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Love in the time of Tinder

A card from The Naughty Little Card shop that Jimmy once gave me.

I wasn’t sure how to write this post without sounding too defensive. But then I was going to call it “In Defence of Tinder” so I mean, let’s be honest, it might come across as defensive. And that’s ok, what I’m aiming to do is write a positive post about Tinder. Right now I am a living success story and if any anti-Tinder people are open to their minds being changed I am hoping this might make you see the app a little differently.
My experience with Tinder both began and ended back in 2014 and I have heard it is different these days so perhaps I am a little out of  touch but it worked for me and if nothing else this can be an ode to the “good old days of Tinder”.

Like I said in my previous Other Bits post – sometimes the best way to meet an amazing partner is simply to swipe right.

Except it’s not that simple.  It’s like the start of any relationship, it involved some conscious effort (downloading the app, creating a profile), an attraction, a connection and perhaps even a little bit of fate (more on that another time).
So yeah pretty standard beginning to a relationship right?  The thing I have never understood, when people have made comments like “I wouldn’t want to meet someone on Tinder” or “I wouldn’t trust anyone I met on Tinder” (I don’t think they are aware of the way Jimmy and I met when they say these things – which in itself is interesting as we don’t keep it a secret, hell I’m blogging about it!), is that it is so incredibly similar to meeting someone in a real-world situation.

Hear me out.
The best example I can liken it to is meeting someone at a pub. Let’s say you’re single and whilst, of course you’re not desperate, you are open to meeting someone for….something. A bit of fun? A relationship? Marriage and kids? If you’re me you don’t know which of those things you are technically looking for but the operative word is being open to whatever – and it can be pretty fun meeting people and figuring that part out! So you go to a pub and it might be a Girls Night or After Work Drinks or any event really where you haven’t specifically left the house with the intention of meeting the person who you spend the rest of your life with, but you are single so naturally you use your eyes and have a look around at the other patrons of the pub. You might even see someone who you think is attractive – at this point you know nothing about them but your brain is telling you that they are attractive. You may make eye contact and smile and then get back to hanging out with your friends. As the night goes on your confidence may grow and so you decide to approach said attractive person – this might be fuelled by alcohol, hornyness or just the fact that these sorts of things are much less “scary” later in the evening . You and the attractive person may engage in some small talk/banter/witty repartee and realise that you are attracted to one another. From here you could decide to exchange numbers with the intention of meeting again. Or you might go home together for sex the first time you meet. Whatever you decide, if there is a date following this night that would be considered your first date. When you meet for your first date you are likely to be at a different level of soberness to the night you first saw one another so there will probably be some nerves. You will have some standard awkward conversation, the usual getting to know one another chat. You are likely to learn a lot more about this person than when you were previously chatting and you can decide how you feel about them – whether you are interested in seeing them again. I think this is important, you might realise they were a lot more exciting the first time you locked eyes on them. Perhaps the idea of them is better than the reality. And that’s fine. You can then amicably part ways.

Sounds pretty standard right?

Whether you meet in a pub or on an app like Tinder it always starts with attraction. Swiping right or deciding to approach someone in a pub is because you have seen the person and you are physically attracted to them. You can make assumptions based on what you can see – their clothing, the activity they are doing etc. – but at this point you know hardly anything about them. The moment in the pub where you approach them is the same as the moment where you decide to start a conversation on the app. You can then start chatting, exchanging information and, more than likely, flirting. Again, you might decide to have sex the first time you meet – it might even be the same day as when you first starting chatting. If you do decide to have a standard date with someone who you met online (whether you’ve already met for sex or not) when you meet in the real world for the first time that will be your first date. You will have some standard awkward conversation, the usual getting to know one another chat. You are likely to learn a lot more about this person than when you were previously chatting and, the fact that you are spending time together in real world makes this easier as you can read body language, you can decide how you feel about them – whether you are interested in seeing them again.
Again, I think this point in the proceedings is so incredibly important. You can decide that although you swiped right and agreed to meet this person for a date you actually are only just getting to know them. And you might decide that you are not interested in taking things any further.

Regardless of how you meet someone first dates are often awkward as they are essentially two strangers meeting and finding out more about one another. How many people have you heard joke about the similarities between a first date and a job interview? And yet no one finds it strange when you agree to meet someone for a job interview after only ever having interacted online.

I have heard the arguments against Tinder due to it being unsafe but meeting anyone before we know them well could be considered unsafe. Perhaps this is where I should recommend that you only ever meet in a public place, let at least two friends know where you’re going to be and what time you will be home and make sure you text them to let them know you are safe. But then I’m not sure that’s exactly revolutionary advice and I certainly don’t want to sound like I’m saying you are solely responsible for your safety – bad people do bad things to good people all the time regardless of the measures they have taken to protect themselves. Also one of my Tinder “dates” was a guy coming around at 1 am to watch Breaking Bad with me where I was alone in my flat (sorry Mum!) so it would be a bit hypocritical of me to suggest people are stupid to ever meet in a private space. Perhaps I was stupid but I am lucky enough to tell the tale and it’s probably quite a familiar story – we did meet for a more traditional date (a drink) after that night and both decided it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Also, we actually did watch Breaking Bad the first night.

Here is something else that I cannot stress enough – the early stage of dating is when you get to know one another and whether you’ve spent 5 minutes or 5 dates with someone you are within your rights to decide you are just not feeling it. This the thing that has annoyed me about friends who have met people online, they feel that they owe the person something, simply because they have spent time chatting on an app. I think when you have met on an app you and the person you are meeting should be more than aware that, as it’s the first time you’ve met in the real world, it might be a quick interaction. Seriously, if you meet and within a few minutes know that things are definitely not going to progress you should be able to say “thanks, but no thanks”.
One of my former housemates met a guy on Grindr and after a little online exchange agreed to go round to his place. When he got there he accepted the offer of a drink but made it water and, after finishing his glass of water, said “I don’t think this is going to happen, thanks anyway” and left. And I love that! It wasn’t a big deal to him or the other guy. It just was what it was.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t been in that situation, where I felt that perhaps I owed the other person something (a kiss, another date, sex…) but that might be an issue for another day.
For anyone who worries about offending people or hurting feelings, you’re obviously a caring person and that’s a great way to be. I just think that energy should be put towards your loved ones, the friends you already have in your life, not someone who you honestly don’t know from Adam.

The other thing that I think is incredibly important is that if you meet online at some point you have to meet offline. Most people would have seen the film or TV show Catfish by now and therefore know that everything is not always as it seems with online dating. It still baffles me that someone would spend years “in a relationship” with someone who they’ve never actually been in the same room with. The real world is different to online and relationships require physical interaction – no, not necessarily sex but being in the same physical space as someone, spending time together and hanging out. I’ve had more than one friend spend way too long chatting to someone online, starting to develop some sort of feelings and then being upset when it doesn’t work out – without ever having taking things offline. They are sometimes the same people who badmouth the dating app for it not being successful. How will you ever know if Tinder is going to be successful as a way to meet someone for a real-life relationship if you never meet in real-life?
As a general rule I would say that the first date should be arranged within the first couple of days of having spoken on the app and the date itself should take place within the first couple of weeks. Anything longer and you are more likely to end up in a “ghosting” or “benching” situation.
I actually used to shut the online conversations down once we had a date arranged, preferring to save all the “what’s your favourite…?” questions for the first offline meeting.

At the end of the day it’s always a little nerve wrecking putting yourself out there and dating. Making the first move, having awkward conversation, all the firsts – that stuff happens at the beginning of a relationship, regardless of how that relationship began. Sometimes though first dates can actually be quite fun and it’s usually those times that lead to something pretty special.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned wanting to write something positive about Tinder, I obviously feel this way as I met my boyfriend on the dating app however I haven’t written a post gushing about Jimmy (although he is an incredibly wonderful person). Mainly because no one would want to read that and I just wanted to try to show that meeting online has many similarities to meeting someone on a night out.
Jimmy and I still have a first date that makes for a funny anecdote and had to experience all the usual awkwardness of the early days. We have a lovely life together in our own flat, have fun doing a range of activities together and enjoy one another’s company. Yep, we are pretty boring in the way that happy people are boring. We are a typical couple in the way that most couples are after few years together. Really we are nothing special. And neither is the way we met. But man am I glad I swiped right.

Live long and Tinder.

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