I downloaded Tinder at the beginning of January, mostly as a joke, I think.
If you haven’t heard of it yet, Tinder is an app which allows you to view photos of people who live close to you, along with a one sentence “about me” blurb, all pulling from their Facebook. You then have the option to swipe left in the app, and their tiny photos will be stamped with a big NOPE. But if you swipe right, a LIKE stamp appears on their pretty faces.
If they come across your photo and witty self-defining blurb, and proceed to stamp you with LIKE as well, a little bell goes off and both parties get a notification exclaiming “It’s a match!”
From there, the instant message games can begin. On my first few “matches”, I chose to get the ball rolling with this phrase, “There is really no way to carry on a conversation with someone you meet in an app. Agree or disagree?”
So began several get-to-know-ya conversations with various men.
It was bizarre, and I still felt a little apprehensive.
But coming off months of dating a guy long distance, with the pressures of making it work, casual dating did not seem so horrible.
Yet, I couldn’t decide if the app was trashy or clever. Regardless, it was easy to get addicted too. Why does a program like Tinder seem so fun? Is it the attention? Is it validation? Boredom? Does it make me feel bold? In control? Lastly, does it have to be a bad thing, simply because it is untraditional?
Well, there is really only one way to find out.
I went on a date, with a guy whose tagline was “Photographer, Skeptic, and occasional jokesmith.”
In our initial conversation I asked for a joke, he responded with, “Handmade is not a quality statement, it is a warning.” I couldn’t decide whether to be offended or delighted. I went with the latter. And so we bantered for several days before agreeing to meet for drinks.
It was the coldest day to date in Minneapolis this winter, -20 degrees, not very friendly for a girl who wants to dress impressively for a stranger. I begrudgingly layered up and texted Skeptic as I was leaving, “I’ll be the girl in all the sweaters.”
(Disclaimer: I wasn’t going for slutty, it just would have been nice to wear floral rather than a balaclava.)
We met in a dive bar, the waitress kept calling us cuties, and Skeptic commented “she is the only nice one here, in my experience.”
We smiled at each other a lot, had nice little bouts of talking, and then ever so often a semi-awkward pause, which He would puncture with “So…”
It was a nice night, warmed by Hot Toddy’s and low lighting.
My face flushed from the whiskey as I blabbered on about my family and writing. Skeptic had a fascinating story himself, talking about his work with photo development and the small business he has been apart of starting the last few years.
He was interesting, respectful and easy to talk to.
With the last sips of my then Cold Toddy, I explained one of my reasons for joining Tinder, “well, I was in a relationship of sorts which we ended…well he ended, anyway it ended, in November. But it was long distance and it just didn’t work.”
I looked down and moved my mug in little circles, feeling awkward and stupid for snuffing out any future dates with Mr. Skeptic.
He gave me a little smirk, and said kindly, “ah well, you have to give yourself time, and there will be plenty of guys.”
We parted ways at the end of the night in a friendly, casual way.
That was it, no follow-up date or awkward “DTR” conversation. Which was perfectly fine with me. I learned a few things from this casual dating experience,
- It’s okay to just go on a date. For fun.
- He doesn’t have to present a full pedigree of compatibility for me to accept a date.
- Recognizing it for what it is, a date with a stranger which probably won’t go anywhere is not taboo, but realistic. In fact, it relieves pressure I may not even realize I am putting on myself and my date.
- It teaches me a whole lot about being in a relationship in the future. I think about the last guy I invested time with, and how I placed him into the same mold as every guy before him. A mold, or expectation I didn’t even realize was unhealthy.
Here it is, my expectation has always been, hone in on a man you want to marry, date with the assumption you will marry, and then well, get married. Put all other things in life on hold, until this task is complete, and then continue business as usual.
Well, I have proven, with my story, this does not work.
I deleted Tinder, it was a nice experiment, it reminded me to enjoy people and experiences. It may be untraditional, maybe even a little shallow, but I think it was what I needed, for a bit.
A breather from the pressure to have life and relationship figured out.
How about you? What ways have you tried dating untraditionally?