“I’m leaving for Cape Town on the 9th. Your place at 8?”
No. Nobody joined my parents and I for a steak and basmati dinner that night at 8.
This was one of the first messages I ever received on Tinder.
It was off to a great start.
Let me tell you why I downloaded Tinder.
I had a friend who had it. This friend’s friend would hijack his phone for hours on end, changing his gender preference to men, swiping gleefully, and flirting with no shame. This kind of betrayal has to be witnessed to be appreciated. They are both overly-manly men.
Naturally, I wanted in on the action. At first, it was all fun and games. Those same manly men swiped right on every man, irrespective of age, until I had to wait 12 hours just to swipe right again. This is equivalent to saying, “I totally want you. Let’s make babies,” to, I don’t know, maybe a hundred men? These friends marveled at the response rate, with almost every swipe being a match. For a moment, I allowed myself to be flattered.
Until I remembered that not as many women use Tinder, most men use Tinder to find a sexual slave, and most men would probably hump just about anything if given the chance.
This is a horrible stereotype, I know. Yes, there are men who have substantial respect and emotional intelligence to actually want to court a lady.
After the initial burst of excitement, I entered troll mode. I was about to have me some Tinder fun. So, I browsed profiles, swiping right based on various criteria:
1. The man had a car as his profile picture. It didn’t matter the brand, how low the suspension, how big the wheels, how many racing stripes, or even whether it was clean or not. The transformer needed a human companion, and you know what? I would just have to take one for the team and love the megabot.
2. The man had an animal in his profile picture. It did not matter what type or variation, how big or small, how cool or creepy, or how he presented his pet. The man clearly loved animals and this meant he was a keeper. I could just jump right into the picture, grab the other end of the snake and caption it, “My family XO.” I would just hope it is not poisonous and did not like to cuddle.
3. The man had a picture of his super toned body (or not) and not his face as his profile picture. He is clearly checking if you, the prospective girlfriend, are smart enough to count how many individual abs he has. This man is searching for an intelligent woman who can hold a conversation, of which they will have many, as they live together happily ever after.
4. The man had a group photo as his profile picture. Please. He’s obviously the hottest one in it. He’s so sure of himself that he will even show you five other almost as attractive men, knowing you’ll pick him to bear your beautiful children.
5. His bio said, “YOLO”. Do I even need to explain this? He only lives once. Me too. We have so much in common and are totally soulmates.
The more you swipe, the more you notice people that you would actually be attracted to. People’s bios become more interesting and genuine. Your conscience kicks in, you remember that people have feelings, and you start to come across witty, sincere people.
I had this privilege.
So began the serious Tindering. I went on two dates with two great people and had two great experiences. Nothing came off my Tinder dates, but I learned a lot about dating (seeing as I’d never really done this conventionally) and, actually, bookloads about myself.
For one, I discovered that I do not actually like ‘dating’. This social convention is, unfortunately, lost on me. I have barely any interest in going to see a movie, paying all my attention to the movie, having a short recap, and then going home. Some sort of comfortable silence and connection needs to be established before these activities. There’s not much you can learn about a person while sitting through a movie – apart from that you both are comicverse fans.
Antman is a cool movie. I liked it.
I can’t appreciate fancy dinners either. The social setting defines the normative behaviour and this can sometimes create tension. Put me on a couch, let me kick off my shoes and hand me a beer. I’ll be a happy lass. This I promise. Let’s watch series or have little adventure. Don’t make me put on heels. Why do you hate me?
I also learnt that age is a variable that can be ignored, but can also take a toll on confidence. It is difficult to be comfortable when you, yourself, are not independent and the suitor is already employed, self-sufficient and has his own impressive collection of books and vinyl records. That, or he wears well-fitted shirts and has a wonderful beard. Your self-esteem takes a blow and you begin to feel like a girl. It’s not pleasant if you don’t ordinarily feel like a girl.
Don’t question my gender again. That’s not what I mean.
I developed many questions about these social conventions, expectations, what I need to be comfortable and truly be myself, the kind of interaction I truly enjoy, and about why dating tends to be considered a race.
Much was learned – like if I’ve had enough beer, I forget how to form words.
Nevertheless, I had my fun, met people, had experiences, learned from them, and made great friends with glorious beards (who should be complimented at least once a week), great hair, unusual hobbies, and culinary skills that make me want to propose marriage.
Tinder was many things; entertainment, ego food, shallow socialising platform, emotional escape, and time-lapse agent.
It was a worthwhile endeavour, yes, but sometimes, the best experiences aren’t rushed.
“I’m leaving for Cape Town on the 9th. Your place at 8?”