Is shopping for men the new shoe shopping? Margot Huysman finds out.
A mainstay of the internet, we’ve seen dating websites come and go over the years. It’s a genre that translates itself easily for every fad the internet comes up with.
It also proliferates, accommodating every sort of web-enabled “kink”: whether you’re looking for rich people, old people, punk rockers, ugly people or lookalikes, there will be a service catering to your dating specifications.
On the London tube, you’ll see more adverts for dating sites than for almost anything else – at least, that’s what it feels like most of the time. If I life were Tube advertising, we’d all be spending a lot of money on dating site subscriptions. And we’d all have a cupboard full of unused multivitamins.
Here’s a new level of crazy: adopteunmec.com. For those of you without a High School education, that means “adopt a man”, but the company’s blog – not to mention the shopping cart icons throughout – make it clear that this is about purchase, not adoption.
I have used dating sites before. My intense dislike of Adopte un Mec is not based on apprehension or prejudice: I have seen and experienced the digital dating world for myself. I have made up my own opinion and, let me tell you, it ain’t all that positive. Especially when it comes to this website.
I am sceptical that anyone could find their perfect companion on a website. It’s just so grubby and ridiculous. I mean, know people do, I just don’t understand how. I am a firm believer in the idea of serendipity; of that small percentage of the unknown, of chance, that makes all the difference in a relationship.
Adopte un Mec is available only in French, aimed at French speakers in French-speaking countries. There were talks of a US and UK version coming out at some point, but my research was inconclusive and they do not seem to have been set up. The site’s founders could not be reached for comment.
Because the site is only aimed at people living in Francophone countries, I had to register with my Belgian home postcode. (Since I only joined in the name of research and curiosity, the idea of never getting to meet any of these men in real life is not really that upsetting.)
The site is free for women; only men have to pay a fee. (Offensive enough in itself.) The idea is that women get to pick the men: they decide whether or not they want to speak to them, to avoid the unsolicited messages women supposedly get on other dating sites.
So far, perhaps you are failing to see why exactly I thought this was crazy. Well, here it is: the site is also set up around a supermarket theme. Women are invited to “shop” for productised men.
You can even “reserve” a man, tot up a shopping list and check out your basket at the end. The check-out basically involves setting up a real life date and writing it down in your online calendar.
After spending a few hours on the site, I think I’ve mastered the basics. Every time a man visits your profile, you gain popularity points. I’m not sure what this popularity score does for you. Mine has been going up pretty fast considering that, at the time of writing this, I’ve been registered for less than 20 hours.
If they are interested, guys can send you “charm points” to express their interest. After that, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to allow contact – and then, ultimately, to purchase the, err, lucky chap.
The standard of guys on the site is above average, in my experience – though I should point out I grew up in Brussels.
Some of the features on the site are unsettling, if you don’t find the supermarket layout already unsettling enough. When a guy shows interest in you and sends you charm points, he appears in a section as a “product to test”.
On the front page, there is always a guy showcased under the title “fallen from the van”. You can then click whether you “want it” or you want to “skip to the next”.
On the landing page of the site, before you decide to register, there is a whole section asking whether you’d like to visit the “vegetable section” for the “carrot specials” – i.e., redheads.
There’s also an offer for “pick a guy with a moustache, get a guy with a beard for free”.
If you’re not getting the message so far, I don’t find this sort of product-driven approach to men particularly entertaining or helpful. Like Luluvise, perhaps Adopte un Mec should have stayed a joke in a drunken conversation.