Tinder, WTF?!

Young Adult Female Texting on Cell Phone

I first heard of Tinder in May. I was the keynote speaker at the Matchmaker’s Conference cruise and saw a PowerPoint presentation of all the dating sites and apps that have recently gained in popularity.

I didn’t think too much of it until a client told me that she had signed up for it at the behest of a friend. 24 hours later, this middle-aged, single-mom lawyer was having sex in the backseat of a stranger’s car.

Weeks later, I went to my fantasy football draft and heard that one of the single guys was also using it to meet women.

Chatroulette was derailed by masturbating strangers. But Tinder is sticky and popular and exactly what our society doesn’t need right now.

I downloaded the app myself for research, but couldn’t bring myself to put in my email address to play around with it. So forgive me when I issue a review of the product without having actually used it. But I think that Tinder is about the worst thing to come along the pike in quite some time. Chatroulette was derailed by masturbating strangers. But Tinder is sticky and popular and exactly what our society doesn’t need right now.

Tinder is all about instant gratification, when instant gratification is the biggest problem with dating.

I’ve talked about it innumerable times on this blog.

Guys face tremendous amounts of rejection online. They discover that the most attractive women ignore them, and if they do write back, they often disappear. Sometimes, women play Match.com penpal for a month and then show up looking five years older and thirty pounds heavier than their photo. Because of this experience, these men decide that they need to move even FASTER. More winks, shorter form emails, giving their phone numbers in that first email approach, “Hey Nancy, read your profile. Think you have a great smile. Think we have a lot in common. I’m not that good at this email thing. Give me your phone number. Let’s see if there’s chemistry. What are you doing on Saturday night?” It’s aggressive, it’s tone-deaf, it’s fearful, and it doesn’t make women feel good to be bullied into meeting a total stranger from the internet.

But she does it anyway. Why? Because she doesn’t know better. Because she’s afraid that he’s a cute guy who’s gonna move on. Because she doesn’t have the confidence, flirtation skills or awareness to show men how to treat her. Because she’s been burned by wasting a month on a guy who lied about his photo, too. So online dating – for most people who don’t know what they’re doing – turns into this revolving door of instant gratification. Men collecting a dozen numbers of women to text. Women being pursued aggressively by dozens of guys at a time, all of whom want to meet her right away, communicating only by text, and not building up any trust, rapport or anticipation before the date.

Basically, it takes everything that is bad about online dating and amplifies it, while muting the good parts – the ability to read, to flirt, to screen, to get to know each other organically before you meet in person.

This is what’s wrong with my beloved online dating – and Tinder takes it to the extreme. Gone are those pesky profiles, monthly subscriptions, and email functionality. With Tinder, you can look at someone’s photograph, see how close they are by GPS, and pretty much start talking in real-time. It’s great for instant gratification; it’s pretty bad if you want to feel remotely special or connected before you go out to dinner. Basically, it takes everything that is bad about online dating and amplifies it, while muting the good parts – the ability to read, to flirt, to screen, to get to know each other organically before you meet in person.

I’m not old. I’m not a prude. I could care less if you use it as a hookup app. Whatever floats your boat. But, for the life of me, can someone explain to me how getting to know someone LESS and meeting them ASAP is going to make for a superior dating/relationship experience? Because if I have 50 hot women blinking within a 5 mile radius with no real substance in their profiles, you can be 100% percent sure of one thing: I’m not taking any of them seriously.

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  1. 1

    I thought Tinder’s primary claim is that it’s a hookup app, and the dating might be an afterthought?

  2. 2

    Not for me.  

  3. 3
    Karmic Equation

    I loaded the app just to see what it was about. All the folks within my area are in their 20’s. So yeah. Seems like a hookup app to me.

    Before I loaded the app, I thought about how I would use something like this.

    I spend a lot of time alone doing things that actually could be done with company, #1 shooting pool, #2 karaoke, #3 eating out. I could see how this app could help me find someone to do those things with on the spur of the moment or maybe if I got bored doing that by myself. I mean, if I felt like going bar hopping (and I’ve done this by myself too, usually to bars with karaoke, though) — it would be kind of cool to load up the app if I don’t feel like being alone after a while and not feeling like chatting to people already at the bar. Wouldn’t it be so cool to open the app, and then 5 mins later Mr. Adonis comes in looking for me. My smartphone would be a magic dating lantern. Need hot guy? Just rub your finger on the Tinder App. lmao

    Anyway, the phone uses your profile pics in your facebook and your real name. Not sure I really want my real name out there, particularly since it’s a truly one of a kind name, for a hookup app with men young enough to be my son. My friends who already tease me about being a cougar would have   field day with this. No thanks!

  4. 4
    Jackie H.

    Ewwww…Gross…Grody even….I know my response is juvenile but so is this new “dating” site…

  5. 5

    I’m in my 30s and started using it after many of my friends did.   I personally have had much better luck using it than traditional online dating.   It might be due to the area where I live which is very tech friendly.   I have found that more of my dates are from my typical type of social circle and sometimes we know people in common which helps too.   It’s pretty easy to avoid the ones just looking for hooks up because they tend to want to meet up instantly, where others will share a few messages and set up a date in the future.   I would say give it a try if you are in a major city and w/i the age range.   I haven’t been disappointed.   I probably met about 10 guys.

    1. 5.1

      I like it for coffee dates.   I prefer getting to know someone in person and knowing right away if I find them attractive or not.    Reading and writing online profiles feels exhausting to me.   Aren’t you supposed to develop a connection in person?   To me, it makes in – person interactions quicker.    I’ve had 2 decent coffee dates.  

      1. 5.1.1

        You are correct meeting over coffee is the best way you get to meet face to face

  6. 6

    I agree and it makes me feel sad for the culture I am now part of living in.
    I would rather be part of creating something better.

    1. 6.1

      Those who complain are a sign to fix it.  

  7. 7

    I’m sure most of the women in my age range (40-55) won’t be using it anytime soon. There’s no way to disqualify men by height, education, income, and job title. Or am I missing something?

    1. 7.1

      you are definitely missing something

    2. 7.2
      Joan Polk

      Maybe you could try talking to the people you are interested in to learn about them?   Just a thought…

    3. 7.3

      don’t waste your time if your age range is in the 40-50 age range. Women set up dates then disappear I’ve heard from lady fiends that women in that age range are just making fun of “horny” guys. Many of the women have zero interest in meeting live. It’s a downer. Too many horny guys and too few horny middle aged women. After all, over 40 women are frigid and bitter anyhow.

      1. 7.3.1

        serious! maybe you should try Tinder

  8. 8

    I don’t get the appeal as well, but I think stuff like Tinder is to dating as fast food is to, well, food.   I think consuming either requires self-control and moderation to be enjoyable without causing you severe, expensive problems later in life.   But despite that wisdom, not everyone can afford or has time to eat healthy, or they live in an area with low-quality options.   Same idea with dating, I think, which Tinder is capitalizing on (and rather brilliantly, I have to admit).
    And hey, I won’t argue that fast food is quick, cheap, tastes good and does it’s job of temporarily curing your hunger.   I won’t deny my love for some Dunkin’ D’s every now and again.   So hey, why not reduce dating to nearly the same adjectives?   Quick, cheap, feels good, and does the job of curing the pangs for companionship.   However, it seems to me that like fast food, using stuff like Tinder would be unhealthy in the long term if used rather exclusively.  
    Most fast food tends to make me feel a little queasy and so I wouldn’t be surprised if Tinder did the same thing, so I think I’ll continue avoiding both.   While I may not ever use it, I accept it as yet another reflection of western (or maybe mostly American) cultural values.

    1. 8.1
      Jeff Smiley

      Dunkin’ Donuts won’t give you herpes.

  9. 9

    @JB Yes you are right you can’t filter out for those things.   Although some men choose to list those stats as they may perceive them as assets or want to avoid being judged eventually for lack thereof.   A friend of mine who typically filters out shorter men, actually has a boyfriend from Tinder now who is short because she didn’t think of asking him before meeting.   I have a few friends who are in relationships from it and in all cases they would have filtered out the guys for something had they read an entire profile about them (things that really don’t matter).   Times are changing so don’t feel sorry for those of us who are using it, going on real dates, and enjoying it in addition to other dating avenues.   I was a huge skeptic at first and just signed up for laughs.   Years ago I thought it was awful to be asked out on text and now it’s my norm.   Years ago people thought online dating was for losers and now it’s main stream.   Just thought I’d share my experience as I’m clearly in the minority of actually using the app.

  10. 10

    Sounds to me like clicking on the ‘intimate encounters’ box on POF or something else applicable without the   need for hiding behind a dating website.   Plus, let’s talk about safety or lack there of.   You are publishing your location, the fact that you are single and probably alone.   Great that’s just what I want complete strangers to know (sarcasm intended).   I’d rather pick someone up in a bar then hook   up in this way.   Ewww and Eeek!

  11. 11
    Peter 61

    My limited experience on non US dating sites suggests that having a list of characteristics to assess is an impediment to actual meeting.   There is a tendency to search through a lot of profiles rather than just get out there and do it in the real world.   I imagine that using Facebook as the root source will screen out the married not yet separated (seemed like half the women on sites I used) and those with otherwise steady partners.   The level of identifiability will also discourage other deviants.   So, you get down to a real world meeting much faster.   It won’t be such a data driven decision to meet so it will open up your dating pool.   You will spend time meeting people rather than thinking about it.   Hell for Aspies.   However, given its origins in Grinder.com the software is probably shaped as a sex swap shop which suggests a huge male enrolement and not so many women, a disproportionate number of whom might suggest compensated dating.

  12. 12

    An early adopter of Tinder (the 1 yr birthday party is in Vegas this month) I was SO
    HAPPY to see Evan write about it, as well as read the comments. I am in my late 20’a and also live in a tech town. I shave been on the app for all of 2013 and I can honestly say it’s led to a lot of heart breaks but at the same time it has also exposed me to more experiences with men than I have had in probably by entire life.  
    The fast food example was a very good one. If you are fully aware of what you are doing when eating it why are you   surprised when you have gained 10lbs.
    On Tinder I was constantly sad because I would meet men in person and on Skype have intimate conversations, enjoyed the attention and in many cases became physical: all building up in my mind a relationship. — only making the height of the fall that much larger.  
    I have friends who have found their boyfriends on Tinder and I have read blogs describing Tinder from everything to a digital bar to the hook up app woman actually use. However I can tell you after almost a year on Tinder I have never had more self inflicted emotional hurt and distraction. – so my best advice is to not cut Tinder out of the picture but to simply proceed with caution.  

  13. 13

    hhmmm…while i understand why many people would feel turned off by this ‘impersonal, aggressive, instant gratification’ approach, i confess i proceeded in a similar fashion via OKC. NOT to hook-up but to get OFFLINE as soon as possible and meet someone FACE-TO-FACE and enjoy their company over coffee or something.
    an email or two was exchanged but i was more interested in a real-time interaction. it did NOT feel cold/impersonal to me because we had mutual interests, had fun things to chat about, etc…i discovered that while one might get along well online, offline can be a different story (their vibe/attitudes, behaviors, non-verbal communication, etc…) people meet in the real world without knowing tons about a person, but discover each other upon meeting and go from there, right?
    i met my bf on OKC, we met up within a few days of exchanging a few brief emails, a phone convo and have been happily together for 9 months. we mutually wanted to meet up after the email/phone thing went well to see how the ‘real time/personal’ connection lined up with everything else.  
    that said, i agree traditional online websites are nice…with a sort-of accelerated pace a la tinder worked for me. to each their own 🙂

  14. 14

    I don’t know about anyone else here, but my oldest boy is a 20-something.   It’s sad that this is what his generation has been reduced to.  

  15. 15

    I’d never heard Tinder billed as a dating site, I thought it was more like the straight man’s Grindr. But based on some comments maybe there is a little more to it depending on your location. I wouldn’t really count on it though.

  16. 16

    Having been married for close to 15 years I haven’t had the chance to use Tinder and probably never will – perhaps when my children come of age in a few years. But like all new technology, it will have its good and bad and it will be up to people to leverage up the good while screening out the bad.
    It seems from the experience of people here, that it has it;s advantages in allowing people to meet up earlier and not waste time pursusing leads that will lead no-where – eg. emailing for ages and then being dissapointed with that person’s appearance because they posted pictures 10 years younger and 22 pounds lighter.   Or allowing yourself to be wowed by someone you would have otherwise screened out if you had read their online dating profile – as in K’s experience.
    However, it also appears to provide a more attractive option for people who just want to hook up and it could mean running into more players which you need to know how to screen out for. Making them wait to meet is one option, but could still potentially screen out genuine people.   The link to Facebook is a good idea, but would not help if someone has put very little information up on Facebook.
    Amanda, I’d be interested in know what happened to lead to heartbreak. Was it because you kept running into players ?

  17. 17

    I have a gay friend who uses “Blender”for dates.   I heard that it was such a success that they brought out “Tinder”as a similar site out for men to date women.   My gay friend loved the Blender site initially but gave it up as it was addictive but completely unsatisfying for the reasons you outlined in your article.

  18. 18

    It sounds like Tinder is a straight version of a very popular app for hookups, used in the gay community (at least here in San Francisco). The danger is that this will take people away from Match and toward the quick hookup model for dating. This will eventually casualize dating for those who really want a relationship.  

    Having some basic criteria and hurdles to meeting someone is a good way to assure you’ll meet on a date- yes, with dressing up and a plan and a meal at a restaurant- with someone who fits your long-term image of a partner. Hookup culture leads to messy flings, and some relationships that should never last.

  19. 19

    I agree with Evan that this is not likely to work well for people who want a  committed relationship over the long haul.   But there is a reason it might be successful at producing relationships in the short term.   Early adopters.   If this is something that got started by tech-oriented straight males in San Francisco, the early adopters might well have been precisely those slightly-autistic nerdy guys who don’t do so well picking up women in bars, and so the first batch of gals who log in might find precisely the nice guys they were looking for after growing tired of the bad boys.   Trouble is, once word gets out to the players that this can be a source of quick access to another pool of  available women, the players will swoop in, the women looking for relationships will get get burned and leave, and the  site will morph into just being for NSA hookups.   EMK is correct, over time not what you want if you are looking for a committed relationship.

  20. 20

    Brilliantly written criticism, EMK.   It was also probably prudent on your part not to install the app.   

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