He’s five years older than you and he’s got massive biceps and great hair. Swipe right. This guy’s profile says he’s 24 but he looks like he’s fresh out of middle school. Swipe left. Check the time—it seems as if you’ve been swiping right and left for just five minutes, but an hour has already gone by. Does this sound familiar?
The Tinder storm hit hard in 2012. I was a freshman at a small liberal arts college where we already all knew one another, so Tinder was not necessarily the most useful app. However, if you set the geographical scope a bit wider, you might find that you’d stumble across students and universities not far from where I was. Tinder freaked me out, so I held my own for a while and refused to download the app. Eventually, I changed my mind and decided to check it out just for fun. Then, I too became hooked.
A big group of girls would huddle in the dining hall for hours after a meal with phones out, swiping away. Only every now and then would someone break the silence with a joyful squeal when they made a “match” with some random hot guy. Or, drama would ensue when one of the girls found her boyfriend was using the app. Tinder had us even more addicted to our phones because now we weren’t just checking up on texts and Twitter, but now we had the Tinder inbox to worry about too.
It wasn’t until that summer after my freshman year that I went on a real Tinder date. I was home working five days a week with a bunch of older coworkers, so I was in desperate need of communication with someone my age. So every day at work, I’d be messaging Tyler (we’ll call him that) and finally, it got to the point where we decided we wanted to meet in person. It turns out we had a lot of mutual friends because he’s also from my hometown and went to a nearby high school. It was harmless—we saw a movie and kissed and that was that. I forget how it all ended, but it was just a one-time thing.
That same summer, my best friend and I went to Nantucket with her mom for a weeklong vacation. We were desperate to meet cute boys our age, so we were Tindering away. As it turns out, the situation got complex, considering most of the guys we were talking to were on Cape Cod, not Nantucket. One night we almost snuck to one of the boy’s houses to meet up but we got cold feet. That was the last time I ever used the app. I started feeling funny about talking to strangers in that way and I had heard a slew of horror stories in the news about people being raped or even killed after meeting up with someone who they thought was harmless.
However, I quickly became fascinated by Bumble, which is also a dating app, but gives the woman control over who she chooses to message. So when she swipes right, she has 24 hours to message him or his profile will disappear from her list of potential guys. It sounded fun and I was home from school recovering from surgery, but at this point I was feeling totally better and no one my age was around so I thought I’d give dating apps another shot. I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend, just someone to go out with and maybe make a new friend. And that’s exactly what happened—I started chatting with this really smart and sexy man who was about three years older than me and who had friends that went to my college. He was living and working back in my hometown and we had a lot of fun going on dates together. We didn’t stay in touch really when I left to finish up the year at school, but I still value the times we spent together. So though I am not the biggest proponent of online dating, I think these online apps hold promise for a fun fling, as long as you play it safe.