In modern dating apps, it’s normal to feel like you’re just another face in a sea of photos. Even if you get a match, it can be difficult to reach a date, let alone a meaningful relationship. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just cut out the competition?
That’s the thinking behind Shinder, a web-based dating app where you get one chance to swipe on one man: Shed Simove. Although men can sign up for it, the app is exclusive to women. Guys who try to match with Simove are greeted with a brief message about Simove’s heterosexuality.
Simove came up with the idea after striking out on other dating apps. He tried to be quirky on dating sites to better attract matches, but had little luck. He Photoshopped a Tinder photo of himself bursting out of a Kinder Surprise egg (“Tinder Surprise”); he tried making a “Bumble pick of the month” logo (“No one cared”). He decided he needed a different strategy to get noticed.
“I thought, if you can't beat them, maybe create your own competition where you're the only person in the competition, therefore, you will then by de facto win,” he says. “You will win! In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. I thought I would try to create my own pond, so that then I would naturally be the biggest fish.”
Shinder works like your typical dating app. You set up your profile and get to swiping. If users swipe left, the site tells you “You dodged a bullet there, Shed is extremely high maintenance.” If you swipe right, the site promises to notify you if it’s a match. If Simove likes you back, the site opens up a dialogue between the two parties.
Simove has cobbled together a reputation for publicity stunts, including changing his name to “God,” designing the “Control-A-Woman” remote, and publishing a “Fifty Shades of Gray” book comprised of 50 pages that were just different shades of gray. His website proudly includes a “Scandals” section with different links or newspaper clippings about his pranks. Simove says he doesn’t consider these publicity stunts, but rather a way to be creative.
“I understand why people say that, but it's weird, because some of my stuff no one cares about,” he says. “When I start, my prime directive isn't the virality. My prime directive is, is this an idea that excites me and delights me and possibly amuses me? If it is, then I won't stop until I do it. That's the way I live my life, and that's the way I motivate myself by choosing projects that fuel me.”
When asked about the authenticity of Shinder, Simove pushes back against it being another antic. "I spent nine months and a huge amount of stress,” he says, “a huge amount of time, three different coders that I failed with ... it's been highly stressful and any software build is difficult, but crikey, for a quick user experience, the backend is massive.”
Simove’s goal is to meet women — and successfully get a date for Valentine’s Day — but he does enjoy the attention. The glow of publicity stunts fades so quickly, but that can’t be the only reason to do them. He considers himself similar to an artist who creates to fuel themselves, but that his motivations are to entertain people. “It would be disingenuous of me to say I wouldn't want it to go viral,” he says of Shinder.
“I don't want to be too pompous here, but [I’m] like an artist who creates from their soul — my soul is just childish.”
So far, Shinder has been a success for Simove. He says he’s received more than 100 mutually swiped matches, but it’s come with the unexpected downside of too many choices. “I try to be polite and I try to be decent in life, so I want to reply to everyone and say hello and thank you and see if we can set up a date,” he says.
“I'm tired. I'm on it all the time. I'm on it constantly.”