Like many single men, there are people in my life who are puzzled and dismayed that I have yet to attract a wife and have many fat, pink, roly-poly babies. One of these people, a good friend, suggested Upward, a putatively Christian dating app. She had also taken and provided a pretty good picture I could use for my profile. I told myself I would give it a week, I gave it a week, and it was basically what I expected. This is what I learned about the app, and how my experience using it was.
I have some caveats that should be kept in mind that may color how this post is received. This is my personal experience and musings on my week of using Upward. I am not a particularly attractive person and something in my profile may have triggered the app to quarantine me. I used the app in a forthright manner, and I’m located in a geographic area where the romantic trajectory of most people is tragic. These factors could have had an effect on my experience, so please calibrate yourself accordingly.
Upward is supposed to be a dating app for Christians to connect with each other using a format that is almost exactly ripped from Tinder. Users are confronted with a profile heavy on pictures and light on text. Profiles can be liked or disliked, and if two users like each other, a match is made and conversation can begin. While there are premium features available, I did not use them. A quick look around shows this app is not exactly Christian-focused. The company behind Upward is called ‘Affinity Apps, LLC’ and is based out of Texas. This is a company whose products are niche dating applications- I found two other apps by this company, an app for hispanics and another for blacks. This carries further to the professional presence they maintain online. Upward, under its own name, has a social media presence that smacks of the most unChristian churchianity.
What cemented in my mind that Upward was going to be garbage were two women they featured with their online presence. The first is a ‘Joy Beth Smith’. Ms. Smith is a loser. She is such a loser that she wrote a book about how much of a loser she is. No husband, no kids. The other is featured at the top of the Upward website’s ‘Sermon’ category. Lina Abujamra is, like Ms. Smith, a loser. No husband, no kids. Setting aside the fact she also pretends to be a spiritual leader, Ms. Abujamra is engaged in the industry of salving the feelings of other loser women. Now I’m no expert, but it’s probably not the best idea to take advice from someone who isn’t where you want to be. In this case, why uplift two people who have failed to reach the peak of Christian romance?
Using the app itself was an interesting experience. While it may seem futile to try and find a wife on a dating app, some seeds can flourish no matter how poor the soil is. By far the shining jewel of this app is the quality of the young women using it. Unlike its cousin Tinder, many of these women are just normal people. I kept my age range 23-27, occasionally dipping up or down to take in the scenery. This age band was dominated by college students, college graduates, typical millennial/zoomer women replete with sweatshirts and jeans. While still present, the number of women with babydaddies, tattoos, facial piercings, etc. was much lower than on Tinder. The main consequence of this is that I found myself liking many more profiles than usual. Unfortunately, actually reaching all these attractive women was severely hampered by the barrage of poorly designed (or intentionally programmed) quirks within the app. Within the week, I had three matches and another three ‘Likes’. I do not think that the low level of engagement I got was necessarily because of myself, but perhaps influenced by how the app operates.
There were three main problems I had with this app. The worst was the distance options, the second was the affinity options. The cherry on top was one particular affinity option. The way Upward handles distance is stupid. There is no way to tell the app to only show profiles within a particular radius. It’s labeled as a ‘suggestion’ but for my area, the number of profiles shown within a reasonable distance of 80 miles were about 2% of the total. And this 2% was not front loaded. It didn’t tell me “Hey, so there’s not a lot of chicks around here but you know, here they are, take a look, then we’ll move out farther.” What happens instead is that no matter what distance I chose, I was primarily shown profiles 150-300 miles away, and very rarely was a closer profile presented. They existed, but I was not allowed to see them. Experiments with the available options showed no rhyme or reason to what profiles and what distances were shown to me. This is a bad thing because as women drown in attention online, they have no reason to venture beyond any sort of comfortable distance when using dating apps. This psychology of choice is well known. Overall, the way Upward handles profile sorting seems to be strongly geared away from my area.
Upward does not have much in the way of filtering options. There is age, there is a suggested distance, and there are what I am calling affinity options. These are preselected choices a user can select to enrich their profile, like height, education, and so on. Upward’s problem in this regard is that these affinity options appear to be used both to advertise the user, but also to highlight other profiles when presented. Each profile will list the affinity options chosen by that profile’s owner, and will color them differently if both the presented profile and the user profile match. This is great for some, of course the marriage minded will be looking for someone similar. However, traits like education level, height, or even the types of pets owned do not make sense when used this way. Just because I have a graduate degree does not mean I want a wife with a graduate degree. It would be a much stronger feature if the user could both input their own information, then select what they are looking for. This would cut down on wasted engagement. No one wants to sort through a flood of unsuitable profiles.
Speaking of unsuitable profiles, the very last gripe I have about Upward is the cherry on the top of this garbage sundae. Users are able to select what type of relationship they are looking for, like dating, marriage, friends, and most vexingly, ‘casual’. This is supposed to be a Christian app. Christ is not casual, especially when it comes to sex. The inclusion of such a feature, that a Christian dating app would provide an option for those looking for casual sex is astounding and neatly encapsulates the essence of Upward. Hop on Upward, find a tatted up single mom to bang on a Saturday, and go with her to her feminist, non-denominational temple on Sunday.