She Tried Tinder for Two Weeks. Find out What Happened

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Editor’s Note: After noting the many dangers of using Tinder in a recent LDS.net article, one writer wondered if any good could come from the app. So she embarked on a two-week experiment. 

Introduction

A temple marriage from the Tinder App seems as rare as a four leaf clover, as unbelievable as the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow, and about as likely to happen as a blue moon.

Yet, while we LDS young single adults may mock and scoff, we can’t deny that “Tinderellas” do exist. They live among us. They go to our schools and our wards while we look on with half-disguised envy. Could it be possible? Could the dream really exist??

I wouldn’t be privileged to know, but I’m going to (try to) find out!

Tinder’s Bad Reputation

Infamous for its seemingly shallow selection process (a person swipes left for pictures of people they are not in to and right for those they are), Tinder holds a special place in the hearts of the young single adult population. While other dating websites and apps require you to pay to be matched up with others, Tinder is free, only matches you with those that are geographically close, and surprisingly easy to use.

Therein lies the problem. It’s so easy-to-use and intuitive it has become an app ideal for hookup culture. The app can be so problematic an apostle warned us to use Tinder carefully. Unfortunately, it has ruined the app probably most everywhere in the US. So how are LDS people finding one another? By being in Utah.

My Tinder Experiment

Because of these persistent rumors that Tinder could actually be used for good, I decided to give Tinder a try. For the next two weeks (the first two weeks of August) I will experience Tinder. I wouldn’t use it outside of Utah county, mind, because I think it can attract people who are just looking to hook up; however, between my vetting process and the area I’m in, I don’t have too many worries.

I find it necessary to put together a list of rules. I’m naturally introverted, and without outward motivation it will be difficult to get myself to “play the game.” Thus, here are my rules:

      1. Make my profile as best I can. Put up cute pictures, make a nice bio. Really try.
      2. Spend at least a half hour each day sorting through Tinder.
      3. Keep up conversations with my matches. Be pleasant and interested.
      4. Unless there is a BIG reason not to, go on dates when the opportunity comes up.
      5. Have fun and be confident!

Are there good guys on Tinder? Are they all looking to hook up? What really goes on with this online dating thing? I’ll find out these next couple of weeks.

Day 1 & 2: First Reactions

Potential suitor looking at Mackenzie's Tinder profile

Tinder. Tinder, Tinder, Tinder. Oy vey. What did I get myself into?

My main thoughts over the first two days:

      • Wait, I just swipe left and I reject them? Just like that? And never see their picture again?
      • This is so shallow!
      • I’m so shallow!
      • So many beards . . . and shirtless men . . . holding guns . . . with their dog/cat/lion cub??
      • Wait, what does my profile look like?
      • I need to take new pictures.
      • Does this bio sound too formal? . . .  Maybe a little?
      • AH SOMEONE MATCHED WITH ME; WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?
      • *throws phone across the room*
      • *jumps whenever the phone buzzes with a notification*
      • (Getting a message in the app) “Hey” Hey? What am I supposed to say to that?? Um, “Hi”?

Making a Tinder Profile the LDS Way

After much deliberation, this is what my Tinder profile looks like right now:

Tinder profile screenshot

I need new pictures, so I’m planning on taking some tomorrow. I debated the finer points of my bio with my best friend. She told me to relax it, maybe just put a quote or something, make it a little more informal.

I feel fine with what I have, so I think I’ll keep it. It feels like a “me” bio, and, if nothing else, through this experience I want to be me. I’m all for presenting your best “you,” but I want to be authentic.

I was a little worried about the hookups parenthetical, but I figured that if that turned a guy away from me, I probably wouldn’t want to go out with him in the first place, you know?

I’m pretty choosy with my guys, and I have had trouble connecting with people in the past, so I figure the ones I do end up going out with will be the diamonds in the rough . . . at least that’s what I tell myself.

Tinder: A Window to My Soul?

I’ve discovered some very interesting things about myself through swiping. (Who would’ve thought?) Guys in suits: automatic + for them. I’ll take them more seriously by half than the other guys. Keywords: BYU, LDS, mission (though I’ve still swiped on guys who have none of these things).

I’ll admit, I’m not very outdoorsy, so any guy who says he likes to read and listen to good music gets a +. Clean cut: +, Gym shots: -, no bio: major -. If I don’t know anything about a potential guy, I’m so much more likely to swipe left. I don’t want to talk to any creepers, yeah?

Also, I’m going through these pictures super fast. I’m talking some pictures get less than .5 seconds before I swipe left (see point above about shallowness).

So far I’ve had a handful of Tinder conversations with the guys. They have all seemed quite pleasant, actually, to my surprise. Do I use smiley faces, or not? How flirty is too flirty? Should I flirt? Can I flirt? Important questions.

I don’t know how long any of these processes will take, so I don’t have a real projected timeline for the next two weeks yet. (Yes, I just said “projected timeline” in regard to going on dates. I think I have a problem.)

A first date already looms with one of the guys (what can I say, I’ve been a swiping fiend). Do I want to go hiking? Hmm, well maybe? I like the outdoors, but just with the two of us? Might be creepy. Maybe I’ll suggest a double or a change of date. Lunch dates are pretty easy going. We’ll see!

Day 3 & 4: Boy Texting

Woman Texting in Autumn

I think I’m in disbelief. Over the weekend I had the fabulous opportunity to talk to not one, not two, but four different guys. They were all very pleasant and nice to chat with. After talking a while, three of them asked me on dates, so now I have a date lined up for Monday, Thursday, and Friday (?)!

So, let’s get down to business . . . and go, on some dates! (Mulan? Anybody get that? The song with Shang? I’ll just stop now.)

The guys asked me out and, to avoid situations I might not be comfortable with, I decided to suggest to all of them that we go out for lunch.

Lunch is probably the quickest, easiest, and least risky date you could have. It allows you to meet in a public place each with your own transportation (an all-important detail when blind dating), to get to know your date, and to leave after a set period of time, usually around an hour or two. Unlike a dinner date, there is no pressure to spend additional time together after the meal.

My State of Mind

Before I started using online dating, I expected people on Tinder to be odd, socially awkward, and slightly creepy (online dating stereotypes). I’m happy to report that, so far in my experience, there are some pretty stand-up guys. I also expected to have uninspired conversations and ended up with entertaining ones. Tinder dating, it seems to me, is pretty similar to regular dating, you just start off online.

My sister asked me if I felt weird going on so many dates (and, really, it is so many considering my last date was about a month ago, and the one before that was about three months ago) with so many different guys. Oddly enough, it really doesn’t feel uncomfortable to me. I don’t feel all that apprehensive or nervous (well, maybe a few butterflies, but nothing crazy).

I suppose I have to give you a quick rundown of myself, just so you understand my state of mind.

I dated a guy for a while (like, multiple years while), and I was in love with him. We ended up breaking up, and my heart broke. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would have lasting scars from the relationship and from the breakup for years to come. As a result, it is difficult for me to open up to new people and, indeed, even to open up to the idea of another person in my life.

Suffice it to say, I don’t connect romantically very easily, and I play my cards close to the chest.

Pros and Cons of Tinder

I never thought I would find anything of worth about Tinder, but after using it for a few days, I find myself surprised. There are actually a few things I like a lot about Tinder.

      • A problem I typically have in real life is that the guys I’m interested in don’t know I am, and the guys I’m not interested in ask me out. Tinder solves that problem by “Matching” you and another person only if you both say you’re interested in one another up front, saving you time and angst.
      • The messaging app that is in Tinder itself allows you to get to know the person before you go out with them and without giving them your number. This means that when you do go on a date, you don’t have to ask questions like “Where are you from?” but can get down to more meaningful conversation.

Of course, not everything is roses and daffodils.

      • You get matched with people who never message you or who never message you back, which is a pain.
      • If you are picky (like me) you can Tinder swipe for ages without finding someone to swipe right on (which obviously depends on personal preferences).
      • It is actually a real problem trying to keep my conversations straight in my head. I often get confused and don’t remember what I said to whom and which guy likes what activity.
      • You have to watch out for catfishes (which is why I consider anyone with two pictures or less, no bio, or a small bio to be off-limits).

All in all, things seem to be going well for now.

Totals (simply to give you a snapshot of my Tinder life): 3 dates, 7 conversations, 13 matches.

Day 5 & 6: Shattered Expectations

First Date Flowers

Dating is awkward. A sad fact of the young single adult existence.

Sometimes I think about my grandparents and great-grandparents and ruminate on how it must have been to date in their time. I can imagine it now: young men bringing flowers to the door when they pick you up, filling up your dance card and making eyes with the handsome young man across the way, walking home under the light of the moon holding hands with your sweetheart. It must’ve been the life.

Of course, back in their age they had no microwaves, but hey, we all have our struggles.

Anyway, back to dating being awkward. You meet up with a person you barely know, talk for one to two hours, and hope to enjoy yourself enough that you’ll agree to put yourself through the awkward again, hoping to eventually get to a place where the two of you can abandon the awkward and simply feel comfortable in one another’s presence.

It’s an odd idea to be sure and certainly a strange way to start a friendship.

However, even as I found myself in this potentially awkward situation with Guy #1 on Monday, I was happy to discover that we had similar interests—and that maybe our date wouldn’t be so awkward at all.

I’ll spare you the tedious details, but suffice it to say that, for my first Tinder date ever, I couldn’t be happier with the way it went. Guy #1 and I hit it off swimmingly and ate and talked for a good two hours before parting. We had similar interests, similar goals, similar humor, etc. I had fun, and I’d say there is potential for another date.

So far Tinder: 1, Half-Eaten Burrito: 1, Expectations: 0 How odd.

The Fallout

After the date, I came home and Crashed. I capitalize it for emphasis. Really, dates take pretty much everything out of me. To recover I had to sit on the couch and read a novel for eight hours. *shrug*

It is becoming more and more difficult to motivate myself to swipe on Tinder. Not only do I feel judgemental and slightly ridiculous, but I also feel increasingly apathetic. Honestly, I am surprised I haven’t swiped past every available man in Utah county by this point—it feels like I have!

Sometimes I’ll zone out and swipe past someone who I actually was interested it. Whenever that happens I always feel a strange sense of loss, almost a “what could have been” type feeling. I can’t let myself get too caught up in that though. If I had to confront and analyze every single lost opportunity I’ve ever had, I would get no rest. Much safer to ignore it.

Letting My Hair Down

One unexpected outcome I am getting from this is a sudden motivation to be more bold in real life. Being on Tinder is slowly breaking down the barriers of propriety I’ve set in place for myself, meaning that I feel more inclined to express my interest in guys I meet in my ward, job, etc. I feel slightly reckless that way. It makes me laugh—it’s an odd feeling.

Day 7 & 8: Dates and Determination

A couple on their first Tinder date

It’s been a week since I started this Tinder thing, and honestly, I can’t believe I’ve been using it for such a short time. This last week has gone by faster than the wind—and I’m only halfway through my experiment!

I used to believe in love at first sight, not necessarily because I thought it was the most practical and likely thing to happen, but because love at first sight is easy. You stare at someone across the way and casually make eye contract. You hurriedly look away, but something strikes you about that person and you find yourself looking back at them. Your connection is tenuous, yet oh so real and sweet.

Romantic and possible, for those lucky enough to find it, love at first sight is not common and not any more real than love conceived under more normal circumstances.

I have come to realize that love requires more from its seekers than a vain hope that someday it will hit us in the face. Love requires time and selflessness and hope and confidence—and that is as true for people in relationships as people who are searching for relationships.

The truth is, I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of sitting around hoping love will find me. I’m tired of sitting in my proverbial castle for my Prince Charming. If he can’t find me, will find him.

The Dates

Days seven and eight of my experiment provided me with a few interesting challenges. The most obvious is that I agreed to go on two dates on the same day only a few hours apart. That was stressful. In addition, I am now getting to a point where I’m having some really enjoyable conversations with some of these different guys over text, which I hadn’t anticipated.

My dates with Guys #2 and #3 went well. We got food for both of the dates (I had to make sure not to eat too much during the first) and just talked. I feel slightly guilty for the second date just because I don’t feel like I was 100 percent. Which is one of the reasons I am considering rescheduling second date with Guy #1 on Friday.

Does that make me a bad person? I just feel weary. Drained: the only word for it. I need a date-free weekend for my introvertedness to take the time to recover. Plus, we were going to do something outside and the weather is bad. So there’s that.

The Dichotomy of Tinder

One thing that I have come to realize is that everyone is different and multifaceted in such interesting ways! I knew that on a surface level, of course, but recognizing that everyone I’ve talked to has their own struggles, triumphs, and learning experiences is a humbling experience.

Contrasted with the application of the Tinder app, this makes for an interesting dichotomy of split-decision shallowness and potential long-term discovery. Simply put, you are meeting so many people in such a short amount of time it puts you in the unique position of knowing people on both a superficial and deep level. How odd.

Totals: 6 dates (3 planned and in the offing), 13 conversations, 17 matches.

Day 9 & 10: Rescheduling

Woman on cell phone

I ended up canceling the date on Friday.

It was a hard decision for me because I hate letting people down, and I hate not doing what I say I’m going to do. In the end, it just came down to the simple fact that I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I knew that if I went on the date 1) I probably wouldn’t be a very good date, and 2) it would make me even more exhausted for the weekend (during which I had a couple additional social encounters planned).

I said I was feeling ill, and Guy #1 took my bowing out with grace. We rescheduled for this Thursday. I don’t know what we are doing yet, but I’m sure we’ll have a good time.

So yay! The world didn’t end because I rescheduled a date.

Pushing Myself too Hard?

I’ve had this battle before—not necessarily with dating but with social engagements in general. What is the perfect balance between “pushing myself” and taking care of myself?

My best friend, whom I have mentioned before, is an extrovert. We roomed together in college for a couple of years, and we balanced each other out very well. I pulled her back when she was pushing herself too hard, and she pushed me out of my shell when I needed it.

On Friday, I called her for advice. I explained my date dilemma to her and asked her if I should cancel. She recommended that I go on the date despite my reluctance and enjoy myself. I smiled and thanked her for her advice. Her words were exactly what I needed to hear.

I canceled my date.

Not because I go against her advice simply on principle (in fact, she almost always has very good advice) but because once I hung up with her on the phone, dreading going on the date even more, I realized something.

Even those you are closest to aren’t going through the same things you are going through. And at the end of the day, only you (sometimes) and Christ know exactly how you are feeling and how you should proceed.

It was a novel revelation: that I can and should trust myself while taking into account the advice of those whom I love.

Knowing My Limits

So back to my original conundrum: What is the perfect balance between “pushing myself” and taking care of myself? If I never push myself, I will never get out of my comfort zone and will (as I mentioned earlier) always be waiting for true love to ride in and sweep me off my feet. On the other hand, if I always am outside my comfort zone, I will be exhausted, miserable, and short with everyone.

I think the only way you can find happiness and contentment in these situations is to know yourself and to continue getting to know yourself through the years.

For instance, I might be an introvert, but after getting to know people, they are often surprised when I tell them this. “You can’t be an introvert,” they often say. “You seem so bubbly and vivacious!” (True story). What they don’t know is, while I might be good in front of crowds and very personable one-on-one, I love nothing more than being in my own head in a quiet room with a book.

I’m an introvert who has taught herself to be an extrovert, as my grandpa likes to say, and I recognize this about myself. I am slowly but surely getting to know my limits. Yes, I can conduct myself well in social settings, but I need at least a day to recoup from a taxing social engagement such as a party or a date.

Now that I know my limits, I can plan out dates accordingly and make sure not to overdo it (aka two dates in one day).

Now that I know my limits, I can push myself (get myself to go on dates) without exhausting myself.

Day 11 & 12: Rejection

Woman Looks Over Bridge to Make Decision

The beginning of this week was pretty quiet as things go. I have decided to stop swiping on Tinder not only because my two weeks are almost up, but because now that I’m starting to go on second dates with these guys I figure I should probably figure out where I am with them before I start dating other people.

Everyone has faced rejection in some form at one point or another. We didn’t get the grade, the promotion, or the opportunity we wanted. We feel exhausted and defeated, and it takes real effort to get back up on the horse again.

Rejection is the worst when it is personal.

But, Logically . . .

Now, logically (and I’m sure by now you can tell I’m a pretty logical person), the pain from rejection doesn’t make sense to me, especially in the context of dating.

It seems to me that people are (hopefully) engaging in relationships in which both partners have it in their best interests to want it to work out. If a relationship doesn’t work for one or both of the participators, it would stand, therefore, that it would make sense and be in interests of both people if they terminated the relationship. Because if one half of the equation doesn’t work out both partners would want to move on to a relationship which works.

Basically, we all want everyone to be happy, right?

Unfortunately, the human equation has that dreaded variable: emotion. And dating, and by extension breaking up, becomes personal.

Relationships are complicated.

“Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself”

After suffering extreme emotional pain at the hands of one relationship, I now withhold my emotions jealously. As I’ve mentioned before, it takes quite a while for me to emotionally invest myself in another person. Therefore, if a guy doesn’t call back after the first or second date, I’m pretty unfazed (not always an enviable position to be in I’m afraid).

However, I feel differently if I am on the other side of the equation. Telling someone I’m not interested in them has never been fun. I suppose I don’t love disappointing people.

I talked with a co-worker about this dilemma at one point. I explained how I just didn’t want to tell this guy I wasn’t interested, but instead of empathizing with me my co-worker told me to stop feeling sorry for myself.

At first I was confused. No, I was feeling sorry for my date. My co-worker explained:

“No, you misunderstand. You are empathizing for him, but you are mostly feeling sorry for yourself. You are putting off telling him you aren’t interested not to save his feelings (because you are going to reject him at some point) but because you don’t want to feel the guilt of rejecting him.”

It was an eye opener. Yes, I didn’t want to go on another date with the guy, but that was not going to change with time. Putting off telling the guy wouldn’t save his feelings (indeed, it could only end up making him feel worse), instead I was trying to save my feelings. How selfish of me!

Going on so many dates recently has put me up to the rejection challenge. A few guys haven’t called back after our dates, and that’s okay, I get it. And other guys, well I’ll eventually have to tell them whether or not I’m feeling it. It’s not something I look forward to, but if nothing else, I want to be considerate, and I want to be honest.

Day 13 & 14: Telling the Truth

My two last days were accompanied by my two last dates of this experiment, and I ended up enjoying them immensely!

Both of the dates were second dates, and the guys were really creative. I mini golfed during the first one and baked during the second. It’s fun getting to know people in such relaxed environments. Not that I don’t like a symphony and nice dinner as much as the next girl, but sometimes those dates can be too formal.

Just last night I was talking to one of the guys, and he asked me what I was doing. I was watching America’s Next Top Model, which, I confess, is something of a guilty pleasure for me. Rather than avoiding the questions, I decided to tell him what I was doing. It was an interesting moment for me, one that I wasn’t entirely prepared for.

It is an understood risk: the decision to be vulnerable. And it’s funny in what ways we can be vulnerable. I might have a hobby I’m really sensitive about, while another person could be sensitive about their profession or something similar.

To get close to others, simply out of necessity, we must be vulnerable and share those things that we are scared to.

36 Questions to Love?

There was an experiment done in 1997 in which Dr. Arthur Aron put a female and a male volunteer in a lab. The two participants were strangers to one another and had no contact previous to being in the room. They were directed to sit across from one another at a small table, to ask each other 36 different, personal questions, and to stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes without breaking eye contact.

The entire process took about 45 minutes and was intended to measure the interpersonal closeness the questions and eye contact would engender in the participants. The set of questions included innocuous questions such as “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” and personal questions such as “What is your most treasured memory?”

It is relevant to point out that after this experiment was conducted, the two participants eventually got married.

Obviously correlation isn’t causation, and the two people definitely had to go through additional experiences in order to decide to get married, but it is worthwhile to note that a deep level of vulnerability helped to jump-start their relationship.

Clearly vulnerability is vital to a healthy romantic relationship.

Pulling My Heart Out of My Chest

(My proverbial chest of course, where I keep my heart under strict lock-and-key. What were you thinking?)

My instinct, when faced with questions that would render me vulnerable, is to withdraw and distract. To answer the question with one of my own or to redirect the question back at the questioner. But that tactic certainly can’t and won’t help me.

Just like Ms. Frizzle said on The Magic School Bus, “It’s time to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”

Or, in other words, it’s time to unlock the padlock I keep around my heart and open myself up to new relationships and new loves. It’s time to tell people that I watch America’s Next Top Model and, yes, I do happen to play video games for fun. I sing in the car and in the shower, and I quote movies and shows all the time.

I might get hurt, but that isn’t an excuse to throw in the towel! I believe in myself. I can do this.

Final Thoughts

Woman gets ready for a date

Alright, I made it! Two weeks using Tinder, and I didn’t spontaneously combust. So I think I can say I succeeded (tongue-in-cheek here). Looking back over this experience, I can confidently say I’m happy that I decided to not only try Tinder but also write about it. Writing always helps me sort out my thoughts, and Tinder was a great way to learn about myself.

So, on that note,

Things I Learned About Tinder

      • The types of people on Tinder (at least here, within twenty miles of me) vary! You have tall people, short people, religious people, non-religious people, people who are looking for a hookup, people who aren’t, blondes, brunettes, students, and professionals. Basically, all types!
      • Tinder is great for starting conversations and getting to know people in a low-pressure environment.
      • Tinder is easy to use and integrates with your Facebook so you can see common connections with the other people on the app, which is handy.
      • The messaging app in Tinder allows you to end conversations with people who are offensive to you or whom you don’t have a connection with.
      • Creating a simple, clean profile is probably your best asset to find people who are like you and want the same things you want. Putting up a few nice pictures (at least one of just you), and creating a short bio about you and your interests goes a long way to narrowing the field of candidates (sidenote: Not hookups parenthetical = win).

All said, once I got over my initial fear of the unknown, I found that Tinder is what you make it. If you are looking for a one night stand, you can find it; however, if you are looking to go on dates, meet people, and potentially find a relationship, you can have that too. The negative hype around Tinder is unwarranted, I believe, in Utah county. That being said, be careful always.

Dating and the Gospel

In my experience, dating is, well, not too enjoyable. I know rationally that you have to date to find the person you will marry—after all, it’s simple math that you would increase your chance of finding the right person if you expose yourself to more people—but I find myself again and again digging in my feet and refusing to put myself out there.

There’s too much at risk! You have to put yourself out there, trust others, and open up to people you just barely met. You have to do this again and again and again, until it seems like there will be no end to the parade of faces. How do we do it? How do we have the strength to continue to go on date after date, to face rejection again and again?

Hope. You, I, We must have hope.

In the 2008 General Conference, President Uchtdorf spoke of hope. In his talk, “The Infinite Power of Hope,” he shares a story of his mother searching frantically for her lost children, hoping against hope that she will find them. He gives this definition of hope.

“Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear.”

For us single young adults, hoping for marriage can sometimes seem futile and prospects can seem bleak. We know that eventually we will get married, but all we can see is our present sadness and hopelessness. When I get in moods like this, all I want to do is curl up in the fetal position.

But we can’t give in to these negative feelings Apart from making us no happier, these feelings prevent us from growing spiritually, mentally, and physically. We are stopped in our progression when we give in to despair.

We are of divine heritage and infinite worth. We don’t know when on God’s timetable we will get married, but it will happen. And as long as we follow His plan for us we will become the person that He needs us to be and that our future spouse needs us to be. The journey will be long, and the journey will be tough; but we will emerge better than when we started.

I have a note on my desktop. It says, “Do caterpillars know they are going to become butterflies, or does God want to surprise them?” I like to think He surprises them.

 

Mackenzie Brown lives amid the Rocky Mountains and dreams of wild things. She loves any good story, though she reserves a special place in her heart for Star Wars and Brandon Sanderson, and she loves the hope and the joy that the Church of Jesus Christ gives her. Mackenzie is a content writer and editor for LDS.net, a graduate of Brigham Young University, and an eater of avocados.