I downloaded Tinder when I was 16 years old. Though that may seem young to be traversing a dicey plane of internet culture, I was not using it with the same intent as other Tinder users. My best friend, a much bolder, outwardly confident and fashionable version of me, got the app after it’s initial peak in popularity and was enjoying the power of swiping through thousands of prospects. For the first time, I could meet people from outside of my high school, even outside of my school district. The possibilities were wild.
Partly to not feel left out, but mostly excited about all the unexplored avenues, I faked my age and began swiping. With hope in my heart and power at my hands, I thought love was just around the corner! Little did I know that over the next three years I would download and redownload Tinder over a dozen times.
My most recent redownload was last week, once I moved back to campus. Without fail, the cycle starts the same: I’m back on and it feels great! Why did I ever delete this? There are so many options! Something real can come of this! One mile away, holy cow! I dive in enthusiastic and hopeful. Then after the first night, I start slacking on my responses. Eventually this builds and builds until my notifications are screaming at me, but I continue to ignore them.
Finally, after so many messages go unresponded, I convince myself that I can succeed in romantic interactions without Tinder and a moment will come anytime now. With this star-crossed sentiment, I delete the app.
Redownloading is a less exciting process. After confidently getting out of the world of swiping, I search for those chance romantic interactions. Maybe we will meet on the train? Or while ordering the same latte? Maybe at a party we’ll meet through mutual friends and stars will align! All of these possibilities float through my brain and temporarily lift me up on a romantic cloud. For a little bit, I stare at people on the metro and write at hip coffee shops, willing others to walk past or stare back at me, sparking impromptu banter. Eventually, after about two weeks of being open to a fateful encounter, I crawl back to my phone for answers.
The actual redownload always happens late at night, when my introspective thoughts make a hard left turn into a more self deprecating area — a prime headspace for Tinder. Though there is an initial shame when revisiting, it’s quickly eclipsed by the mini confidence rush that comes with a match. It’s always reassuring to know someone finds you attractive after mentally pondering over your seemingly eternal loneliness. From there I go back with new optimism for the future swipes ahead. I tell myself to keep the app and actually use it to get real life dates, but the cycle seems to persist.
Since the first experience with Tinder three years ago, the public attitude towards online dating has changed.
The previous stigma towards online dating is almost completely gone and the phrase “Tinder date” has been integrated into our vernacular. While this technology is amazing and continues to help people find each other, it can be daunting and at times overwhelming. With the ease and availability of online dating, there’s an unspoken pressure to find people instantly and expectation to take total control over whether or not you’re single.
I will admit that I am hooked by this seemingly endless cycle, but I continue to stay positive and hopeful. Some people, like me, are not good at online interactions and that’s OK. Though many couples meet on Tinder, that doesn’t mean that those who go without are destined to spinsterhood. No matter what method you use to meet new people, whether it’s on an app or by chance, just make sure you are comfortable and unapologetically candid.