The case for feel’d [+ dating apps more broadly]
I’ve spent a legit amount of time over the last 4 years on dating apps; initially it was at the behest of a coaching group called Handel, who had a clear process for interacting that I adopted and to this day recommend:
- Move anything w a vibe from the app → text
- If there’s a text vibe → move to a FaceTime
- HAVE A FACETIME. Do not skip this step.
- If the FT is a vibe → make a meet up plan
- Meet the process w joy + fun (vs dread + fear)
Their ‘rules’ mandated 40 minutes a day on apps — 20 in the am, 20 at night. Did I stick to that kinda time commit? No. But the idea of being committed in that way stuck — that I be on, that I be engaged and that I be treating it as fun / play / joy.
Early on, I toggl’d between Bumble + Hinge. Over time, I came to see that these digi spaces and digi dates were gonna do some valuable things for me:
- They taught me to use my words
- They taught me to speak my truth
- They taught me to be clear on what I wanted
- They taught me to say hard things
I’m still on Hinge (not just cuz a beloved friend started it) and there’s aspects of Hinge I really appreciate, but right now, I’m a reallllll big fan of feel’d.
I have 2 girlfriends whose sexual expression I really admire: they’re clear, honest, adventurous, open and diverse in their desires. They were the ones that pulled me onto feel’d: I listened rap’d as one recounted her shibari adventures, explained why she signed an NDA to become a sub, how another made Sunday 730am sex dates.
So I got on. Initially I was *intensely* overwhelmed. So so so so so many acronyms — MMF, FWB, DDF, GGG — and the language was explicit AF — “I want to pass you a spliff while you sit on my face’.
Still not really fully getting it, the first FaceTime I had felt reality-bending. The guy had an ‘expensive kink’ — he got off on paying for the lifestyle of the people he was dating.
Me: ‘what if I don’t feel called to have penetrative sex w you?’ [at the time I’d not had penetrative sex in 2.5 years]
Him: ‘its illegal for me to require you to’
Me: ‘what if I want to date other people?’
Him: ‘I’d enjoy that’
Me: ‘…so how does this work?’
Him: ‘well — what do you pay in rent every month?’
In the end — I didn’t pursue an in person meet up. I wasn’t physically drawn to him, which meant parts of me would be lying to other parts in order to proceed forward. And ultimately I don’t wanna ever lie to myself.
But it was intriguing AF. Someone who got off on paying my rent — and had found a way to bring transparency and openness to it? What a real AF convo about power and control.
I did meet up with other people after that — 2 so far, w 1 convo ongoing. One — Joe — I engaged with sensually but not sexually (LOTS of massage / touching) — and another — I bounced after a park meet up that had a stop off to run into his place to go to the bathroom and his apt was the size of a plum pit and smelled like cat litter but he didn’t have a cat and I was immediately repelled and cut the date off — and that’s OK too.
I learned this ‘bout feel’d + me + process →
- After the FaceTime, schedule a park (or some other open, public place) hang
- If that’s a vibe, make another, separate plan to meet up for a sexual or sensual or dating encounter
- Don’t be afraid to *go real slow*
Is ‘real slow’ a bit antithetical to the perception of feel’d as a hook-up app? Possibly.
But that’s kinda my point: feel’d — for me — isn’t a hook up app. Its a digital bazaar, where every kinda desire, kink, fetish, offering, expression and truth is on display.
Its asking me what I want every time I pop on:
- ‘Do I want to further this convo w RopesKing; do I want him to come over and do I want to experience shibari? (Answer: not thus far)
- ‘Am I judging myself as ‘boring’ if I’m attracted to this straight white dude who only wears suits?’ (Answer: no, but he’s slow to respond on text so whateverrrrrrr)
- ‘Why do I X every dude who is primary partner’d? What am I avoiding, and what am I affirming?’ (Answer: I’m OK w the fact that I’m turned on by the possibility of ‘more’)
Which brings me to another reason why I love feel’d — its honest and its full of people who have a language for what they want — which makes it easier to match to what I want.
In this moment, Im drawn to words and phrases like, ‘real connection’; ‘aftercare-heavy’; ‘open to more than casual’; ‘consistent primary vibes preferable’ -
….and that feels important to say, cause I was in convo w a single woman last week who was repelled by feel’d — she was convinced it was about explicit, one-time sexual interactions only.
For me — its def not. Its equal parts, “I wanna explore an aspect of my sexuality with someone else whose desires are aligned” as it is, “I feel really drawn to this place as a spot where I could find a partner / someone I wanna date” -
And all that is cause its so honest. And I’m a really big fan of honest spaces.
Now, I gotta close w an imp disclaimer. There’s currently male energy in my field (pun intended), and we met in what I jokingly call, ‘the wild’ — meets thru my community, at IRL events, etc.
Its vibes right now, and I honestly believe it wouldn’t be if I’d not spent the time on Feel’d + Hinge (and even back to those early days on Bumble) navigating what I want, how to use my words, discovering what values I hold in dating, and figuring out the hard way who I wanna be in dating.
They were / are essentially important spaces.
So if this is the push you need to get on / stay on / make a profile / try a thing / say yes to a thing — then DO IT.
And as always — if you wanna share anything at all — email me email@example.com
For further support + reading:
- Feel’d is blowing up — 150% growth over last year — which you can read about in pieces like this one, in the New Yorker, from last week
- My friend Justin created Hinge, and has always brought a level of depth and consciousness that feels special. Alongside my friend Adam, they created this book (which was initially just distributed internally) that outlines company values, and cuz I love values, I wanted to share w you
- My friend Justine has created a rad biz appropriately titled, ‘Fix My Dating Profile’ + she’s currently taking on more clients. Learn more HERE.
Some questions for you, if you feel called to delve further:
- What values do you hold? Why those?
- What do you want? How do you know?
- What’s holding you ‘back’ — if anything? How do you know?
If you feel called to share ’em, I’d love to receive. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org