“You have to get on Tinder.”
At least that was the advice of my male BFF, who happens to be single (never married), attractive (a solid 9.5), smart (Ivy League grad), gainfully employed (as a composer, no less), relatively young (35), and a resident of L.A. At the time, I was moving out of the house I had shared with my husband of 15 years while my BFF was averaging five dates a week, thanks to Tinder.
For an average 42-year-old mom, I had high hopes. Tinder can be installed on your phone with one click in the App store, and thanks to its linkage with Facebook and now Instagram, you can set up your profile in about four more clicks, depending on your interest and ability to fill in the most challenging portion — 500 words (or less) about yourself. (It’s left blank by many.)
For the uninitiated, Tinder relies on mutual swipes. You swipe right on someone’s picture you like, left if you don’t. Only those who also swipe right in return get to talk to you in private. That first swiping session can be exhilarating or horrifying — particularly if you realize (as I did) that you've accidentally swiped right on everyone you meant to swipe left on.
Regardless, there is much to be learned from looking. For instance, the guy I totally had a crush on in tenth grade? Still single. Inevitably you'll be faced with a few men you know for a fact are not currently single. Which begs the question — cheater or swinger? (Surprisingly, there are a lot more swingers than I thought.)
Even unfamiliar faces can be instructive. It doesn’t take long to realize the vast majority of men (on Tinder) in their late 30s/early 40s think women are impressed by their love of hunting, fishing, boating, jumping off cliffs, climbing mountains, and standing next to expensive cars or motorcycles. Stay on long enough and you know who’s new and who regularly deletes their account and rejoins with new photos in the hopes of garnering new matches.
It can get old, fast, yet like Facebook, it can be a little addicting. Bored at work? Waiting on a friend to show up at the bar? Red light? Look and see who’s on Tinder.
Matching with someone provides a quick thrill, and for those with more time to kill, the much needed escape of imagining what he might be like in real life, then imagining your future life together.
It’s a lot like being back in sixth grade, actually.
Tinder is often called “The Hook Up App,” and maybe that is true for 20-somethings. Sure, there probably are guys my age who are successfully hooking up with every woman in Midtown (East Memphis/Germantown/wherever), but for the most part, everyone seems a little lost. After nine months, I’ve only purposely met three Tinder guys in real life. I’ve also met a few not on purpose just going about my business. That guy across the bar looks so familiar… Ohhh.
So here are a few useful questions to ask your matches:
1. How recent is your profile picture?
2. Are you married?
3. What is your last name? If you don’t get a last name for the de facto Google search, getting a number and subsequently saving it in your contacts will often result in him headlining the “people you may know” section in your Facebook feed.
Speaking of that, the mutual friends section of the Tinder profile will often allow you to find someone on Facebook without knowing their last name or number. Just go to the mutual friend’s page, click on their friend’s list, type in the first name, and then you will most likely be able to find the dude based on the pictures. (Obviously, this works both ways.) Facebook can help with determining other mutual friends (they don’t all show up on the Tinder app), the above mentioned marital status and age of photos questions, and give you a little more insight into whether you even want to bother.
Between working, raising kids/overcompensating for the time they are away from you, and trying to regain a sense of self, there is very little actual time or energy for dating — at least dating in the traditional sense. Most casual relationships now consist of texting, becoming friends on social media, and then obsessively tracking their clicks. How often do they like your posts? Who else’s posts they are regularly liking? When was the last time they commented on one of your pictures? Whose posts are they commenting on? How long does it take them to respond to your texts? Wait, do they ever actually even initiate texting?
These are the questions that will keep you up at night and then ultimately — make you too tired to actually want to go out with anyone.