Love in the Time of Tinder [Dear DBN]


So, how’d you two meet?  The number one couples question. And in today’s digital society, the ways we can “meet” are varied. This week, it’s time to remember that when it comes to finding love, the weirder the story, the better the screenplay.

Is there something wrong with meeting guys at bars? Why do people seem to look down on this?

There’s nothing wrong with meeting anyone anywhere.  We met in the pet cemetery where our pets, Milo and Otis, were ironically buried next to each other.  People sob uncontrollably every time we tell the story.  We met in an AOL chatroom when we were 16, pretending to be 18, talking about and simultaneously Googling Nirvana because we only knew one song and wanted to appear cooler, neither of us knowing that 1) we were equally cool or 2) that knowing Nirvana’s discography does not, by default, make you cool.  We met when I was drunkenly attempting to “borrow” his bike and he was drunkenly attempting to find his car, both of us forgetting entirely that he had not driven and that BUIs are real.  We met at the bar when we looked at each other, found each other attractive, struck up a conversation, and decided we would like to have another conversation at a later date.  There’s nothing remotely wrong with it when you put it that way, especially when other people are paying for pet cemeteries, lying about their interests, and breaking the law.

When people laud the advantages of being introduced by friends rather than handing off your number to a rando at the bar, it’s essentially the same as getting a job.  Yes, an internal recommendation from a great employee is likely a good choice for your company, as is promoting within, asking your friends to connect you, and networking with old colleagues.  But applying without a connection and hiring without a recommendation can also lead to incredible results.  Neither one is guaranteed to be better than the other.  And if you’re looking for love, your best bet is to try all of the above.

So, what’s the deal with Tinder? Is it normal to be on? Am I loser for wanting to try it?  Speak to me.

Get on Tinder.  Get on Tinder just to see. Tinder is essentially a digital bar. But be forewarned, like a bar, you can’t control who you see and who screenshots you there. In a city of 3 million plus, I have still seen several people I know on the app, which means they have likely seen me.  Me and my very individual name and easily recognized profile photo.  But I’m 27.  Shame diminishes with age.  For those of you don’t know about Tinder, it’s basically Hot or Not linked with your Facebook. It includes your first name, age, and your friends in common on Facebook. And it’s a magical power trip. If you’ve ever felt like an asshole on OkCupid for not responding to anyone, just wait ‘til you experience the hilarious joy that accompanies rejecting profile after profile without them ever knowing.  I knew I was wrong in the head the moment I started cackling with enjoyment.

A few weird things you may across through your travels on Le Tind:

1.  The people you know.  You’re going to see people you work with, people your friends have dated, old friends in the photos of strangers, and you’ll even see old hookups, old loves, and old enemies.  Swipe left to forget.  Swipe right to see what lies ahead.  A common practice with actual friends is to screenshot their photo, text it to them and say, “oh heyyyyyyyyy hahha,” as courteous acknowledgment that you’re both there. A lot of people consider this “embarrassing” but is it?  Is it really so embarrassing to be a human being interested in hanging out with other human beings you find attractive?  Get over it. Seriously.  Everyone.  Get over it.

2. The people who know people you know.  “Jake, age 26, two miles away, 3 shared interests, 11 friends in common.”  Tinder does not post anything on your Facebook, but its connection to Facebook is an integral part of the experience.  Jake and I had 11 very particular friends in common – they were all people in my industry from several different companies, which meant Jake was in the industry, too.  Tom, age 29, 6 friends in common who all grew up in Ohio.  Alex, 17 friends in common, all went to east coast prep schools.  There are easy ways to bucket people on Tinder.  You make the same assumptions about 17 prep school friends as you would if everyone at the bar was wearing a polo shirt.  You’re not always right, but you’re definitely not always wrong.  One of the unspoken features of the “friends in common” is just sending the screenshot to one of those friends and asking them to hook you up the old-fashioned way – by inviting you both to the same bar.  That’s how I got my date last night.

However, let me say, if you are seeing someone in any respect, do not use Tinder. It is a field day of catching people doing things they’re not supposed to. I took a screenshot of a cute guy who was also friends with my friend Gemma.  I texted Gemma the photo and asked her his deal.  It was her old roommate’s friend’s boyfriend.  She texted the photo to the old roommate. The old roommate texted the photo, with the timestamp of when that gentleman was last active, to his girlfriend.  Needless to say, he’ll actually be needing Tinder now.  Swipe left.

3.  The strangers.  Oh, beautiful, beautiful strangers.  When all you get is a few photos, a tagline, and the shared interest of “The Daily Show”, you really can’t know what you’re getting into. But how many dates have you gone on only to be like, “that really cute guy from the supermarket who loved cheese turned out to also really, really love men.”  One thing that I’ve found to be true across the board of Tinder versus bars is that a lot of people still shoot within their league.  As the old idiom goes, if 100 people have already walked by that $100 bill on the street, could it possibly be real?  The difference between Tinder and a bar is that there’s no public shaming after swiping right and not being matched.  Unless you like each other, neither of you will ever see each other’s photo again.  And even when there is a match, often times, no one messages each other!  It’s just like smiling at a hot guy across the bar – there’s not always a love story to follow.  So if you think he’s too good to be true, girl, swipe right. And you match and he messages, “threesome with the girl in your photo?” then just hit Block, the internet’s drink-in-the-face.  And then maybe reconsider your photos.

It’s a brave new world of shameless self-promotion in nearly every aspect of life, but we still shy away from admitting we want the one thing everyone has wanted forever: companionship.  Telling people the two of you met while drunk Tindering is actually an incredible way to tell which of your compatriots are judgmental assholes.  So shake the shame and download the app, because above all the stigmas, the what-ifs, the embarrassments and the screenshots, Tinder’s a blast and they’re not even paying me to say it.

I've written for Teen Vogue, Thought Catalog, Leveled Magazine, College Candy, How About We, and have been featured on several HuffPost Live segments. Creator and leader of Bold Moves October featured on xoJane and Neil Gaiman's blog. Both Neil and Jane appreciate boldness. I specialize in pep talks, very long bike rides, and matching my lipstick to my heels.
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