After slightly too many coaxes of “Go on, try it”, I succumbed to Tinder’s temptation. I avoided dating apps in the past (although I did have a brief stint with the god-awful dating app that is Her), because I wanted to have a meet-cute—I wanted to meet someone ‘authentically’—like Kate Winslet and that old man from The Holiday. Eyes meeting across the dancefloor, a lingering look from across the street, an instantaneous and inexplicable fascination with someone; something like that. But life was slightly too banal, so it was time to venture into new territories, forcefully pushed by my ethos of giving everything a try. If it goes well: amazing. If it does not, it’ll make for a great story, and I’ll definitely learn things along the way. I am now no longer on Tinder. Let me run you through a tidbit of those chaotic six months in which I had it.
… Or did it actually have me? This app is addictive. It feeds humanity’s principal virtue and vice: your curiosity and your ego. I downloaded it on a whim one evening, and was hooked for the next two hours. First of all, I thought that Tinder would be a lot easier to navigate; after clicking out, it took me five minutes to figure out how to get back to editing my profile. Five minutes is objectively a short period of time in the grand scheme of things, but technology is meant to be stupidly easy to use, right? Think about how intuitive Instagram is, and even that comes with little notices to tell you what each icon means and how to use it, when you first download it. Secondly, I’d had a preconception of the infamous Tinder. The Instagram account @beam_me_up_softboi has given me boundless reason to stay far, far away, if I knew what was good for me. But one optimistic thought was sticking around: it’s mostly soft bois that are writing this shit. I should be fine. Thirdly, writing a bio that simultaneously sums up your whole personality and draws people in is obviously difficult. Finally, choosing pictures brings a similar problem of overthinking: Which ones should I choose? The lighting’s a bit off in this one. Should I include a meme? (I did.) I’m being goofy here, would they like that? There’s a streak of vanity in these thoughts, both internalised and externalised. It’s wanting to present yourself at what you think is your best, and then wondering whether complete strangers will agree with your self-perception. Complete strangers who may change your life, if the admirably chaotic representation of love is anything to go by. Time to jump into the void.
Except it’s not a void at all. There is profile, after profile, after profile. I’m engrossed in every aspect. I try to form a hazy idea of the person based on the carefully curated, yet barely revealing exhibition of pictures and words; it’s as challenging as guessing the composition of a smoothie without yet tasting it. But a fun challenge nonetheless. You’re sucked into the void by the attractive people and through its clever attention-seeking methods. Tinder knows how to feed into the aforementioned ego. Pinging your phone with notifications that read ‘You’ve got a match!’ or ‘Somebody likes you…’ with a fun assortment of emojis—it’s exhilarating. At random points in the day, you’re being informed that somebody finds you desirable. It’s the most exciting thing when you’ve matched with someone that you found particularly attractive, especially when the online dating game is a novel thing, because you now have the opportunity to talk to them, and you know that they also find you attractive! Everything’s fine and dandy. (It’s actually not, but more on that later.) If I’ve established to myself that I’m still interested in them, that they’re an (at least) okay texter, and that I’m pretty sure that they’re not a serial killer, I’ll try and move things to in-person interactions as soon as possible. I prefer to get to know people face-to-face, because that’s preferably how I’ll spend most of my time with them. So a date is arranged.
I walked into the dating scene with an iron mindset. I need to be hard with my boundaries and frank with my feelings. It’s the only way to ensure minimal damage for everyone involved. I’d learnt my lesson with girls; with how intimate our friendships can get, it can get extremely confusing when you’re queer, and even more so if your friends are queer too, which is most likely the case. You see the dilemma. As with many oppressed minority groups, the gays don’t stray far from each other, because of the unparalleled level of understanding and comfort you feel among each other due to shared experiences. With these thoughts backing me up, it allowed me to navigate Tinder interactions more easily than if past me had gone on it. I don’t ghost people, as I wouldn’t start a conversation with someone I’m not interested in, and if I change my mind, I let them know. I’ve been ghosted, but it’s actually a blessing in disguise: you’re not wasting time with someone who’s not interested in you, and you’re no longer interacting with someone who’s not emotionally mature enough (or doesn’t have the effort) to communicate their feelings and thoughts about you, to you.
Anyway, back to Tinder dates, iron mindsets, and confusion. My first ever date was actually a Tinder date (so much for the meet-cute, eh?). It was nice, calm, and she was lovely. We didn’t feel attracted to each other, so we both wordlessly knew that we’d go our separate ways. It was the perfect first step into the dating scene. My second date was so good, and I felt so lucky. I remember thinking, “This is what they meant when they said sapphic connections are astronomically special.” I’d never met anyone with whom I shared so many niche (see: queer) interests. And I loved that she made the first move. I wish that was done more often; I don’t mind it at all, but it gets tiring, consistently being the one to take initiative. And like I said earlier, as with every experience, it either ends up well or you at least learn something useful. It ended up being the latter: ask the important questions before you like them too much, or else the rose-tinted glasses will obstruct your vision.
That was a slice of what I’ve experienced in the Tinder queer dating scene. I could go on…I just might. But I’ll end with this: I hope your experiences are just as interesting—it’s nothing if not character development.