All my comments are based on my personal experience as a 40 year old woman.
SHAG: 5/5 (Literally same day, if you want. More efficient and better coverage than Deliveroo. I imagine.)
MARRY: 2/5 (If you are willing to kiss *a lot* of frogs, the app has volume.)
AVOID: 4/5 (Waste of time. Particularly if you don’t want to date men who use LOL. Delete.)
I first used Tinder in January 2016. I signed up following a drunken Christmas outing where I was subjected to the normal level of loving hassle from friends about “getting out there”. I matched with Polaris within a couple of days – he was the only person who seemed to be able to use proper grammar. We bonded over the Oxford comma and history studies, and the rest is, well, history. But he stood out easily in an unimpressive field. You could even say it was fate, even if delivered in the most modern of ways. Back then, the app seemed straight-forward, fun and efficient.
A couple of weeks ago, in a desperate bid for distraction, I logged on again. In truth, I initially logged on to see if Polaris was using the app (he was). Again I quickly had 20+ matches. On my return after 12 months, like a jaded gunslinger riding into Tinder-town with a new scar and a pelt thrown over my shoulder, I felt a distinct decrease in optimism on the app. There were less amusing profiles, and all the profiles that were so bad you just had to screenshot them to show people have disappeared. There are also more blank face/married/Fifty Shades offers. Tinder has become a lot less fun while I’ve been away. The remaining users seem to want either sex or Candy Crush with faces. It’s like an online Hogarth etching, with crowds of people lolling about lasciviously, arsing around and fornicating, deliberately blocking out the real world.
- The best feature of Tinder is also the worst. It’s super easy to sign up. Link your Facebook account (or a fake profile you have created to use Tinder), select a photo, and you’re ready to go. You can add multiple photos and a few words if you wish, but it’s optional. There are no long questionnaires and personality tests to complete. No formalities. You don’t have to spend a cent. It’s that lack of effort and commitment that makes Tinder so superficial. Most people I talk to about Tinder use it as way to waste time and boost ego, with matches seen as points, but there’s little expectation of meeting up or decent connections. Low investment = low reward.
- Men usually swipe on most/all profiles and then review the matches. Women tend to swipe only on the profiles that interest them. So a woman will get a lot of matches. However, many matches will never contact you. It’s a numbers game from the start.
- Tinder is full of cliches. You’ll be amazed how many men have photos with tigers, and you’ll be simply stunned by how many 40-somethings are part-time DJs. I swipe left automatically on those. I only search for men in my local area, my age and slightly older. I also swipe left for terrible spelling, ab shots, drunken group pictures, flash cars, and anyone who says “I like going out and I like staying in”. Tinder is so low on detail that you end up inventing ridiculous judgements.
- Write a short bio – many won’t even look but if someone does, they want to see something. To maximise matches: women want funny, confident and an indication of wealth without bragging, and men want to see fun and easy (not too easy) with no baggage. As with everything in life, the better looking you are, the less any of that matters. Tinder really is a microcosm of hopelessness.
- I never message first – unless someone really sparks my interest. I want to see what effort is made on the opener. There are reams of articles giving advice of what openers work best, but expect to get “Hi” in 9/10 cases. I recently read that spam emails with all the crap spelling and ludicrous requests for money are intentionally ridiculous. The scammers only want to deal with the most gullible people. I wonder if Tinder encourages a similar behaviour: if you make minimal effort and get a response, you can be sure that you will be required to make only minimal effort with that person going forward.
- Tinder has reinforced my view that dating apps/sites unintentionally showcase the worst of men. Men are often terrible at texting – however witty and articulate they are in person. Even basic conversation skills are hard to find. One recent match did not ask me a single question in a 30 message exchange. And he used LOL. A lot. I’m not asking for Shelley but there is nothing sexy about text-speak. Don’t use Tinder if good correspondence and social etiquette are important to you.
- At least half of the men who do contact you will try to assess, with varying degrees of subtlety, whether you are up for sex. Beyond that, most matches will never set a date. There are diamonds to be found in the rough but there is so much rough and so much blah, if you’re genuinely looking for a good date, you have to work hard. I want to feel excited by a date – not like I might be the sexual equivalent of an Ocado order – where he’s going to squeeze the fruit before he accepts the delivery. I have no moral judgement about one night stands; but I want to be the desire not the default.
- I have only made dates with two people from Tinder. You might think it unfair to make any judgement on that basis but, aside from Polaris, I have not felt enthusiastic about any of my matches. It’s impossible to get much of a vibe from something as superficial as someone’s best photo and “how was your weekend?”. Using Tinder as a regular means of meeting people feels soulless and transactional. Persisting, because I met Polaris, feels like murdering someone in the hopes that a hot priest might officiate the funeral.
- There are whole generations of people regularly using an app, which has inspired a common joke about swiping right on the toilet. This may be fitting for the dating version of the “Rate My Poo” website. Surely, romance deserves a better start in life.
- I was asked to dinner by the LOL-er. I could not muster the strength, let alone the words to explain. I am not quite ready to get back out there and the last thing I need is more doubt. I just said: “I’m sorry. I can’t.” He deleted me without replying (Tinder is ruthless). And I deleted the app.
What’s your experience of Tinder?
[Image from Whisper.sh]