Given 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.
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.