This article was written by Eli Epstein and was originally published on AskMen.
I joined Tinder for the first time at the insistence of my friends. Before I downloaded the app, I had no clue what it was, but listening to my buddies raving about it, you'd think it was the second coming of Facebook.
For guys who love looking at pictures of girls in bikinis and frivolously casting a split-second judgment on them (guys like me, I mean), it came pretty close to being the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Well, for a week or so anyway.
Tinder is essentially a more relationship-centered, less meet-up-and-have-sex version of the wildest online dating sites, like Adult Friend Finder, or any other hookup websites for that matter, yet a little more hookup-friendly than dating-focused sites like Plenty of Fish. Some might even say that Tinder is as good, if not better than the best dating sites out there today since you can make it work for you, no matter what you're looking for.
On Tinder, both men and women flip through Facebook pictures of the opposite or same sex, and gawk and gush before selecting a few pretty faces from the yearning masses. There's a short bio, age and mutual friends listed, but who's really paying attention to that stuff when your Tinder flame is wearing next to nothing on the beach?
If you're thinking about Tinder in a PG-13 sense, then, yeah, the two of you can "like" each other and have a conversation on the app. You can then go out for vintage Sauvignon Blanc, stroll along the East River and tell your friends how impressed you were when she started spouting off the principles of French Impressionism, but who really wants any of that?
Most guys I know are content looking at the cleavage shots, and in the case of a match, asking the girl if she wants to meet up and grab a beer. Let's be honest, they're looking for a casual encounter. After a date or two, they expect to get laid.
I expected the world from Tinder when I first started. I'd received a flood of screencaps from my friends of ridiculous conversations they'd had with scantily clad college girls.
It did, however, take me a few minutes to get used to the fact that I was, for better or worse, dating online. This unnerved me. Forever I'd boasted that I would never do online dating. I wasn't that desperate, and losers met girls online. Not me. No, no.
Dating with Tinder is sort of a loophole. It isn't really "dating," and the Facebook angle made me feel like I was just repurposing the ubiquitous social media site. On Tinder I could preserve my cooked-up desirability and masculinity while secretly praying that the smokin' young blonde would like me back.
More often than not, this wasn't the case, but in my first week on Tinder, I gained quite a few matches -- 20 or so. Most I struck up charming conversations with, remarking on the gorgeous weather (it was 15 degrees that week) or making some bold, unfunny claim about their profile picture (I repeatedly asked a girl whose picture was her holding a baby why she listed her age at 23 when she wasn't a lick of 23 days old.) Stupid jokes, obviously. Many didn't respond, some did indifferently and others were very into it.
One girl in particular took well to my childish sense of humor. We were fast "friends" after I told her she looked "dangerous" in her profile picture, in which she was holding a prop gun on what looked like a film set. Now I realize what I said was probably flirtatious, though I just mentioned it idiotically, and out of a lack of other conversation starters.
For about a day or two, "Sheila" and I messaged quite a bit, which should have been a sign, considering after the initial match phase I could barely get other women to message me back at all.
Sheila was my age and spunky, very talkative and hardly bashful. She was, at least according to her pictures, curly-haired, Latina and seductive, with questioning eyes and a stern glance. I was into it, I thought.
Conversationally, she was a firecracker, providing nonstop tidbits about her goals, family and some minutiae I really didn't care a whole lot about. After two days talking on Tinder's rudimentary (the thing has more glitches than an old video game) chat, Sheila and I switched over to texting. It was her idea and I didn't see anything wrong with it. I told myself I'd see where it went. I didn't think I'd actually meet up with her.
Things progressed very quickly from there. We went from talking about dogs to her psychoanalyzing me (apparently I'm very angry) and telling me her favorite sexual position. That last part was unsolicited -- Sheila was very open about her sexuality, which she attributed to being a militant feminist. In her family, she said, this stuff was common fodder.
I, on the other hand, wasn't so used to the openness, but I went with it, playing it off coyly. I did sense that things were getting a little too serious, though. I was still on the fence about actually going on a date with someone I'd met on Tinder. Was Sheila good-looking enough to force me to abandon my anti-"online dating" position, even if Tinder was straddling a middle ground?
I didn't tell any of my friends, because I was embarrassed, but I asked her out on a date. As much as I was scared she'd want a relationship right away, I took a chance because, as terrible as it sounds, I thought she'd be easy to sleep with.
We met up the next week at a bar near my place. As expected, the conversation rolled off her tongue. She was full of energy and inquisitive. She wanted to know everything about me. On most of my past dates, I've found myself listening to mind-numbing anecdotes about my date's job or her love of chicken soup, so this was something new.
As fun as it was to talk with Sheila, and as gratifying as it was to think that a member of the opposite sex actually gave a sh*t about my interests, I couldn't get past the fact that Sheila wasn't what was advertised on Tinder. She did a nice job culling comely photos of herself, because in person she was short and a little round with a crooked smile. She was so fun, so sweet, but I just wasn't attracted to her. I couldn't make something out of nothing.
I knew this from the second I met her in person, but of course I went and kissed her when we walked out of the bar. It just seemed like something I was trained to do. I don't know what happened. I was on autopilot.
At that point, of course, Sheila was extremely into the thought of "us." I hate PDA and she grabbed my hand as I walked her to her subway. I writhed on the inside the whole way back. What had I gotten myself into. Why the hell did I kiss her?
After I saw her off, her texts became even more frequent and I just couldn't do it anymore. I have a job that I care about and I didn't want to be texting up a storm at work. As the week progressed, my responses to her texts became more infrequent and increasingly aloof. Finally, I lied to her and said I was seeing someone.
The next day, I deleted my Tinder account. For the most part, I had no intentions of going on dates, so what was the point? I only wanted the gratification of knowing that I was wanted, that someone else found me attractive. Beyond that, I didn't want to socialize. I never wanted to know about someone else. I only sought to ogle, like a misogynist.
I had my laughs with Tinder, but that was it. The effort and selflessness of online dating still isn't for me.
Check out this video on dating with Tinder:
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