My 75% “Success Rate” on Tinder
And What I Learned About How to Stack the Odds for Success
I have had exactly 1 bad Tinder date. And by “Tinder date” I mean times that I have intentionally planned to meet up with someone from Tinder, not the times I happened to make the mistake of going on Tinder in small towns where you inevitably run into everyone you’ve matched with, even if you don’t plan on it.
Just kidding, that wasn’t a mistake, those two accidental-tinder-meetups were actually lovely. But they were unplanned, so I’m not counting them in this statistic.
Full disclosure, I’ve only have 4 actual Tinder dates, and 3 I would term ‘successful’. Here’s why, and why not…
My First Tinder Date
About a year and a half ago, a friend of mine talked me into getting my first smartphone. Literally what seemed like the most intriguing thing about smartphones was the prospect of swiping back and forth on people. It seemed so novel, and fantastically amusing! If Tinder Web had existed at that time, I would not have bought a smartphone. I kid you not.
I didn’t actually want to meet anyone, though. I just wanted to swipe back and forth, and — gasp — *maybe* even exchange a few messages!
Luckily, I had the perfect excuse: In the first bit of time with my new smartphone, I was visiting my Dad in Florida, and had a one-way ticket to Mexico 10 days later. I didn’t have time to meet anyone, I was busy visiting my Dad. Perfect!
After repeating this excuse for the umpteenth time, one guy and I chatted a little bit more. He happened to mention that he lived in an eco-community, which is the subject of my master’s degree studies. I had just been interviewing people in another eco-community, and I jumped at the opportunity to talk to him too. And that is how I agreed to go on my first Tinder date!
Sure, it’s super cliche, but this is literally what happened: I felt my knees weaken when I walked in and saw him. He was super cute, this eco-community yoga vegan guy whose Tinder profile said he was trying to “be the change”.
I went to Mexico for 3 weeks then moved to Florida to be with him. We stayed together for over a year, and even traveled to 3 countries together. And that, folks, is success story #1.
If you want the whole story, read it here.
My Second Tinder Date
After Tinder Guy #1 and I ultimately broke up (very amicably, I might add), I did indeed move to Mexico. A few months later, I was set to move to a different city in Mexico. I went to my future home city for 2 days to drop my bags and find a room to live in later, before setting out on a 1-month trip…aaanndd in those 2 days, I got back on Tinder.
This time I had another excuse: I am only here for 2 days, I will be back in a month.
A month is a good long chunk of time to talk to someone to decide if I actually want to meet them. It’s also a good chunk of time in which to let fade the contacts I don’t end up wanting to keep.
There were two guys in particular with whom I began exchanging some messages. One of them was a professional chef (like my ex, Tinder Guy #1. Yea, I have a type, I know.) We talked about food and travel and languages and he seemed really cool! We chatted for a few hours as I rode the bus away from his city, and kept in contact loosely during the month I was away.
When it was almost time to come back, he asked if I needed a place to stay when I arrived. In fact, I did — my place wouldn’t be ready until a few days after I arrived back. Hesitantly I made plans to stay with him. Was I crazy? How absurd was it to stay with a guy I met on Tinder, with whom I’d exchanged mere hours of messages?
When we met each other outside the AirBnb he managed (and was letting me stay in for free), I didn’t feel a shred of attraction. He is a reasonably attractive guy, but the chemistry wasn’t there — and for that I felt relieved, because it might have made it uncomfortable to stay there otherwise.
We struck up a fast friendship, shared all our favorite music with each other, cooked together, talked about our lives…and he never once tried anything. He’s my first local friend here, and I’m really glad to know him. Tomorrow we’re going camping! Success? I’d say so!
My Third Tinder Date
There was another guy I started talking to when I visited for those two days. Let’s call him Gavin. Gavin and I had some stuff in common — we were both interested in natural construction, and both helped with rebuilding projects after the big 2015 earthquake in Nepal. We both considered Nepal a second home, and this was the subject of much text-based bonding.
As is often the case with travelers, he would be leaving the country just a few days after I returned. Still, we resolved to meet each other during that narrow window.
There were a lot of coincidences surrounding the whole thing with Gavin. For starters, the city is not so small — close to a million people, and plenty of tourists. And Gavin didn’t live in the city, he worked with an NGO in a village 40 minutes away. So a few days after arrival when I saw, on the street behind my house, a campervan that was definitely the one he sent me a picture of, I did a double-take.
The next day he sent a message saying he was at a cafe in the city and seeing if I wanted to meet him there. It turned out the cafe was literally a 2-minute walk from my house. (Not a small city, remember? And no, he wasn’t stalking me!)
First impression: Attractive, confident, and genuinely a good person. This guy goes around the world building schools. What a sweetheart. Soon, we discovered the biggest coincidence yet: We both rented the exact same room in the exact same apartment in the exact same neighborhood in Nepal, but at different times! We’d bought weed from the same guy, used the internet during power cuts in the same cafe, eaten the same street food.
He was in Mexico because he and his ex-girlfriend had planned to do a campervan trip through Central and South America, but then they broke up.
The first time around, before Tinder Guy #1, I also came to Mexico on the heels of a breakup…a breakup with a guy with whom I’d planned to buy a campervan and travel through central and south America.
We literally only had about 68 hours before our time together would be over, because he was due to leave the country. We hugged goodbye after a few hours of great conversation that first day. When we pulled away, the feeling of connection blended with attraction hung in the air.
A few hours later he texted me saying that he never imagined he could meet someone like me. He planned to go to the mountains with a few friends the following day, and I was invited.
Off we went, 5 travelers from various countries in a campervan with a very energetic pitbull, winding around hairpin turns in the clouds on a misty day. The raw mountain air cut through every layer, and Gavin and I sat close atop a picnic bench in the woods, me trying to warm him up after he wrapped his hoodie around his shivering dog.
It was a day of lingering eye contact and stolen glances, and all I could think of was kissing him. Finally, when everyone else had left and he dropped me off in the city, we shared a long, tender kiss. It was the first time in nearly 5 months that I’d wanted to kiss someone, and it was worth waiting for.
The next night was magic. We slept in a village in his campervan, made pasta on the camping stove and talked about everything. Our worries, our childhoods, our families, our plans. When he left to go back to his country, I felt full and grateful for having had the chance for this moment of connection with this kindred soul. And there you have it, success story #3.
My Fourth Tinder Date
By this point, I was starting to get cocky. 100% success so far?! What could possibly go wrong? I was on fire!
Tinder Guy #4 and I had only exchanged a few messages. He, too, was one I had written to briefly during my 2-day stint in the city before. He, too, was due to be leaving soon after I came back. We didn’t write much, and I literally forgot all about him until he wrote to me after Tinder Guy #4 had left the country.
I got sloppy. It turned out we both had time that very hour, and I was already downtown with nothing to do. “Why not?” I told myself. “You’re nervous, sure, but every other time, it has been a great decision! Just live a little. Go and meet this guy. Right now. Don’t think about it too much.”
Tinder Guy #4 and I started off our date with a spirited debate about Israel and Palestine. Without going into the specifics, I’ll tell you that we vehemently disagreed. However, he seemed to be regurgitating simplistic popular arguments not grounded in fact, context, or research, whereas I’ve traveled to both Israel and Palestine and looked into the issue extensively enough to know that simplistic popular arguments don’t begin to elucidate what’s actually going on. But that, dear reader, is a story for another day.
After a few minutes of talking to him I knew there wasn’t a connection, and I actually found him and his compulsive high-pitched chuckle kind of annoying.
After a few more minutes, he told me that he believed that some of the people walking around our city are actually aliens, and he can tell when he meets one of them.
On the bright side, hearing that made me feel less upset about his one-sided approach to Israel and Palestine; it became increasingly difficult to take him seriously.
Tinder Guy #4 decided to stay in town for awhile longer, and he lives just a few blocks from me. Go figure. Ah, well. Life is indeed a farce.
I talked extensively enough with the first three guys before agreeing to meet them to know that we had some things in common and to guess (correctly, so far, knock on wood) that none of them were super creepy.
By the time Guy #4 rolled around, I thought I couldn’t go wrong.
So, you know how sometimes you feel sheepish about saying no meeting someone you’ve matched with, but not really talked with? Do you ever do it just because you don’t want to make it weird by saying you’d prefer to chat more first, because refusing after you do indeed talk more first would be super awkward?
Well, throw that shit out the window. Your time is your own; indeed it’s the only resource we can’t get more of. If you don’t feel comfortable spending it with someone you really don’t know much about, then don’t. If a person can hear “I like to message more before setting a time to meet someone in person” and respect that boundary without pushing, they’ve already passed the first test.