawski tells Mashable. Jasmine Wong Denike, who moved from Canada to London a couple of years ago, has also built a following on TikTok through sharing her dating experiences. “I’ve been on over 100 dates — I’m not exaggerating. Last year alone I went on 64 dates,” she says. “I 100 percent would not have gone on as many dates if I was not posting about it.”
With every dating video bringing you more views and followers, it’s certainly good motivation to get a date in the diary with your Hinge matches. In fact, these creators are essentially making their own personal dating shows, which they’re responsible for casting, editing and promoting — did someone say main character energy? With TV shows such as Netflix’s Love Is Blind or ITV’s Love Island increasingly being accused of having scripted or fake elements, this kind of dating content on TikTok is a breath of fresh air for viewers looking for something genuinely real. But we all know that these heavily produced shows can have a negative impact on contestant’s mental health and making yourself vulnerable on the internet, particularly when it comes to your love life, is a daunting prospect to most people. So is it really worth it?
Mashable After Dark
“I 100 percent would not have gone on as many dates if I was not posting about it.”
“I do wish I had dated more mindfully and I was more conscious of how I wanted to spend my time,” Denike says. However, part of the reason she’s continued to post on TikTok is because of how dating is depicted generally in the media, and a desire to change that. “It’s mostly single women in their early to mid 20s who are following me and when I was that age, I found it really reassuring when women in their late 20s and 30s would share their dating experiences,” Denike, who is now 31, explains. “Suddenly, I felt so much less pressure and I hope I give that impression to other people.”
For Zaslawski, her content originally came from a place of insecurity, but it now provides her with a lot of confidence and self-assurance. “I wanted to know if I was doing something wrong in dating because I’ve been single for so long and I couldn’t find anybody that I connected with and if I did it never went past a few dates,” she says. “So I think in retrospect [I started posting on TikTok] to see if people were having the same experiences.” She also says that posting about her love life on TikTok has changed the way she dates: “Whether that’s because I’m documenting it or whether that’s just because I’m getting older and the way that I’m dating has changed, I’m definitely likely to be less wild on dates,” Zaslawski says, adding that she is conscious of people’s reactions online.
With the world of dating content rapidly expanding on TikTok, there are also people posting content for a very specific audience. Rhianna Julianna is a 21-year-old content creator based in London and her dating content is targeted towards women looking for “high value men”. This is a phrase that is often used on the internet — sometimes in a way that promotes ideas associated with toxic masculinity — and it refers to a man who has a lot of traditionally “masculine” traits and is also wealthy. “I don’t really see myself as an influencer as such,” she tells Mashable. “I basically just post my life so I don’t really see it as an influencer but maybe a relationship coach or something like that.”
Handing out dating advice comes with responsibility, as does giving yourself a title like a ‘relationship coach’, but Julianna says she isn’t concerned about using this title because “[my advice] is mostly from my experience dating high value people so I don’t really feel like I need to take any courses or anything like that.” However, the lifestyle she depicts and advice she gives is very controversial, particularly when it comes to feminism. “I believe that men are meant to be the providers and pay for the meal and the woman shouldn’t split the bill because that just doesn’t feel right,” she says.
This certainly isn’t the kind of advice Denike and Zaslawsk are handing out. Although some of the hate Denike receives is certainly gendered: “It’s frustrating when women in particular put me down and say ‘are you just dating to get a free dinner?'” she says, adding that she always splits the bill. And although both women agree that the response to their dating videos is overwhelmingly positive, they’re certainly exposed to negativity. At best, it’s people identifying their date’s red flags and at worst, trolls who spam their videos with slut-shaming comments. Zaslawski has even had some of her videos taken down because of people reporting them for reasons she’s unaware of. One of the issues with TikTok is that your content doesn’t just appear on the feed of the people who follow you, but random people too, making people who post about their personal lives even more vulnerable.
I would really hate for somebody to watch my video and feel terrible about themselves so I try not to say anything super negative about anyone.”
This also means that there’s every chance the people these women are dating might spot their videos. “It is something that I’m super conscious of because I would really hate for somebody to watch my video and feel terrible about themselves so I try not to say anything super negative about anyone,” Zaslzawksi says. “I don’t actually tell most of my dates about my TikTok and now that it’s gained a bit of traction, I’m in a bit of a moral dilemma about telling people,” she adds. Zaslawski and Denike agree that they usually tell anyone they’re going on a second date with about their TikTok and have had mostly positive responses, but Zaslawski was ghosted by one man after telling him about it.
Denike is now in a relationship, so she has had to press pause on her dating content for obvious reasons. “It’s sad — I’m very happy and I love my boyfriend but I do miss posting dating content on TikTok,” she says. For most of these creators who are dating to find a long-term partner, there is an expiry date on their content. “I have set a limit on myself of 50 dates,” Zaslawski says, explaining that if she makes it to 50 dates and hasn’t found a long-term partner, she won’t continue posting.
Anyone who has been single for a while will know it’s easy to gain a reputation as the ‘single friend’, which can be fun but often becomes boring at best or exhausting at worst. So you can imagine that becoming the internet’s single friend takes its toll. But Denike says that there’s power in being vulnerable, both with people in her life and online. Speaking about posting videos talking about how she’d been rejected, she says: “It was kind of healing somehow to make those videos because you’re basically saying I am very sad because I got rejected publicly […] but the community that are following me were generally very supportive and appreciative of that honesty.”
If you’re a serial oversharer, there might just be thousands of people on TikTok who are keen to indulge your dating stories and potentially a community of people who you can relate to, as they navigate the messy and complicated world of dating alongside you.