Nowadays, online and app dating can feel like the only way, and while I felt uncomfortable with the idea at first, I have grown to kinda like it. It is a great opportunity to meet people I would have never otherwise come across, and the best part is I always know that the people I’m talking to are the right sexuality.
My first adventures in Tinder consisted of what were probably the longest, most drawn-out texting relationships in dating app history. I would message back and forth with girls for weeks before even entertaining the idea of meeting them in person. Sometimes, conversations that lasted that long didn’t even result in an in-person meeting. I’m really not sure how it was possible.
I used to think it was odd when someone asked me to meet in person relatively quickly after starting a conversation, but now I think that is the absolute best approach. The longer you text back and forth with someone, I’ve found, the more awkward it will be when you finally meet her. You’ll likely have struck up this incredibly intimate virtual relationship, which puts a whole lot of pressure on that face-to-face meeting. Is she still considered a stranger? Is it suddenly weird that you know so much about her? You’ll have far less first date type questions to ask because you’ll already know the answers, but it will suddenly feel inappropriate to ask deeper questions so soon in a real-life context.
So now I try to chat back and forth for just enough time to know if I am into the idea of a person, and then I make plans to meet. Asking someone out is really not as scary as I thought it’d be. Sometimes it makes me feel strong and confident. Even if I’m turned down, at least I know I gave it my all.
I have also really been enjoying the lack of heteronormative “rules” that so many of my friends feel pressured to follow. While it shouldn’t be that way in hetero relationships, I have many female friends who still feel that if they take the reigns and make the first move, they will be considered desperate. Well, in my world the girl always makes the first move, and I love the freedom it provides to play any role I want.
Now, starting conversations on Tinder is quite an art. It is generally common knowledge that no one will respond to a “hey” or “what’s up?” It’s boring, and what is the other person even supposed to say to that? Of course, it is hard to have much else to say when you are going off nothing but a few photographs and maybe a line or two of description, but I like to make a witty remark about something in a girl’s bio or comment on something in one of her pictures. Everyone has their methods.
It’s funny how digital dating has shifted the way we think about what it means to be interested in someone. For instance, I can always tell when I am not really into a girl because, after making the incredibly meaningful transition from texting on Tinder to texting on iMessage, I never actually put her name in my phone. I’ve noticed that when I’m really interested, I’ll save the contact as a name right away, but if someone I am talking to has remained a string of numbers, it isn’t looking good.
Another Tinder lesson I’ve learned is that if there is a boy in a girl’s picture, she is probably dating him, and she is probably going to ask you if you would like to join them for a threesome. I appreciate the girls who place that intention right there in their bios. It frustrates me to no end when I spend time having a perfectly good conversation with someone only to have her eventually say, “so…I actually have a boyfriend, and we’re looking for a third ;)” First, I always give myself a moment to be flattered that a couple has deemed me worthy of joining them, then I abruptly unmatch us and curse the valuable thumb muscles I wasted.
I think as a whole Tinder is different in girl world than it is for heterosexuals in the sense that more gay females are on it in search of relationships versus casual hookups—at least that is the impression I get based on speaking with friends of various sexualities. So I don’t know if I’d feel this way if I was straight, but I do think Tinder is awesome, and even though it has not yet spawned any sort of relationship for me, it has helped me meet a lot of cool people, have some interesting conversations, and in many ways, it has actually helped me grow.
It can be exhausting having meals and drinks with tons of strangers, though. I get pretty burned out teaching others about myself and learning about others over and over. It can be frustrating spending so much time meeting people who you’ll probably never see again when you could be spending your time doing other important things like being in your sweatpants. I have finally realized, however, that it is okay to take a break, that I don’t need to actively be putting myself out there every moment of every day, unless it is exactly what I want to be doing. There are periods where I make a concerted effort and periods where I just can’t do it anymore and stop trying. But I never stop being open to people around me, and to me that is the most important thing.
I read an article in the New York Times that said Tinder is actually one of the best dating apps because it most accurately replicates real-world dating. It talked about how we don’t walk around bars and parties holding posters that display our interests, ethics, and political beliefs. We see someone, feel an attraction, decide to talk to them, and through that conversation determine compatibility.
It’s the same method with Tinder, and I am not letting the fact that I haven’t yet found someone from it discourage me from thinking that it could eventually work. It takes time to find someone anywhere, even out in the three dimensional world. I plan to keep searching in all the worlds available to me.