Life Lessons from Tinder

One Single Girl shares what she’s learned about herself, others, and how not to date through popular dating app Tinder.


Photo by Claire Folger – © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

As many of you online daters already know, there is an approximate 9:1 ratio of scary people to normal people in your pool of options. When my friend called me one evening, explaining the luscious and mysterious world that is Tinder, I denied that it would be the perfect fit for me. He was prepared for my skepticism, my remarks about the ratio, how it’s my worst fear, etc., so he simply said, “Think of all the people you can laugh at.”

I was sold.

Welcome to Tinder

—the ultimate in superficial, the cruel and instant “hot or not” judgment of your local peers, and the most awful, entertaining thing to happen to our world.

You swipe through people’s pictures and decide “nope” if they are terrifying, or “like” if they make the cut. You can’t contact a person you have “liked” unless, by chance, they “liked” your profile as well. This significantly narrows down the number of creeps who message you. If anyone who resembles Hulk Hogan does (assuming that’s not your type), you know it’s your own fault.

This was the original appeal of Tinder—fewer random creeps and a good laugh. Plus there was no pressure to write an awkward “About Me.” What would I even say in a few words? I like to drink? Sometimes I watch Glee when I’m alone in my room? God, I just get to know someone so well once I’ve read his or her favorite T-Swift quote.

In this surface-level process, I learned an inordinate amount about myself as well as others. It’s horrifically fascinating, it’s funny, and you almost feel productive because you might find some mutual attraction in your area to spark an incredibly fulfilling life-long romance.

What I learned about myself

I will linger on someone’s picture, slowly making that ever-so-important decision of “Is he hot?” if they are wearing Ray-Bans or a Hawaiian shirt, have a grainy sun-stained picture taken with film, or look “alternative” or “indie” in any way (I guess you could say I have a type…). It’s embarrassing to realize and admit your pattern and type; a little voice inside your head tells you that you are a good person and accepting of everyone, giving all guys (or girls) an equal opportunity to your beaming heart… but Tinder forces you to judge like those douchebags on Next that would yell out “NEXT!” the moment someone not their type walked off the bus.

On Tinder you have five chances to impress someone with your pictures. Scrolling through the main page will just show you one picture, but if you’re interested or need more to decide, they have up to five pictures of themselves for your viewing pleasure. RULE: ALWAYS LOOK AT THEIR OTHER PICTURES. It never ceases to shock me how someone can look so different in their profile picture than their other pictures. For example, my apparent Ray-Ban attraction screws me over a lot, because everyone looks good in Ray-Bans—and don’t you forget that.

“Damn, he’s kinda cute,” then I’ll scroll to his next picture and realize he just happens to own cool glasses. Same with my inexplicable Hawaiian shirt attraction: turns out most people only wear them as Halloween costumes. Or they’re forty-year old investment bankers. That’s why you need to filter through to the true devotees. It’s a rough process, my friends.

What I learned about other people

Apparently men think they are most attractive when they are:

  • Holding guns that one time they went to the gun range.
  • Brooding and alone in a corner.
  • Doing a keg stand.
  • With their ex-girlfriends at Disneyland.
  • Using filters that make them look like paintings.
  • Hidden between their more attractive friends in a group shot on Halloween wearing Hawaiian shirts.

The people you really need to look out for are the ones with what I like to call the “sultry selfie,” in which a person is found either in their car, on the Venice boardwalk, or shirtless in bed and were so overwhelmed by their own desirability in that moment that they had to take a selfie. When viewing the sultry selfie, you will always find that you feel violated by the stranger staring deeply into your soul, ready to jump your bones.

While people-watching is a serious hobby of mine, I really hope that Tinder tendencies don’t transfer to the real world… But is it possible they already have?

Tinderizing Real Life

I had a friend that met a girl he liked at a bar. She added him on Facebook the next day. He looked through a few of her photos and saw several of her in a bathing suit. She didn’t look bad, but she didn’t look perfect. He was inclined to reject her for the smallest imperfection, simply because that was all he knew about her. If he had gotten to know her then seen her sporting a bikini, he likely wouldn’t have cared.

If I have learned anything from my days on Tinder, it’s that you learn nothing about a person by looking at his or her profile. And that you should probably be using a different app if you were serious about meeting someone decent. Online dating does open up easier and alternative ways to meet people but potentially at the cost of forgetting the excitement of real-life interactions.

If anything, online dating is picking apart our pool of options because people get lazy and wander OKCupid instead of going out to socialize. Okay, these are only extreme cases, but I’m envisioning the worst for our future (About Me: Pessimist, Romantic).

Maybe one day there will be a Tinder fairy godmother who hits you and stranger with a wand and yells “IT’S A MATCH” in your face—although that’s arguably a best case scenario.

Mor W. is a recent college graduate and photographer.

Your biggest fan, brunch buddy, and online BFF. Consider me your wing woman for brand success.


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