My friends thought I would never get onto Tinder. They thought I was too ‘cautious’ and ‘unadventurous’ for it. Well, “Challenge accepted,” I said.
Since then there has been no looking back. I have been often referred to as the ‘Tinder Queen’. Lots of first dates, a few hook-ups and one relationship. But this is not all that Tinder has been about for me. It was mostly about the matches and the conversations. And more importantly, the swiping (When using Tinder on your touch-phone, swiping someone’s profile to the left is a ‘dislike’, and a right swipe a ‘like’. If the person you have right swiped on also swipes right on your profile, it becomes a ‘match’ and the two of you are then allowed to chat on Tinder). Initially, it was super exciting to see so many options and have the power to swipe left or right. Rejecting people gave me a strange sense of power. To be able to reject 50 men in under a minute felt awesome!
I had zero clue about what I was looking for when I first downloaded the app. In my mid-twenties, the way I had approached interactions with the other gender before this had been through the conventional route – friends. Even random flirting at bars had not happened. I was not the ‘kinds’ to hook up with strangers, or so I thought. I had been in a serious long-term relationship which had spanned my late teens and early twenties and had been single since then. The singlehood had stretched for too long, men-through-friends were non-existent, and the ones in bars were just eye candy. Single or not? Straight or not? Who knew! And because I do not know how to flirt, I never had it in me to just walk up to someone to talk. So when I got onto Tinder, I really did believe that I was looking to date. Though I never wrote it in my description to prevent scaring away any potential matches if they were just looking to hook up. We’ll match, we’ll talk, we’ll meet and then figure.
I have also always been aware of the vanity of Tindering. You judge based on pictures and descriptions; and sometimes, even distance. This was never a concern, as I too was being judged on the same criteria; and so it was only fair. I probably swiped left on my Mr Right, but the point is, I don’t know if I did, so I don’t care. Tinder helped me understand myself a great deal in terms of what sort of a person I’m interested in, conversations that interest or bore me, how to flirt, and eventually, when to decide that exchanging numbers was okay. So, the first lesson I learnt was about my vanity – how I judge based on profile pictures. Left swiped were people who posed in front of expensive cars/bikes, nude profile pictures, muscle-flexing gym pictures, strange touristy posing pictures, pictures with celebrities, wearing shades indoors, posing with a hookah blowing out smoke, and the worst of all – men posing making the victory ‘V’ sign with their fingers. Then came the ‘About Me’ descriptions. Every second person is a “dreamer, explorer, adventurer, optimist, bibliophile and sapiosexual (someone who finds intelligence to be the most sexually attractive feature)”. WHY!? Even one of these words, and I left swiped. And then came the inspirational quote types and OH MY GOD – LEFT! “Lyf iz Cool,” “Keep smiling,” “I simple guy liking simple pLeasRes,” “Rock n Roll is mah Life,’’ et cetera, et cetera – just goes to show the lack of smart single men. Depressing.
Logistics. That is what our generation bases most decisions on. And Tinder is great with that. Be it the obvious that everyone on it is ‘interested’ (whether or not single), how many kilometres away they are from you, common Facebook friends (in case you want to do a basic level creep-check) and the pictures and ‘About Me’ providing conversation starter material. With Tinder chats, I realised that flirting became easy. It took away the anxiety because it was through a phone, and also, rejection didn’t matter. If not this person, there were others. The sheer availability of so many options made me extremely choosy. When there are so many options, I might as well look for everything.
I was quite anxious before the first date. I wondered if it would be ‘safe’. It was. And then dates became a breeze. I did end up having sex with a few people I met, and all on the first date. I had never thought this would happen. The first time, I was actually shocked that I had taken such a big risk of bringing a stranger over to my place. And then even that seemed not to matter. Perhaps I was just lucky that none of them were creepy or dangerous (so I still don’t freely recommend it). But the point is I did this. I discovered a side of me which I didn’t think existed. Friends were shocked and amused at the same time. It made me feel adventurous, attractive and desired. Still does. However, the interesting thing is, it is not that Tinder changed me. It just gave me a new space for new experiences. Outside of Tinder, I am still not able to flirt or approach a random hot guy.
And then came the day that I had such an engaging conversation on Tinder that it felt as if I had found love. Tinder chat, butterflies in the stomach. Phone conversation, more butterflies. Skype, and butterfly bonanza. It felt like love. We met, we dated for a few months and then went our separate ways. The relationship didn’t last. But Tinder had given me something meaningful. And that gave me hope and has kept me on Tinder till date. I’ve had more dates, even have a few Tinder best friends. Tinder may not give you anything tangible, but it does give you options. Keeps you hooked. And the strange thing is, this is a common sentiment among many people I have spoken to on Tinder. Apart from those looking for a straight-out ‘DTF’ (Down To Fuck), many men have told me that they cannot have sex just like that. It’s too mechanical. Too convenient. A connection is needed, and Tinder seems to be the place many are using to look for it. Including me.
Image: Global Panorama (CC BY-SA 2.0)