Tinder. The app so many of us swear that we are too dignified for.
That is, until we’re midst emotional breakdown, Taylor Swift on repeat and on the verge of getting a thumb cramp from too many left swipes.
Gradually, the stigma of Tinder being no more than a glorified hook-up app seems to be fading. More and more friends come forward with their stories of how they found ‘The One’ on Tinder, leaving those of us without the app questioning whether we are missing out on a potential love story all in the name of integrity.
So, after much apprehension, we too succumb into this new realm of romance, hoping to find our own success story.
The first dilemma: choosing your photos.
Time to represent a version of ourselves that is good, but not too good. Upload photos only from your good side, you risk being a catfish. Upload photos from your bad side, you fear you will never get swiped right and everyone will tell you you’re ugly and you will never be loved and you will die alone… (Oh okay, just me on that one?)
People often don’t even look like their photos. I for one will put my hands up and admit that I think I’m a catfish. I don’t edit my photos, but I do know my angles and lighting. Would I really want someone’s initial judgement to be based on how I look in 1 out of 100 selfies? Why is it okay that I can judge people on such a weak indication of character?
The second dilemma: actually finding someone decent enough to swipe right for.
Oh okay, 6’4, likes to rave and ‘wants to have some fun :P’… I think I’ll pass.
‘Sesh is love, sesh is life.’ Not as profound as I was hoping for.
University of Oxford? Well, we’re probably from two totally different worlds, we’re never going to get along.
100 left swipes later and I feel deflated, lonely and pessimistic. This app has turned me into a recruiter, except it’s not CV’s for a part-time job I’m judging: it’s photos and short bios for a potential ‘soulmate.’ But how could I understand what these people are really like deep-down?
The main dilemma: I felt superficial. And I also felt hopeless.
(I suppose it doesn’t help when every time I used the app I was mostly bombarded with obvious fuckboys).
Call me an old soul, but I really don’t think I can find someone who relates to me not only on a surface level but also on a deeper level on this app. Although I’ll admit, dating is still a new and scary future prospect for me, and turning to the app to desperately find some security during the loss of a long-term relationship probably tainted my opinion of Tinder (holla at me fellow codependents seeking unhealthy relationships in order to not feel alone).
So maybe one day when I’m more adjusted to single life and ready to broaden my horizons I’ll re-consider how I feel about the app, and maybe one day I will find my Nicolas Sparks love story using it. But in order to honour who I am as a person in the here and now, I must give up the façade of pretending that I am capable of believing that I could fall in love this way.
I know everyone may not agree with me on this. I am not putting down those who use and enjoy the app at all, and I have plenty of friends who have had some amazing relationships come of it. But I have to accept that for now I simply can’t change who I am to fit in with this digital landscape of love and lust.
Maybe I am still living in fantasy land (I blame my obsession with The Notebook and Hugh Grant films), but intimacy, love, and everything else entwined is far too meaningful for me. And I don’t believe I will ever find someone who feels the same on an app that feels so devoid of meaning.
We swipe, we match, we unmatch, we delete, we redownload, and the cycle continues.
How did something as emotional as falling in love become completely emotionless? We repeat this vicious cycle with such ease and nonchalance. We judge and we allow the most superficial parts of ourselves to come to the forefront.
The whole cycle feels too detached from how falling in love is meant to be.
On Tinder we rely on an unnatural version of marketing ourselves to others, where we think about exactly what to say, how to present ourselves, how long we will take to reply.
Of course this is a process we are all guilty of in real-life too, we often carefully think about what we will say to others and how to behave. But at least this process comes with fewer romantic expectations, and we have more factors to go on other than black and white text and a ‘Last Online’ update.
Getting to know someone through a screen removes authenticity. We don’t give people enough of a chance to show us how they laugh, how they look when they’re sleepy, how they react to the world around them.
And even when those chats on Tinder escalate into the real-world and you meet up, the looming and overwhelming expectation of meeting with the intention of hopefully dating/getting something romantic out of it takes away that sense of unexpectedly ‘falling’ in love for me.
So I’m not going to give up on what I believe in so that I can try and seek similar online success stories. While I’m so happy that others can find their fairytale ending this way, it’s not a way that fits all of us. Because I believe, and I know, that the process of falling in love really can be like the romcoms, without technology acting as the middle-man, and I know because I experienced it.
And what made it so exciting and magical was those real life moments we shared together in the beginning. We innocently began to discover the most honest and raw versions of ourselves.
These moments obviously do exist for people who go on Tinder dates, either at the beginning or as time goes on, but for me I know I can’t achieve what I’m looking for this way. I just know it.
Love intertwines our complexity of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Love embodies what makes us human. Love feels authentic.
And Tinder feels fake.
So for now, I don’t believe that I can find what I’m looking for at the palm of my fingertips. And I don’t think I can choose that person based on what they look like and what their bio says. I just can’t force it.
I will be patient. I will wait. And I will try to find another output for my emotions during Taylor Swift induced breakdowns. Outputs that don’t involve trying to find solace in the arms of either an ex or a new lover.
Because one day I want to experience true love again. And it’s something I think I will find when I am least expecting it, and something I will find when I’m not looking for it.