I know…I know. Not another essay, article or story detailing yet another beckoning booty-call that evidently occurred on the infamous app that is Tinder. “Hey Baby…Hey Sugar…Heeeeyyyy?!”
But before you click on something more heartfelt, just know that this not a story about how it was next to impossible to find someone on that ridiculous app who would take me out for a proper date, instead of just a trip to his place. I won’t be running down all the pick-up lines that men tried (I didn’t get any), I’m not going to discuss the feeling I had after being catfished (He did have a beard), or how I had to file a restraining order (Didn’t have to). This is a different story, because that is not what my time on Tinder was despite the ever popular contrary. My experience was eerily, “straight and narrow” normal, even though I anxiously waited for the otherwise.
It all started with a fatal swipe and a promise to Aries’ everywhere that ‘my homebody days were numbered and I was about to meet an exotic, sultry stranger.’ A ‘visite de l’amour’ from Aphrodite herself, and before I knew it, I was tumbling into Tinder’s world of love and hookups.
I never dreamed about meeting my person, my soul mate, my other half by flipping through profiles and filling out questionnaires, nor did I think I’d end up widening the pool during a particular “dry” summer simply because my horoscope told me do it. (I really wanted a summer romance, ok? It was a sign). I, along with my smart, intelligent, beautiful single friends held the generic, ordinary belief that we should not have to do this! Why can’t I meet someone in a genuine way, like at the grocery store when we’re both admiring the beauty of an organic orange, or at the museum when we both fall into a discussion about expressionism versus romanticism, cause we’re both members of the LACMA, no?
However the real reality, people (at least this people) could go months without meeting anyone new. It’s not because I’m not friendly, not outgoing or standoffish, it’s because it’s damn scary to go up to people and start talking to them. At least for me, I might as well revert back to my bullied (got picked last at gym class) childhood. Those insecurities and obsessions of…Do They like me? Do they want to talk to me? Am I bothering them even though they’re just standing there like me at Starbucks waiting for their coffee? Would they really want to talk to me?
It doesn’t get easier as I got older. It instead becomes more difficult. As kids, we’re conditioned to make friends. We’re encouraged to broaden our social circles, sit with the new kid at lunch, go to summer camp, and join activities to “make new friends while keeping the old, because isn’t one silver and the other one gold?” But as we grow into adulthood, there’s a completely different set of rules and circumstances that prohibit this, or at least make the actual real-life “friending,” let alone dating, even more difficult. We’re juggling jobs, family, kids, marriages and friends, all while checking emails, texting, liking statuses and choosing the right photo filter. Frankly, in the middle of all that, sometimes we just want to run in the store for a loaf of bread, head to self check-out and go home without speaking to a soul.
Yet while we cling to technology like it’s a physical limb and on average look at our phones over a hundred times a day, the prospect of online dating is still very much taboo, at least in my group of acquiesces who are relentless when it comes to even implying that you have no friends and can’t meet a date in a normally way, as in “in public.”
So rather than hearing a teasing chorus of taunts, I didn’t tell them. I didn’t tell anyone other than 2 of my closest girlfriends and my 2 closest gays. All of which were very supportive and applauded my gumption at putting myself out there.
“But what if I see someone I know or even worse, if I see a match IN PUBLIC?” They jokingly rebutted by singing ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen and offered comments like, “If you see someone you know, just think, they only saw you because they’re on there too.” and if someone ever says, “You’re the girl from Tinder,” you say, “You’re the guy from Tinder.”
It seemed easy, and I’m sure for some it is, but as I started thinking about what it was going to be like dating in this new environment, the more I realized that if I was going to have an honest chance at meeting interesting people, I was going to have to change my past behaviors with men, in exchange for a new, more modern approach. However, what I underestimated was how much dating is an extension of ourselves and how many of the attributes that make me, ME, would have to CHANGE in order to be competitive.