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How Tinder changed the online dating game
By Jessy Thurston
Dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, and the many others that are available to us through a simple download, are taking over the way we date. It seems like the days of actually approaching someone you fancy face-to-face are gone.
I’ve dabbled in the mishaps of Tinder for a long time now, even before the age limit of 18 was rightfully added. When the age restrictions came about in 2017, I continued lying about my age just to be a part of the craze. If you dig deeper into the reasons behind why so many of us singletons have jumped onto the swiping bandwagon, and the kind of animals it’s turned us into, it all gets a bit confronting.
Setting up a profile demands you present the best version of yourself - just like a lot of us seem to do on any other social media platform. On Tinder, there’s an added layer of confusion as we decide which are the nicest pictures of ourselves. Then there is the battle of how you portray yourself as sexy, outgoing, confident, musical etcetera...and how the hell do you do that with a limit of nine photos? Next is the crippling bio. It’s hard to know what you should say to encapsulate what you’re all about in a small amount of words - without turning people away, coming across as boring, or miscommunicating your personality. Of course, the next part is swiping.
I guess judging people on their appearance isn’t too far from traditional dating. People get to choose how to portray themselves to you, so their “personality” when you eventually start talking could be sculpted into something far better than their true selves. Hiding behind a screen means ample time to construct perfect replies and screenshot messages to ask friends what to respond. Though people don’t always try to make themselves seem better or interesting, judging by the amount of dry conversations I’ve had that make me want to throw my phone straight into a wall. Even after enjoying conversation with someone who may or may not be acting, there is the dreaded possibility of ghosting when one party gets bored, which has become so socially acceptable it’s scary.
Let’s take a minute to imagine you match with someone on Tinder, develop a liking to the vibes they cast out, and then eventually agree to meet in person. Unsurprisingly, they are NOTHING like their online persona. I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve sat down to Tinder coffee dates expecting the best, and then spending the first five minutes coming up with reasonable excuses in my head to leave as soon as possible.
Before we even get to the stage of facing an uncomfortable and disappointing first date, there is the selection process we have to go through. Much like interviewing someone to perfectly fit a job description, we have to sift through unwanted sexual advances, cringey pick up lines and so many examples of just sending ‘hey’ as the first message. It doesn’t matter how many Y’s you chuck onto the end of that tedious greeting, it's boring as HELL and you can DO SO MUCH BETTER.
I, personally, am not the biggest fan of pick up lines unless they are intended to be taken as a joke. I did question one young man who said the reason he started with a classy “I would remove every chair on the planet just so you’d have to sit on my face,” was because shocking pick up lines guarantee more replies than starting up a normal conversation. I guess shock factor does intrigue a lot of us, but the sexually driven nature of dating apps and the serious hookup culture within our generation is something we have to acknowledge.
I did question one young man who said the reason he started with a classy “I would remove every chair on the planet just so you’d have to sit on my face,” was because shocking pickup lines guarantee more replies than starting up a normal conversation.
It seems that Tinder has changed the way we date in terms of the order we do it in. More often than not, sex is on the table way before a date is proposed. Hookup culture has raided anything good that internet dating had. Sex seems to be at the forefront of dating apps, and way too often we are asked “so what are you on Tinder for?” just to be unmatched when we confess casual sex is not on the cards. I had a conversation about this with a friend and we talked about how people desire love, but turn to sex to fill the need when love is too hard to find. It’s almost like the addiction of lust is a coping mechanism for lack of companionship, and it's been normalised within our generation. For some, casual sex is just a mask they place on their true longing for a commited relationship. It’s almost like pushing the couch over the red wine stain on the carpet - it’s still there, but you don’t want to deal with it right now. Sex provides temporary company and knowing you can fight your loneliness with a bootycall and get intimacy when you need it, is a massive distraction. Falling in lust with new people from dating apps all the time is also the perfect way to avoid commitment and prevent a broken heart, but it also stops someone from ever finding true human connection.
I think a lot of us are still attracted to dating apps despite all of the hassle, because we get self validation from our matches. It’s nice to know people like you, and to receive compliments in your inbox, but never actually feel pressured to reply to them. It’s a way to boost your confidence and patch up a broken ego without the drama.
When you add all of it together - the majority seeking to tap and gap, hiding real personalities behind a screen, disappointing first dates, and selfish validation - apps have changed the way we date and it can be hard to find a solid connection. If you’re into hookup culture then all the power to you, go forth and find yourself a FWB. Dating apps are a great place for sexual freedom and it has made it easier for those who are seeking out a hookup. Tinder has also done GREAT things for female sexuality, and opened up a safe place for women to explore casual sex without the stigmatisation there has been around it in the past. However if you’re really looking for love, then I would be careful not to rely too heavily on an app to assist you. It’s great for mindless swiping and a couple of yarns, but it might take a little bit of poking and prodding (no pun intended) before you find your perfect match.