Love Me Tinder

I came back home from a Tinder date, and all I wanted was some food and rest in the silent dark. I was staying at my best friend’s place, and that day, she invited some friends over for some drinks. We had all recently turned single and we were all pretty much heartbroken, so I did not have to eavesdrop to figure out the discussion was on dating when I was still hiding under the blankets in the bedroom.

One of the girls came in and pulled the blanket to drag me out of bed. Have I been messing around a little, I had to join the conversation, since I have been actively using Tinder with a different perspective. We needed to share our insights.

Why would they need my insights when I had no idea about dating? I was simply looking for love and I definitely sucked at anything that involved other humans. Maybe I did not suck that much at finding love, but I clearly sucked at finding love to be also loved in return.

All I wanted was some dark silence at that point, what a waste of time that I had to join the discussion since I had nowhere to hide.

I had nowhere to hide. I could choose to be on Tinder, but I had no chance to avoid the frustration caused by the complexity of human relationships in general. I had nowhere to hide.

I was asked about who my date last night was, after a brief recap of my date and my last heartbreak, “You need to follow different strategies,” she said. Did I already have a strategy to follow a different one, I wondered.

Tinder was a play arena. Some were playing “the game”, some were just free-playing. I was one of the latter — I had no rules.

I reminded her that we were completely different characters, in completely different contexts, looking for completely different things in a partner and in a relationship. Yet, she was keen on her advices. I have learnt from my personal experience that when a person is keen on telling their advices, although you might not give a damn about those, you just got to listen to them. They would tell you anyways, regardless of your interest in hearing them.

She went on a lot of dates, through Tinder or analogue ways, but none worked. She was a very good-looking, well-educated foreigner with quite an exotic background. Looking for “something serious and real”, she didn’t do any hook ups.

Did that mean nothing serious may arise from hook ups? Was I not serious and real? Was I just moving on fast?

Tinder was a hunting arena. “You need to appeal to their hunter nature,” she said, “Make them think they hunted you”.

Was I nothing more than a prey for men? Did I have to actively act passive? How the fuck would you do that? Hunting men while making them think they hunted you? What if I wanted to hunt rather than being hunted? What if all I wanted was indeed an egalitarian relationship of equal power distribution? One where I can interchange between the roles of the hunter and the prey?

3 months later, she started dating a guy she met at a bar. No, they did not hook up, they just met at the bar and started dating. They have been dating since then and now planning on getting engaged and moving in together.

And I have deleted Tinder three months ago after a little more than a year of active usage and have been avoiding any sort of romantic affiliations since then. They cause nothing but frustration, disappointment and heartbreaks. Maybe she was right, I am doing wrong, ALL WRONG.


What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me,
Don’t hurt me
No more.

What is love?

Robert Stenberg’s Triangular Theory of Love (1985)

That has been a mind-boggling question for me. Even science has not been able to explain that thing called love, because the rational ways of science is obviously not efficient in explaining the irrationality of love. Love is one of these topics where there is no definite, objective truth for all. It is an open-ended, performative quest in itself. Even when we might have defined it for ourselves, the more we keep changing and finding ourselves in complex romantic situations, our definitions of love keeps evolving. It resembles happiness in many senses, yet love ≠ happiness.

Is love a social construct? How does love happen out in the nature? Do animals love? Are humans different than animals? Are we humans or human-animals? If we are humans, then why does the rational love always feel missing the ‘sparks’? Why do we look for the sparks when we know these sparks will grow into a fire that will burn us out? These sparks are definitely not a product of a voluntary action, but not of a conditioned reflex either. Then how do we ‘fall’ in love?

The passive, the chemical, the instinctual, animal-wise love is not much more than the gut microbes trying to bring two lovers together for the optimum offspring and acts on the same parts of brain as many drugs. Nature is cruel, all it wants is evolution through the perpetuation of the genetic diversity, therefore our offsprings, not us and our happiness. So, this love dictated by the nature is fickle, it comes and goes. It intoxicates us, wrecks us, yet we are programmed not to resist against it so that it may happen over and over again, regardless how much it had wrecked us priorly.

One does not sleep, but rather falls asleep. Until the time of awakening, the sleeper is not aware of their sleep. Love is the same. It is blind and totally irrational. That is not what I want, no. I would not want this sleepy kind of love to wake up miserable with another miserable human being.

I have been looking for an active, rational love that I can work on. Love happens, it does not require any effort, but the type of love I have been looking for needs the effort. To transform the inhumane, passive love into an active, human-wise love, I look for genuine rational human connections. Lasting for a night or more, lifelong or temporal, I am not necessarily aiming at a relationship with those I can find a connection with. Relationships are about the mutual respect, understanding, support and fulfilment of needs, they are about the trust, the effort you put in for another (or others). My kind of love, the found connections flourish if they turn into such relationship, but even when that may not be the case, it still helps my personal flourishing. Because my kind of love is indeed about the marriage of true minds in a Sufi sense.

Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

Que Será Será

When I was just a little girl, I didn’t have to ask my mother what I would be. I didn’t have to figure out what I would be at all. These formulas were quite simple and very roughly given to me as follows:

To be rich: Work(hard)
To be successful: Work(hard) + Be(smart+nice)
To be loved: Be(successful) + Have(compassion+respect)
To find love: Be(loved) + Love

What my mum didn’t know and therefore couldn’t tell me was that love didn’t need any formulas. Relationships did, love didn’t. I have repeatedly made the mistake of confusing love and relationships. I was good at relationships that happened only when I could follow that formula with those that more or less vaguely followed that formula.

But love just happened, it did not need any formulas. I did not know that. She did not either.

I did not know how she could survive without it, but it has been one of my most basic needs. I loved easily with that formula, but I could not find it in return. Even when I did, it just didn’t work. The formulas did not work.

Because love just happened.


Tinder: The New Age of ‘Love’

I always seem cool, interesting, fun, detached, insensitive, aloof, cold-hearted, amoral, secluded if not safe enough. I have always been bad at reading social cues, and also was bad at displaying, unless I used my genuine words.

For me, Tinder offered many advantages over the real life situations: No more subtle social cues getting lost in translation, direct verbal (even mostly text-based) communication — and thank God, I had no “duckface” selfies or height info on my profile (as I was told).

And I could swipe. I could actively swipe and even start the conversation (but didn’t have to at all). Try taking the initiative in real life as a female. Unless you know the rules to the game, good luck with it.

I don’t like any kind of strategy game in real life either. Life is complicated enough and I prefer to spend my mental energy for things that are more worth it, like overthinking about and deconstructing the world in general.

Also… If we were not going to use that thing called ‘language’ efficiently, then why did we invent it at the first point? To struggle in between our animalistic/egoistic neediness and the limited rationality of language? To frustrate ourselves due to the fact that many human relationships, love in particular, do not fit into our mental models?

Humans, you are all so complicated. I probably am, too, but at least, I have been trying to simplify things — I obviously suck at that, too.


The Antihero’s Tinder Journey

“I want to love your mind through our bodies,” she said, “I want you to love me the same way. And love me for my thinking, not my thoughts.”

The Hook-up of Disembodied Minds

Just one aspect to the sophistication of humans is that we are great at self-deception.

Even though I am not a demisexual at all, I still prefer some sort of connection for even one-night stands. In fact, I might even be a little more carefree about one-night stands compared to most of my friends. This does not mean that I treat another as sole flesh. The flesh is nothing but a philosophical zombie without the mind. The zombie cannot feel the sensual pleasures of the body without the mind. The sensual pleasures are highly ephemeral, they last while they occur; it is what these pleasures project onto the mind that remains. It is what transcends through the flesh that lasts, regardless of the possible sequels. A night or more, the engagement of the mind does not necessarily require liking the other person nor wanting a relationship, but rather sharing a connection, a nice conversation and/or some intimacy with respect.

My penetration into the ‘flesh market’ started off with such fallacies and self-deception and no strategy. Even though I wasn’t a player at all, the more I gained experience on Tinder usage, my survival strategies have also changed, eventually resulting in the way I treat people as well. To sum it up:

The Naive Beginner Phase: After a break up from my long-lasting relationship that started before the invention of today’s predominant dating apps/platforms, I started using the app. I had no idea about the app, so I had the naive intention of monogamous, committed dating. I also wasn’t aware of my need for connection, since I had never dated a stranger before. Although everything seemed to work for some time, I ghosted before I even knew what it meant, because it felt like it was nothing more than a committed hook up. I didn’t have the balls to face the other person, because I was afraid that I would surrender to the conformity that ‘relationship’. Meanwhile, I have come to terms with myself that I was about to fall for another, a non-stranger, or at least I thought I did.

The Promiscuous Phase: I was back home for some time unknown. I had no intention of connecting with someone, because all my mental energy was focused on that person on the other side. I carefully selected decent people completely outside my social circles to enjoy my time with without the possible social awkwardness. This phase ended when I met someone from my secondary circle and I also happened to like that person. At this stage, I got to realize my capability of liking more than one person, without liking one more or less than the other(s). Things had started to get more exciting as I have begun meeting the actual like-minded people, and in a way, expanding my social circle through Tinder.

The Curious Phase: At the time, I had lost my hopes for going back to where I was supposed to be, to whom I hoped to be with. Meanwhile, I started meeting really interesting, like-minded people, started expanding my social circle even more. Finding out about the similarities with those from completely different, even irrelevant backgrounds was very exciting. I started seeing someone for a brief time, and it was good, really good. I enjoyed every bit of that phase, it taught me about myself and the relationships. I also reconnected with a few I kind of liked from the past through the app, and got the chance to observe and let observe the accumulated layers to us over the years. I was not alone, there were lots of like-minded people out there and they also liked me! Meeting new people, but genuinely getting to know them although for a brief time was one of the best things ever happened to me. I was doing and feeling great with a light-hearted but respectful, caring approach until my departure time got close and things had started to become more profound not to take it with a light heart. Then I left home for the other home.

The Great Expectations Phase: I was back to where I’ve started, but it was definitely not the me that had left. I had been dying to get back to the original person, but the previous phase and all that time passed away obviously resulted in a loss of focus…with everything! While I thought I had the light heart to be able to hop on and off both here and there (self-deception, baby!), it turned out that I just jumped onto the next one without actually moving on. I had no choice but embrace all these accumulated feelings from before. Things fell apart, all on me. I was the pea under the numerous mattresses that stacked upon each other, and noone endured a sleepless night because of me.

The Nihilistic Phase: This phase happened just before deleting the app. During this brief phase, I had lost the faith I previously had in finding the human connection I’ve looking for. I just responded to the flooding messages as the weekend got closer with sarcastic messages, humiliated the other while allowing them to do the same to me. I did not agree to meet anyone, except for one last seemingly decent person, who has ditched me “for a better offer”. That was the last blow to my not-so-high-anyways self-image, the last wake-up call that ended up in deletion of the app in an impulsive burst of self-pity and self-defense.

Reflection

Go ask any friend about their Tinder journey, they may have gone through the hero’s journey, or they may have gotten even more frustrated than I did. I hope the latter was not the case for them, because with such apps and eased ways of communication, we do not get to observe and fully grasp how we mess with each other. Thanks to my naive, optimistic (yes, hiding underneath that pessimist you know me as I am) and self-accusative nature, I deny to believe that people are fucking messed-up and mess you up with theirs. However, reflecting upon my experiences, my advice would be deleting your account immediately if you are also not that good at self-deception.

Stripping off the layers: I think our constant thrill-seeking has probably depreciated the word “amazing”. When I meet a person worthy of calling “amazing”, I get genuinely interested in them and want to get to know them, reading them like a book, stripping off the layers of their mind, not just their clothes. I want to keep in contact with them, not necessarily because I want a romantic relationship or so, but because I am genuinely interested in them as a person and what would become of them. It turned out that these words are dissipated by many, or maybe they lose their amazement very easily, which makes their amazement worthless to me.

Lack of complimentary vocabulary: I don’t know how to take a compliment, that is something I should work on, but I think we should all work on elaborating and diversifying our compliments and express them if we really mean them. There was a woman that did a social experiment on Tinder by replying to dull, shallow compliments with self-confident and self-aware messages, and of course men got pissed. So, make sure you are really complimenting a person, not just catcalling or using them as a means to take advantage of the egos. If not, just don’t bother. We all know that we suck.

Boom and bust: Lots of affirmation, attention, false care when you didn’t ask for it, all to be eliminated from the equation later on. Then comes the self-doubting: Have I done something wrong? Did I reveal way too much of my inner weirdo at such an early stage? Did I seem too clingy? Was I rude? Did I again talk too much when drunk? But he didn’t complain about it at all, in fact, he kept me talking because he said he really enjoyed it. Maybe he found out how much of an impostor I am?

Fear of solitude: …or maybe he had a long week and needed some distraction/entertainment, which happened to be me. It was not me that they were interested in, it was probably the entertainment I provided for these fearers of solitude. One has to find happiness in healthy solitude before they can try finding it with another.

An intelligent sex doll: Why do you want to be with another, sparing your time and resources for yet another person in your life when you can order a highly customized intelligent sex doll for less? Unfortunately, there have been cases where I felt like someone’s intelligent doll. In these cases, I didn’t feel liked for my idiosyncrasy at all, but rather was liked because the other person just needed someone in their life. I felt I could be easily replaced by another human and not much would have changed for them. We are all unique with our idiosyncrasies, and don’t we want to be liked for that?

A smörgåsbord of love: Why limit yourself to one person when you can easily swipe through all the available options? Many people (not necessarily the Tinder or such app users) think of relationship as a matter of compromise and restriction, and say that “they want to experience as much as they can before settling down”. In my opinion, this is one of the sickest thought of all times: How do you see life? How do you see relationships? Is there a stage in life where you should settle? Why is that fear of missing out if you settle early, or otherwise, why is this fear of settling? Have you ever considered the option where you do not have to “settle” (whatever the fuck that means) but be with someone to explore your individual lives with? Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating monogamy nor settling, but if you want to be with someone, regarding their needs and wants as well as yours, shouldn’t you be deciding together on what to do with each other? Can’t you be together without having to give up on your explorative “before-settling” phase? Why are we so afraid of a relationship? Is it because deep down we think of it as giving up/compromising on individual dreams and expectations to match it with another’s? Does it have to be that way? Can a relationship provide the space for both (or all) sides to explore their own selves while being together? How low are our chances to meet the right person at the right time? Is there a right person and a right time to begin with, or do we communicate our needs & expectations to make it right?

Being “alone together” or being alone, together: They say we should love another not for who they are, but who they aspire to become. I would suggest loving them for who they do not aspire to become as well, in case of a failure that they may not become who they aspire to.

The educated dickheads: There have been some incidents where I’ve been apologized to for being a dickhead, because it turned out that “I seemed cool and interesting”. Social media is weird, you get to see the world through a stranger’s eyes, or if they are using social media like I do, you get to stalk their inner world as well as seeing through their eyes. When they apologized, I felt glad for a moment that these people got to understand their mistake and had the dignity to apologize, but then I got angrier than before: What if I didn’t seem cool and interesting? What if I was just a girl with some duckface selfies? Did it mean that I would have totally deserved their dickheadness then? Did I have to earn their respect and genuine interest just to be treated like a human with some basic manners and gentleness? Really, people? Really?

The conformity of the strangers: Strangers are good. They are the unknown, the new, the mysterious. The more you get familiar with something/someone, the higher the risk of getting used to it/them. Getting fixed and even dependent. For those that strive for a constant change yet are exhausted with keeping up with its pace, familiarity can be a curse and a blessing at the same time. This is why I have been looking to develop some familiarity with/to someone who keeps changing. Apart from that, let’s admit it, you cannot be a jerk to a friend of a friend, or someone rather from your secondary circle, because hey, then your friend might get to know about how jerky you are. Tinder helps you reach out to the strangers, so that you may get to treat them however you like, because who would find out about it, right? Just as easy it is to swipe them to include them in your life for a day or more, it is also as easy to exclude them.

Cure for a heartbreak: In Turkish, we have a saying “a nail drives out another”, which can easily be applied to cases like hangover and relationships. It works for hangover, but didn’t work for me when it came to relationships. Instead, it caused a greater, deeper heartbreak, since my heartbreaks did not stack vertically, but horizontally.

Consummation: God, this is what I have been opposing almost everyone I know, male and female. In my opinion, love and sex do not possess a transcendental relationship to each other, but rather hold an immanent relationship. They are entangled with and co-evolve together. Intimacy opens up a whole new dimension to liking a person, one does not exist without the other. Not talking about the demisexuals, but for many, it does not, mostly due to the reason that they have the distinction between “someone to fuck around with” and “someone to start something serious”, which takes us back to their understanding of a relationship I’ve mentioned earlier. Well, maybe I should be grateful that I happened to find out about some of these fundamentally conflicting socio-ethical views with mine at earlier stages and that I didn’t get to waste further time on these people.

Conclusion

In a world where we are pressurized to find “the one” as we become more sophisticated and the options are more open, we look for love, as if it is something out there. We ‘waste’ not just our own time, feelings, but also the others’. Love is not blind as many assume, it is quite rational. You do not find love to consume it, you create love, you build your way up to love from the tiniest spark. I like those that strip off with words to reveal their bare soul. The spark happens somewhere along the way as we strip off, both the words and the clothes, then the spark grows on me. It becomes a contained fire that warms me up, not one that burns me out.

Every person is like a book. Sometimes we finish a book in one day, but then think about it often. Sometimes, we want to read the same book again and again even years later. Sometimes, we start reading with enthusiasm but then get bored of it. Sometimes, we read it slow, digesting and contemplating in between the lines. Sometimes, we read a few at once, not because we are not satisfied with any of them, but because they all appeal to a certain part of ours. Sometimes, we start reading it and want to read further, but then can’t due to external reasons. And sometimes, we are just too busy to read at all. We don’t have to read all the books, and we don’t have to like all the books we read. Books don’t have feelings, but people do, and we should handle both with care.

At the end of the day, I am alone with my pile of semi-read books. Each appeal to me, but I also know that I want to write my own at some point.