I joined tinder for the same reason most of us probably do: half for laughs, half to see what it was like, and half because I was 3/4 through a bottle of Chianti. The crazy part was when I found actual, dateable guys on it. Like, attractive to semi-attractive men with careers, dogs, and a firm grasp on the English language. Men who actually wanted to date me, not just sleep with me. Men who wrote messages to me in complete sentences that didn’t start off with, “hey how r u?” I remember thinking, “Oh tinder isn’t so bad! All those people who get crazy inappropriate messages probably just aren’t being discerning enough when they’re swiping.”
My very first date from tinder was with a guy who I ended up seeing for about three months. He was intelligent, thoughtful… all the right things. We threw dinner parties together. I have no doubt he would have married me if I’d have let him. No red flags. Nothing weird. Just a nice guy who was new to town, looking to meet a nice girl.
This guy spoiled me, and not just in the sense that he would play with my hair for an hour and call me at 7 am to make sure I had gotten up and out of bed (hey, I’m not a morning person). He spoiled me in the sense that he caused me to think that tinder, and other “swiping” dating apps, were okay. That they could be a perfectly acceptable way of meeting people. (Wrong.)
Clearly, that relationship didn’t work out, or else I wouldn’t be writing this article. Nothing bad happened– he didn’t turn crazy, and we didn’t have any sort of dramatic breakup. He just wasn’t for me. I still wish him nothing but the best (Alan, if you’re ever reading this, you’re awesome). After that first foray into tinder dating, I got on and off periodically for a while. You know the cycle: swear off all online dating (or computer dating, as my mother calls it), three weeks go by, have too much wine, get back on “just to see who’s still on there.” The result was, at least for me, talking to someone who seemed normal, going on 2-3 dates with them, realizing you don’t like each other (or worse, only one person likes the other), and then starting all over again. And how easy it was to start all over again! There was a seemingly unlimited supply of possible dates waiting for me with the swipe of a finger. Eventually one of them would work out… right?
Here’s the thing– having an unlimited supply of possible dates isn’t a good thing. I think we’ve all realized by now that tinder is killing romance, dating, and courtship. This is not new information. Yet most of us KEEP GETTING BACK ON. Because sometimes it feels like the only option. Or because we’re bored and a couple dates would be fun, even if there isn’t real potential. Or because we’ve been watching “This is Us” and crying into our wine glasses. We know it’s destroying the dating scene, but we sigh and shrug, and tell ourselves it’s just the way of the world these days. But what is it doing to us?
It took me a while to realize it, but for me, it was like a drug. Feeling down and out? Log onto tinder and be greeted with a dozen men who will tell me how pretty I am. Feeling lonely? Get to swiping and meet someone for drinks. In the mood for some conversation? You guessed it- message with someone on tinder all night long. BUT NONE OF IT WAS REAL. And out of it grew this incessant need for response, for affirmation, for feedback. And when I didn’t get it on my schedule, it caused me anxiety. Checking my phone every 20 minutes to see who wanted to talk to me. It was like I had developed this inability to be alone… not physically, but emotionally.
I decided I’d had enough. Needing someone on a screen to make me feel wanted or interesting? Nope, not me. Or at least, it didn’t used to be. So I quit tinder. For keeps. No more download/ message/ delete cycles for me. And it took a while, but I am beginning to be calm and mindful again. The anxiety is lifting, the need for affirmation is mostly gone, and I can BREATHE again. It’s like I’ve been freed.
What about you? Have you called it quits with dating apps? Because I think you should.
Take back your life.
I promise, the release and freedom you feel will be way better than meeting some guy for a beer over mediocre mozzarella sticks.