Today’s welcome back to the world of blogging is a post about something I spent quite a bit of time doing this spring/summer: using Tinder. My last relationship ended in December and by April I felt ready to explore the world….of online dating. In the past, my dating website go-to was OKCupid. But in the year and a half since being on the dating scene, things changed and everyone I knew was talking about Tinder. I was skeptical. The idea of swiping left or right on someone felt kind of…well…awful. Like I was going through t-shirts on the American Apparel website. I had also heard horror stories from many women in life about getting gross messages from dudes. But I also knew folks who’d had good Tinder experiences and so I thought I’d give it a try.
It was a love/hate relationship. I deleted my Tinder account at least two, if not three times. I felt annoyed by how passive my matches were: I could hear the crickets in all their glory as I waited to receive and/or hear back from those I’d matched with. I was tired of the awkward conversations that didn’t go anywhere. As someone who is 99% of the time the more assertive human in romantic relationships, I kind of really love it when someone takes the initiative to make the first move. So when I didn’t hear anything on the other end, I felt frustrated and…well…kind of demoralized. I began to interrogate all of the toxic feelings I was having and realized that if I was feeling this crappy, maybe I wasn’t in the right headspace for dating. So I deleted and re-emersed myself in my singledom.
When I reactivated my account a couple of weeks later, I decided to treat it more like a sociological experiment. Why did this person choose that profile picture? Why did they leave their profile blank? I wasn’t judging; I was just curious. I began to not care at all when I didn’t hear back from someone — when I did send a message — or if I didn’t hear from them at all. I also turned off the app’s notifications, so this way I would just check Tinder at the end of my day, rather than obsess over matches, messages, or a lack thereof.
This change in attitude yielded positive results (who knows if the two are actually related, but I’m the kind of person who likes to think that they do): I went on a couple of dates with an awesome feminist dude who realized he wasn’t ready to date and who’s now one of my best guy pals; I met a gender non-conforming person who I’ve happily been dating now for over two months; and I met a rad feminist lady who’s also become a friend — and will soon be guest blogging on Floral Manifesto. Don’t get me wrong: there were some awkward first dates in which I sat there overwhelmingly aware of how much I was carrying the convo and how little the person I was on the date with seemed to care about asking me questions. But I tried to temper my frustrations with humour: wasn’t this person aware of the fact that they’d been talking to me about Icelandic saga stories for over 20 minutes without pause? No really — this happened! ICELANDIC SAGA STORIES! WHITE DUDES BEING HYPERMASCULINE IS SOOOOOOOO SEXY!!!!
Overall, I would say that my Tinder experience was pretty okay.
While I was on Tinder I was not only curious about why people picked certain pictures or what info they put in their profiles. But I also wanted to know what this experience was like for other women who may have been looking for similar or different things. Were the things that turned me off also turn-offs for them? Did other women have strategies for weeding out undesirable suitors and if so, what were they? And so I decided to do what anyone with a blog would do: I turned to Facebook to find folks that’d be interested in sharing their experiences. I hope you enjoy their responses!
I. The Participants
Gillian, Age: 27. Looking for: men, women, dates, relationships, hookups.
Holly, Age: 26. Looking for: men, dates, long-term. USED TO be hookups but not so much anymore.
Marielle, Age: 33. Looking for: Men (but men & women selected in-app); casual dating, relationship.
Jane, Age: 26. Looking for: Dates, hookups, friends; men.
Adie, Age: 28. Looking for: both men and women, friends, romance, long and short-term partners.
II. Tinder Origin Stories
Question: When and why did you start using Tinder? Do you use any other online dating sites?
Gillian: I’ve been on tinder for about 2 months, but I wouldn’t call myself a novice. I’ve collected 50 matches, met 10 people, (5/10 resulted in eventually getting laid, so I’m batting 50%). I am currently not using any other sites.
I ended a fairly serious relationship a half-year ago, and finally arrived at a place where I wanted to date again. Except I didn’t want to date. I wanted to meet (and sleep with) new people, but on my own terms. I think to a certain extent I was also seeking validation, I mean, how great is it to swipe through loads of people and wind up with a big list of people who think you’re totally bangable? It’s a nice feeling.
Holly: Serious on and off Tinder (and all sorts of apps/sites) for the last 5 years pretty much. It’s usually on for one-two months, off for four-five months… and the cycle goes on. I’ve also used Bumble, OkCupid, Clover. When I first started using Tinder, I think I wanted to. Now when I use it, it’s a bit to my dismay. I feel like Tinder has the biggest pool of people to choose from, so the thinking behind that is that you’re bound to find someone you connect with, right?
Marielle: I’ve been using Tinder for several months on-and-off. Used OkCupid last year and hesitantly considering it again. But I didn’t like how anyone can message you on OkCupid. After climbing out of the gross pile of likes from dudes jumping on fresh meat, I felt guilty not answering nice messages from seemingly decent men. I didn’t want to lead anyone on by engaging them. Knowing that the OkCupid robot matched us, too (albeit using answers to cold, multiple choice questions) and still ignoring them made me feel shallow. A few friends recommended Tinder instead—it allows me to be shallow in secret.
Jane: I’ve been using Tinder on and off for a couple of years now. I started using it because of boredom and loneliness while staying at my parents’ for a month.
Adie: I’ve been using Tinder for about 6 months. I’m also on OKCupid. In February my partner and I decided to open our relationship and independently pursue other romantic relationships. We work full time, our friend groups don’t serve as a fertile ground for dating prospects, and I think we are both cynical enough to know that meet-cutes ain’t gunna happen. We agreed that online dating would be a good fit for us to look for other partners.
III. The Art of the Tinder Profile: Creating a Profile of One’s Own
Question: How did you decide what information to include on your profile — if any? Have you implemented any strategies for weeding out potential not-so-great suitors?
Gillian: My profile centers on my interests and my politics. I mention that I’m a gym rat, donut enthusiast, pro-Bernie Sanders, hockey fan, cat-lover etc. I may have also included a cheesy joke about my 5-star uber rating. I try to tell people what I like, as opposed to what I dislike (ie. no douchebags please). My profile does not explicitly mention my feminist politics, but I don’t seem to be attracting any MRAs, so I guess it’s implied?
Holly: For a long time, I didn’t include anything in my profile. Realizing that it really wasn’t working for me, I added one line about an upcoming trip I had and if anyone had suggestions/recommendations. I find it’s so easy to talk about travel and that so many people make a point of mentioning it in their profile, that it would be easier for someone to strike up a conversation with me (I don’t really like sending the first message).
Marielle: My current Tinder profile says, “Loves comedy, games, books. Hates writing bios.” I figure that men mostly choose based on our pictures alone, and if I ever match with someone, I want to see what happens when he only has a few clues. There’s definitely a theme of not taking it seriously and dooming myself so that I don’t have to use Tinder anymore. My main picture also adds a cool vibe.
Jane: I wrote that I was “a complete bore” for a bit. Now mine’s just blank bc I don’t care enough to make something up. I do have a thing with profile “taglines” and usually only write ones that make sense to me and no one else.
Adie: My profile currently says: “Feminism, disability studies, poetry, body positivity, subway system maps, inclusive design, ethical polyamory. Not chill. I just showed up for the yams, though. Grass emoji and Kendrick go ok hand emoji together.” I decided to include things that are important to me in my life at this time, whether ideological, ethical, or sensory. I don’t have strategies other than portraying myself in a way that I hope attracts people with a similar ethical compass and similar proclivities. I don’t really care if someone likes the same things I do, as long as their outlook on the world overlaps with mine a lil bit. I also figure that with Tinder, I am the gatekeeper of my own suitors – if I swipe right on someone, I want to match and get to know them.
IV. Tinder Methodologies
Question: Will you swipe left or right based just off of the first picture? Do you look at all the photos? Do you read their profiles? What sorts of things will make you swipe right or left?
Gillian: In the beginning, I was not nearly as discerning as I am now. These days, I read the profile, check ALL the photos, and if we have mutual friends I may even try a good old-fashioned facebook-creep session. A lot of this is motivated by safety, and wanting to make sure that people are who they say they are. I have also found that you will save yourself time if you are thorough at the outset. Ever heard the saying “measure twice, cut once”? Imagine chatting with someone for a few days, and then going on 2-3 dates before you learn that they are a huge nickelback fan. I like to know what I’m walking into (or away from).
Holly: I swipe right on the first picture, I go by attraction mostly. I tell myself it’s efficiency! If it’s a maybe, then I would go through the rest of their photos/read the profile. Dogs help a lot to get a swipe right. Group photos are a left (I don’t need to spend time figuring out who it is!). There tends to be a lot of males who have a combo of: fishing, playing, hockey and hanging with the bros – and it’s not what I’m normally attracted to so if I see that, I’ll usually swipe left.
Marielle: When I rarely swipe right, I go through all the information available, including instagram and any 1st connections. It’s difficult to tell what people actually look like. My age range is set at 28-38, and men in their thirties often use photos from their twenties (and men in their forties pretend to be 36, specifically, a lot). Guys who use photos from when they were younger than 25 look like boys and it creeps me out. The rare times I’ve swiped right have been guys who have good interests, a natural sense of humour, and genuine photos. Guys who try to force funny or who list what they don’t like are a turn-off.
Jane: I go through all of the pictures and I read the profiles because most of them amuse me. Sometimes, I look for people who resemble the person I’m trying to forget.
Adie: I swipe left based on the first picture most of the time, but I’ve never swiped right based on the first picture. If I like someone’s main photo, I read their profile next. If a profile is empty or totally not my bag, I swipe left. I have to be incredibly vulnerable, hangry, or slightly tipsy to swipe right on an empty profile. If the profile’s ok, then I look at the rest of their photos.
V. Being a Feminist on Tinder*
*Note: I added this question after the participants answered my initial questions.
Question: How do your feminist politics — or other forms of identity politics — inform the ways in which you use Tinder or other online dating sites?
Gillian: Tinder is a weird space when it comes to activating my feminist politics. I recall coming across a profile that read “looking for a strong, beautiful woman to treat like a princess. No feminists please.” I considered a right swipe, if only for the opportunity to inquire how this person could simultaneously espouse interest in “strong women” and express distaste for feminists. In the end, I did not swipe right. I can’t bear the burden of educating every basic bro about the tenets of sex and gender equality. I am something of a bad feminist in my Tinder use. At best, I’m striving to be an ethical slut, and I’m not entirely sure I’ve succeeded.
Holly: As I’ve said in my previous answers, I haven’t taken Tinder too seriously and because of that, I don’t think any identity politics have played a HUGE role. I think I’ve always trusted my gut and if someone/something gives me bad vibes, I’ll shut it down – and that goes for dating and people I meet.
Marielle: Since answering the other questions, I’ve started an OkCupid profile. Where it says ‘You Should Message Me If’, one of mine is “if you’re a feminist”. It doesn’t seem to weed anyone out. I had an MRA logic-broing me at 2am one night over the word feminism itself (clearly sexist, duh). Another was this exchange:
Him: “Now that’s a face I’d like to wake up to in the Morning! I’m [****], how was the week? Would definitely like to meet some time! Little weirded out by the feminist part though.”
Me: “What do you find weird about it?”
Him: “Just didn’t think Men could be Feminists. Or is that part of your heteroflexible attraction?”
Me: “Any person can be a feminist.”
He never responded, so I guess he didn’t want to wake up with me that much after all.
Jane: For me it’s a process of elimination. It’s slim pickings. I guess if they look bro-y…based on their bio. I really don’t like a lot of men.
Adie: I am much more likely to swipe right on people that express intersectional feminist views either overtly or through inclusive, ethical language. I’m also pretty quick to stop engaging with anyone that expresses misogynist views or oppressive behaviours.
VI. From Right to Left: What Are Your Tinder Dealbreakers?
Question: Let’s say you’re into someone’s profile based off of the first picture. What sorts of things will make you change your mind and swipe left instead of right?
Gillian: I appreciate photos that give clues to someone’s personality (maybe you’re in the park eating ice cream, or you’re playing a board game, or doing some other nerdy activity that I could totally be on board with). Generally, I want to see people in their “natural habitat”, being as real-ish as one can be in the age of the internet.
Any of the following are automatic left-swipes for me: introspective guitar pics, club photos featuring multiple bros who all look exactly the same, torso pics (show me the brain that’s attached to your six-pack!), weird photoshop decisions (ex: your face superimposed on a painting of Napoleon, it just sends an uncomfortable message) and this one might be controversial but I don’t want to see a pic of you and your mom. Basically, if you’re in the picture, I should be considering banging you. The only exception: pets, because frankly, I totally want to date your dog. Also: Guns. The dreaded middle finger pic. No written content on your profile. Misuse of “their/there” in the written content on your profile.
Holly: It’s a major turn off if they’re ashamed of being on tinder, in their profile saying, “willing to lie about how we met.” It’s great if they’re upfront in their profile if they say they’re just looking for hookups or saying “they’re in town just one night” or “girlfriend is outta town” – because that’s not what I’m looking for.
Marielle: Men’s “sexy” selfies make me not want to fuck men anymore. Shiny, grotesque muscles and no face are the worst ones. I hate seeing nice cars, suits, Toronto hair, cigarettes hanging dumbly from lips, groups of men at bars, groups of men anywhere, Self-Conscious Wacky Face, puckers, and too-close-ups. If you’re putting up a blurry photo, you’re bad at going down on me. Photos that give a realistic sense of what that person looks like are a good start.
Jane: Swiping left and right really depends what kind of mood I’m in. Sometimes I get so used to swiping left I miss out on people I find attractive. I’m not a big fan of men holding fish. And I hate it when they ask me about my thesis.
Adie: Left: gym/muscle selfies, catch of the day photos, squats in front of a car, sedated tigers, elephant petting, travel pics in which white dudes gratuitously pose with native peoples, headless horsemen (“toned” dudes with no heads), group shots (I don’t know which one you are and I don’t care enough to find out). Right: great smiles, earnest faces, candid shots, arty selfies, good style, a hint at common interests like a photo in an art gallery or in nature or drinking coffee.
VII. The Tinder Experience
Question: What has your Tinder experience been like overall? What is your worst experience and what has been your best?
Gillian: My experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been on some really fun dates, met loads of cool people, and had the occasional giggle when I spot old friends, colleagues, and even ex-partners in the tinderverse. In the few cases where my date and I simply didn’t click, there has been a very clear and respectful communication of the “hey, let’s never do this again” sentiment. I endeavour to respect everyone’s time and feelings, and I am grateful to see that people have treated me similarly.
Worst: Within about 5 minutes of activating my tinder account, I matched with this guy who was a personal trainer and DJ (red flags, I know this now). He asked if I’d like to chat with him on skype, kind of like a pre-date. Because I am an idiot, I agreed. He basically attempted to rub one out in front of me, and I ended the call. Although the experience was fundamentally hilarious, it certainly set the stage for the level of care necessary for women who are openly seeking casual sex. I learned very quickly to be on guard, and I think this has served me well.
Best: Winding up in a gorgeous loft for a night of completely wild sex. I still see this person, and the sex is still wild. Total tinder win.
Holly: Probably more bad than good; I’ve only met a handful of guys from it and only one was a relatively good experience (I elaborate below). Somehow I’m always attracted to/talking to that kind of guy who wants to sext you before even meeting. It’s a lot of bad pickup lines. Or a lot of unanswered messages (which can get discouraging). Overall though, it’s been entertaining to say the least.
Worst: One night I was at a party and a few guy friends used Tinder on my behalf. The shit that was said to “me” was so awful – one guy went from asking “me and my yellow cunt to sit on his face” to telling me that I “looked like a dirty raccoon walking the streets of Toronto” and that I smelled like sashimi. THEN he told me to add him to Snapchat! (I was not involved in this conversation at all). I deleted Tinder for a while after that.
Best: A while ago, I had an instant connection with a match and it was a whirlwind romance that I’d never experienced before, for a really short time. I thought he was a great guy and everything I was looking for. He turned out to be one of those ‘I don’t think I have my shit together’ kind of person who didn’t want a relationship. I was hung up on it for a long time and still kind of am. Even though this sounds like a bad experience, it was still kind of the best because I’m thankful for it. Maybe that’s me being in denial though.
Marielle: I’m still hesitant about online dating or any dating. My relationships have developed either from friendships or with friends of friends. The idea of meeting a stranger whose four photos I’m supposed to be attracted to and running some field tests with them is terrible. Cynicism aside, I have a difficult time being attracted to anyone without spending time with them. Looking at a minefield of beards and tank tops is already hard to get excited about. I’d have to go on many dates just to see if there’s an initial attraction, and that’s a lot of ooh-nopes. In a previous Tinder run, I only went on one date with a nice guy with whom I had a fair amount in common, but I didn’t feel a great rapport in terms of humour and wasn’t attracted to him. He asked me out two hours after I got home, and I felt so bad turning him down, I immediately deleted the app. This current run, I’ve swiped right on one person (no match) and actually ran out of men. It just shows my profile pic with continuous loading circles radiating out, which is a very darkly funny thing to stare at sitting in bed with no pants on.
Jane: I’ve never really met anyone I’m reasonably attracted to. But I don’t really try. One time, I met up with a guy I used to know from high school after seeing him on tinder and we slept together and then he ghosted me.
Worst: One time, I went for drinks with a guy then had to explain to him that me not sleeping with him didn’t mean I was “using him for drinks.” I felt like I was too old to be explaining such a thing to a man my age. It depressed me that I could attract such a person.
Best: I had pretty decent sex with a guy for a couple weeks and then we never spoke again.
Adie: My experience so far has been fairly negative. I am very up front and honest about my current context and open relationship status. Men have taken this on as a “personal growth” enterprise to stretch their own concepts of relationships. It usually starts with this great infatuation and a subtle look of self-sacrifice on their faces at the notion of sharing. Sadly, their narcissism is far too great to sustain this. Having never been equipped with communication skills, they generally fade away or ghost. I’ve had to pull teeth to get men to fess up when all I want to know is where I stand. Dude, when the temperature drops about 30 degrees, I’m going to notice. The other end of the spectrum is dudes that misinterpret my open relationship to mean that I want to be a casual plaything to be picked up and then benched as it suits them. Basically, I’ve dealt with what women probably deal with all the time – oppression, unethical treatment, and unbridled male entitlement.
Some positive experiences: I’ve had one date with a woman so far and it was pretty great. We are pals now. I had a couple of lovely dates with a gender nonconforming person. We also decided to be pals. A lovely man from Guelph came to Toronto to meet me! We still snapchat (selfies and OOTDs, you pervy reader).
Worst: Dudes that posture as sex-positive feminists when they’re really misogynist pick-up artists are. The. Worst. This one dude who I expressly told I am not interested in casual sex, negged me incessantly. His proposals ranged from meeting up at the Super 8 motel for a hook-up to sending over a cab to pick me up and “deliver” me to him. I’ve never been made to feel as passive and objectified as by this man. This interaction happened at the very beginning of my open relationship when I was still feeling things out and figuring out what I wanted and what my boundaries were so it took a while to see this dude for what he was, once I realized “sex positive” and “feminism” were just words he picked up to pick up the kinds of women he was attracted to. We never met. But I did eventually tell him I was not interested and that our needs were too different to continue any productive dialogue. At this point he tried to add me to social media, kept trying to ask me to go for coffee (something he dismissed as too heteronormative up until I rejected him) and eventually sent me a message asking if I hate him. At this point I blocked him because that sad attempt at making me feel guilty for the body and mind I inhabit and for my own agency to say no, was criminal.
Best: As much as I hate it, narcissists are so great at sweeping me off my feet. I had an amazing first date getting to know this one guy, having drinks, and just talking. I am simple. If I feel chemistry with someone, whether romantic or cerebral, all I need is good conversation and some drinks (I’m simple but also Eastern European – the social lubricant is important ok?) in a non-abrasive environment.
Question: What are some things that annoy you about Tinder or the ways in which people use Tinder?
Gillian: “How’s your night going?” Seriously. Just. Don’t. My night was going great, until you sent me a lazy boilerplate intro that shows just how little effort you think I’m worth. Unmatch. Unsubscribe. Downvote. You get the idea.
Holly: My biggest pet peeve is matching with someone only to be unmatched shortly after! It gives me the impression that males will say yes to every female, only to be choosy afterwards (whereas females might do this the other way around).
Marielle: Profiles designed for what women supposedly want instead of being authentic. But those are nice red flags for guys who don’t know and aren’t comfortable with who they are. My current profile isn’t exactly earnestly detailed, but it’s still me. Also, it’s generally annoying that straight dudes have a much easier time finding lovely women; whereas straight women have to put up with a lot of crap just to find a guy to settle for.
Jane: They make me connect through Facebook and reveal my real age.
Adie: There are many, but I’ll list top 3:
- Impositions, passive aggressions, or oppressive statements like – “not into duck face” or “what are you Toronto girls doing with your eyebrows?” Your profile is a place for you to tell me why you’re great, not a place where you can make me take up even less space than I already do.
- Any hint of misogyny or totally unaware white male privilege. This one overlaps with my first reason but there are some subtle distinctions. Profiles that smack of “you’re lucky I’m even talking to you” are a no-no.
- A great first pic that turns into all/some/any of the left-swipe pics listed above
IX. Words of Wisdom to the Tinderverse
Question: If you could offer any advice to folks using Tinder, what would it be?
Gillian: I’m always surprised by how many people focus on what they DON’T want in their profile. Things like “no feminists” or “no stupid people” or even “if you like X, we won’t get along.” Why be so closed and uncompromising? Tell me what you like, and I’ll fill in the blanks.
Holly: Know what you want to get out of Tinder. For a long time, I kid myself thinking I was really into casual hookups but I actually wanted a meaningful relationship. Because of this disconnect, I was constantly disappointed then confused because I was in denial about what I actually wanted (I thought I could be/was really chill). So be up front with yourself and really know what you’re looking for (whatever that is!)
Marielle: If you find it’s affecting how you feel about yourself in a negative way, get rid of it. It might be hard to meet people, especially if you’re older, but feeling lonely sometimes and loving yourself is better.
Jane: Just be cool.
Adie: Don’t take it too seriously. Don’t get your hopes up about someone before a first date. Don’t get your hopes up about someone after the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, Xth date because people are fickle and relationships tenuous at best when you meet online.
Be kind and honest to yourself. Be kind and honest to others. Know what you’re looking for and don’t compromise – it almost always hurts.
This post was written by Margeaux