Ahmed Ikram takes you on a miserable waltz through the world of online dating in Egypt.
Remember that Rihanna song about finding love in a hopeless place or some shit? Even though hearing it triggers a dormant form of PTSD in my TV dinner of a brain, I applaud it for bringing together two things that mesh so well together (especially in this article); love and hopelessness. You see friends, dating in Egypt is hard; what with having to pretend you don’t flip your underwear inside out instead of doing laundry, having just the right amount of sex appeal to cover up the fact that you still get an allowance in your mid 20's and the whole interacting with another person and eventually touching them thing. And it’s not like you can just go to a bar and meet somebody like it’s Sin City (or in your case, the McDonald's on Merghany). That sitcom shit doesn’t fly so well in reality.
It’s not like you can just go to a bar and meet somebody like it’s Sin City (or in your case, the McDonald's on Merghany).
So you turn to online dating and hope that the process is somewhat more merciful on your fragile psyche. Little did you know, friendo, you’ve just walked into a playground of psychological imbalance, insecurity and hollow, unshaven promises. So come with me as I relay with you my experiences (and soon to be yours) through the horrific world of Egyptian online dating.
Guest starring with me in this mistake is a kindred female spirit that I'll refer to as Dr. Badlove. The good Doctor has had a veritable mound of experience (and she's reeling from it all), she also happens to have a vagina, giving this article more weight and equality.
OK Cupid was one of the first real dating-services-turned-app way back when Britney Spears and MySpace were still relevant (ha-ha, referential humour, ha-ha). I have a soft spot for OKC because it gives you an actual profile to fuck around with and customize to match your actual loser self. You have free reign over your sexuality, gender and relationship format (even if most folks around here only know "gay" and "not gay"). Whether you’re a gender-fluid Dragonkin or non-binary bonsai tree, OKC has you covered.
OKC isn’t all that bad though; compared to the rest of the bunch, it's much more suited for actual relationship building, and maybe even (god forbid) commitment. You’ll soon realize, though, that on many a dating service here in the groin of the universe, the male-to-female ratio is about, oh say, 7 to 1. And both sides of that melancholy ratio have their own quirks; the men are either dangerously manipulative or miserably desperate (and the sun is hot), and the women are either men pretending to be women (like my run-in with "shexibexilesbian"), they’re real and don’t seem to understand that conversation is a two-way road, or they’re expats saying shit like, “I’m looking for the Mad Max to my Furiosa.” I am not making that one up.
On many a dating service here in the groin of the universe, the male-to-female ratio is about, oh say, 7 to 1
I remember my last experience with OKCupid; without going into too many details, it started with a horrifically bad joke, evolved into awkward beers at some rooftop in a place I don't want to remember, followed by a riveting talk about intersectional feminism and the benefits of a weekly avocado facial, before ending with a drunk Big Mac. She's my closest friend now.
"OkCupid is a mixed bag. I think it's not entirely unusable but it's full of that special breed of misogynist that is the Egyptian "liberal" man. They think that liberal means wanting to have sex with them. If you try to talk feminism or politics or anything that's not sex with them, the get angry that you're a person." - Dr. Badlove.
It's full of that special breed of misogynist that is the Egyptian "liberal" man.
Overall, OKC gets a solid 2 out of 6 fuckbois on my proprietary fuckboi scale.
Badoo started life in Russia; a place where bears are fun drinking buddies and the size of your hat denotes your stature in society. Throughout the years, it managed to spread like unchecked herpes throughout the connected world, with a similar formula to OKC; you customize your profile to make yourself appear less like a trainwreck and more like a double decker disappointment with 'sex appeal'. It shows you people around your vicinity via location services and lets you peep at their delightful little interests; the most common of which I’ve found to be cupcakes, Madonna, true love, diamonds and devotion to God (and his impending wrath).
It shows you people around your vicinity via location services and lets you peep at their delightful little interests; the most common of which I’ve found to be cupcakes, Madonna, true love, diamonds and devotion to God (and his impending wrath).
My experience with it was kind-of, um…well, it’s mostly dominated by middle-aged disasters, strange African folk with colourful names like Udubyange and Oyojola, teenage girls looking for free dinner (much like me) and the odd foreigner here and there (usually Russian and in their 50s) looking for a fuckboi. Though I’ve not had the bravery (read: luck) nor the patience to get anything decent out of it, a friend of mine did. It started with a sad make-out session in the Carrefour parking lot in Maadi, evolved into death threats for not replying to a text within 20 minutes (complete with knife emojis), a miserable plan to abort an imaginary child, only to end with a pair of broken glasses (she had a mean swing). That was back when it was actually functional, though. Nowadays, it tries its hardest to milk you for money so that people can notice you exist, or even to start a pitiful conversation about the weather or the colour of their dental dam.
It started with a sad make-out session in the Carrefour parking lot in Maadi, evolved into death threats for not replying to a text within 20 minutes (complete with knife emojis), a miserable plan to abort an imaginary child, only to end with a pair of broken glasses (she had a mean swing).
Don't discount it entirely, though; Badoo somehow manages to provide more consistent results than Tinder, especially here in Egypt. Whether it's the game-like aspect giving people more incentive to stay on it (and suck up fake confidence) or the fact that people there are actual people (miserable as they may be) and not robots or rapists. Badoo in Egypt offers the user a thorough look at what folks are like without that faux veil of composure, which I personally find attractive.
"I tend to avoid the Russian bride one because there's only so much therapy I can afford." - Dr. Badlove.
All in all, Badoo gets a disappointing 1 used condom out of 7. A shameful experience that you shouldn’t walk into (unless you’re a rich biker or have no self-worth whatsoever).
Truth be told, Tinder used to be pretty fun way back when innocence existed; people were actually interested in getting to know each other, reading their charming little bios about how they’re 'travelers' and 'sapiosexual', walking into it with a semblance of hope. And for a time, it was fruitful; some of the most interesting (and harrowing) experiences of my not-so-private-anymore life came as a result of Tinder. Beers were had, faces were violated, great friends were made and life was less shit. But in Egypt? It doesn't really go down as smoothly as it used to anymore; even with Tinder's inherent focus on fast times and cheap thrills, it often loses whatever composure it had when used in Om El Donia.
Even with Tinder's inherent focus on fast times and cheap thrills, it often loses whatever composure it had when used in Om El Donia
Walk into Tinder nowadays and you’ll be greeted with this variety of colourful abortion:
“I’m just here to make friends lol.” Yes, and I go to a mechanic to get my prostate examined.
I've had my fair share of Tinder dates, and as hard as it is to believe, none of my Tinder dates were truly remarkable (and the sun is, again, hot). The same goes for the folks I know who used it. Tinder dates in Egypt tend to be doomed from the start; if it isn't the mentality of most of its user base, it's the slowly shifting fact that dating in Egypt, regardless of medium, is more of an arduous exercise in tedium than anything else. Sure, Tinder will (eventually) get you laid (despite the ordeal that it is in Egypt), it'll nab you a friend or two and it may even boost your confidence. That's not the case most of the time, though, and if you're relying on Tinder for validation...oh boy.
"As a woman looking at men on Tinder, it's all amn el dawla now. They're not even just looking to arrest people; some look like they legit want a date, or a wife. It's fucking with my understanding of life. Popo is for jail, not sex." - Dr. Badlove.
I’m sure Tinder still works for some (ones that aren’t as toxic as I am probably), but at best, you’ll probably wind up with deeply scarred individuals talking to you about how their ex used to be a romantic domestic abuser, only to end up giving you the world’s saddest handjob in your mom’s Cerato. So it gets a morbid 4 out of 6 tear-stained tissues from my end.
Alright so, Craigslist isn’t exactly an app, but you can definitely get something out of it besides an apartment whose owners were violently murdered or a job at a call center in 6th October City. I’m not sure if Craig wanted to offer people a valuable service or a reflection on why humanity should never have gotten this far.
Going into the wasteland of penis that is the personals section of CL will give you access to the many, many totally not policemen and absolutely not organ harvesters across Egypt.
Most people are blissfully unaware that we have Craigslist here in Egypt, and better off for that fact, but if they happen to have the guts and emotional void to actually go through with it, they can waltz right into the personals section and start finding the sin of man. Going into the wasteland of penis that is the personals section of CL will give you access to the many, many totally not policemen and absolutely not organ harvesters across Egypt. If you’re feeling like something more serious (as serious as it can get on CL), you can check the 'Men Seeking Women' or 'Women seeking Men’ sections to check out the vast variety of dick pics, ads for 3orfy marriage, foot fetishists looking for dinner and a movie or an expat looking for language exchange (and not a fluid exchange). Feeling even more desperate? Head over to the ‘Casual Encounters’ section and gaze upon god’s mistake as you try not to go out with a bouquet of flowers and wake up in a bathtub full of ice.
Brass tacks, though, you have to be careful when it comes to using Craigslist; much like a certain other app, it's usually full of police waiting to entrap, con artists and extortionists waiting to get their mitts on your personal info or tasteful nudist photography. Even the site itself warns you about the hilariously big chance of catching an STD (Hepatitis X), but if you're that brave, go at it at your own discretion, and know that the male to female ration there is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 25:1.
"I have never attempted Craigslist for dating, but I assume that it’ll be a great platform for when I decide to sell myself one day." - Dr. Badlove.
Craigslist gets a stupendous 7 out of 9 organ coolers from me.
In Sad Conclusion
Dating, however much of an ordeal it may be, is ultimately fun. Dating apps facilitate the process further for most of us who have no time to shower and go out into the real world, what with the whole job and slow approach off the mortal coil. So try to take my almost entirely satirical take on dating apps for insight rather than a final verdict and try them out yourself. You can tell I’m just disgruntled because I don’t have perfect abs or a fine collection of artistic dinner plates.
"As someone who is a hopeless romantic and optimistic about dating apps, they've become hellish compared to a few years back." - Dr. Badlove.
If you just so happen to have your own input about these dating apps and services (or if you want to date me, please love me), let me know, yeah? Don’t, though. Please.