Maybe I’m embittered because I’ve been in a relationship for four years, but I don’t understand online dating.
Pre-relationship, I’d swipe for a bit on Tinder, Lex and Bumble and see moderate-to-successful results (save for a date that began with the phrase “So do you listen to Tool?”).
Often, though, I felt a bit like a show dog with a ribbon tied around my fluffy neck, prodded, preened and paraded through hoops for anonymous judges.
With every carefully-selected, sexy-but-not-too-sexy-I-can’t-seem-like-I’m-trying-too-hard selfie and every carefully-selected, inoffensive joke in my bio, I wondered if I was betraying some third-wave feminist idea about sex and performance. On the other hand, I wondered if it was empowering in some vague, glossy way.
I entered a long-term relationship before I had the chance to answer that question.
Nowadays, I’ve been curious about how single people operate on dating platforms online. At their best, these interactions are embarrassing, exhausting and corny; at their worst, they’ll drain your self-esteem (and possibly your bank account).
Beyond seemingly constant, vapid Tinder conversations, posted by accounts like @SheRatesDogs, there are the heavier phenomena, too. The Tinder Swindler, who secretly established lines of credit and loans in his matches’ names, and West Elm Caleb, whose ghosting antics brought him national infamy.
When I talk to my single friends, dating apps occupy a specific lacuna in their vocabulary: There’s Tinder, Bumble, Lex, Hinge, Grindr, Raya (for anyone who can score an invite) and the more arcane like Happn, Clover, The League. A friend of mine even who found a hookup on FarmersOnly.
Sometimes I wonder, though, is an app the best way to find whatever this is, exactly? I will not wax too Carrie Bradshaw, here, but there’s something bizarre about trusting the rest of your life to the hands of Al Gore’s Rhythm. This is the same Internet in which we allow Elon Musk to control monkey brains, so I have my doubts about how neutral it all is. On Tinder, Guy Who Was Too Into Tool seemed perfect for me, but in real life, I could barely keep up a conversation with him. Swipe fatigue eventually led to me meeting and falling in love with my partner IRL.
If you’re thinking about finding love offline, you could try UNC CH Crushes. By filling out a Google Form anonymously, you can list and send a message to your crush, then have the Instagram account post it on their feed. You could also try Yik Yak for additional anonymity, though I once convinced an entire group of people that American character actor Paul Giamatti (John Adams, Big Fat Liar) was on campus, so I wouldn’t put too much stock into it.
Or you could unplug and go touch some grass. Talk to somebody in your dorm’s laundry room; buy somebody a drink at Gizmo's trivia night. After all, dating apps are ineffective by design — if you find love, you’ll stop using the app, and the shareholders in boardrooms don’t want that. So, if you’d like to piss off the Logan Roy's of the world, delete your hookup app and talk to someone IRL.
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