I was standing at a party, chatting with friends, when a man walked directly through our circle and announced, “Maureen O’Connor! You dropped our conversation on Tinder.” What happened next is a blur of awkward terror. (“You look different.” “Because I’m 30 pounds heavier now?” “And you look great! If I’d known, I would have replied.”) The fourth wall of online dating had been broken. “Oh, I know you,” a stranger chimed in. “My co-worker got you on Hinge, but that conversation fell apart, too.”
Last year, the rise of swipe-right dating apps was a breath of fresh air in the often-exhausting world of online dating. Low commitment, pleasantly superficial, and actually fun (“Keep Playing,” Tinder prompts at regular intervals), these apps offered a thrilling sense of freedom and lightness — then paired it with Facebook for accountability in photo selection and lists of mutual friends. But as the novelty wears off and swipe-right dating apps become fully integrated into the social landscape, they have developed their own fatigues and faux pas.