Tinder, WTF?!

Attractive Smiling Young Adult Female Texting on Cell Phone Outdoors on a Bench.

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.  

  21. 21

    I looked at Tinder and there is no rule saying I must meet them ASAP.  If I have 50 hot men in a 5 mile radius blinking at me…. I can start chatting with them and maybe progress to swapping email addresses and eventually phone numbers.  I get to know them before meeting them.  There is no list of possible dealbreakers in a profile so using Tinder means spending a little more time chatting, emailing and talking with people who are incompatible, compared to something with a more detailed profile.


    As for Evan’s client hopping into bed (or rather the backseat) with some random guy, she did nothing with Tinder that she could not have done at a night club, and I believe would have done at a nightclub in the absence of Tinder. She met a guy who wanted to hook up, but obviously she wanted to hookup with someone too. Do you think that is because she used Tinder?

    I have used Tinder and dismissed some men who were too urgent too quickly/ Tinder makes it very easy to say “Next!” I have also been on some dates with a few men I met there that took the time to let me get to know them on email and phone, and they were perfect gentlemen.

Tinder is one more way to meet people and is no different than going to a very large nightclub to do it, except you have more time to chat/email/talk before you decide to meet face to face. Tinder could be used as a hookup app, but it does not have to be. It has been no more (or less) sleazy for me than OKC, but maybe in younger age groups it is different.   What users do with Tinder connections depends on the individuals on either side, not the tool.

    1. 21.1

      Well said.  It takes a little getting used to, but it’s just a first meeting, nothing so serious. Learn to have fun with meeting people, it’s all good life experience if you don’t take everything to heart.  Enjoy yourself!  You may meet someone awesome!  I’ve met a few men who were great guys!  Interesting convos, and I learn a little something about me, how I interact, and how I perceive other humans, all at the same time.  It’s kind of fascinating. Don’t have expectations of love or anything unrealistic.  It’s just another forum to meet folks that you may find interesting.  YOU are in control of what you do after that, not Tinder!

  22. 22

    I’ve been using Tinder for three weeks and have gone on three dates.  Personally, I like it a lot more than traditional online dating because all of your matches are mutual “likes.”  If you don’t “like” someone, they can’t talk to you. Period. And vice versa. For men, this is great because they aren’t wasting their time writing messages to women who are never going to respond. For women, this is great because you don’t have an inbox that’s mostly full of one line messages from guys who you would never be interested in.  I think not having a profile is a plus. A lot of what people say on OKC might be mildly amusing. But after going on plenty of OKC dates, I don’t think it gives an accurate picture of who your date is.  The pre-date texting is usually enough to figure out of your date can put together a complete sentence.
    To me, it’s a lot more like meeting guys in a natural setting. You see someone cute, you talk to them, and then you escalate to an actual date. It also has the potential to give people a bigger pool because you’re not filtering out for superficial stuff like resume items (or height for that matter –great for shorter guys).  It’s like meeting a guy at a party and saying to oneself “Oh, he’s cute. I wonder if we’ll get on.” 

  23. 23

    I agree with some points in your blog as for example men collecting tons of numbers , but I believe that like with everything else, people have to embrace technology and use COMMON SENSE. It is UP TO YOU on how you use it. There are different people everywhere, and just as much as some want to ONLY have a “good time”, others want to use it as a means to meeting a potential partner.It can be hard to decipher what someone else wants, but then YOU decide your pace and who to continue seeing and who not to.
    Bottom line is that you have to be careful, go at your pace and not do anything you DO NOT want to do. No one will force you to do anything you don’t want to do. You first chat, then you meet at a place you feel comfortable the first time, and if there is chemistry then keep talking, and determining if the other person wants the same thing.Tinder does not give away any personal information. You start chatting WITHIN the app, and if you want to meet you meet, or if you want to talk on the phone before then you do so. There is no such thing as pressure. Its like saying someone at a bar pressures you to give them your phone. You decide to or not!
    IF NOT, move on… just like you do by meeting in different ways. Tinder just facilitates the “first meet up”…after THAT first meet up then it really turns into a new relationship and you decide to keep on going or not. Completely up to you if you of where you meet up next or what you do.
    You cant go into tinder thinking you will find the love of your life, but you will certainly meet TONS of people. Believe me….there are many out there looking for a relationship too. No one is naive as to think that everyone is looking for “true love”, but its just another medium for busy people…or for people who have yet not met. At least in large cities, I think that the app if used PROPERLY (to meet your goals) it certainly is great.

  24. 24
    Jessica Kohl

    This is completely accurate. Online dating has its foot on the gas pedal and is accelerating at self destructive speed. Tinder was quick to pick up on the increasing trend of low self esteem and instant gratification and is capitalizing on these societal issues. Good for business, bad for building sustainable online relationships.  I know that when Im testing sites Im more and more rushed, controlled, and manipulated into feeling like i have to give my number, send provocative pics, and meet up asap . Starbucks in the middle of the night? no thanks Im fine with having a career in the morning. 

  25. 25

    Tried it, and I got zero matches, even days later.
    I guess being 27 years old puts me out of the game? Damn…. I dont get it.
    Women find me very attractive in general, and men even find me extremely attractive. Yet no matches on this tinder app.
    That’s a pretty heavy blow to my confidence….. -_-

  26. 26

    I disagree.
    Personally maybe i’ve just been lucky. I’ve met a great guy on this app last November (2013). We skyped for at least a month to make sure neither of us were”CATFISH” (google it! lol) We’ve had so many experiences together since then (fine dinning, go karting, amusement parks etc). He’s asked me to be his girlfriend 3 times and i’ve refused because i want us to be solid friends before i can take it further. (I promised myself that my next boyfriend WILL BE my husband-i’m 22 and he’s 27). I hope that many people have the same experiences that i’m having. 
    Not everyone on tinder is looking to “smash/hookup asap”. Some people are actually looking for a long term relationship. So just be patient with this app and select wisely. Maybe, just maybe….the guy that makes you laugh a lot is the one. 
    give him a chance

    Good luck…happy tindering

    1. 26.1

      I agree.  I met my boyfriend on Tinder 3 months ago and I’m pretty happy.  There are some guys on there looking for relationships and he was one of them.  I haven’t had much luck on POF or OKcupid so I tried Tinder because it was different and I really don’t mind the idea.  Good luck to you!

  27. 27

    I’ve also had great experiences on tinder. I’ve had POF, OKC, Skout and was almost going to get match. I’ve been around the online world for a solid year and Tinder is the only app that has brought me real genuine men who I hit it off with. The speed we moved varied by guy, because no relationship is the same. I did meet an awesome guy who I’ve been seeing for some time and getting serious with. It all started when we swiped right haha. Although I can see how it can be viewed as a hook up app it also has potential. It depends on the two ppl who swiped right and sometimes both want something more serious.

  28. 28

    Evan, I have to completely disagree with you this time. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and have learned a lot. But this time you’re totally off the mark. I’m an attractive 34 year old professional woman. I have two children and not a lot of extra time to date. I’ve been on almost every dating website out there and Tinder is hands down my favorite for many reasons. First, I met my amazing boyfriend on it…and he is exactly as you describe a man should be.  I don’t like getting to know someone online before I meet them, because most of the time, there is no in-person chemistry, so then there’s all the build up for nothing but disappointment. As a single mom, I’m also immediately knocked out by many men on traditional dating sites, but on Tinder, no information is required. I told my bf after out first date that I had kids…and he wanted to keep getting to know me. But he never would have gone out with me had he known before hand. Once he met me, he realized it wasn’t a deal breaker.  And the big thing is, everyone is on it. Sure that means more douche bags, but it also means more good guys too. Just like it is out in the real world. It’s a bigger dating pool for everyone with more options. And to keep from getting hurt…listen to everything else Evan says. The guy will call when he’s into you. He will want to see you as much as he can. He’ll plan the next date te next day. He will wait to have sex with you (yes we met on Tinder and still haven’t had sex), he will ask you to be exclusive. Those things won’t change, whether you met on Tinder or not. 

  29. 29

    I totally agree with Megan. I am a 38 year old single Mum. I gave the traditional online dating sites a go. Updated my profiles etc. to attract the right people, but there are some men who only look at the pictures and age. Sad but true. I contacted single guys and divorced ones and I would say the divorced ones want a fresh start with a baggage-free younger model and the single guys think you are desperate so chase you because they think you will give it up quicker. I met someone online who was a smooth operator and pretty much exaggerated everything that was in his profile! But it took me a long-time to find out. I was demoralised by the whole thing after 6 months. I prefer to meet people and let them judge me as a person and vice versa. Tinder allows me to just have a photo, my name and age. Take it or leave it. If they write decent messages I will meet them for a date, I feel I have the power. If I want to see them again I will, if not, I don’t. I have met much better guys on Tinder and so have my friends. By getting to the dating quicker you can see the actions and not just hear the words they want you to hear!

  30. 30

    Evan,  I respectfully have to disagree with your opinions about Tinder.  I have tried numerous dating sites.  While there are options to block other user, there is not control over who contacts you.  On Tinder, you have to like each other before communication even begins.  By asking the right questions and evaluating the quality if the communication, it is obvious if you wish to continue to correspond it take it to the next level and meet.  

    A bit more effort is required to evaluate the other
    person, but hey, in the process you gain from the interaction of getting to know someone and if someone is offensive – just block.  I have only been on Tinder a few weeks, but am communicating with some quality men.  So far, I definitely prefer it to dating sites I have tried.  I think you should check it out!

    1. 30.1

      I agree with Jules completely. And I have always respected your opinions, E. I have had very good luck with Tinder over OKC and Match. Neither of which I like very much, BTW. I am having good conversations via Tinder and I believe, for me, that the mutual like aspect is the key. I am a 40 something, like to go on dates and meet people. If the chemistry is great, we might have sex sooner rather than later. Otherwise its thanks so much, ttyl. I like Tinder and I think it would be valuable for you to question some of us older folks and get our two cents!!
      Thanks for the post!

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