Ah, dating. Oh, the Internet. Put them together and you get Internet dating, Oy! 

As much as (almost) everyone blames it/mocks it/hates on it, online dating is a growing part of any single person's life (and, if you are into cheating, there are even websites for dating while married). But finding a dinner date for Friday night now means meeting up with someone who you may have never met before and who none of your friends know. That's changed with the Lulu app. As Erin Foster, an actress and writer who has used the app, told the New York Times, "The thing that drew me to Lulu was that dating without a reference is the scariest thing you can do. Meeting someone out in the world when you’re not in school or don’t work with each other or have mutual friends — you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.”

How does the Lulu app work? I tried it this morning; like many apps, it automatically connects to your Facebook page (apparently there's a feature that susses out that I am indeed a woman — only women are allowed to access the app), and then a main page comes up. By clicking on the tab "My Friends" at the top of the page, I could see all the guys I know on Facebook, along with their various ratings, as well as editorial hashtags (positive and negative) like #SexualPanther, #NeverSleepsOver, #Trustworthy, #CharmedmyPantsOff, #HotnCold, #FlowersJustBecause, #HitItandQuitIt and many, many more. Ratings are on a 1-10 scale, and are separate from hashtag descriptions. 

After you've checked out the guys you know, you can then actually use the app for dating (or at least, for finding potential dates) by clicking on tabs like "Guys Nearby" and "Trending on Lulu." My personal results definitely didn't show all the guys I know, since the app is still new. In fact, even though I have more than 1,000 Facebook friends (slightly more than one-third of them are men), only nine guys came up on Lulu when I logged in. I noticed it was mostly the younger cohort of men that I happen to be friends with, and several serial monogamists and others I expected to see hadn't yet received ratings yet, which was surprising. But men don't get rated until girlfriends (former or current), friends, sisters, or other women go on the site and rate them. Yes, ratings — and who has said what — are anonymous. 

According to the New York Times article, some men have responded to being rated by upping their dating game, an interesting byproduct of the app. "There’s nothing I can do about it except be the best person I can be,” he said, adding: “It inspires guys to be good and treat girls the way they should be treated. Like angels," says Jack Brockaway, the now-boyfriend of one of the site's founders, Alexandra Chong. 

Women like that they have some control and information in the new dating marketplace, as well as getting something of an objective idea of a guy from several women (not just rumors from a friend-of-a-friend, if that was even a possibility before). 

While I'm currently in a long-term relationship with a great guy (who I met offline through a friend, even after all my online dating—which I enjoyed, by the way), if I were single now, I would definitely use this app. And I'm seriously considering contributing some ratings of guys that I dated that were fabulous (just not for me) and one who was less than honest with me. 

At the very least, perhaps this kind of app will make it harder for already-married guys to lie about marital status, families in other states, or their predilection for domestic violence, which could really help women (though hurt Lifetime movie writers and true-crime TV specials). And all those nice guys? Advantage will go to them — which it should anyway. 

Love is a many splendored thing, isn't it? Would you use Lulu to screen guys before dating them? 

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Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

New Lulu app rates men
This women-only app gives a numerical rating and a description of the men in a user's Facebook feed.