I’m on a date.
The lights are off. The room is warm, and the bed a downy duvet. If it weren’t for dorm regulations, I would’ve lit a candle. I’m quite content. There is nothing that could deter me from this happiness, until my friend walks through the door. “Maya, you’re still on Tinder?!” I promptly close the app, cutting the online date short, and I deny to my friend that I had even been on Tinder in the first place.
My encounter with this app was initially a week of amusement, a confidence-booster beyond words. I had no idea I could be revered for the dimples of my smile, glorified for my “slim-thicc” physique and doted on because of my name. As time passed, I fell into the hapless rabbit hole of seeking others’ affirmation; am I attractive? Wanted? Needed? I was infatuated with the rush. Could there ever be anything as euphoric as an immediate match after a right-swipe? This dependency ultimately led to an intervention. I was addicted and I needed help. With it came an important lesson: validation must only come from the self.
The mythical Carrie Bradshaw steered me wrong when it came to chivalry in the dating world. Instead of waking up to fresh carnations or romance-language love poems, I’ve been greeted with “Sup hottie” and a cleverly crude SAT pickup line. Welcome to the era of online everything. How could anyone possibly drown in tangible flowers or poem recitations if they’re meeting their dates on the worldwide web? Is it even a date if it’s not face-to-face?
Tinder horror stories run rampant on Reddit and Buzzfeed, but these amplified tales did not dissuade me from downloading the app about a month ago. At first, I felt empowered, or even better, deviant. When asked by a 22-year-old male for my “number,” I responded, “11 is my favorite. What’s yours?” Over time, I opened my messages to suggestive gifs, witty repartee and insight into the young-adult male brain.
It was a shock when I ran into the human forms of these matches on campus, as if they were characters from soap operas who’d come to life. Suddenly the man who promised a trip to Europe was just a few feet across from me at the Hans salad bar. The kid who asked me to “hang” at Drexel Park heard my imitation of Michael Scott’s “I declare bankruptcy” when the Starbucks barista in LeBow said I was $0.38 short on my DragonCard. The 89th boy I conversed with on Tinder shouted, “Oh, (enter profane synonym for feces here)!” when he saw me exit from Urban Eatery’s bathroom.
After some convincing, Tinder was deleted from my phone. Just like that, I was killed from the online dating game. My high school friend’s advice popped into my head, “You are an independent woman who doesn’t need a man.”
In this case, I am an independent woman who doesn’t need 352 men.
I stood in front of the mirror and had a “Jerry Maguire” level of self-realization. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I only need two eyes on myself: my very own eyes.
For the time being, Tinder can wait. I would be lying if I said I don’t miss thinking up comical answers for some of the dumbest questions I’ve been asked by the men of Philadelphia. Though, I can now use this wit in other areas of my life, such as writing, or, if I’m lucky enough, actual dating.