Ahhh, college, the breeding ground for adolescent and young adults alike to journey through the inevitable highs and lows of adulthood, which unfortunately consists of dating.
However, no one said it would be this hard. I mean, let's face it, dating in college without a doubt is as hard as your college career itself...well that or trying to get in contact with the Office of Financial Aid on any given day of the week (but that's another story).
Attempting to juggle your academic, personal, social, and romantic life can seem almost impossible with the hectic schedules of so many students, and it's safe to say given the recent blows my already relatively nonexistent love life was taking I was beginning to feel pretty hopeless.
Most small connections I formed in a college setting have been a bit superficial, and I definitely am not the only person who has felt this way. I met with three of my girlfriends at our favorite spot to express some of my frustrations. I mean, after all, I couldn't be the only one who felt this way. And I wasn't.
These friends shared that they had been feeling the same way. One shared that she had been using Tinder to meet mostly guy friends, she said, “Most of the time we just hang out and chill. I've hooked up with some but I find that it’s an easier way to meet people, but trust me there are some good guys out there.”
I was hesitant but her reassuring nod struck me, and suddenly I couldn't help but wonder, “Can Mr. Right be one right swipe away?” Is it possible that meeting the absolute love of my life lies in the hands of a “location-based social search mobile application”? I decided to see for myself.
After downloading the application, it prompts you for your name, age, and a couple of profile photos. It’s relatively simple and quick. Outside of those things, you're left to give the gist of who you are by a 500-character limit.
Some are funny, some are sweet, and others are just boring. I attempted to be coy, saying something along the lines of “I'm doing an experiment, I only wanna talk about how misunderstood Kanye West is with someone.”
Getting acclimated to how everything worked was relatively simple- almost too easy- by eliminating the awkward tension of figuring out whether the person you are interested in is also interested in you. The moment you match with someone you're immediately assured they take some interest in you.
The biggest obstacle comes when sifting through the people who are not interested in the same thing as you. It is no secret that Tinder has a reputation for being a tool for “casual hook-ups”.
This was definitely a reason for my skepticism concerning the people I came across (and boy, there were many). For this reason, I gave myself a few rules to use while sifting through the people who were “just not looking for what I was looking for.”
The rules included that we would have to speak for, at minimum, a week to feel each other out before “linking up.” A phone call would take place before meeting for the screening and, most importantly, we'll meet in broad daylight. I feel the need to mention this because safety should always be priority, for both women and men, when using apps like this. I found these boundaries made me feel more comfortable with conversing.
Initially, many of the conversations were very generic, “Hello,” “How are you?” “Where you from?”- all the things that come with getting to know someone online.
This is where you encounter the most strenuous part of Tinder. The perk of being able to match with someone your interested in so quickly is nice until you're in a situation where you are trying to communicate with over 20 relatively interesting guys at once. This, at times, compromises the quality of the conversation by attempting to juggle the quantity of people you are talking to.
You may end up in a situation where you forget to respond to someone all together. Then come back by saying hello, and have to start the process all over. It doesn't help that the app has some lagging issues with their messages. I did this for about three days, and was beginning to lose hope, and then I met a light at the end of the tunnel.
Let's call that light ‘Brad’. Brad was a healthy 6’1 student at Georgia Southern University. He was also really, really into anime, super athletic, and had the most precious smile. I found that speaking to him was very relaxing, and came very naturally. We exchanged numbers after just three days of talking. When you speak to someone on the phone for the first time- how you meet them really doesn't matter as much- you realize that they are a real person with real thoughts and opinions, stories, and interests. It doesn't feel like a “Tinder match” anymore.
Brad and I spoke for about two weeks and made plans of possibly meeting until he relocated to North Carolina and our plans were put on hold. We still talk from time to time. But not nearly as much as before.
Then, there was ‘Adrien’. He was passionate about music, cars, and women. We got into debates about music and which coast was more influential in hip-hop politics. He was from South Carolina, and extremely passionate about it. I found that of most conversations I laughed most with him, and I felt most comfortable; so much that we even Facetimed a few times. That first Facetime is nerve-wracking for online dating as there is this pressure to live up to your perfectly-angled and lit profile photos, an intimidating thought. There is always the fear of “accidentally catfishing” someone; however Adrien made me feel comfortable and at ease.
Until this point, all my exchanges were relatively pleasant...until I met ‘Bruce Banner’ I give him that name because, similar to Bruce, this dude had a serious anger management problem. After one night of us talking, he got upset and lost it because I refused to meet with him. In hindsight, I just think he was looking for a hook-up and was sexually frustrated; however, I made it perfectly clear that I was not interested in that and he absolutely lost it.
I blocked his number and his Tinder profile after he decided to exchange a poor choice of words, which is when he took it upon himself to call from a different number- repeatedly. I got a little scary but it eventually stopped. Bruce Banner is probably out there somewhere tormenting some poor soul, but again, sexual frustration does wear on some people.
All in all, I found that Tinder, more than anything is a tool to meet people- new people, people that you may have or may not have ever spoken to or interacted with in person. The important thing is that in the event that you come across any insane individuals, it's important to look at them as a person beyond associating them with the site.
I am aware that the use of apps like Tinder can be a bit sketchy, but I really do think that among the Brads, there are some Adriens out there who are genuinely looking to get to know someone. At minimum, while you may not find ‘Mr. Right”, you may find a close friend who is just one right swipe away.