Repurposed by Gregory Neo, Melissa Yow, Ong Hui Ying and Wayne Sing

Jia Wen and W out on a date after meeting on dating app, Happn.
Can you tell that sparks did not fly between W (left) and me? Photo credit: Chye Jia Wen

One Friday night, W and I met at Charlie’s Restaurant and Bar for an impromptu date. We were complete strangers – until we happened to meet on Happn, a mobile dating app.

Founded by French entrepreneur Didier Rappaport, Happn is a free location-based dating app that aims to connect people who have crossed paths in real life.

As you come across other Happn users in real life, the profiles of those who meet your gender and age preferences turn up on your timeline. You also get to see how often you run into other users, and the general location of your last encounter. To indicate your interest, you can like the other person’s profile. If you both liked each other, it’s a “Crush” and you can now chat!

Released in 2014, Happn boasts approximately 6.5 million monthly active users worldwide, according to While it seems lesser-known in Singapore compared to other dating apps such as Tinder, OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel, it actually has a sizeable number of users here.

To gauge its popularity in Singapore, I set my preferences to see and be seen by both genders, aged 18 to above 70. Within 2 weeks, I accumulated more than 1,000 profiles on my timeline!

What sets Happn apart from other dating apps is its element of spontaneity – users can set their status to “Available” and indicate that they’re available for an impromptu activity. Other users who come across these profiles right there and then can initiate a meet up if they’re also up for it.

The function used to be called “See You Later” but the premise remains the same.

I was using Happn for the first time; so was W.

On a night out with friends, I decided to try being “Available”. To my surprise, I got a match rather quickly.

W wasted no time in asking, “Where would you like to grab a bite?”

We hadn’t even exchanged names; all I knew about him was his name and that he’s 22. We went about deciding on a place to meet anyway. But when I saw him, my heart sank. He wasn’t as cute as I thought he’d be, from his pictures.

Keeping in mind my Psychology Studies lecturer Dr Selina Tang’s encouragement to “go past” being “shallow”, I focused on getting to know the person before me. As it turns out, he had rather interesting stories and we were getting along quite well – until I caught him in a bald-faced lie.

During the course of our date, I’d asked if he’d tried any other dating app before Happn – he said no. Yet, while showing me a video on his phone, a Tinder notification popped up: Eliza sent you a new message.

I found it hard to feel invested in the date from then on. But I also didn’t dare to end the date abruptly so I waited for him to call it a night. I tried not to seem too eager when he finally asked if I wanted to head home.

He footed the bill and we left for the nearest taxi stand. Like a gentleman, he insisted on waiting till I got a taxi before he would call for one.

He also reached for a parting embrace – twice – before we finally went our separate ways.

Considering this was my first spontaneous date, it was rather pleasant. I was nervous, of course – but not once did I feel unsafe. That said, I don’t think a second date is on the table.

Online dating
A total of 5,801 single and married Singaporeans were surveyed from August to December of 2016 to to understand public attitudes and perceptions toward marriage and parenthood. Infographic by: Gregory Neo, The UrbanWire

As for whether it’s possible to find love via dating apps, here’s what Dr Tang thinks: “You just need to be careful about what you’re looking for, and what you put out there. But sure, why not? They’re just digital matchmakers, right?”

Finding The One may be tough, but Happn might help. Because you’ll literally come across people who share similar interests or lifestyles with you, forming connections will be that much easier! It’s perfect for those who are too busy to go out of their way to meet someone new.

Should you decide to try it out, online dating coach Mr Jiron Tan advises: “You have to be a very sociable person and get out there to be able to maximise Happn.

“I don’t believe in wasting time by sending ‘Hi’ and then talking forever, virtually – but never meeting. It’ll never turn into something more. Meeting face-to-face is always better.” Words to live by – courtesy of my date, W.

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Would you go on an impromptu date with someone you met on a dating app?

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