THE TINDER GENERATION

TAYLOR BYERS

 

By now, everyone and their mother has heard of the app, Tinder. In an age where our phones are practically glued to our hands, Tinder has finally given young twenty-somethings everywhere a way to connect without actually having to talk to another human face-to-face. Searching through profile after profile, swiping left or right, and maybe somewhere along the way finding your Tinderella (or Tinderfella as the case may be) can be a slightly addicting process.

I heard about Tinder a few years ago when it first became popular. I got the basic idea, swipe right for yes or left for no. There were so many jokes and internet memes surrounding the app that I felt like I knew everything about it without ever actually downloading it myself. Honestly, I thought it was a fun idea, but I was in college, and thoroughly convinced that I had no need for Tinder while I was constantly surrounded by roughly five hundred people my own age with similar interests. Post-graduation, however, my mindset changed. After one too many Friday nights alone with cheap wine and bad Netflix movies, I suddenly found myself setting up my very own Tinder page. After twenty minutes of deliberating over which pictures I should use, it was time to start swiping.

At first, I went through each profile that came across my screen thoroughly. I would look through all of their photos and read their interests to see if we were compatible.  I would sit and deliberate for a few minutes, putting a lot of thought into which way I would be swiping. I finally decided to swipe right and, hey! A match! At first it seemed like each swipe held so much importance and deserved several minutes of full-on, undivided focus. Of course, after about half an hour of Tinder-ing, my attention span became much, much shorter. As time went on I became less and less patient with the awkward online chit chat and started suggesting we meet for coffee or drinks to get to know each other instead.

Before I knew it, I had dates lined up for every night of the week. Weekends were completely dedicated to balancing multiple dates per day and my phone was dinging with incoming text messages more than it had in my entire life. It became almost a full-time job, trying to balance all of the dates I had set up. Sometimes I would even get them mixed up and forget their name while I was on the date with them! Within one week of joining tinder, I was practically drowning in messages.  My dating life had gone from ‘Tina Fey in 30 Rock’ to ‘Megan Fox in any movie ever’ in no time flat and I was more than a little overwhelmed.

However chaotic the experience was, it did teach me a lot about what is important for a first date and how to make a good impression.  Most of the dates were okay. Nothing special, but I’m not complaining about a free cocktail or two. Some, however, did not go so smoothly. The following is a compilation of my worst Tinder date stories from my month-long stint with the app. *All names have been changed to protect the identity (and dignity) of those involved.

My first date was with a guy named Bairam. He was twenty-two, a recently graduated music producer, and, my favorite quality, foreign. Turkish, to be specific.  For me, an accent is just the best thing a guy can have, so I was instantly drawn in when he started speaking. We met for drinks at one of my favorite spots in Hollywood. I was nervous, and I think he was too, judging by how much time we both spent staring at our straws and stirring our drinks. Seriously, how often does a Jack-and-Coke need to be stirred? I got to the bottom of my multiple drinks a little too quickly and ended up back at his place….and, yep, you guessed it: sex on the first date. Not exactly setting myself up for a long-lasting relationship here, I know. But he was Turkish! How does a girl resist a tall, dark and handsome man speaking to her in a foreign language, especially after two Jack-and-Cokes and a vodka-Redbull? I’ll give you a hint: She doesn’t. So, I went for it. His apartment had soft lighting, romantic music, and so many mirrors in the bedroom you could watch yourself from any and all angles. Everything was great, until…the face. Now, I realize everyone has a less than perfect O-face, and, generally I’m willing to chalk it up to the heat of the moment and pretend I didn’t see your barely recognizable features all knotted up while you flop back and forth and make weird noises… But imagine seeing that "O-face" the entire time you’re having sex. Every time I looked anywhere above his chest I saw him baring his teeth, squinting his eyes, grunting like a caveman. Suddenly his foreign charm wasn’t so prevalent and it was everything I could do to sprint for the chicken exit and pretend to finish so it could just be over already. All I can say is it’s a good thing I hold a degree in acting, because it was the performance of a lifetime for me to hold it together until the end on that one. 

But perhaps even worse than that was my date with a guy named Kirik. He was a twenty-eight year old computer programmer from India. After several days of texting, we met for a movie. Side note: In the days leading up to our date he kept trying to get me to come to the gym with him before the movie. Is that weird? That seems weird to me. Who does that on a first date? I mean, even just logistically speaking that seems like kind of a nightmare for hair and makeup prep. Anyway, back to the story…He picked me up in a totally decked out Mercedes, which I’ll admit, did make me a little more excited, as terrible as that is. But as the night went on, that feeling quickly faded. One of the first things he did was talk about how easy acting is and how all non-famous actors are just lazy. Hello, I’m a non-famous actor! Probably not the person you want to say that to. He followed this with a story of his one audition that he did for fun, and concluded by saying it didn’t matter that he didn’t get the part, because he made more money than the casting director and the actor who got the part combined. Because how much money you have determines your worth as a human being, right? He was clearly bitter about not landing the role. What a jerk. The rest of the night was basically him talking to me in a puppy voice about how he could take care of me and send me on trips to wherever I wanted. Honestly, before this particular date, I would have said hell yes to that offer.  But the whole puppy voice thing really turned me off, and I got the feeling he wanted more of a pet than a woman with her own goals and aspirations. Finally, to end this not-so-wonderful date, as he was driving me home he tried to playfully reenact a scene from the movie we had seen. The problem was that the scene was about a woman getting punched in the stomach…and he actually punched me in the stomach! He apologized and said he meant to stop before he hit me but didn’t (…um, what?) but that pretty much solidified the end of that for me. I mean come on, you can’t really recover from punching me on the first date.

As long as we’re on the subject of hugely entitled jerks, let’s talk about my date with a guy named Rodrigo. In all fairness, he is only twenty-two and already successful enough to pay his own rent for a penthouse suite, which I have to give props to. However, that does not cancel out his ridiculous behavior. When we agreed to get together, we said we would meet at his apartment and then walk to a bar he knew from there. Conveniently, he “forgot” his jacket upstairs when he came down to meet me. So of course we went up to his apartment for him to get it. Once we were inside he “just so happened to see” his half-empty beer glass on the counter that he “just had to finish”, and poured me one too because he “just felt rude drinking without me”. Also, his entire penthouse was only lit by candles because he “just really likes candles.” The worst part was that he actually thought he was pulling one over on me. You’d have to be pretty dense to miss all the clues in this one: He wanted to hookup. However, after my experience with Bairam I wasn’t so keen on jumping straight into bed with this one. So we talked for a little bit before I said I had to go because it was getting late and I didn’t want to give him the wrong idea. His reaction to this was to try to create one of those “I need you right now” moments by pushing me up against the wall and sticking his tongue down my throat. Normally, I’d probably be super into that, but I was still slightly jaded from Bairam and getting some serious douche bag vibes from this guy, so I insisted we stop and he take me home.  Sounds like I made it through the worst of it, right? Wrong. For the entire car ride home he gave me this lecture about how he was not just a piece of meat and how I really needed to get to know him before I tried to sleep with him like that. The whole time I was thinking, “Wait, weren’t you the one who was just trying to swallow my entire face five minutes ago?” I could have gone on a rant about how his strategy to make me feel guilty and in turn feel like I owe him something (aka the sex he was trying to get in the first place) was so obvious. But I figured that would only prolong the time I had to spend in his car, so I just bit my tongue and never called him back.

As awkward as that car ride was, though, it was nothing compared to my date with a guy named Thomas. We met at my favorite local coffee shop for some afternoon caffeine and live music. I’m a pretty low-maintenance date, so all he had to do to make this afternoon perfect for me was talk…about anything, really. But he didn’t. He spent a lot of time just looking at me. Not in that, “I’m so comfortable with you I don’t feel the need to fill the silence” way. In that “Should I pull out my pepper spray?” way. Finally when I couldn’t stand it any longer I went to leave. As I got up he said, “Oh. You’re leaving? I thought we could go somewhere for some kissing time.” Kissing time?! Who asks for that?! Needless to say I got out of there as fast as I could. I thought I had completely Neo-dodged the bullet with this one, until a couple of days later when he just would not stop texting me. The reason, you ask? He was super into 3-D printing and wanted to scan my body so he could 3-D print a copy of me. Yeah, sounds like I should have used my pepper spray at the coffee shop. I eventually got so creeped out that I had to block his number from contacting me at all.

Of course I’ve also run into multiple people who don’t look like their pictures, but my date with a guy named David was the worst case of this I’ve ever experienced. We met for fro-yo in Studio City on a nice Thursday evening. I was excited for this one, because he was in the film industry too so we could totally geek out over that together, and he seemed really nice when we were chatting. However, he forgot to mention that he is shorter than me (I’m 5’2”) and probably about half my body weight. Now, I’m fairly secure in my body so I don’t mind dating a guy who is skinnier than me, but skinnier and shorter was an instant deal breaker. I want to feel petite and sexy, not like I’m a giant towering over you (and probably feeling like I’m crushing you in bed). But how do you say that to someone, right? So I sat through the date, which felt like it would not stop dragging on, until I could politely find an excuse to leave. I felt pretty bad after this one, because my reason for never calling him back was something he couldn’t control. I guess I’m a little shallow. You live and you learn, right?

Speaking of lessons learned, thanks to a flake named Max I recently had to face one of my biggest dating fears, being stood up. We were supposed to meet for drinks at a bar near my apartment. We had set it up a few days prior and I hadn’t talked to him since then. When I left home I texted him to let him know I was heading there, but didn’t hear anything back. I should have known then where this was going, but of course I didn’t. I arrived at the bar and took a seat near the door. The bartenders started asking right away if I wanted to order or if I was waiting for someone…and after their fourth or fifth time of asking they started giving me the look. The “I know what’s happening here and I’m sorry” look. And I gave my best “no, he’ll actually be here any second” look right back. But ultimately, after waiting for forty minutes, I had to make the most shameful exit I’ve ever made from a bar. The bartenders didn’t say anything, but we definitely had another exchange of “Sorry you got stood up,” and, “Fine, you were right” looks.

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But luckily for me I have at least a little bit of good karma on my side, so not all of the dates have been terrible. Shout out to these guys for making it to a second date:

Serouj, thank you for being the best sexter I’ve ever encountered in my life. Normally, I’m not into sexting. I find it boring and trite and will only get suckered into it if I really like a guy. With Serouj, however, I couldn’t wait to hear back from him. I was constantly re-reading our conversations for “inspiration” later and even discovered that I can be pretty good at sexting too if I’m really into it. So thanks for opening that door, Serouj.

Dmitri, thank you for keeping it classy and not trying to get in my pants on the first date. It’s a rarity these days and I really, really appreciated it. He was a perfect gentleman the entire night and made me feel like I was on one of the dates I used to watch Carrie Bradshaw go on when I would sneak Sex and the City episodes growing up. Hats off to you, man.

Omar, thanks for making me almost pee my pants from laughing so hard. I’m sure as a stand-up comedian he gets that a lot, but seriously. It’s not every day you meet a guy who just gets your sense of humor and runs with it until your sides ache from so much laughter. I definitely needed that after the collection of terrible Tinder dates I had leading up to that point. Muchas gracias, Omar.

What I learned from my month of dating in the Tinderverse is that it isn’t so different from dating in the real world after all. You may run into some (okay, a lot of) weirdos, but at the end of the day you just might meet someone who makes it all worth it. Or not. But either way, it’s an unforgettable experience that’ll give you endless funny stories…or at the very least, a solid collection of ammo to ward off your drunk aunt from ever asking about your love life at Thanksgiving dinner again. Yeah, you’re welcome.