Please welcome today’s guest writer, Paula Manni. Paula graduated from Calvin in 2013 with a major in art history and now works as the coordinator for Calvin’s downtown art gallery and studio. According to her Tinder profile, she enjoys art, winemaking, walking, and coffee. Paula also loves planning themed parties, and will throw you one, if you’d like.
This April, I decided to take on Tinder with wholehearted gusto: I was going to use the dating app to actually date.
Sure, I’d played around with Tinder in the past: left swipes for shirtless men, men with fish, and men with beer cans (bottles call for closer inspection), and right swipes for men (ages twenty-six to thirty-five) with jobs, kind eyes, and photos taken in nature. There’d be a mini rush of dopamine with each match, and maybe we’d message for a day or two…but I hadn’t entertained the thought of taking my Tinder life to life beyond Tinder.
A bit about me: when I commit to a project, I’m one hundred percent committed. For the most part, this trait has served me well. For example, tenth grade Paula was set on winning the annual high school gingerbread house contest. Seventy-six hours and four batches of royal icing later, I was left with a historically accurate, tri-level Victorian mansion and a first place ribbon. Ok, there were four, maybe five contestants total—but no matter; I won. Mission accomplished!
So when I made my Tinder decision, it was a full-on commitment. No more Tinder sideline-standing for me. I would swipe with dedicated and enthusiastic discernment. I would have meaningful Tinder message conversations that would turn into meaningful text message conversations that would turn into meaningful real-life date conversations that would turn into…a meaningful long-term relationship? (Or so the all-or-nothing logic went.)
It’s nearly June, and I can’t say I’m in a meaningful long-term relationship, but I can say that I’m really great at first dates. Following is a non-comprehensive list of observations and advice informed by my Tinder dating experience thus far:
- There comes a point in Tinder messaging where you’ve proven yourselves worthy of exchanging actual text messages. (The transition itself is a fascinating topic and would make a great research project.) What gets me, though, is how nearly every app-to-text conversation follows a similar string of dialogue:
Her: Yeah! I met some friends for dinner at the brewery around the corner from my place, and then we played frisbee in the park. It was a great night:)
Him: Nice! Sounds like an awesome Thursday. Btw, here’s my cell, if that’s easier—I’m not on this app all that often, anyways: (678) 999-8212.*
(Which, btw, is TOTALLY not true, because we’ve been consistently messaging over the last three days. But still, thank you for your number—because the transition does mean something, and it’s making me a little tingly-excited.)
- It’s fairly easy to maintain eight separate text conversations. However, this does not also mean that it’s fairly easy to schedule, maintain, and invest in eight real-life first dates with eight separate men.
- Additionally, eight first dates in three weeks does a heck of a number on your emotions. If you must commit a hundred percent, commit to moderation, and care for your heart.
- Height is a big deal. If it’s not discussed on Tinder, it’s brought up via text. And if you don’t text about it, it’ll definitely come up in first-date conversation. I’ve found myself wondering if the height thing is a convoluted meta-game. Like maybe a room full of app developers created Tinder not to “discover new and interesting people nearby,” but to map trends centered on conversations about stature carried on by anxious millennials eager to obsess over relative height comparisons. Even now, I’ve fallen into the height trap. We’ve been duped.
- It’s sweet to share with David, 28 that he’s your first-ever Tinder date. It’s even sweeter when David, 28 says the same thing back to you. It’s not-so-sweet when your coworker shares that she, too, has been on a Tinder date with David, 28. Darn it, David.
- When seven out of eight men (that’s eighty-seven point five percent, folks!) say that you should be a professional interviewer, pause and take note! Diane Rehm isn’t getting any younger—they’ll be looking for her replacement soon, and to say that you work for NPR is serious Tinder “About You” bonus points.
- Sure, sharing that you’re a sucker for a good dare felt like a cute thing to say to him over dinner. But you’ll later regret sharing this interesting fact about yourself as you part ways after a mediocre evening. A triple-dog-dare for a goodbye kiss isn’t what you were shooting for two hours ago.
- “Brian” definitely sounds a whole lot like “Ryan.” But Brian’s name is Brian. Ryan was yesterday, darn it. (Sorry, Brian.)
- a. Listen to your mother, your best friend, and your houseplants (if plants could talk, they’d agree) when they advise against allowing him to pick you up from your house for a first date (his idea).
b. Listen to your mother, your best friend, and your houseplants when they advise against allowing him to pick you up from your house for a first date hike through the forest (your idea). The situation didn’t go south, but it could have.
- If you run out of things to talk about, talk about shared experiences! Biggest common denominator? Probably Tinder. Exchange phones and show each other your matches. If you’re feeling bold, swipe for each other (but don’t try too hard, unless you’re looking to move on).
Ok, so dating doesn’t quite play out like a high school gingerbread house contest. There’s no prize ribbon, but a month and a half and fifteen dates later, I am left feeling more sure of who I am and what matters to me. And that’s a cliché twenty-something discovery to be proud of. Mission accomplished.
Paula Manni (‘13) works as Arts Programming Coordinator and is an arts advocate for the Calvin College community. She enjoys throwing parties on the side, and fills in the gaps with wine making, music listening, museum visiting, and Michigan exploring.