Imagine an online dating space devoid of painfully flexed abs and bathroom mirror selfies. There are no dick pics, no requests for nudes before you’ve exchanged names, and no mass messages of cheesy one-liners.
Like a more exclusive version of Tinder, the newly available app was crafted with a concerted effort to reduce the "creep factor" in digital romance. In order for a guy to join Wyldfire, he has to be invited by a lady. If someone happens to send you an unrequested dick pic, there’s an easy system in place to flag a user and immediately put him under review.
"Flagging is a serious thing to do to someone," Brian Freeman, CEO and co-founder of Wyldfire, says. "But, if one guy is creeping you out, chances are, he is also creeping other women out, and we don’t want him on here."
Freeman and his best friend (and Wyldfire co-founder) Andrew White decided that having male users vetted by women would reduce the chances of women being creeped on. After having plenty of their own bad experiences with online dating, they reached out to their lady friends for advice and found that a lot of women were abandoning online dating sites because they had been creeped out by inappropriate users. They predicted that keeping the creeps out would make the whole experience better for everyone, including the nice guys who sometimes get lumped in with the pervs by default.
"Many women online just immediately assume you’re a freak show. Andy and I treat women well and would like to be treated legitimately in return," Freeman explains.
The first step after downloading Wyldfire is to join through Facebook, a make-or-break moment which is pretty high-security (this LadyBit got rejected a few times before recalling that her gender on Facebook was set to "androgynous"). The point is to make sure that everyone on Wyldfire is who they say they are, which means you need to define your gender, age, and have a certain amount of friends on your profile to ensure that you are real. The app was specifically created for hetero dating, but everyone is welcome, and you can browse both genders.
That’s the process for the women who want to join. For men, it’s a little trickier, since a woman needs to vouch for them. Each woman who joins is encouraged to invite all the eligible bachelors she knows so that the dating pool gets larger for everyone. Sharing is caring, after all, and one gal’s go-to platonic beer-drinking buddy could be another woman’s boyfriend material.
You can match with someone on Wyldfire through a like/pass system just like Tinder, although "pass" does feel a lot kinder than Tinder’s "nope." All users’ main profile pictures appear through a black-and-white filter, because according to Freeman, "Everyone looks better in black-and-white." The uniform look makes you feel like you’re flipping through a dignified coffee table book, not prowling an escort service. It streamlines the experience, giving it a classy feel.
Beyond the black-and-white profile picture, users can upload more pictures from Facebook and link directly to their Instagram, which Freeman thinks is an excellent way to get to know someone. You also have the opportunity to send a Hint (similar to a Facebook poke) — but only three per day. Some say dating is a numbers game, but Wyldfire’s daily Hint limit means users have to be somewhat selective and dole out their daily three with intent.
Once matched, you can start messaging, although there is a limit to how many messages you get to send back and forth. However, women hold the key to unlocking more messages, if they so choose. Freeman and White want to help women deal with men who don’t know how to get to the point, wasting time messaging for an eternity without ever making plans to meet up IRL.
It’s all pretty dreamy if you ask us, and a really cool way to feel safe and in control of your online dating interactions. The app is currently flourishing in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the creators’ homebase of San Diego. Wyldfire has communities in NYC, Boston, London, Chicago, and D.C., as well. Populating those markets is completely up to us, and with each user we invite, we’re creating a community to help each other find love… or whatever it is we’re all looking for. So, spread it like Wyldfire — but safely and responsibly! Tell your male friends to put in the "ladybits" code when they sign up, and keep up the respectful environment that is Wyldfire’s feminist objective.