No quantity of "Guys on Tinder Who Need to be Stopped" articles can really prepare you for hearing with your very own ears, "I don't usually ask a girl this on the first date, but...we should have sex." I laughed, then realized my date was being completely serious, and managed to muster out "...you should continue to not ask this on the first date." My sassy reply did not stop him, it only seemed to fuel his fire, but eventually he gave up and asked "well can we get Chipotle sometime or something at least??" While saying no to Chipotle is next to impossible for me, I pretended this is something I would do, dropped him off where we met (yes, we were in my car for this exchange. Yes, this whole thing a mistake) and never looked back. This was my first Tinder date ever, by the way. This incident alone probably should have stopped me in my tracks, but I forged ahead, somewhat hesitantly.
Some backstory: In April I ended a long-term relationship right around my 21st birthday. When I returned home from college I was hit in the face with the reality that I didn’t know how to date, let alone attempt to find people to date. I had heard some mixed reviews about Tinder (I mean, who hasn’t?), but I met a lovely woman who is engaged to someone she met on Tinder. She inspired me to go “what the hell” and just go for it – what’s the worst that could happen (I now have a decent idea...)? Unsure of even my own intentions, I embarked on a journey that has taught me more than I could have ever imagined.
1. I could never be "The Bachelorette"
Who doesn’t like a little flattery now and then? However, when it is coming message after message from about 20 different people at once, it is extremely overwhelming. Cheesy pickup lines aside, I was getting first messages like “you have the most beautiful smile” – what am I supposed to say? I mean of course “thank you!” is an obvious response, but after five, ten, fifteen times, it starts to feel uncomfortable somehow. I genuinely felt guilty about it. On top of that, I was telling the same stories over and over to different people, getting confused about the four different Chris’s lives and forgetting that I already told that Thomas that I am lowkey obsessed with squirrels (why this is information I felt the need to share is mostly irrelevant). I had to stop responding to people for my own sanity. JoJo, I don’t know how you do it.
2. Anonymity is not an all-access pass to be a creep
There seem to be a large quantity of individuals who think that since we may never meet face-to-face, that it’s okay to be degrading and creepy. Or maybe they just think that it is okay in general, I have no idea. There were guys who would ask if I lived alone or with my parents – gee, why would you want that information? There were the guys who would crudely comment on my appearance as if that was supposed to motivate me to want to sleep with them. Would you walk up to a girl you met on the subway and say, “You are so hot, let me see that ass?” No? Didn’t think so. Don’t do it on Tinder then.The success rate is about the same.
3. Not everyone is looking for a hookup
In my opinion there’s a difference between hooking up with someone you just met at a party and going to meet someone that you met online specifically with the purpose of hooking up. Aside the fact that the term “hooking up” operates on a sliding scale from kissing to sex, I’d like to think the former is a bit more spontaneous and normal – when you connect you connect, ya know? Of course there are people who are using Tinder with the soul intention of looking to hookup. Some people would straight up just ask “so, why are you on here?” and when my response did not include the words “sex” or “hookup,” the conversation was pretty much over.
I did however, talk to a lot of guys who never even brought up anything to do with sex. We talked about politics, Disney (my profile is plastered with Disney things, it’s hard to avoid), work, school, sports, history, philosophy, food, mental health, you name it—the discussions were broad and varied. I actually got to decently know some of the people I spoke with, as much as you can get to know someone over a social media chat. After a while, it was clear if we connected or not, and the conversation continued or dissipated. It was relatively natural, just as if you were meeting someone and chatting in a bar, except you could just stop responding and didn’t have to make awkward eye contact about it later. Perhaps these conversations were just a façade to true intentions; engaging in niceties before requesting sex, but I’ll never know for sure. At least I had confirmation that every guy (or girl for that matter) is not operating under the assumption that Tinder = Hooking Up.
4. You’re not obligated to date someone just because they’re nice to you
As silly as it sounds, I needed to be reminded of this. If someone is a jerk to you, it’s pretty easy to cast them aside and decide they aren’t worth your time. But when someone is genuinely nice to you, you need to really evaluate whether or not that spark is there. I met a few guys who were genuinely really nice people. They weren’t crude, very considerate and personable. I would sit there at dinner or ice cream, nodding my head and engaging in conversation, but something didn’t feel quite right. It took me a while to accept it, but I was just not attracted to the person in front of me and we didn’t click as well as we did over chat. Basically, there was no passion or spark. I truly felt badly, as you constantly hear that “it’s so hard to find a nice guy” and here I am with several right in front of me and I’m just like “eh.” I found comfort in the fact that I gave these guys a chance, but was able to deduce that meeting a second time probably wasn’t going to change anything.
There was one particular guy though, and I actually connected with him in person, and found myself wanting to see him again. He did everything “right.” He was respectful, offered to pay for meals, brought me flowers, could hold a conversation, and didn’t try to shove his tongue down my throat at every opportunity. After a few dates, my excitement began to fade, and I wasn't quite sure why. It could be because I knew I was returning to college soon, or a convenient excuse to "get out," or maybe a little of both. I might never know for sure, but what I do know is that I would constantly say to myself, “He is so nice, and he treats you well, this is every girl’s dream!” My internal scorning did not guilt me into wanting to see him more but only made me realize that it was completely acceptable that I wasn't like "OMG marry me; lets date long distance!!!" I'm just not at that point or time in my life yet, but I left the door open, because who really knows what time will bring? I went out there, I met people, and I tried. Trying is what matters – you won’t find Mr. Right speculating and not actually going out there looking.
At the end of the day, nice is not the single qualifying factor for wanting to date someone, and I think we need to stop rewarding people, especially guys, for being actual human beings and treating people nicely as we are taught to do in Kindergarten. Nice should be a given for dating someone, not the reason we date them. All I know for sure at this point is whoever I do ultimately decide to go "exclusive" with or whatever are calling it these days, I want to feel something special. Life is too short not to look for it.
5. Dating should not feel like a chore
For a while, I was seeing two or three different guys a week, and after a few weeks I had a complete mental breakdown. I not only felt extremely guilty because I was not upfront about going out with multiple people, but I was losing my mind because I was spending all of my free time seeing these guys. I was not excited to go out to dinner or grab drinks, but I was dreading it. All I wanted was to go home, sit in my pajamas and paint or sit by the pool – basically anything else. Dating shouldn’t feel that way; it should be fun and exciting! When it starts feeling like a chore, it’s a sign that maybe you aren’t ready to date or that maybe the person you’re with isn’t for you.
6. Date on your own time and on your own terms
On that note, I learned that just because I’m single doesn’t mean I need to date someone right this second. If anything, going out on dates has allowed me to appreciate my own time and needs. Sometimes you just need to come home after work and take a two hour nap before watching reality TV. Sometimes you want to go out after work and grab a drink. The moral of the story is that you should be doing what you want to do, not what someone or society is telling you to do. In your own way and in your own time, you will make dating a part of your schedule.
7. Having an open mind is the best thing for you
I could have easily talked myself out of signing up for Tinder as it was asking me to connect my Facebook, select pictures and write a bio. I could have easily ignored people who messaged me. I could have easily said “no thank you” to every single guy who asked me to do something. The thing is, you really don’t know until you try, and closing yourself off to every opportunity is not going to help you, only hurt you. It’s good to use your discretion if you think you’re about to get into a bad situation, but don’t let that keep you from saying “yes” in the future. At the end of the day, I met (or at least chatted with) some great guys who made me excited about the idea of dating again.
8. It’s better to be safe than sorry
It might sound paranoid, but let at least someone you trust know where you are when you are going to meet someone, especially for the first time. 99 percent of guys probably have no intentions of abducting you, but if you suddenly go missing, I’d rather someone know who I was with and where I was! You can send your location on your iPhone, you can text someone to let them know when you’ve safely left your date, you can meet in a public place – you can do all of the above! You don’t need to have a SWAT team ready to come find you just because you’re going to Starbucks with a stranger, but it’s not the worst idea to text a friend to let them know when you’re back in the car and on your way home.
Good luck out there!