Why I Quit Tinder
Last June, around the five-year mark of my Perpetual Singleness, I decided living like a nun was no longer acceptable to me. Even nuns have priests in their lives; I had one single male friend. All I wanted was to meet guys in an organic way, getting closer to people already in my orbit, but it never happened. Having navigated my own field of post-divorce emotional land mines years before, I could no longer stand at the edge of the relationship field, wondering what bombs lay buried out there. I was past ready to figure some things out and have stories to contribute when friends talked about their love lives. For my own health, I needed to meet some guys and go on some dates, and I really didn’t care how it happened. So I took the path of least resistance: Tinder.
My only previous online dating venture was a disastrous stint on eHarmony in 2012, which resulted in zero actual dates. Tinder appealed to me because it was fast, free, and low-pressure. At first I was skeptical of its shady reputation, but a few friends had met decent guys there, proving it wasn’t exclusively for slimeballs. I created a profile on a Sunday afternoon and had a date by Friday night! Over the next few months, I went on a lot of first dates and a few second dates. At first, I just wanted to meet new people and have fun. Feeling attractive, interacting with different men, and seeing proof that some good ones existed was good for me. But the shine wore off quickly. I texted for hours with matches I never even met. I learned that some people approach online dating and Craigslist purchases the same way: express interest, make arrangements, then bail at the last minute with no explanation. I learned that negging is very real. Many of my matches commented on my non-toothy smile almost immediately (extra offensive/confusing since they’d liked me based on looks). “You have a very unique smile.” “What’s wrong with your teeth?” “Do you HAVE teeth??” I also received hasty requests for nudes despite the fact that my profile stated both “I love Jesus” and “No hookups.”
All told, only three guys I met on Tinder were worth mentioning. One was sweet and fun to be with, but after three dates I had to admit I wasn’t feeling it romantically. One was smart and interesting until our interaction turned into a job interview. One, the only match I felt instantly fluttery about, showed me a wonderful time on a summer evening and never called me again. I would have been happy to remain friends with them, as all my girlfriends have done with guys they’ve casually dated. But it didn’t work out that way, giving me another reason to feel defective when I had hoped to find some healing and encouragement.
By October, Tinder held no joy for me. Rather than an adventure, every date was a requirement to put on my game face for a stranger I’d likely never see again. I had to develop a pre-date decompression ritual of cranking up “Gangsta’s Paradise” in my car and rapping every word like I meant it. I realized this wasn’t working for me anymore. I could do light and casual for a while, but I’m still a relationship girl by nature. I also need adequate time to warm up to someone and decide if I want to be in a relationship (and in my world, that also means deciding if I want someone touching me). I felt no closer to that ideal than I was before. When would I get to excitedly anticipate seeing a guy I really liked, instead of always feeling anxious and tired? When would I reach a point of inclusion in each other’s lives and knowledge of each other’s friends? That was the problem, really; my only worldly connection with any of these guys was a mutual right swipe. We had no Venn diagram, just an intentional, manufactured connection totally separate from our regular lives. I realized online dating was pulling me away from my goals and the people and activities I enjoy. It had become a detractor, not a contributor. I looked at the big picture, and decided I had more important things to do than keep trying to impress Random Dude of the Week. So I quit. When I deleted my Tinder profile, I felt zero regret, only relief that I could now get back to my life.
In the span of just a few years, in my demographic, online dating has transformed from a source of shame to basically the only way anyone dates. So quitting Tinder returned my love life to its previous nonexistence. It’s possible that I had a meh Tinder experience simply because I met the wrong people. My affections strike as rarely and brightly as lightning. When I really click with someone, it doesn’t matter if I met him in a Dumpster. But the consumerist framework of dating apps makes it tough for me to get there. I want to gradually get to know a whole person who also sees and respects me as a whole person, instead of trying to make quick judgments while protecting myself as a commodity. And that aspect of online dating is the same whether you’re on Tinder or Christian Site-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. They might prioritize different commodities, but you’re still not a real person, a friend or even someone a guy happened to talk to at a bar… you’re primarily a list of features and statistics. I’m pretty sure that if I die alone, it’ll be because I couldn’t get on board with that.
Since last summer, various readers and tweeps have asked me about my Tinder experience. It’s taken me several months to get this to come out right. I’m not sorry I tried it; it was the right decision for me for a while. I had some happy moments and nice dinners. I learned things about myself and what I want to do better in the future, which is helpful. I’m not even saying I won’t try one of the other apps, because I will eventually feel the itch again to have something instead of nothing. But it’ll never be my first choice, and I don’t have any answers or solutions. I’m just a flawed human doing the best she can, still wishing for a real, permanent partner in crime and life – but still making her way without one.
About Brenda W.Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
Posted in dating, singleness