It was a fateful Sunday night when I created not only a Tinder profile but a Bumble one as well (why not start big?). After analyzing everything from best Tinder bios, to suggestions for building a spot-on profile (hint: it’s all about the pictures) I was finally ready to start swiping. And swipe I did. Within half an hour I had my first match. His bio read simply “Coffee Farmer”; I was intrigued. “Serious question,” I responded, “light roast or dark?” And I was hooked. Had this guy chosen me? Did he just swype right for everyone? Would he start or would I? So much left unanswered!
At the same time, I was quickly noticing how much adrenaline I got from “playing the game.” That two second pause between swiping right and getting a match (or not) was like a zapping shock of electricity every time. And each swipe became an inner monologue, “maybe this one, maybe this one, maybe this one” with no indication of any interest. It was based on only blind guessing: left and right. There needed to be an end.
That’s when I set ground rules for myself. Not only was I enjoying it way more than I ever thought I would, I was more and more drawn to “play” when I shouldn’t. Two page paper due? Let’s start with some fake dating to get the creative juices flowing. Workout in ten minutes? I’m sure there are some new people at the gym I’ve never matched with. 12:30 a.m. and three more homework assignments to complete? How about homework and then love. I started to use it as a reward system. Finished a paper? Fifteen minutes on Bumble. Practiced a speech? Ten minutes responding to messages. So quickly it was fused into my daily routine it was crazy to consider I was practically a virgin when it came to dating apps.
There is an odd amount of willpower and self-control involved in dating apps, too. Ideas like, maybe wait an hour before getting back on. Try not to overthink if they aren’t responding. Don’t try too hard, you have no real attachment to any of these people. Don’t seem too interested. Don’t swipe left for everyone. Don’t swipe right for everyone. An interesting game to say the least.
I also felt a new sort of power, a kind where I deemed if people were worthy of speaking to me. Albeit short, frivolous conversations — like those between distant childhood friends — exchanges that scream uncomfortable through feigned interest but are mostly just confusion and polite manners. But I had that power. And in my microcosm of a love life that raised a lot of questions for which I did not have a pre-packaged answer prepared. How much is based on looks (spoiler: more than I care to admit to)? How much is based on profile (spoiler: very few people put bios in their profiles)? What the hell do I even want out of this app? And why am I being so choosy? Seriously, most of the time I am on this thing I’m sitting in my bed, no bra on, my trusty chips and salsa beside me deciding if I am going to eat or drink my calories for the night. Not exactly choosy material. But at this point I’m in too deep to stop. I’m late to the party so I’m having to catch up on expectations, who initiates and superlikes. I know I shouldn’t be so involved with it, but if we’re being honest I think I’m dating my phone at this point. It’s the one that listens to all of my problems, stays up with me all night, sees me naked and doesn’t judge. Addicting and more fun than expected, dating apps are a dangerous breed of nearly instant gratification, competition, and witty opening sentences. I’m not sure I can say I’ve learned very much so far but this is turning out to be quite a game to play.