‘Are We Dating the Same Guy STL’ seeks to vet good catches and ditch the bad. But can it have a downside?
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The pour of a beer and the din of the bar. That’s one place Joe, from Maplewood, is pretty comfortable.
“I’m pretty laid back, I think,” Joe said.
The 29-year-old high school teacher is newly single.
“I’m hoping to meet someone to do life with,” he said.
But he knows it’s far less likely he’ll meet someone at a bar or brewery nowadays, and matching up through friends or family hasn’t worked yet either.
“I will say this. My mother is on the hunt like no one else,” he said.
Instead, he’s often on his phone—swiping left or right—on dating sites.
“It really becomes a numbers game more than anything else, which feels weird and artificial almost with dating, but it kind of is,” he said. “You’re a match to this many people and they talk with this many that you meet up with this many. And so in order to find someone with whom you have a connection, you really have to try that with a lot of people.”
But he was surprised when we showed him a Facebook page called “Are We Dating the Same Guy St. Louis.” With more than 50,000 women from the region, posting their dates, boyfriends, and even their husbands to see if someone else is dating them or has dirt on them.
“I know I haven’t, I have no reason that I’d be on that,” said Joe.
St. Louis’ page isn’t the first but has been exploding with members in the last six months. It all started in New York last year, and now similar sites have popped up all over the country and the world.
Women post men they know or plan to date. We’re blurring them since we haven’t independently verified the posted information. Commenters can then “spill the tea” or share red flags—often to find out if the person’s telling the truth. Upwards of 25% of users on the dating app Tinder, for example, are already in committed relationships, according to a survey in Science Direct.
Each group has specific rules. The first of which is don’t share the posts. No last names or personal information. It’s about protecting women, they say, not judging men.
“If someone’s being dishonest about something a little more surface level, what else are they being dishonest about?” asked Maggie, from St. Louis. She’s a member of the group. On a recent walk with her dog Regis, she scrolled to see if any upcoming dates might appear there.
“I really appreciate [the pages] just because I view them as a positive from a safety standpoint,” Maggie said.
There is, group moderators and members argue, a real public service in the sites. With the World Health Organization estimating one in three women will experience either physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, the group can serve as a significant warning.
“They could be an unsafe person. And I kind of see it as empowering almost in like makes me feel a deeper connection with other people who are in similar circumstances dating like I am,” Maggie said.
“You’re able to vet them, you’re able to figure out if this is a safe scenario to be in more easily, which reduces the burden of labor, of online dating,” said Alexandra Freeman with Missouri Matchmaker. She said the social media sites can have value but they’ve got significant downsides too.
“Where there is light, there’s always shadow, right? And in the end, you don’t know who is saying what about these people on these sites. You have no way of knowing if these people are being deceptive,” Freeman said.
“Legally there are potential legal issues for the women and for the men who are posted about,” said Michael Pelagalli, an attorney whose firm Minc Law is now specializing in these sites.
“There are times when these groups can be used inappropriately to defame someone or cause harm, and we have been contacted by people who have lost romantic partners, they have been questioned by their employer,” he said.
The groups, though meant to be private, often do get back to the person posted about. So often that being posted about in the group even became a Halloween costume this year.
“The groups are legal within the bounds of the first amendment; it’s when someone commits defamation, that’s when the line is crossed,” he explained.
To stay out of trouble: “Keep your post truthful and accurate and proceed with caution and know that those groups do not outright protect a woman posting,” Pelagalli said.
Sometimes seeing the worst makes Maggie think of just sticking it out with Regis instead.
“Sometimes they can feel like that, especially seeing those groups. But I’m trying to stay hopeful,” she said.
So she keeps swiping on men and women.
“I’m still out there, still looking,” she said.
“You know, it’s sad that it has to exist, but I kind of get it,” said Joe.
Meanwhile, Joe said he’s making it a goal never to be posted on “Are We Dating the Same Guy.”
“I would point that to the man and be like, ‘You got to change some behaviors, dude,’” Joe said.
Instead, he likes the other Facebook page we showed him: “Vouched Dating” where women post men they’d actually recommend.
There have been real success stories on both of the sites. One of the positives can be a place of community.
The lawyers First Alert 4 Investigates spoke with said defamation most often occurs not on the original post but in the comments section. But regardless, we’ve heard these types of sites are here to stay.
First Alert 4 Investigates reached out to the moderators of the pages but haven’t yet heard back.
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