Contrary to countless pieces of popular culture, living in New York as a single woman in 2018 is one of the most fascinating, unpredictable, engaging experiences that's available in life's infinite smorgasbord of opportunities.
I am, however, a person who highly enjoys the whole gamut of the dating process. From courting, to vetting, to discovering levels of compatibility, to (especially) regaling my brunch partners with my exploits, dates with New York natives make for stories I couldn't conjure with the wildest corners of my imagination, reports news.com.au.
I'm no dating traditionalist either; I'm just as open minded about meeting men on my morning latte run as I am on tried and tested dating apps Bumble and Tinder.
Not long ago, I had a dating app recommended to me accompanied with the disclaimer that it'd be a good match for my "strong" personality. Launched by ex-Goldman Sachs employee Brendan Alper, it had a point of difference that piqued my interest. Instead of matching people by a shared geotag or an obscure algorithm, its crux involved matching people on their mutual dislikes. In other words, it seeks to find love via hate.
Having an automatic (and staunch) respect for anyone who shares my particular aversions to rockmelon, slow walkers and shoes on the bed, Hater sounded right up my alley.
It was also time to shake things up. Tinder's transactional reputation can often be a gateway to lewd creeps exercising their internet anonymity, and while Bumble operates with a fundamentally feminist ethos that I strongly relate to, consistently making the first move can become tedious. Particularly with my unashamedly recycled opening line of, "smooth or crunchy peanut butter?"
Creating a profile on Hater was a fascinating exercise in self discovery. It involved the quintessential (and strategic) uploading of profile photos, stipulating my age and location, and of course, a "top hate".
I was then presented with a series of polarising topics, where I was required to specify my preference of loving or hating them. On the list included assembling Ikea furniture, aphorisms such as "Live, Laugh, Love", Nickelback, cargo shorts, abstinence, sending nudes, service station wine, comic sans, Donald Trump … the list goes on. With more than 2000 topics, to be exact.
I found the app itself to be extremely user-friendly and surprisingly cathartic — both big wins in a world of fiddly sign-ups and laborious information sharing. With my profile set up, the swiping could commence.
Modelled on dating apps before it, swiping left denoted no and right meant yes. I was matched with men who held similar dislikes to myself — ranked with a percentage of hate-compatibility — and found it easy to vet candidates based on their top hate (and, admittedly, profile pictures).
It was instantly addictive. Joe hated white wine, so naturally he was out. Adam was instantly disqualified, for his pet peeve was coffee. (You can take the girl out of Melbourne, but you can't take Melbourne out of the girl). Also astonishing were the men who hated pregnancy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or selfies. Hard pass.
Fairly quickly, I struck a rapport with several Hater gentlemen, and almost exclusively our opening conversations revolved around the psychology behind why we hated what we did. Anyone can like puppies, after all, but it takes a certain person to hate under-poached eggs. There were a few inevitable conversation fizzlers, but two suitors seemed compatible enough to lead to in-person dates.
Date one was with Brendan, an 84 per cent match, whose pet hate was "ads that follow me around the internet". Meeting at my go-to Brooklyn date bar for a drink, we quickly got to talking and extrapolated on the things we mutually hated outside of the options the app presented us with.
It became obvious that our shared grievances bound us together more tightly than affections did; hating things together seemed more personal. However, the date itself could best be described as "inoffensive"; meaning it was wholly enjoyable, but I will not be waiting by the phone for a follow-up call.
My second date was with Daniel, a 74 per cent match who hated "green texts" above anything else. I knew that my tenure with this Hater would be cut short when it became clear what he really hated above anything was life. Like any seasoned dater, I employed my excuse insurance and left to attend a fictionalised dinner.
What I did take away from these dates was the liberating sensation of eschewing traditional pleasantries and getting to the gritty straight away. It was refreshing because we usually reserve an insight of our "worst selves" or what we consider to be our negative attributes for the third or fourth date, at least. The veneer was lifted.
In a global climate of extreme divisiveness, it was refreshing to experience solidarity with people through the things we hate. As Alper explained: "What we hate is an important part of who we are, but it's often swept under the rug in our public persona."
Did I meet my soulmate through Hater? The jury is still out. The app is now living in a folder on my phone next to Tinder and Bumble, and I'm sure I'll re-engage come a time when it feels right.
But for now, the overall verdict is in, and I certainly didn't hate it.