Tinder Box

My roommate has been going on a flurry of dates recently. Guess his New Year’s resolution was to find a boyfriend. Why not? He’s got a steady job, a hot gym body, and is prime boyfriend material himself. He should be half a couple.

The method he’s using was a bit surprising, at least it was to me. He’s on Tinder. Now, I’d always equated the swipe left swipe right thing with the gaydar app that lets you hook up with the nearest stranger hovering in the corner of the club with his face eerily illuminated by the blue glow of an iphone screen.

Apparently, Tinder has become a mainstream method for finding a date. Embraced fully by the generation brought up online. My roommate is of that generation.

He showed me Tinder when it first came out, and I tried it for about half an hour. That’s all the time it took to exhaust the available matches. It seems that mostly young people were using it at the time. By young, I mean eighteen to twenty-five. The over thirty guys like me had not yet caught on. So I deleted the app and did not give it a second thought.

Until Sunday. Valentine’s Day. Perhaps due to the conversation with my roommate (It’s a super creepy high tech world in which we live, where advertisers make it their business to track your activities in increasingly intrusive ways,) I got an ad in my newsfeed from Tinder. They were having a Valentine’s Day special. If you signed up, you got an extra Super Like each day.

After learning exactly what is a Super Like, I decided to give it a try. No harm in testing the waters, and really, when you’ve got nothing to lose, you may as well jump in.

It’s only been two days, so I’m the farthest thing from an expert, but I have already compiled what I hope is a helpful, or at least humorous, list of things that appear to be particular to the search for a soulmate on Tinder. Presented in the order that pops into my head as I write.

1. A remarkable number of users have attended Ivy League schools. Since users sign up for Tinder through Facebook, the information they have provided while building a profile there is used to create their Tinder account. Including places of work and education.

So, Harvard guy. Yale guy. Cambridge guy, even. People you would not imagine using a dating app. They are all on Tinder. (Also some famous faces. Since joining two days ago, I’ve swiped right on three of those.)

Now, it may be this is because I’m being shown friends of friends of my Facebook friends. Tinder is kind of like scrolling through friends lists, looking for cute guys. Only all the straight ones have been screened out. Some of my friends are pretty smart, and many live in LA, where it isn’t at all strange to know someone famous. So perhaps the selection of potential dates popping up for review are not indicative of the majority of Tinder users.

Or, perhaps a fair number are presenting themselves as something other than what they are. Which brings me to my next item.

2. Hey, 1980s music fan! You are not thirty-one. Seriously. Have you seen anyone who is thirty-one recently? Do you know what they look like? They look two years away from twenty-nine, and you do not.

Look, I know we all want to present ourselves in the most flattering light, and we all love to flatter ourselves into believing our friends who exclaim “You never seem to age!” but really, take a good hard look at your photos. The ones taken in this century, that is. If you want to use the snapshot of you and your adorable five year old son, even though he is now attending an Ivy League college himself, that’s one thing. It’s another thing entirely to post a photo where you are clearly not the age you claim. You’re over forty. Deal with it.

3. Couples have dating profiles on Tinder. I’m not kidding. Gay couples. Straight couples. Many of them use photos in which they are clearly a couple. Some use photos in which they could be single. Hard to say. When you read the little self descriptive paragraph section, which a puzzling number of users choose to leave blank, perhaps they may reveal that they are coupled. Or not.

So take care. If you are hoping to find the prince of your dreams, he may already be wed, and is merely taunting you with an empty promise. That’s assuming he is not there to point out how, even while married and straight, he can find more cute guys than you can.

Not that there could be any doubt. He’s impossibly handsome, with a body chiseled from marble. Besides, he’s been to Harvard.

4. A dog. You must have a dog in your profile shot. It does not matter if it is an adorable dog, or an ugly one. Pushed-in face, slobbering jowls, tremulous bug-eyed yappy purse-sized gremlin. No matter. You must have one in your photo. It doesn’t even have to be yours. Just ask a friend or neighbor if you can take a selfie with their four footed fur child. If anyone calls you on it, tell them a heartwarming story about how you love the puppy as if it were your own. Followed by emoticon, emoticon, wink.

5. You are the owner and CEO of your own business. This may be surprising to you, but not to the users swiping left or right. To them, it is expected. By scanning the first handful of profiles, you will quickly realize that everyone seeking a date on Tinder is the owner and CEO of a business they created.

He’s not just a doctor, that handsome dark-haired fellow. Oh, no. He is the owner and CEO of Healing Hands, a charity that cares for the medical needs of homeless children.

That tall blond with the snaky hips? He’s not a surfer. Ignore the wetsuit. He’s the founder and chief consultant at Be the Wave, a not for profit surfing academy.

6. Once you like someone that has liked you, an alert pops up telling you that you are a match, and that you should send them a message right away. Ignore it.

Or at least don’t take it personally if they do not respond, and certainly not if they don’t write first. Most people using Tinder are not thinking past the action of swiping left or right. It’s a game of “He’s cute. He’s not.”

So when they see a match, they might think, “Oh, that’s nice. He liked me, too.” Which is enough for them.

I’ve had eight matches since Valentine’s Day. Three of those popped up immediately after swiping right, which means they had already liked me. Even so, only two have written, and both of those were in reply to messages I sent.

That’s fine. I wasn’t expecting much when I joined, and I understand the rules here are different from other dating sites. More on this:

7. You may find yourself swiping left on guys you think are too handsome. Too young. Too successful. You might tell yourself they would never be interested in you. That they would never be a match.

For example, the gym body guys. There is, in fact, a breed of gay man who will only leave the gym to attend or participate in a sporting event. His little self descriptive paragraph section is filled with five hundred words about the various physical activities he enjoys performing daily. He stresses how important it is that his potential life partner be every bit as enthusiastic when it comes to Cross Fit, kayaking, football (both versions,) and a four mile early morning jog through Runyan Canyon.

This type of gay man is never seen in photos without at least one of his identically built gym bodied buddies. They travel in packs, like the hunky werewolves in Twilight. They never date outside the clan. So you might, understandably, feel that if you were to like him, he would view you as an unwelcome stalker.

Forget all that. Here’s the thing about Tinder: no one knows you like them until they like you back. Unless you want them too, which is where the Super Like option comes into play. Otherwise, feel free to like the hottest hunks, the cutest boys, the sexiest silver foxes, or the most successful Harvard grads. Whatever your type. Swipe right.

You never can tell who is looking for what, and whichever category you fall in may be exactly the one they would choose. If nothing else, there is no crime in liking a guy who is way too pretty, way too smart, or way too anything. So cast the net wide, and high.

This also frees you to reject anyone you don’t find attractive, without fear of hurting their feelings. See, they’ll never know that you didn’t like them. You won’t have to deal with an awkward private email from an unwanted admirer, since messages can only be exchanged once a match has been determined.

Don’t swipe left on everyone, though. It’ll be hard to find any match at all if you don’t take a few chances, or give a few to someone else.


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