Have you ever been dating someone and thought to yourself, “Wow, I really wish I had known all of this before we got together or I probably wouldn’t have dated them?” We aren’t talking about the little things that aren’t really problems like that their hairline is so weird, their pores are huge, their nail beds suck or they have bad breath in the morning. I mean anything that could be the plot of a David Cronenberg movie. Do any of these sound familiar? You are secretly also dating their shy identical twin, who sometimes pretends to be them so they can both sleep with you. They get off on spanking mental patients. They sometimes orchestrate car crashes so they can have sex next to the wreckage. They illegally used themselves as a test subject in a science experiment and are rapidly mutating into a giant, super-strong half-man, half-bug.
As a queer person, I tend to date a lot of the same people that others I know have dated, which you think would cut down on such surprise behavior. The stereotype about queers and gossip tends to be true (guilty!), and word spreads quickly. However, the Grapevine is imperfect and might not inform you that they dumped their last ex via text message or that their mother still practically breastfeeds them. When you break up with the Mommy Suckler, your friends will ask you why you dated that person to begin with. “Didn’t you know what you were getting into?” You’ll reply that you would have known if anyone had care to share your ex’s giant-mutant-fly status. Knowledge is power, and here no knowledge had been dropped. This was the land knowledge forgot.
Instead of repeating the phrase “If I only knew then what I know now,” I’ve been mulling recently the idea of treating dating like an application process and only accepting potential mates that come with referrals. In dating, background checks would be extremely helpful, especially if you find out that their credit score is zero, they have thousands of dollars in unpaid purchases made through the Home Shopping Network, they once married Kim Kardashian or they used to chop cars in Tampa under the name “Vinny Barbarino.” To provide quality assurance, all sex applicants submitting to a background check will need to show three forms of ID before entry, including a valid passport.
However, getting my own partners tested for lingering Kardashian DNA isn’t enough. I want to help other people get educated about their dating pool. So, a friend recently inspired me to come up with a better idea: What if there were a Yelp for dating? The internet is full of aggregate review systems: Grub Hub makes sure I have food, Rotten Tomatoes helps keep me away from Nicholas Sparks movies and Metromix does something, even if I’m not sure what it is. Because we all want to believe we are Roger Ebert, we can use these online tools to rate our professors, better our business bureaus and even help keep our neighborhoods safe on EveryBlock. So, why not use that critical power to help keep our love lives more secure from dating assailants? Immediately, I started brainstorming.
Of course, there are many foreseeable problems to reviewing your exes online. People who don’t date or get in relationships as often won’t be scored as frequently, and one rotten review could sink your establishment. No one would ever want to romantically dine at you again. Thus, we can use the Rotten Tomatoes model: Only folks with 5 or more reviews can merit scores on our To-Date-O-Meter, and these can include recommendations from friends. In addition, we want this to be a positive tool to encourage good behavior, not to embarrass people. Thus, no misogyny, slut shaming, genitalia bashing or over-the-line douchery of any kind will be allowed. All reviews will have to first pass muster with our moderators, and they will look at reviews just like a news publication would. For instance, although a one-line review of Battlefield Earth stating “YOU WASTED MY LIFE” might be true, it’s not adequate critical engagement. We need to know why you want your money back without this dissolving into name-calling, a slap fest or a Reddit forum. This is not Fox News.
Speaking of Reddit, as we want to encourage the aforementioned positivity on the Dating Yelp, we will only allow folks to upvote their exes. Otherwise, it’ll just turn into an episode of Sex and the City. Great exes will be rewarded by being on the home page, and if you can’t find the person you are dating in the top 1000, you may have a problem. We know that (no matter what) people will go on there to gripe about their exes, but I know I’ve dated some great people that I would love to recommend to others; I could have a Favorite Exes Pageant. So, when in doubt, think to yourself: What Would Gosling Do? Ryan Gosling is well known for endlessly gushing about the wonderful women he dated. The Gos even has only nice things to say about dating Sandra Bullock, and there’s no way she was sunshine and rainbows that whole relationship. I had to watch her act in Crash. No one’s perfect.
However, our team will rank users by more than a single upvote. In addition, we will give raters a chance to weigh in on various categories of their dating history with that person. Exes and old flames can positively rate you based on such categories as: “Likes Commitment,” “Isn’t Into Jealousy,” “Able to Put Down the Phone During a Meal,” “Skilled at Reciprocation,” “Body Positive,” “Good With Consent” and “Calls You Back.” Below each section, we will leave a comment section for testimonials. Did they change your life and teach you how to love again? Or did they blast Nickelback at all hours of the day? Did you do it on a cloud without getting pregnant or getting herpes? Or did your “sexy one-night stand” steal your wallet and leave you handcuffed to your bed the next morning? Let us know! For an example, check out this post from “fictional” user sorryyourenotsorry: “Do not patronize this establishment. This establishment will give you hepatitis, won’t call you back and won’t even watch Cougar Town with you. Read full review after the dump.”
It’s hard out there for a single, especially when you find yourself dating partner after partner that just isn’t good for you. You ask yourself, “Is it me? Is it that I just attract a certain type of person?” And maybe the problem is you, but it can be hard to figure that out and correct our own dating lives if we do not have the information to do that with in the first place. You can’t avoid Toxic Bachelors, Womanizers, Serial Daters or Serial Killers if you don’t know the beast you are dealing with. They say that ignorance is bliss? Tell that to Maria Shriver and Tiger Woods’ ex-wife. Ignorance isn’t bliss. Bliss is not having to find out they’ve been making a secret family while you’ve been baking chocolate-chip scones. And with a little Yelp, we can dispense knowledge and make the world a little safer for Maria Shrivers everywhere. We can change the way we date. That change just starts with a single vote.