Tinder Time

Of Love And Other DemonsGiven the disaster that was Match, my expectations were stunningly low for Tinder. This is generally a good approach to life – you can be pleased and surprised when your expectations are exceeded or pleased with your judgement if they are met.

How it Works
Based on your age and gender criteria, the app shows you the profiles of, in my case, men in your radius. Profiles are based on a few photographs and a few lines of text and are hooked up to your Facebook. The Facebook element ensures you’re a real person, shows you if you have any friends or interests in common. On the screen you’re shown a main photo of Mr Man. If you like the look of him, you can tap the photo to see more photos and read what he’s written and then decide or make an instant judgement: swipe left for no, swipe right for yes. If he’s also swiped right on you, the app will cheerfully announce “It’s a match!” and you can then message each other.

If you swipe left, that’s it. You won’t (or, at least, you shouldn’t) see that profile again, you can’t undo your swipe and they can’t contact you. The only contact is between people who have actively selected each other. You don’t see who swiped right on you, so you can’t be influenced by that. There is a function to “superlike” someone, which means that you come up in their feed as interested.

Getting Started
I used the same photos as my Match profile, wrote a few lines about what I liked, selected an age range of 25-35 and was DELIGHTED with the pool of men on offer. What I hadn’t expected was that it would be so addictive or so hilarious. It is very much like a computer game.

I’d got used to not being able to compare my profile with other women’s profiles, but it seemed that most men had the same selection of photos:
– shirtless in the gym
– on a beach somewhere
– in ski gear
– in costume at a costume party
– a bed selfie
– a drugged tiger shot.

Men without these were rare. I guess the idea is to indicate that they travel, are adventurous and to stick out from the crowd, but it turned out that men who didn’t have a sky-diving picture were more memorable.

The short written text is also great to get a sense of people – in a few sentences they can come across as furious, sleazy or hilarious.

Despite reports that Tinder is where people my age meet these days, I had still expected more sleaze than I encountered. Granted, there were a few chaps looking for a “second” in their open relationship, some guys out “just for fun” and some who were clearly only looking for a hook-up, but what I found refreshing was that it was all upfront. If you’re not interested, you just swipe left and move on. If they look particularly attractive without a shirt, take a screenshot first, but there’s no harm, no foul.

It’s also especially gratifying to match with some stunningly hot man. Needless to say, I don’t message any of them, because really?

Having spent an evening becoming increasingly addicted to swiping left and right, I got to in-app messaging with a few people. The first chap who messaged was at pains to tell me I looked a decade younger, which I’m sure he believed flattering. Fairly early on in the conversation he said he was into some non-mainstream practices and I was very clear that I wasn’t (this information shocked some of my friends, both for its content and for volunteering the information so very quickly). Still, we chatted away and it was very pleasant to talk to someone who seemed interested and almost normal! I also messaged with a chap who made me laugh because his profile was predominantly post-its explaining that he didn’t have any drugged tiger pictures. I also messaged with a BEAUTIFUL boy with many gorgeous puppies, but after an hour I had run out of dog chat and it transpired that he had no conversation at all.

The in-app messaging is very basic. For safety, you can’t send images or weblinks and users switch to Whatsapp fairly quickly. I found this handing-out-of-phone-numbers quite forward, but it really is a lot easier to message through that than through Tinder. Also, it’s easy to block someone on Whatsapp (and your handset), so I was fairly qualmless.

After a day of messaging, it seems the norm to suggest a date. A day of messaging works out to be about the same as a chat in a bar in real time. You have a sense of someone by that point (apostrophe users are Good People, obviously) and it seems reasonable. Off the back of “He’s Just Not That Into You”, my ‘strategy’ is to wait for the guy to message me and for him to suggest a date.

Interestingly, the date suggestions tell you a lot about someone: Friday night date at 8pm in a hip Brixton bar, mid-week meeting in a coffee shop and go on to low key Italian food, smart whiskey bar in Clapham. As a general rule, I like to wear a dress and boots to dates, because it looks smart, but relatively low effort. I might start wearing flat shoes though because most of the men I’ve met have either been the same height or shorter than me and my Dad always said “Men don’t like women to be taller than them” and I’ve certainly noticed this to be the case.

What I do love about a Tinder date is that everyone knows what’s going on. You met online and have no idea whether you actually like each other IRL. My dates have had a line of feedback throughout where we check in with how it’s going and whether we’d be interested in doing it again. It’s very straightforward. I’m not good at playing games or being cool – so much so that one of my dates was stunned when I said I’d had an ice time and would like to see him again. The next time we met he said that I clearly didn’t “play by the rules” because he knew what I thought and hadn’t kept him guessing like most girls. I didn’t really know what to say about that.

What’s also good is that both parties know the deal with other dates. You know that the other person has other options – sometimes you even talk about other dates – and it keeps everyone’s expectations on the level. You can’t become heartbroken when you know you’re both seeing other people.

I had some great dates from Tinder so far and met some people who I would never have come across organically. The guy I thought I liked the most was the first to be kicked to the kerb because I didn’t trust his niceness. It was too much and felt stage managed. When I told him we wouldn’t see each other again, he completely flipped and said I was the worst person in the world, which ironically pleased me that I’d been right.

There was also the guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer – not in an aggressive way, but he assumed that my “I don’t see this going anywhere” was a position to be negotiated. I did like him, and would gladly have kept him as a friend, but he wasn’t having that.

There was also the guy who suggested a date and then bailed the night before because he wasn’t in a good mood. This is a legitimate reason for ditching a date and, to be honest, I was quite glad because I’d had four dates already that week and needed to do some laundry. I do find it very hard to “juggle” more than one guy and, even though it’s above board, it feels incredibly awkward to me. The men I text with are the ones I feel closer to, and then feel like I’m ‘cheating’ when I see the ones who aren’t as good with text, but are great in person. At one point I was talking to four guys and had a date every night that week. I had guys texting me while I was on dates. It was too much.

For the moment, I’m going to stick with Tinder. It’s hilarious and involves minimal effort on my part. I can easily swipe through a hundred guys in a few minutes and it feels like I’m being proactive, but unlike Match, it doesn’t feel soul destroying. Messaging feels easier than the Match emails and I like that.

I wouldn’t really call Tinder a dating app though. It’s more an introductions app, if anything. Like in a bar, you have to talk to someone to see if you like them enough to meet elsewhere and then you have to talk about what you actually want. On traditional dating sites, you already have that information, so to me it feels more pressured.

Also, the pool of candidates is huge! When I went back to Belfast for Easter, I showed friends Tinder and it was gratifying to see how many people are on it. Unlike Match, it feels endless – that there are many possibilities, there are many more people of many ages and nationalities, rather than a very small selection and if you don’t like them, you’re screwed.

I don’t know that I’ll find My Person this way, but I’m certainly meeting people, which was the aim.


Adulting: February Roundup

February is over and I’ve taken a stock of my accomplishments Adulting-wise.

Good Adulting:

Delightful living conditions
This month saw me put some final touches on the flat. I finally got up some pictures in frames in my room, threw up some “art” in the living room and stuck a NYC metro map into the WC to go with the 2012 map of Antartica (don’t ask). I want to sort out a few cupboards in the hall and the kitchen, and get a few of the other blank spaces filled artwise, but it’s been okay so far.

Fabulous friend
On reflection, I did quite well here. I’m making a point of trying to reply to messages within 48 hours and emails within a week. Sometimes that is harder than it should be, but I’m working on it. I’m also trying to note important things happening with other people and making a conscious effort to check in about them – it’s not much but it helps to connect.

Additionally, I had some annual leave from last year to take and usually I would take those days to lounge around or go to a museum, this time I used them to go and visit my friend Jude who had a baby, to pick up my flatmate from a hospital appointment, and to visit my friend Capon for a long weekend and spend time playing the “sleeping game” with her gorgeous children.

Great hostess
Thehairpin has been a bit shaky over the last few years, but back in the day, it was a great (American-based) website and, when I noticed that most of my friends had left London or got married, it was how I found some new ones. There were Hairpin-Meetups for readers in London and I went to a couple. They were hilarious and I asked a few girls on a friend date. That is more nerve-wracking than hitting on a guy, let me tell you. Anyway, I now have two great friends from there and we watch a movie every month or so with pizza and fizz and generally bash the patriarchy. It’s great. February was my turn to host.
Granted, pizza and fizz aren’t terribly difficult, but I did need to angle the TV, make sure the DVD player was set up, get the heating right, make sure there were glasses and snacks. I think I did okay. I may have been overly effusive about the kale chips, not really had a place to hang up the coats or really properly relaxed, but I did send a good map so no one would get lost and I had sofa blankets. I’m calling it a win.

Confident in the kitchen
Supermarket magazines and newspapers are a weakness of mine. The Waitrose weekly newspaper in particular. I feel a bit irked if I miss it or if the stand is by the manned checkouts, rather than the self-service checkouts. I’m on the hunt for new recipes that aren’t remotely challenging and there are always some interesting ones in there.
The recipe I went with claimed to be a soup, but really was a glorified tomato sauce based stew. I’ve noticed that I have an aversion to recipes which require a blender. There is a blender in the flat, I just don’t want to use it. Same for recipes that require a food processor. Even when I had one, I didn’t want to use it. Can’t explain because it’s ridiculous.
This recipe called for passata, lentils, vegetable stock (I went Knorr cube) and various vegetables. No blending. Being my mother’s daughter I played fast and loose with the quantities and had enough for a week, rather than four servings, but it was delicious. A+, would make again.

Good husband
February saw me go on a Match date with Matt and not get murdered (see previous post). It also saw me despondent and in desperate need for entertainment. In that respect, I joined Tinder and went on a few Tinder dates. This will get its own post. I do not have a husband yet.

Brave (braver)
I have travel phobia. I’ve had it for years. I’ve Talked To Somone about it (who, frankly wasn’t much help because mine is a weird “strain” and he couldn’t quite get to grips with it. It is bizarre. I am not a good traveller. Not because I am afraid of flying or being on trains or thinking I’m going to die. None of that. That would make sense. That would be easier to fix. No, I have a fear of missing the plane, not being able to get through the people on the train to get off, of the bus not stopping at my stop even if I ding the bell, the coach taking a different route. Worst case scenario, I get the next one or get off at the next one. I know that. It doesn’t help. I am always at the station, stop or airport early. Always. I am the person at the airport two hours before. I can *easily* handle being bored for two hours. If I’m with someone else, I’m not bothered. Even though everything could still happen.
This on top of “general fear of parties and groups of people” gets in the way of my “going and doing things” but I am trying really hard. This month, I went to Oxford, on a coach, on my own to see a comedy gig written by some friends of mine. Other than my friends, who would be behind the microphones and not have much time to talk to me, I wouldn’t know many/any people there, Oxford always makes me feel mildly uneasy, plus I didn’t know if the tube would be running when I got back on the coach (the tube is fine. It has to stop everywhere and it can’t go the wrong way. Although I know both of these statements to be false, that’s how my brain works). But I went anyway! I went on the coach (fretting about paying with cash or card), found the pub (I’d been before) and found someone I knew (and stuck to them like *glue*). I also had minimal interactions with someone I was trying to avoid, left when it suited me, got back to London in good time and did not have to take the night bus. This was a fabulous result.

Meeting new people and going to new places also covered Tinder dates. More later.

The other thing I have been doing is walking different routes to work. I would happily walk the same way forever, but I’m making myself take different streets. Sometimes looking at the handy maps along the way and sometimes not. Okay, I nearly ended up in a school yesterday, but, on the whole, it has been fine. I found a new park behind Burberry, a fancy coloured glass roof on the Home Office, some Victorian public baths, a shop for bishops to buy their mitres, two different Sainsburys! It’s not strikingly brave, I grant you, but it’s given me slightly more confidence in my navigation skills and certainly added to my Instagram feed.

Healthy Mind & Body
In February I made a dentist appointment. Full disclosure: I am terrified of the dentist. I had terrible teeth as a child, had eleven fillings before I was seven and had a tooth pulled when I was tiny. I also had a terrible no good old scary dentist take out that tooth. SO MUCH FEAR. At about age 6, we got a new dentist, who was lovely and who I inevitably had a crush on. He was so good with me that, when I came to England for university, I would go home for checkups. As a grown adult in London, I didn’t join a dentist, but I also didn’t go when I was home because there wasn’t time.
It may have been a decade since I had a checkup. Every year I said I would sort it out. Every year, I didn’t. Nothing hurt and I took care of my teeth. This year, I had enough. I made an appointment with Fee’s dentist in Wimbledon. The dentists are all lovely Irish women and it’s modern and lovely. I was still terrified.

Long story short, I went for a checkup, was sufficiently terrified, was told I wasn’t in bad shape for such a lapse of attention, but I do need a bit of work and a good old clean. I have made those appointments. I got some free toothpastes.

In addition to the tooth move, I am also making a point to eat more fruit and vegetables (more vegetables really. Fruits aren’t great for your teeth! Very sugary! I’ve taken to sneaking fruit into my breakfast like a child and having at least two vegetables with dinner. It’s not rocket science, it just takes planning and thinking.

Also, I’m making a much bigger effort to walk in the morning before work. It’s good exercise and is better for my head to have a break between BED and WORK.

Art and culture
As a diehard fan of Matthew Perry’s, I went to see his new play “The End of Longing” in the first week. I loved it. My seat was a million miles from the stage, but the set design was great, the characters were wonderfully developed and the story was both raw and hilarious. At one point, my entire row was in tears, then burst out laughing, then in tears again, all in the space of ten lines.

I had a free afternoon and took a turn around the Tate Modern. It’s hands down my favourite art gallery and I could roam around there for hours. I also had an egg sandwich.

After the Celtic Exhibition at the British Museum, it struck me that I hadn’t actually gone to the museum proper, so suggested this to an old school friend. We eagerly found a café to catch up in (I had a great little Italian custard tart) and then headed over to catch the Elgin Marbles before Amal Clooney helps Greece resume ownership. We also checked out the Egyptian rooms, which I found unexpectedly ghoulish. The mummies are real corpses of real people and they are now gawked at by millions of people taking selfies. I found the whole exhibit wildly disrespectful. We, Britain, stole artefacts from all over the globe because The Empire and had very little thought of the cultures we plundered.

In less ghastly experiences, I joined Wimbledon library and went to bookclub!

Organised finances
This month I took the bull by the horns and spoke to my bank. My flatmate and I would like a household account dedicated to the flat and it seems her bank, Barclays, won’t let her do that. Halifax are much more accommodating. I now have a current account just for the flat, which I can access and keep everything organised. So far, we have yet to move everything over from the other account where everything is hooked up, but I have done my bit!

Decidedly relaxed
I don’t think of myself as a terrible social person, mainly because I tend to see people one on one. That does mean that I have a very full calendar. If I don’t make an effort to have a few days to myself every now and again, I will get mildly burnt out with exhaustion and social overload. This month I have made a point of having a few early nights with candles, cosy pajamas, dinner in bed in a bowl and season 1 of Alias. I have watched this show a thousand times and, while the themes and plots are a bit dark, it is remarkably comforting.

Also, it’s Lent and I have made a Lenten pledge to get on my knees for an old-school prayer before bed and to run through “what I have been grateful for today.” It hasn’t necessarily made me more relaxed, but it has made me more appreciative and mindful.

Bad Adulting

Career plan
No, but I have *given* career advice, which is hilarious.

Finishes projects
Still no. But I have intentions!

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A Match…

Unrepresentative!Because I didn’t accidentally or organically meet a husband before Christmas, I decided I would join a dating website. Looking at the adverts on the tube, my selection boiled down to eharmony and match. There were other options, but they either seemed to activity-heavy or faith-orientated or appeared to want more of my browser history than I felt comfortable with.

A friend, Lisbet, is doing eharmony and, after the emotional toil of completing the questionnaire on which the matches are based, is having a great deal of success with it. The questions were fairly deep and required a commitment to introspection. Filling out five questions too us about an hour, but we had a great chat at the same time. The concept is that, based on your answers to key questions about your values, the algorithm selects men you would be most suited to and you can contact them.

Another friend, Carrie, is doing Match. There are still questions to ask, but the answers are more for your profile than the algorithm. There isn’t an algorithm. The onus is on you to search through the website based on your own parameters and you can message anyone you like.

My thinking was that eHarmony seemed a bit too serious for a starting step, and I was loathe to sign up to it and find there was no one for me to match with. The pro-active element of Match appealed, so I figured I would start there and, if it went horribly wrong, I would have eharmony to fall back on.

As I mentioned in a previous post, a friend was ill and I distracted her with setting up a rudimentary profile. At home later I sat down and nearly cried trying to write a 200 word “this is who I am, this is what I want” bit. It felt worse than a job application and the UCAS form for university.

Who AM I? No idea. What do I want? Well, a comprehensive list of traits, but also, none of that matters. What’s worth knowing about me? Not a clue. What *should* someone know about me, that tells them who I am, but isn’t off-putting? GOOD GRIEF.

I found it really hard not being able to look at other girls’ profiles and use those as a template or a jumping off point, which is interesting in itself. I’m happy doing things on my own (to the point where going to the cinema with someone feels like a waste of rare communal time. Why sit in the dark and not talk for two hours if we hardly ever see each other?) and I’m well aware I’m not quite like everyone else, BUT I don’t want to get things wrong, to be too different.

For reasons I will never understand, my mother is always on the look-out for “something different” and I am always always trying to fit in. Which is why, at age 11, I unhappily wore a pink denim jacket, rather than the regular blue denim jacket I actually wanted. I was happy to look “common”, if I didn’t stick out more than I already did. I lived away far from school, I worked hard at school because I wasn’t remotely popular and my mum had certain views on activities and behaviours (in all seriousness, she told me I couldn’t go to a sleepover when I was 8 because I might say I was going to a girl friend’s house when I was 16 and really go to a boy’s house. She has since denied this exchange ever took place. At age 8 the idea that a boy would even look sideways at me was extremely unlikely. Even at 16, the idea that a boy would look sideways at me…). I was very Other, as the literature theory books would say.

As an adult I stick out because I have an accent, I wear glasses, I’m loud when I should be quiet, I’m not From Here and I don’t always know how things work (I’m still not 100% sure what a comprehensive is. It sounds glamorous and like an exciting story from Bunty to my ears), I’m quite square in that I want to be in bed by ten pm, I’ve never been a girl for the Club scene (even typing that is making me laugh) and I never had a rebellious phase. I believe in rules and laws and doing what you’re supposed to. I’ll never smoke weed and have no truck for middle class drug taking (you’ll make a fuss for fair trade coffee and organic eggs, but have no problem funding organised crime because you need it to handle your stress and it “helps you to focus”? I call horse-sh*t).

How do you say any of that without sounding so boring that no one wants to engage with your profile?

In a state of panic, I essentially wrote a list of things I liked. The tv shows, the movies, where I like to travel to, food (pasta, cake) and beverages (instant coffee, whiskey) and that I put weight on spelling, grammar and punctuality. It was a horrible mess. Additionally there was a “searching for” section, where I set out what I was looking for (someone between 25 and 35, who lives in London, who likes some of the same things as me etc etc). This proved to be time I could have saved.

There was a bit of argy-bargy over the profile photos. I chose a selection of me looking fairly decent with and without my glasses (so as not to straight out lie to people that I wear lenses all the time, rather than when I only have to make an effort for a few hours). Match has an approval process for photos, which is entirely understandable, but for some reason none of my photos were approved until I notice a week later and sent four emails with increasing snark. For a week I had men contact me without knowing what I looked like. This makes all the difference actually.

To cut a long story short, I was “on” Match for about a month. I received well over a hundred emails, a good couple of hundred profile views and a lot of winks. Most of the emails were limited to “hello, you look nice” and no more. I didn’t engage with those, because there wasn’t much to engage with! The longer emails were from men who I wasn’t interested in and, if they’d read my profile, they would have seen why (lived too far away, way above my age bracket, we had absolutely nothing in common etc etc). On the comedy front, I did get a fair few hilarious emails, including one from a chap who said I looked “disease-free” and another asking me if I would “date a man who had been into group sex before.” He then implored me to “be honest” in my response.

Every day I got an email from Match telling me that there were men for me, but every time I logged in I couldn’t see these men! Lots of men “winked” at me (the match equivalent of a Facebook poke), but didn’t follow it up with anything. The men selected by my friends (Neil, in particular) who I messaged, didn’t message me back. I wasn’t remotely interested in the men who were interested in my profile.

One night, I got bored and a bit desperate and replied to a “you look nice” email. His name was Matt and I replied with “I *am* nice.” We had an online chat for an hour and arranged a date for that Friday. We met in a pub near my office and had a perfectly nice time, but we weren’t remotely attracted to each other.

This was disheartening. I was only being approached by much older men, who I didn’t find remotely attractive. I did learn a lot about my preferences. Unlike a lot of other women, it seems, I don’t care about height, but I do care about hair and teeth. I’m not bothered by tattoos, but I do want someone athletic looking (a bit rich coming from someone who considers walking up the escalator high intensity gym work). I don’t really care how much money you make, but I do want someone who can spell and use full sentences with punctuation. I’m not interested in someone who wants to travel the world in a backpack, I do want someone who is close to their family.

Eventually the experience made me so despondent that I paused my subscription. I can go back to it later, but for now, I feel like I have absolutely no prospects and I was miserable, no matter how funny a story I got out of it.