The first thing a surprising number of my friends did when they turned 18 was create profiles on dating apps. In the past couple of years, huddling around a friend’s phone, mercilessly judging people swipe after swipe has become a sacred ritual.
I’ve always refused to subscribe to dating app culture — finding the “we met on a dating app” story too mundane. For lack of a better word, I find it pathetic. If I’m to be swept off my feet, it should happen during a meet-cute in a coffee shop or through mutual friends at the beach.
However, recently, the prevalence of dating apps left me wondering if my ideologies are too old-school for my good. I decided that to have such strong opinions about something, I should probably know more about online dating than “swipe right means yes, and swipe left means no.”
One of my first key findings was the intention behind the apps. One morning, a friend of mine was complaining about his situationship. He missed the ease of swiping left and right on Tinder. I asked him if he ever used the apps in hopes of seriously finding a girlfriend.
He laughed in my face and told me that if he finds a girl on Tinder, he knows that he only needs to remember her name for a single night. He said never in a million years would he find his wife on Tinder.
Alternatively, one of my best friends became an avid Bumble user in her search to find new people to hang out with. She actively promoted Bumble as the “Tinder with fewer weirdos.” A lot of guys she met seemed to be up for date nights and deep chats.
My roommate judges Bumble differently. Her preferred app is Tinder — crediting it for its honesty. It seems as though every user — at least in our age group — knows that they’re seeking a couple of nights of fun and nothing more on Tinder, while Bumble and Hinge tend to mask users’ intentions — resulting in some awkward interactions.
Speaking of awkward interactions, the dating app horror stories contributed significantly to my research as well.
A friend of mine went on a typical dinner and movie date through Bumble, and during the movie, she felt the guy start to make the typical arm-around-her-shoulder, hand-on-her-thigh.
She soon realized that the guy was in no way interested in the sensual act. He was rather feeling up her quads and traps to assess which of the two had a more muscular physique. By the end of the night, he decided that he couldn’t compete. With a broken ego, he ended their little affair.
Another friend went on a surprisingly successful first date through Tinder. They got dinner, walked around and shared war stories from high school. It was the bare minimum you’d expect if you were to agree to the second date.
Once the second date came around, it was like the guy’s gloves came off. Suddenly, his behavior toward his date and the servers was rude, his words were a little too weighty and his attitude was bitter.
At the very least, these dates happened with proper descriptions. Perhaps the most terrifying kinds of dates my friends went on were the classic stand-up cases or one of savage catfishing.
There has been a single success story, though. My mom’s coworker met his now-fiance on a dating app right out of college. They’re living the perfect romance novel together as we speak.
So, if you’re willing to take the chance of horror dates in hopes to strike gold — whatever that looks like to you — all the more power to you.
I’m curious to see what this generation’s Jane Austen novels will look like in 20 years.