I’ve been with my wife for over seven years. In that time span, the iPhone reached popularity and with it a new era of dating and hookups that are completely alien to me. On an almost daily basis I talk to my single friends who go through the rollercoaster ride of excitement, depression and hope of meeting people in the hopes of someday getting married (or something like that). As a tourist, hearing their stories and seeing it unravel, is fun and a bit educational. I can never keep my mouth shut and always move to give advice on everything from profile pictures to text message replies. Finally, curiosity consumed me and I had to try this out myself.
I’m happily married. This experiment included no breaks, indiscretions or even anything approaching conversation. I simply took part in the process and realized how terrible, scary and frustrating it all is. That may have something to do with my app of choice, Tinder.
I chose Tinder because of the simplicity and popularity of it. After all, Tinder is more like a game than anything resembling a match-making app. In a matter of seconds someone decides the fate of there ever being a chance between you and them. What are they looking for exactly? I put myself into a single person’s shoes, like an alien who landed here with a mission to go on a date. If that were true, my home planet would have disowned me.
I took my time swiping. Photos would pop up with good looking girls. I’d tap into their photo and browse more, developing an idea of who they were. The photos you choose to put up, I assumed, should reflect who you are. A girl holding a DSLR in one hand and her hand on her hip in front of a European city backdrop likes traveling and photography… at least I’m assuming she does. Those are the easy ones. They get worse or more direct. Most profiles made sense except the ones with massive cleavage or suggestive poses. Was this hinting at me what she was looking for or was it just a way to game the system (I’d guess most guys don’t reject the girl showing off her rack).
The most confusing one was of girls who I actually wanted to know more about. The photos, telling their story, explained they were goofy, they liked to laugh and have a good time. While I’m not looking for a girlfriend (since, you know, I’m married) I still thought that I’d want to get to know these people. But that’s not how Tinder works. I’d swipe right and that was it. There was no chance to explain, “You and your friends look like fun.” I started to think about how, if I was single, there was no chance to state my case. I couldn’t let these people know who I was. Most of my photos, by way of my job, are with celebrities. I’d assume the story my profile told was, “This guy is just bragging.” I’m not, I promise, I just don’t take selfies.
I tried another route to play with the system. Armed with photos of me with popular boy bands I adjusted my discovery settings and swiped right. On everyone. I was trying to game the system. Would some girl see my profile and swipe right because of the subliminal messaging? I surrounded myself with four to five good looking teen idols and still… nobody matched with me.
Maybe I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I’m ugly. Maybe I still don’t get it.
This obviously isn’t the only route for single people. It’s still a rough world out there and I’m glad I don’t have to participate in it.