You have to kiss many frogs
I personally have been on and off dating apps for 3 years now. The first time I tried it, I was in New York and my friends A. and A. introduced me to it, surprised I had never even heard of it. “If you want to date in New York, this is the way to do it.” Surprising, for a city with 8million people. But they were right. Back then I was writing a book and spending 90% of my day howled up in my best-friend’s apartment on the Lower East Side. It was the middle of a freezing winter and going outside was only for very special occasions, and emergencies.
My first time wasn’t a complete disaster… I met Jason, 34, at Miss Lily’s on Houston street (although there was some confusion as to which of the two branches we were each in, but we eventually and awkwardly found each other). He was nice. That was pretty much it. Got me a small freelance job, so I guess it wasn’t a complete waste. But I found the whole thing unnatural. It was just… weird.
“But dating in general is like that,” says my friend A. who now, 3 years after she first introduced me to the app, lives in L.A. with her boyfriend who, coincidentally, she met on Tinder. We were talking as I sat on my couch in Dubai at 10pm on a Sunday night, and she was just waking up with her coffee, at the other end of the world. Skype magic.
I wanted to pick her brain about her Tinder success story — since I’ve been periodically turning the app on and off, unconvinced of whether to commit or drop it altogether. “Dating is weird,” she said. “But with online apps, you’re just exposed to a wider range of people.”
I guess that’s true. Dating in general is weird and awkward, even if you have met the person before.
“When I moved to L.A. I didn’t know many people and I didn’t know the city well. I started dating (using Tinder) and it was a great way to discover different parts of the city. We’d chat a little and if they seemed interesting enough, I’d quickly make plans to meet. I wasn’t interested in chatting forever before meeting. I’d rather check them out in person.”
Her sister, she says, who lives in Singapore, is the complete opposite. She chats with them for months before agreeing to meet.
“You can’t tell what it’s going to be like,” she says. “You’re shooting in the dark.” And there were all kinds of guys and all kinds of dates. Some with absolutely no chemistry at all. One she thought went great but then she never heard from the guy again.
And then one day as she was away on christmas break, she opened her Tinder app some 10-thousand miles away, and saw a message from Al. Nothing showed that he was any different from the other dozens of guys she had chatted with before. But he seemed cool. And they made plans to meet when she’d come back.
Fun story… She bought tickets to a Louie CK comedy show but her friend had to cancel, so she decided to invite Al. to join her — since they were planing to meet soon anyway. They met for drinks before the show, and she was a half hour late because of “an idiot uber driver.” She felt very comfortable with him very quickly and within 20 minutes it felt like she had known him for a really long time. After the show, they had more drinks. Decided to do the “36 questions that lead to love” that had been published in the New York times just weeks before. They spent two hours answering these questions over drinks.
“It’s kind of weird to do with someone you’ve just met, and I don’t remember most of our answers… and I’m pretty sure things would’ve still turned out the way they have without the exercise, but it was a nice way to get to know each other.”
For the next few weeks, they didn’t play any games. They saw each other all the time because they both felt like it. And then one day, their very modern dating-start took a cute, old school turn: “It was just like… ‘Do you want to be girlfriend and boyfriend?’ Yeah!”
I smile. Online or not, if you meet the right person… does it really matter how you met?
They’ve been together for over a year and a half. But still, A. feels a bit weird about saying “we met on Tinder.” Although she’s getting more comfortable with it. I get it — I feel weird even saying I’m on that thing. Not sure why. It shouldn’t be such a big deal.
Al. on the other hand has absolutely no problem telling everyone how they met. “I kind kind of wish we had met in a more romantic way, like peeking through the same section at the bookstore and having our eyes cross or something…” she says.
But the more she talks, the more I realize that’s it actually what comes after the “meeting,” the story you build together that makes it special to tell.
“I actually think it’s really romantic,” I say after having listened their story and briefly meeting Al. over Skype. I mean, it’s new age romantic. Out of all the hundreds and thousands of guys on Tinder in Los Angeles, A. found her Al.
And as she beautifully puts it: “you have to kiss many frogs…”
We live 85% of our lives online, it’s only normal that we now find love online too.
As for me, I’ve decided keep an open mind on the whole online thing, again. Because… well, you never know.