Let me set the scene: The sweetly snoring love of my life is taking a quick trip to dreamland to my right, the smelly Brooklyn breeze is making its way past our studio apartment, and the sixth ambulance of the night is racing down our avenue (the perfect soundtrack to snoozeland, might I add). I let it all settle in for a bit while I finish up my night the same way that hundreds of people in my city do—with a 20-minute Tinder session.
I’ve been with my boyfriend going on three years, living with him officially for over a year, and I’m a regular Tinder swiper. Sounds like the introduction to substance-abuse meeting, right?
It’s not what you think. We’re both monogamous and very happy with what we have together. And, no, we’re not using the app to find an "adventurous person looking for ‘some fun’ with a couple that ‘likes the share.’" Nothing wrong with that—more power to those fun-loving people. But there comes a time in every long-term relationship when hearing "you are the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen" happens less and less and then seems to fall out of conversation altogether. There must be some sort of osmosis that happens around month nine. It’s still true and no emotional sentiments have changed, but it becomes a phrase under the "assumed sweet nothings" that are reserved for times of lay-offs, ugly cries after the end of Gilmore Girls, and one too many friends’ engagement announcements on Facebook. Enter Tinder: every person’s shallow confidence booster.
Let’s start at the beginning. My dive into the Tinder-verse was an act of peer pressure, as indirectly as it may have been. I have a friend who met his girlfriend on Tinder. She’s got a killer personality, has a great job with lots of talent to boot, and is completely normal. One night last summer, Tinder King and I were eating pizza and clinking beers, sitting on the floor of my studio—hey, boyfriend and I have no chairs and apparently no shame—when he brought up the app. He and his soon-to-be Tinder-matched girlfriend hadn’t even had their first date, yet the more he sang the app’s praises, the more I already felt like a part of the app’s community. Laughing with him at his app mishaps and learning its inside jokes (i.e., Tinder Guys With Tigers.)
As any illegal-sounding transaction goes, I gave in to the persuasive and unapologetic "no-strings-attached" promise of strangers telling me I’m pretty with the swipe of a finger. Little did Tinder King know (or maybe he did), I took the Tinder dive later that night. I had been feeling the societal kick of lowered self-worth that so readily latches on to twentysomething ladies with ambitions. Was I being a good enough person to my friends and boyfriend? What would happen if boyfriend and I decided to try our luck elsewhere? Was I good-looking enough to snag another dude in the hardest city to find normal, eligible bachelors? I couldn’t air these worries to friends or family, for fear of over-obvious compliment fishing. I needed something sure, and silent. And much like someone would have a personal mantra, I had my Tinder profile. I just didn’t have to spend time in front of the mirror reciting anything.
The first few days were tough—I used the app when boyfriend wasn’t around, and it made me feel incredibly guilty. Stomachache guilty. Then I thought I would perform some sort of social experiment. Maybe if I tell my matches that I’m happily coupled off, I’ll feel better, I thought. What would they say? I couldn’t bring myself to tell any of my matches the truth. Maybe I was projecting the serial monogamist in me onto my matches, assuming that the picture on the screen could somehow jump off of the device and chew me out for wasting time on a dating app when a date is the last thing I needed. A silly thought, but I never did tell any of the guys stored in my matches list about my boyfriend..
Instead, I resorted to the becoming one of the most lowly of Tinder users. I’d swipe right, and bask in the glow of the fact that there was a person out there digging my bangs and red lipstick. That’s it. I wouldn’t say anything. I wouldn’t even go back to check out their oh-so-telling, sentence-long biography. Basking in the glow of an appearance-based attraction was the drug, and I was hooked.
The New York Times did a great dig; into the growing Tinder community, finding that, on average, users are logging in 11 times per day. The average session racks up to 8.5 minutes for women and 7.2 minutes for dudes, bringing in—again, on average—90 minutes of swiping every day. Now, I can’t admit to pulling in numbers like that, but with all of the types of couples (or groups) you see and hear about, you can’t help but wonder what all of those people are using it for. You can’t assume all of this innocent swiping is for a good-natured, vanilla hook-up. This is exactly what I tell myself on those nights when my man interrupts my swiping session and wraps his arm around me in that chokehold only a sleeping boyfriend can get away with.
Flash forward six months, and my boyfriend knows what I’m up to. And he couldn’t care less. In fact, one of my favorite things that has come out of his mouth has been, "Go for it. Maybe you’ll get a free dinner out of it." Swoon. Sometimes he even Tinders with me on my account, yes-ing, no-ing, and laughing at the completely mismatched. Some of you may toss Tinder into the category of quintessential hook-up technology; to others it’s an unconventional way to find love. I’ll just call it part of date night.