However, she remains positive about dating apps and continues to use them

Penny from Fuzhou has found that people can leave our lives just as quickly as they entered after meeting a Sichuanese man who had traveled through her city. 

Despite flying her out to Sichuan for a romantic week away, “He blocked me after I returned,” Penny tells us.

We reached out to Lancheng, the company behind dating apps Lesdo and Blued, to learn what they are doing to thwart catfishing.

“For Blued, the function of user verification was launched in China several years ago and is now promoted to its overseas markets. Users who pass the verification will have a special logo attached to their profile photo. Through AI technology, Blued also protects user’s safety by providing automatic alarms and recommendations to users while the system detects risky topics, including fraud, personal safety as well as health-related issues,” a representative from Lancheng tells us via WeChat.

If you’re worried about catfishing but don’t feel comfortable going through the user authentication steps, some apps implement it more casually.

A Jimu representative tells us, “The user authentication system may be a double-edged sword, [and] if it is too strict, there will be some psychological burden for ordinary users to accept.” 

They also partially address concerns by requiring users to “complete real identity authentication on some personalized functions, but in a more general social environment, users will not be forced to authenticate.”

App Equality

As we’ve learned, some dating apps are taken more seriously while others have a reputation for flings. Regardless of intentions though, one issue for many non-Chinese users is navigating a Chinese-language app. For most expats here, a multi-language app is a necessity.

The Lancheng team informed us, “Regarding Lesdo, we do have plans for a multi-language version and will keep users posted when we have a schedule to share.”

As for Blued, it’s more user-friendly for expats due to its existing translation infrastructure. “Our quick translation function supports English to Chinese translation, however, Chinese to English is still being developed. We hope to launch in the future,” a representative tells us.

The Jimu team further confirmed that “real-time language translation facilitates communication between foreign users and local users.” The app plans to help users break the ice quickly with more interactive communication functions like personalized emoji expressions. “After all, users around the world have basically the same understanding of emojis.”

“Language barriers may cause communication issues between users with certain cultural differences, not only foreign users and local users, but also users in different geographic regions [in China]”

“Language barriers may cause communication issues between users with certain cultural differences, not only foreign users and local users, but also users in different geographic regions [in China].”

Ai or Goodbye?

Dating can leave people feeling like a hot mess, whether you’re meeting Steve at the pub in London or Cherry for shengjianbao in Shanghai. There’s no clear formula for success, and as we already hit on – horror stories do exist.

If people are deterred by the possible unauthenticity of dating apps, consider that our grandparents were writing self-adverts into newspapers and likely adding a couple of inches to their height and subtracting a few years off their age back in the day.

So, are dating apps the only way to finding a soulmate? By no means. But, with an open mind and a sense of blind adventure, people will find that these apps can add more value than they get credit for.

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Vicky from Hangzhou had such an experience. (The dating app users we contacted for this story have all asked us to omit their surname for privacy reasons.)

Additionally, countless opportunities and people are waiting online for you due to the sheer number of users. Xiao, a Chinese national living in Fuzhou, summarized online dating sweetly: “Some [people] you may never see again, some will be good friends, some may be good lovers, a serious relationship, or even marriage material.”