When Tinder first came on the scene, it was perceived as an app that was mostly for hook-ups and no-strings-attached fun. When I found out one of my friends was on it, I mercilessly made fun of him and his “meat market” app. I was in a relationship at the time, so it wasn’t something that I thought much about, plus I was someone who had never used a dating app in my life and had no plans to. Not only am I a technology-hating Luddite, but I live in a dream world, where I’m fairly certain that I will meet my future husband in a bookstore, as we both reach for the same book and then he’ll take me out for donuts and we’ll travel the world with our dog, Pepperoni….and yeah, it should be obvious that I’m not totally suited for the world of online dating.

I read Aziz Anzari’s book, Modern Romance, (highly recommended, by the way) and it cemented my feelings about never wanting to use the internet to date. It was ruining love! No one knew how to communicate anymore! Romance was dead, smothered to death by emoticons and hashtags! Aziz interviewed the elderly, who talked about how in the old days, you met someone, you liked them, you married them. They didn’t have the buffet of options that we have today. You didn’t always have the nagging feeling that you could have someone better. They were content and they made it work. That sounded good to me. The black hole of mirror selfies and “what’s up, girl” that is Tinder seemed overwhelming. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I had recently moved back home, I was bored, and every guy in a 5 mile radius either went to high school with me or was a Trump supporter. Tinder, it was.

It has been a couple of months now and I’ve gone from absolutely hating Tinder, to being obsessed with it, to hating it again, to now feeling rather ambivalent. But, most importantly, I’ve learned a lot of important things about the American dating scene on Tinder.


Photo via lookcatalog

  1. Sapiosexual is a thing

    When I first got on Tinder, I saw all these guys calling themselves “sapiosexuals”, usually included in a list that included “humanist” and “star-gazer”.Due to the weird amount of open relationships on Tinder, I assumed this meant they were into threesomes and probably doing it with animals, so I swiped to the left. Β I finally Googled the term and found out it’s this new millennial term that means you are attracted to the human mind or find intelligence to be the most attractive trait in a partner.Soooooo, I basically said no to all men who value intelligent women. Things were off to a solid start.
  2. All American men fish, rock climb, and road trip with their dogs 

    There is no original thought. We see ourselves as unique snowflakes, but we’re just like everybody else and Tinder fully confirms this. I honestly had no idea that every male in a 50 mile radius was super into fishing, but almost every bio I see includes a pic of a guy holding up a fish like he’s won the lottery.Next will be a photo of him rock climbing, possibly shirtless. After that comes a silly selfie with his dog in the backseat looking super cute and loyal. Lastly, it’s either a picture of him shooting a gun or hanging out with his friends at a lake. This last picture is when I decide if I will swipe left or right.

    Women are no better. From what men’s somewhat aggressive bios tell me (you a basic bitch?? you better swipe left! you’re into taylor swift??!! F*CK OFF!), women’s pictures consist of the flower crown filer from Snapchat, outdoorsy photos where we pretend to like hiking, cleavage shots, and yoga poses.

    I’m obviously doing something wrong because my photos do not follow this template. Maybe the Christmas-onesise one isn’t the best choice, but if you wanna be with me, you gotta accept onesie wearing.

  3. Dick pics WILL happen 

    I’ve heard tales of dick pics for quite some time, but it had never happened to me (not that I was complaining). People said Tinder was swarming with them, so when a guy I’d been chatting with sent me an image link, alarm bells went off. We hadn’t talked in a while, so it seemed weird, but I always want to think the best of people. We had been talking about Niagara Falls, so maybe he was sending me a photo of him there!I forced myself to click the link, while squinting my eyes in preparation. It looked like a bag of raw chicken…no wait, it was a super zoomed-in dick! I screamed and immediately blocked the guy and reported him to Tinder. No one deserves a dick pic, but maybe I shouldn’t have swiped right on a guy who took half his photos from his bed…he probably hangs out there all day taking pictures of his junk…

    14837259957_f23eb9b8b3_z (1)
    Photo via Denis Bocquet


  4. Tinder is the best way to find guys who travel/have lived abroad 

    Moving home after living abroad is difficultΒ and it feels like no one else has had the same experiences as you. You crave being around other travelers and people who know what it’s like to uproot themselves and live in another culture, but where to find them? Tinder, it seems.Almost every guy I’ve met on Tinder travels or has lived abroad. I texted with an English teacher in Korea, met up with a tour leader in China, and chatted with a photographer, who had just finished traveling the globe.

    Most guys will include photos of their travels on their profile or talk about travel in their bios, so it’s easy to connect with them and there’s always something to talk about. This has been my favorite part of using Tinder; getting to see that there’s plenty of men in America who are well-traveled and want to live that lifestyle. It has also been cool to talk to guys who are road-tripping the States in their van, but you know…beware dudes with vans πŸ˜‰

  5. The art of conversation is truly becoming a lost art 

    I’m a writer, so I like to think I’m pretty good with words, but chatting online is not the same as talking to someone in person. It’s much more difficult and it’s very easy for a conversation to swiftly lose momentum and die.I’ve talked to a single dad about the importance of money and freedom, a businessman about why cats are evil, a caviar salesman about the best way to eat caviar, and a teacher about forming a hit-man squad. There has been some fun conversations, but it’s plain to see that you can only talk to someone for so long before one of you gets bored and it’s over. The generations before us that wrote each other long letters and talked on the phone for hours? That’s not our style. Too much work and not fast enough. Either meet up with me or don’t, but I’m not wasting a week talking to you. I’m not saying this a good thing, but it’s what I’ve observed.

  6. Tinder is a game and it’s best not to forget that 

    I hated Tinder when I first downloaded it because I took it too seriously. Why didn’t that guy respond to me? Why didn’t we match? What’s wrong with me? But, then I realized that Tinder was made for fun, not serious affairs of the heart, and I enjoyed it much more when I looked at it that way.It’s possible to find love on Tinder, but mostly, it’s a good way to see what’s out there, chat with some good-looking, interesting people, and if you’re brave, go on some dates and enjoy free coffee and drinks. As for me, I’ll keep playing the game and see where it takes me. Hopefully, not to another dick pic….


6 thoughts on “What Tinder Taught Me About Dating In America

  1. Awesome, awesome, awesome read!! Been out of the states for years and the dating scene as well… generally by default of the gf…which made this so genuinely enjoyable to learn about because it has been off of my radar for so long! Reading this made me feel so out of the loop because dating seemed quite different when I was still in California…I don’t think the tinder revolution had quite taken hold at the time. Am I old now? I feel old. I digress. Sidenote…on behalf of all men, allow me apologize for the dick picks, traumatizing, no doubt.

    Nonetheless, it is incredible how everything changes so fast these days and Tinder has no doubt played a giant role! Personally, I feel like the biggest problem with our generation, which you mentioned in the article, is the complete collapse of face-to-face communication! I feel like it is such a rare commodity these days…incredibly unfortunate! The most memorable experiences in my life were late night conversations listening to other curious and inquisitive minds debating or discussing…just about anything and everything! I feel like dates now are much less about getting to know someone, if that is even still possible in a world of constant email/facebook and ironically, tinder interruptions, dings and updates.

    It sounds like you’re meeting some awesome people, so keep it up yo! Although I know that it is impossible to meet someone as epic as you, I am sure it will be possible to find someone that manages to come close. Keep writing, each and every piece is thoroughly insightful and entertaining. With all that said, one small piece of advice…if I may, as I wrap up this endlessly long comment lol…don’t be afraid to cast a bit of a wider net and step outside of your comfort zone. Trump supporters, for example, are not necessarily the knuckle dragging cavemen the media portrays us to be. Trump supporters are truly a diverse bunch, including Mexican Americans like myself (yes we do exist).

    In my dating experience, I have found that opposites have a funny way of attracting…and yes, I realize how cliche that is to say lol. Give it a go nonetheless…worst case scenario, you get a great story to share about how he tried to give you a “Make America Great Again” hat. All the best and lots of love from Beijing. You are welcome here anytime! Do werrrrkkkkk out there!

    The Steve Panda

    • This is an all-around awesome comment, Steve. Thanks for all the insights. For sure, face-to-face communication is dying, which is unfortunate, as I come across best that way πŸ˜‰ Haha, which is why I Skype you from time to time πŸ™‚ Hope all is well in Beijing, you old man, and pray you never become single and have to stoop to using Tinder :p

  2. I am too old to know what Tinder is, but I do remember the AOL days. Best post yet. Made me laugh until my McDonald’s ice coffee came out my nose. From the looks I got from the patrons, I was the abnormal one at McDonald’s. This one will not be forwarded to my 11 year old son who waits for your new post.

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