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The Scourge of ‘Just Ask’ Profiles on Dating Apps

We’ve never put less effort into algorithmic matchmaking

Once upon a time, the novelty of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and OkCupid convinced us that, regardless of the drawbacks, they enhanced and broadened the possibilities of romantic life. But ask anyone who’s gotten back on these platforms after a long time off, and you’ll hear the same thing: It’s never been this bad. Maybe we’ve grown tired of the game, or a unique malaise has settled over this moment in history. Or perhaps, over the years, people have put less and less effort into algorithmic matchmaking, until they basically stopped trying at all.

There’s no greater evidence of this trend than the “jusk ask” profile. You’re familiar, I’m sure. Where anyone with a pulse would be expected to offer some personal detail, information on their interests or hobbies and a meager line or two on the kind of relationship they’re looking for, these dullards write: “Just ask,” or “I’m an open book, just ask,” or “Just ask whatever you want to know.” In 2014, few would have dared to reveal such laziness to their potential dating pool. Now the ranks of shamelessly apathetic are far more imposing, almost unavoidable. 

Given that both men and women have accused one another of resorting to the neutral, may-as-well-be-blank dating bio, I think it’s fair to say this problem isn’t gender-driven, but generational. Vast swaths of singles today are unwilling to address who they are or what makes them tick until another person tries to chat them up. At that point, they inevitably turn out to be a “dry texter,” offering one-word replies that do nothing to open or extend the conversation. The “just ask” tactic advertises someone who doesn’t especially want to be shopping for a partner — relatable enough — yet also can’t muster the minimum of enthusiasm necessary for a spark. You can tell that from the very start, you’ll be doing all the work to keep the connection alive. 

Maybe these folks imagine they’ve cultivated some mystique, and expect to attract the more forward and curious types. Maybe it even used to work. Today, however, “just ask” is recognized as the non-answer of a definitively boring individual — the person who can neither call to mind one of their own positive qualities nor articulate why you should want to learn more about them. Do they apply for jobs without résumés? Did they ever raise their hand in class? Can they summon the energy to ask you a question? These would all be fine avenues of inquisition, if you had some hours to waste talking to the human equivalent of petrified wood. 

Actually, scratch that: Petrified wood is cool, and saying as much on your Bumble page would probably get you better results than refusing to have an identity. Otherwise, enjoy the lack of engagement.