once more unto the breach
August 2, 2022 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Tinder Hearted: How did a dating app become my longest running relationship? After nearly a decade of online dating, Allison P. Davis takes stock at New York Magazine's The Cut.
posted by Iris Gambol (66 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Jesus, it sounds like a nightmare. The worst thing I think you can do to people is think of them as things. Even if you don’t abuse them or treat them much differently, it’s bad for you inside.

I’ve never done Tinder. I was, I think, just 30 when it came out, and it was just another thing saying “fuck off, you’re old.” I’ve never been tempted to try it because I have heard too many stories of men matching women just to abuse them for their appearance. In fact, I have no more energy for any online dating any more. It’s lonelier than actually being lonely.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:44 PM on August 2 [9 favorites]

A few years ago I found myself newly single alongside two friends who were in the same situation, both (according to objective Tinder match numbers) far more desirable than me. We've all had strings of relationships since then. Although both friends ultimately ended up in relationships with people they met offline, in no sense was their online dating experience better than mine in terms of overall quality of life. This taught me a valuable lesson about the illusory nature of the "market value" imputed to us by dating app algorithms. It's always tempting to think "I'd be having a better time if I were 20 pounds lighter and could grow a decent beard" but it turns out that's just not the case.
posted by derrinyet at 5:53 PM on August 2 [9 favorites]

We were at a restaurant in San Francisco, having one of too many brutal good-bye dinners that led to this-is-the-last-time-I-swear sex, and I put the app on my phone in front of him.
Sorry WHAT? This is a wild anecdote to open with and then just not acknowledge at all.
posted by wesleyac at 6:07 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]

archive link

Online dating terrifies me mainly because I don't want casual sex and I can't handle being rejected after every first meeting which has been my experience.

I've been single for over a decade and am sometimes pretty lonely but I keep assuming that I'll meet someone in person and we'll connect and we'll organically meet up more and more frequently and proceed from there.

I feel like an ancient hoping to date pre-internet-style and thinking it will work though it didn't work for me then either.

I dunno. TMI. If you see a sockpuppet askme about this, don't look at me.
posted by bendy at 6:13 PM on August 2 [19 favorites]

It sounded so lonely, difficult, and depersonalized. I know people who have done online dating (of all ages and all varieties of app) and most of them gave it up after a while because it was so dispiriting.
posted by Peach at 6:15 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

My favorite dating app experiences (save one), including on Tinder, were those in which I matched with someone, we talked good-naturedly for a bit, agreed we weren’t really such a match after all, and parted with good wishes because “it’s tough out there.”

After divorce and the novelty of long nights and weekends alone, it was okay to get to that place. Rare, maybe, but good.

Later, I met the woman who’s now my wife on Bumble. But we’d known each other in college, thirty years prior. The recognition and reunion and joy and life we share was made possible by that platform. We got so lucky. She’d made her profile about a week before we matched.

That it also leads to such pain and abuse is also part of its reality. And there are so many hard stories.
posted by Caxton1476 at 6:19 PM on August 2 [7 favorites]

I've had good experiences with OKCupid, but I've never tried to use a dating app to date the opposite sex. I was able to find interesting people in the local queer scene and make new friends (with benefits). I'm still friends with some people I met that way over ten years ago.

I found my current partner, now my husband, by accidentally calling the wrong number...
posted by subdee at 6:26 PM on August 2 [10 favorites]

I don't want to be the "not all Tinder-users" person, but I spent a few years on it and did not have a grim experience that ruined my ability to love. I did have my "ordering a guy like a pizza" moments and my dispirited forever-alone moments. But I had some longer-term relationships that came of it, as well as from other apps, and some dates with people I met in person. Now I'm engaged to someone I met on Tinder - and I didn't even "determinedly and doggedly dated with clinical precision." Though I was one of his first matches, so he fits the other profile she presents of people who find love on the apps.

I guess, if you're single and perhaps newly facing the prospect of app dating, I hope this article doesn't make you feel like it's a soul-sucking wasteland. It's just a way to meet people!
posted by rabbitbookworm at 6:27 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

Anyway I finished the article and I really do not understand what point it's trying to make, if it's trying to make a point at all. "Online dating bad" is, uh, really not a novel take that needs 6,500 words written about it in 2022.

And the closest it comes to making a novel point, is, I think:
What Tinder is good at, what it seems designed to do, is make me much better at being single.
Which seems completely preposterous to me — I don't know what the author consider "being good at being single" but I think being comfortable with loneliness and solitude is a really important skill, and not one that swiping on tinder whenever you feel lonely (or knowing that you have the ability to swipe on tinder) seems like it's actually building? The examples she gives describe ways of papering over loneliness, not of fixing it, and the description of "compartmentalizing" dating only really makes sense if you are spending a pretty unhealthy amount of time when you're single thinking about wanting to be dating, which I think is actually the root cause that would need to be fixed to describe oneself as "becoming better at being single."

But I guess between this and the Feeld article on here a couple weeks ago, apparently normie writers talking about extremely normal online dating experiences in trendy magazines is something that there's a audience for, as strange as that is to me.
posted by wesleyac at 6:43 PM on August 2 [6 favorites]

I should have probably made it clear in that comment that I don't have anything against people who did find the article interesting or valuable, and I do appreciate it being posted here, since I think there's interesting conversation to be had about online dating. I just personally do not understand what the author was trying to do here (probably because I'm young enough that the experiences the author describes are really normal in my age cohort)
posted by wesleyac at 7:00 PM on August 2

wesleyac, if it's helpful context, this article resonated with me. Before apps existed I was a serial monogamist with most of my relationships lasting at least a year or two before we parted ways. I joined up on the apps 5-6 years ago and have found my relationships getting shorter and shorter since.

I don't know if it's the apps fault, but similar to the author, I've wondered if my experiences on the apps have changed my relationship preferences and habits in a way that's more optimized for shallower and shorter-term couplings. Perhaps it has, but expressing that sensation beyond anecdotes seems daunting.
posted by matrixclown at 7:04 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

All the author's experiences are familiar to me, except for that there's obviously more sex happening in New York than where I am.

I've been on Tinder. I've been online dating since well before Tinder was around, going from one site to another, feeling out the vibes and learning about the constituencies of each. And what's to say other than that I'm still here, still working the numbers game? I'd rather not think about how many years I've actually been at this.

Online dating is generally a miserable experience, but -- it's the only game in town. When you're done with school, when friends of friends have all been tapped out, when you're smart enough not to date at work, when you age out of bars, where extracurricular activities do not exist for the purpose of picking up -- what else is there?

I hate it, but for all my years of doing it, I've become remarkably adept at it. Not that it leads anywhere.

A couple years back, I thought I'd finally found love. And as joyful as finding love was, it was matched by the sheer fucking relief at never having to go online dating again. I was done. I was finally fucking done. I could take those recycled resume-recital speeches and practiced A-list bon mots and heightened dating Spider-sense and just toss them aside.

Of course, it wasn't love, because why would I be that lucky, and I had to retrieve all those skills from out of the recycling and reload the apps. It was so particularly soul-destroying and humiliating. And here I am still, churning through the numbers, hoping against hope, trying to beat a system designed to keep me subscribed at the cost of a dollar a day, swiping through the same old faces I've seen a million times before, knowing that I'm one of those same old faces to someone else.

I'm just so tired. It only ever gets worse. And I've no better ideas than to keep at it, fanning that tiny flame of diminishing hope.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:05 PM on August 2 [17 favorites]

Everyone is telling me every single day lately "dating apps! Dating apps! You can't find love without a dating app, you just can't!" because I'd rather meet someone IRL doing things I love, but somehow I literally can't find anyone I like while doing those things that will like me back, apparently. (And really, why not?!?!) And yet, I want to throw up at the idea of going on a dating app and making myself available for messages from creepers, and also I'm old and plain and childfree so nobody will want me.

I feel like every article about a dating app ever goes exactly like this one. Years of Tinder and yet no boyfriend. The one thing that stands out from this is, "I am surprised at how unobtainable a committed long-term relationship feels." You either get lucky or you don't. And I admit I hang on to a certain someone because literally, that's as close as I can fucking get IRL even if it never gets anywhere in particular, instead of feeling shitty and unwanted and creeped out on a dating app. I can't stomach feeling like that for the extremely unlikely and vague promise of love, especially when people can do it for ten damn years and still find no one.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:36 PM on August 2 [6 favorites]

My favorite uncle is either 10 or 11 years older than me - I can never remember - and perpetually single. We were in a car and talking about dating and meeting people and I gave him so much advice about finding dates organically - I told him to go on bird-watching walks at the Audubon Society and other similar activities.

A year or so later he had a girlfriend who has since moved in with him. I asked him where they met and he said, "don't tell anyone but we met on a dating site."
posted by bendy at 7:44 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

As his tongue worked its way around my mouth with such agility I considered asking him to unearth some pepperoni stuck between my molars, I felt my body flood with the possibility of a great romance.

This is an apt description of a certain type of very awful kisser, who I swear, gets it from a certain type of awful porn.

It never occurred to me some specifics would turn me on: a snaggletooth, a bad tattoo in a good location, clean fingernails.

For me it was a guy who was blind in one eye, an eye that looked everywhere and nowhere at once, wandering freely as if it had its own agenda.

“Apparently there’s a term for someone who gets turned on by intellectual stuff. You know, just talking. What’s the word? I want to say ‘sodomy’?”

I am still laughing so hard I can barely breathe. He had to have been trolling. I know most of the US population doesn't have a reading level above 6th grade level (which is incidentally, one of the reasons it's so hard to have discussions on the 'net these days (I remember when it was all academics and nerds and no pictures), but come on, that's just too crazy. I'm feeling the urge to play "Rum, Sodomy, & the Lash", but I don't have the CD anymore.

I was very overwhelmed by the amount of information you had to give out.

You, miss, are not the droid I am looking for. You may proceed.

She liked that on Tinder she could be “as oblique”

Ok, I just went from disinterested in this rando she interviewed to actively grossed out. Every time I try to say the tropes about game-players are overplayed, someone comes along and throws egg on my face.

“It’s a numbers game,” I learned to say.

An online friend of mine, on one of the rare occasions that I let my guard slip and bitched, said smugly, from her married position, "There's a shoe for every foot," and here, four years later, all the things that made me undateable then are still making me undateable (in the view of other people, not me) and I've had hookups, but not even a single weeks-long dating-relationship. The whole "it's a numbers game" only works if you are part of the majority, and if you are unselective in the extreme.

Each date proved me to be both incredibly brave and the biggest wimp.


I threw out the Madewell jeans I was wearing when the dude excused himself, talked on the phone

This makes me so sad for her. Does she really think her clothes are such a terrible problem? Presuming they're clean?

or boasted “necessary” virtue signaling (“If you voted for Trump swipe on, BLM, ACAB, Anti-capitalist only”)

I hate this. I am all the liberal buzzwords, but I have nothing in common with most of the people who use them as as substitute for personality, in lieu of putting actual information in a profile with limited space. People who almost certainly picked me only because I'm trans or lefty and I seem like a target, I can't really think of a a better word, something to accessorize with, to make them look chic, or feel good about themselves. Or maybe the trans folks who think we should get along because we're both trans. I recall the transwoman who said to me that she only dated trans people "because that's all I can get" right before she lunged at me. Why she thought I'd react well to being called "the best [she] could do" I don't know.

He told me about the prison sauna,

And this is one of the reasons I still try to meet people on dating sites. Occasionally you trip over someone with a great story.
posted by liminal_shadows at 7:55 PM on August 2 [7 favorites]

I’ve been on apps a lot longer than ten years, and longer even than that just in my current city. I just got back on them after ending my longest ever relationship, and I hold a little part of myself for those people whose profiles I see that have also stayed active for years and years, maybe as they cycled in and out of relationships that didn’t work out, almost certainly as their twenties and thirties went by and their friends and siblings and coworkers and random acquaintances have paired off and had kids and gone their way. We’re not for each other, we’ll probably never interact, heck maybe they’re jerks, but I see you friends, I’m still here too, I still hope for good things for all of us.
posted by jameaterblues at 7:58 PM on August 2 [9 favorites]

I would love to see this turn into a bad Tinder dates thread, best-of.

So when I finally started doing tinder because OKC was turning into tinder and losing functionality, it was quite a few years ago and I was pretty, thin, and female, which makes you a target for the worst of the worst. After quite a few years of being butch and/or doing the slow OKC thing, I was really unprepared.

The first guy I went out with had almost no text in his profile, but his pics showed a range of social activity and nerdy hobbies and he seemed happy and well-groomed in all of them, all good signs. One of the first things he told me after we matched was about his Ivy League education (red flag #1). I hate chatting with my thumbs, so we agreed to meet for sushi. He was late, by about 20 minutes, messaging me finally to say he couldn't find his car when he got out of work (sus). I said "No problem, I'll just get our name on the list."

When he arrived we had some good conversation that flowed naturally and I was enjoying myself, but he kept dropping weird things in that were inappropriate. I'd put in my profile that I was looking for dating, not casual sex, and he would occasionally say something a bit crass that seemed out-of-place. At one point he asked me "Why are you single? You're cute, and obviously smart?" Clearly a thinly veiled "What's wrong with you," but I generously put it down to social awkwardness. We split the check and decided to go play games at an arcade. When he offered to drive, I felt safe enough to leave my car. It was around 8, and I thought I'd be back by 10 or 11.

At the arcade we split the money for the games card and honestly it was so much fun. I'm really very bad at games, and he took it in stride (rare), so when he suggested we go see his scientific lab, I was all in. He kept the card that we split, that still had a chunk of cash on it, and I noted that as bad form. If he'd asked I wouldn't have minded, but it seemed thoughtless.

On the way to the lab he talked about polyamory, saying that was the only reason he got laid, and what a bitch his female supervisor was at #Ivy League at great length (red flags 3 and 4). At this point I wanted to go home, but we were there. At the lab his grad students seemed very startled to see him with a woman, another bad sign. Back in his office there was...wait for it....ONE chair. He sat in it, behind the desk and I stood awkwardly. By this point I'd told him I had autoimmune arthritis and one hip that still needed surgery, but he sat there and talked to me while I stood before him, wondering where his students sat when they came to talk to him. Finally I sat in the floor and we talked some.

Eventually he beckoned me around his desk to show me some Burning Man photos (barf), and as he turned on the monitor he said "Ha ha, hope I didn't leave porn up." I asked about one of the burning man projects in the photos and he pointed to himself next to it and said "I'm unfuckably short." Reader, I am into short guys in a very big way. Like, one of the hottest guys I ever dated was an inch shorter than me and short guys turn my head on the street. This guy had just told me that not only did my taste suck, and that he clearly thought I was desperate, but he had massively horrible self esteem. I started fuming and said I needed to go home.

In the car he insisted on driving by a makerspace to check on a print, and since I had long wanted to join but couldn't afford to, I said sure, I wanted to check it out. Cornering me in the markerspace kitchen, he tried to kiss me. "Uh no, I don't kiss on a first date," I mumbled, lurching backwards.

By the time we got back to the sushi joint at the strip mall, it was past 1 a.m. and the entire area was completely deserted, the little suburban rats all back in their holes. This is where the date went really wrong. Standing at my car he tried to draw it out, chatting a bit more, and I kept looking for an opportunity to say "Good night, gotta go". He brought up a doctor who had recently been busted for burning his initials on a woman's internal organs, and I said "Oh yeah, I read about that. I can't believe someone actually did that." He rushed on, telling me how it wasn't a big deal, and even rape isn't that big a deal unless it's a little boy or something. I went into what I call survival mode, and switched topics rapidly, the skin on the back of my neck crawling, suddenly even more acutely aware of the completely deserted area, and his large size (he was short, but large around, you see) and I was calculating angles. I said I needed to get home, I was tired, and he lunged at me again, clutching at me rather desperately. I backed up, but he caught me, and I went limp and kept my head away. He let go finally, and I leapt for my car.

He texted me the next day "I'm on the toilet," and asked when we could go out again. I told him he seemed like a great guy, but I was disturbed by the rape comment and the comment about being "unfuckably short" and I didn't have an interest in dating him. To his credit he apologized and said he could see what went wrong, and he left me alone after that.

But to this day, a guy saying "rape isn't even a big deal" in a deserted parking lot right before lunging at me is hands-down my worst Tinder date.

I have had worse dates on other sites, but that is the Tinder benchmark now: The "unfuckably short" Ivy League possible rapist.
posted by liminal_shadows at 8:29 PM on August 2 [30 favorites]

I would love to see this turn into a bad Tinder dates thread, best-of.

Your "dates" are number one and two on the list. I hope.
posted by bendy at 8:43 PM on August 2

For the most part everyone I've met in online dating has been cool if not necessarily a great match for me (but that's what I get for being a straight man, I guess). Although I did go on one date with a (Korean, fairly recent immigrant) woman who asked me in all earnestness why there were so many Jews in my city.
posted by derrinyet at 8:47 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

My worst date (not an online dating one) involved a guy literally leaping on top of me in the car. This is not a fun story I tell people. He backed off when I freaked out, I assume I got lucky there.
I don't want a bunch of bad dating stories in my life, dammit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:13 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]

Worst date online: being told that she wasn’t interested in me, but rather my swimmers, and she was insistent that I get in her panel van.

Worst date offline: being stood up on Valentine’s Day. She later hit me up in court for free legal advice for her dad when I was there representing someone else.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:44 PM on August 2 [6 favorites]

Worst date offline: being stood up on Valentine’s Day.

It wasn't Valentine's Day, but being stood up really takes the cake for crappy days. Even a paltry, half-assed excuse ("sorry, I need to wash my hair") would have been so much better.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:53 PM on August 2

I had someone—on a third date!—ditch me mid-date with the excuse that she had bring some aspirin to her friend across town. Honestly though I've found it really helpful to grow a thick skin around any and all "lemon law" behavior and mentally reframe it as a mutually helpful decision to stop wasting time. I certainly don't think it would have been better for her to have sat through the rest of the date with me hating every minute of it and then ghost me afterwards or whatever.
posted by derrinyet at 10:01 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

Back when I was still doing the apps the ones i think of fondly would be the ones i got a food/resto rec out of: shout-out to this one vegan restaurant in Glasgow.

In terms of best stories: this is back in KL, and basically the guy does a local form of martial arts and his Xifu/master moonlights as an exorcist/spiritual enforcer and so once a week, their studio takes drop-ins and appointments for those with supernatural problems such as possessions or targeted harrassment etc.

Being local, i thought this was a fantastic thing i don't want to know more about (as in, since I'm not interested in future dates I'd rather not also have friend hangouts just in case he develops enough profile to send me spirit harrassment).

(The supernatural is extremely normal reality here so that's not the part that engenders any second glance)
posted by cendawanita at 10:01 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]

Capt. Renault, I'm dying. She actually had a panel van? And wanted you to be Daddy? Oh man, this is exactly what I hoped for from this thread.

In the words of Spider Robinson, "“Shared pain is lessened.
Shared joy is increased. Thus we refute entropy.”
posted by liminal_shadows at 10:03 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]

I tend to win worst date of all time. I can be succinct.

It was my birthday. She said with no context, "I'm a biter, not in a sexy way." I continued with the date sitting on her couch.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:31 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

How does one bite in an unsexy way? I can't figure out what that means.
posted by Audreynachrome at 10:39 PM on August 2

It honestly sounds like her mediocre online dating experiences are better than my best ones so it could be worse.
posted by Candleman at 10:57 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

I thought this article was interesting for an insight into using Tinder the way she does, and how that might shape your ideas of relationships, but it's so wildly different to how Tinder works for me that it's very hard to relate. I think I agree most with the idea that the dating world is mostly just the apps these days, if you don't have extensive social circles.
Like, I'm 26, Tinder has been there the whole time, and once highschool is done, it's how you find potential partners, dating in the workplace is like, coded as suspicious (because on some level, that implies that someone had to break a rule and flirt with a co-worker at least once), and while I grew up with the TV presenting asking people out at bars and cafes etc as normal, that's never something I've seen in practice except as harassment, I mean, I think it is mostly just considered harassment in my spaces.

On a more positive note, the biggest disconnect with my experiences is that, and I understand this is normal in like, the cishet world, it doesn't seem like there's any possibility that any of the relationships she's tried to form might continue in a less romantic sense?
Most of my friends are women I met on tinder and things didn't work out, but they were cool and fun, so I made friends with them instead. Or perhaps it works the other way sometimes, you meet someone on tinder, you make friends with them, and then you test for sexual compatibility? I don't think I'm going to find "true love" any time soon on Tinder, necessarily, but I feel like I'm still doing okay because I play D&D and go shopping and talk shit with my failed dates, and it doesn't seem like there's any possibility of that with her life.

A couple of years ago I didn't have much of a social circle at all after transitioning, not in an everyday sense, and it's been a slow process with lockdowns and so on, but I feel like I've managed to put together a whole group of friends, people I went on one date with a year ago, their exes and so on, mostly through Tinder. The caveat is that for a big city, I'm in a small city, so the "dating pool" is like, small enough that if I don't know a woman, she probably still dated one of my friends' housemates or something, and I'll be told her opinion of bloodplay or whatever before I've ever messaged her. Which, functionally, I think means we can't really treat each other as disposable in the same way, actions have clear and direct social consequences. If people think you're rude, tend to use people, or anything like that, word is going to get around.

My worst date was at 6.30am, I lived next to a coffee shop on her way to work, so she was boymoding hard, and wanted to talk about the reading program of Harry Potter books and other dodgy liberal works she was supporting at her workplace as well as an upcoming excursion to see Hamilton live... Also the best bad date I've been on because I was back, warm and asleep 45 minutes later.
posted by Audreynachrome at 11:12 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]

> dating in the workplace is like, coded as suspicious (because on some level, that implies that someone had to break a rule and flirt with a co-worker at least once)

This, by the way, is the oddest thing to me. As a working adult, your workplace tends to be where you spend most of your waking hours and will most frequently encounter new people who stay in your life for more than just a few seconds. Where I live, about a quarter of married couples first met at work, and apparently somewhere between one third and fully half of all people have had a romantic relationship with a coworker at some point in their lives. Walmart famously tried to import its US policies regarding romantic relationships between coworkers to Germany, was sued by the workers council and (of course) lost. How aren’t employers considered to be totally overstepping their bounds when they try to regulate what people do outside working hours? Seems like a great way to make it more difficult for potential partners to meet naturally.
posted by wachhundfisch at 12:14 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]

I don't think people are suspicious because they love and respect company rules, I think it's the fact that flirting in an environment where there might be different power dynamics and the other person might be limited in their ability to simply leave /discontinue communication is considered dodgy.
posted by Audreynachrome at 12:45 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]

I set up profiles on a few sites a couple of weeks ago, just to see how it all worked. I even have cute new photos (almost too cute -- I love them, I look great in them, but anyone who thinks I look like that every day is being misled).

I shut them all down a few days later. Not that there was no one, but for a fat fiftyish asexual broad the pickings are super-slim, and the whole enterprise frankly felt scary. If this is the only way to date, I guess dating is not going to be a thing for me. Which is, on the whole, actually kind of okay.
posted by humbug at 4:36 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]

I don't think I'm going to find "true love" any time soon on Tinder, necessarily, but I feel like I'm still doing okay because I play D&D and go shopping and talk shit with my failed dates, and it doesn't seem like there's any possibility of that with her life.

At least in how she writes about it in the article, she does not appear to very much like most of the people she is meeting, other than the possible sexual connection. And if you don't particularly like the people you are meeting, you aren't going to turn many into long term friendships. Which is a different problem from meeting people you like but where there isn't a romantic connection.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:51 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]

Worst date offline: being stood up on Valentine’s Day.

See you and raise you being broken up with on Valentine's Day.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:40 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]

How does one bite in an unsexy way? I can't figure out what that means.
posted by Audreynachrome at 12:39 AM on August 3 [+] [!]

Have you seen a zombie movie? I just got bit. Hard. So hard I blacked out. There was no warning or inciting incident. They just leaned over and bit me. Like a zombie so hard I blacked out for... I dunno, 15-30 seconds maybe?

They warned me they liked to bite people as hard as they could, I guess. I didn't take the warning and so sometime in the next hour, I got bit. Really, really, really hard.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:43 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]

I'll see that bet and raise you (even though it's not exactly a dating scenario) "meeting at the title agency with the recent ex-husband to sign quitclaim deed (him) and house mortgage papers (me) on Valentine's Day."

Fortunately, I was healed enough to consider this absolutely freakin' hilarious. I still do.
posted by humbug at 7:44 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]

Worst online date: I met my date for coffee before going to a movie (I know, but I think it was a mutual interest that was the main draw). We were sitting across from each other at a two-top and she wouldn't look at me. I mean, she actually changed position to point away from me. I thought it was rude but then thought I could make fun of her later. Plus, I really wanted to see the movie.

I forget what movie was, but not my date loudly sighing at the slow pace throughout. The second the credits started she popped up out of her seat. I stayed for all the credits.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:47 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]

"She actually had a panel van? And wanted you to be Daddy?"

Yup. She insisted that I get in her panel van so she could drive me to the subway, a whole three blocks away.

She was an hour late to the date. I had given up and was leaving the restaurant when she came in. To my regret, I stayed.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:48 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]

"We were sitting across from each other at a two-top and she wouldn't look at me. I mean, she actually changed position to point away from me."

I had that last year. Online date really wanted a first date at the beach. I thought that was a horrible idea -- I do *not* have a beach bod, and did not want that to be her first impression of me. But to be agreeable and a good sport, I went with it. Sure enough, she avoided looking at me the entire time.

The next day, I got two lengthy texts explaining how she had a cry-fest with her BFF, explaining how everything was right with me, but how I just wasn't 'sexually attractive'. She wrote this. Actually wrote that and sent it to me. She went on about how maybe she was being too picky and she should give me a second chance? (To be fair, she was going through a divorce and hadn't been on a date in twenty years.)

I declined. It was already enough to have my worst fears about myself confirmed, thank you.

posted by Capt. Renault at 7:59 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]

"See you and raise you being broken up with on Valentine's Day."

I was broken up with on New Year's Eve, by text. Ninety minutes after I saw her in person to give her a belated Christmas present, which she accepted.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:03 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]

Jesus, Cap. Hype woman or hitwoman, I'm around.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:11 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]

(I am hetero man)(Sorry for the long comment, I've thought about this a lot, and mostly kept it to myself)
For a while I used Bumble, after trying both it and Tinder, and deciding that I preferred the level of detail on most profiles on Bumble. I also liked that women start the conversation on Bumble, which (I reasoned) must make it a safer place for a woman to swipe.
I actually kind of despise it now.
It starts from an okay, if clumsy place, if I swipe right on someone, she swipes right on me, and then I swipe right on her again, then we both find out we match and she has the opportunity to start a conversation (for 24hrs, then the match expires)
I've had high and low tide in usage, sometimes months or a year of not using the app at all, sometimes using it for a month straight every single day.

It was during a long period of not using the app that I got an ad in a push notification, something like (buy X to get more chances to Y). I had ignored the paid options, mostly because I thought "If I can put this app down for a year and not feel lonely, clearly I don't need to pay for it." When I investigated the paying options I became highly disillusioned.

Here are the paid options in Bumble:
Paid recurring Subscriptions:
Boost: 1 week for $8.99, 1mo/$16.99, 3mo/$33.99, 6mo/$54.99
Premium: 1 week for $19.99, 1mo/$39.99, 3mo/$76.99, 6mo/$114.99, Lifetime/$229.99
Paid items:
Spotlights (see below): 1 @ $6.99ea, 5 @ $3.00ea, 15 @ $2.27ea, 30 @ $1.83ea ($54.90)
Superswipes: 2 @ $3.50ea, 5 @ $2.40ea, 15 @ $1.73ea, 30 @ $1.53ea ($45.90)

Boost includes: No limit on how many people you can swipe right on. Correct mis-swipes, re-match with expired matches, extend the match expire time beyond 24hrs, 5 "superswipes", and 1 "Spotlight" which just injects your profile to other users for 30 minutes

Premium includes: (all the boost benefits) and the ability to see you already liked you, eliminating the need to swipe right twice, the ability to apply unlimited filters to your matches (like: star sign, height, exercise, education, alcohol use, cigarette use, cannabis use, have or want children, politics, and religion). The ability to change your location inside the app, the ability to only show your profile to people you swiped right on.
In addition to these paid options Bumble also uses manipulative and targeted advertising, of course, on lonely people.

I'd love some feedback on the following thoughts, especially from other users of swipe apps, especially if you are a woman on Bumble.

It is good for safety reasons that women drive and start the conversations on Bumble!
When payment options improve my chances of getting into more conversations with more women, it is like the attention of women (specifically in my straight male experience) has been commodified and is being sold to me. I'm paying a third party for access to women.
posted by shenkerism at 10:27 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]

Back when Cracked was good: 6 reasons online dating will never lead to love. "#6: Free Sites Mean No Commitment; Paid Sites Mean Desperation." This has been my experience.

You either get lucky or you don't.


This makes me so sad for her. Does she really think her clothes are such a terrible problem? Presuming they're clean?

There was a great comment years ago, from Jessamyn perhaps, about some lady who was about to have sex with a new guy for the first time and was worried about her legs not being shaved enough or something. Her answer was something like "if he likes you enough to be looking close-up at your private parts, I guarantee you he is not thinking about your shaved legs." I really wish I'd known this 30 years ago. And yet we're still teaching it now.

I was going to echo jenfullmoon and Capt. Renaut and write an even longer tome about the bullshit that is online dating (first online date was on a university VAX system 30 years ago), but then I figured that articles like this are useful for people who don't know yet. To quote Jeremy's father from the "Zits" comic, "Discovering the discovered is still discovery."
posted by Melismata at 11:41 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]

“It’s a numbers game,” I learned to say.

The weird thing about online dating is that (unless you are a 'dating celebrity') getting to a conversation with a specific person is a numbers game, but after that first conversation, the game immediately changes to a 'value maximizing/loss minimizing' one, where you basically are [economically, theoretically] encouraged to treat each date as if it's potentially the last one. If you continue to treat actual dates like low-stakes, low commitment exercises, well then you end up dating endlessly hoping for the greenest grass, the unicorn, like the author has. Unfortunately, the unicorn may or may not come, and also unfortunately the number of potential mates decreases as Capt. Renault mentions.

I'm paying a third party for access to women.
Sorry, but there is nothing weird or specific to online dating about that. Dance clubs/joining activity groups to potentially date, beer and bars also charge for their access. That's why many people date coworkers - it's double dipping where you get paid, and the company is handling the access and the weeding out of incompatible personality types (and interests, if you like your job).
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:43 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]

shenkerism, the dating-app business has a supply and demand issue. (Though men outnumber women across apps, women also pay for Bumble subscriptions.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:01 PM on August 3

and while I grew up with the TV presenting asking people out at bars and cafes etc as normal, that's never something I've seen in practice except as harassment, I mean, I think it is mostly just considered harassment in my spaces.

Jesus, that's depressing. It's like watching a generation of birds too afraid to ever leave the ground.

I've been dating online since I was 21, and at a few hairs away from 50, that's almost my entire dating life. But every connection I made the old-fashioned way has been so much more exciting and valuable and all those times glisten bright in my memory. All the places I met someone: hardware stores, bars, work, classes, ren faires, bookstores, the halls in college, parties--they turn the world into this cornucopia of grand possibilities. Online dating sites are a tool. I wouldn't want to do without them, but neither would I want to live without real life.

I like my sauce both ways.
posted by liminal_shadows at 12:13 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]

On that note, last night I started watching "Uncoupled," and there are a group of gay friends in a club. Our Hero has recently been dumped by his 50-something husband, and in his 40s is starting over. His friends are urging him to use Grindr, as they dance. Look at all these hot guys!

Our Hero interjects, "Why are they on Grindr when they're right next to us?"

"Because that's how you meet people now. You've been away a looong time, Rip Van Winkle."
posted by liminal_shadows at 12:30 PM on August 3

"if he likes you enough to be looking close-up at your private parts, I guarantee you he is not thinking about your shaved legs."

I recall the scene in Bridget Jones's Diary in which Hugh Grant discovers Renee has granny panties on. He has a laugh, but he still goes in there.

Re: this sort of topic, my mother is lecturing me once again that all of my problems will be solved if I just get a makeover and new clothes and hair, and if I don't change those, "then you get what you get." Can't I want someone who likes what I'm already doing? Do I want the guy who wants me in business suits? I find myself relating to this lady. I don't want to play the numbers game. I want to be one person's shot of whiskey, not the generic tea for all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:15 PM on August 3 [7 favorites]

"Because that's how you meet people now. You've been away a looong time, Rip Van Winkle."

Back before Covid noped me right the fuck out of gay bars forever, my favorite dance night here in town was the one that imposed a heavy social fine for being caught on your phone on the dance floor. Infractions began with being loudly shamed by the DJ, and ended with them kicking the offender out to the regular side of the bar, where people weren't there to immerse themselves in the sensual pleasures of their fellow humans. Dance floors are sacred spaces, friends.

Anyway, in my own little gay world, Scruff was for sex and Tinder was for dating. I was OK with something more developing out of a casual Scruff connection, but my emotional guard was much lower on Tinder, so getting emotionally baited-and-switched there was infinitely more painful. I ended up having one of those annoying happy endings on Tinder after all, but the fluke of meeting my partner there did nothing to redeem my experience in the Tinder hellscape at large.
posted by mykescipark at 1:24 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]

One of my least favorite things about online dating is that, as an aspiring gentleman, I always made sure to get to the meeting spot about 15 minutes early so my date wouldn't be anxious about getting stood up. The downside was that I'd check to see if every woman coming in by herself was my date, and a time or two I was more interested in them than whoever my actual date turned out to be.

Another time my prospective date and I had excellent phone chemistry and talked for a couple of hours, but had zero in-person chemistry with each other in person.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:31 PM on August 3

I think someone in Oelwein, Iowa, should answer this with a Plenty of Fish think-piece.
posted by Caxton1476 at 4:44 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]

The one and only time I've been stood up, it was an OKCupid date. I was unfamiliar with the area, so when I suggested a coffeeshop and the guy countered with a bar/restaurant, I said ok.

I showed up a few minutes early with a cane, thanks to a massive arthritis flare. 15 minutes after the agreed time, I painfully made my way outside and called him (he'd picked a really noisy place). He said "I thought we weren't going to meet because you didn't text me right before hand." I said "Uh, ok, I think I'm going to leave." He hastily said "No no no, I'll be there in 15 minutes."

The date was awkward.

But it gets better.

A few weeks later he emailed a profile I had that was several years old that I thought I'd deleted. Yes, even with the pictures, and the only difference was I was several years older and the writing style was a bit different. Same hairstyle, same weight.

I emailed and frostily informed him of the mistake and quickly deleted the profile. I swear it was hidden and got zombie-reanimated somehow.

Weirdly I've had people get angry at me a few times for not texting to "confirm" the date a 2nd or 3rd time, after we've set a time and place, which I see as borderline psychotic. At the very least it's enormously strange. If I want to cancel, I cancel. If I don't wan to set a date I don't set it. What I don't want to do is text someone multiple times reiterating what's already been set. My point is that this guy isn't as much an outlier as I'd like to think. The "no show" without contacting me was an outlier, but not the anxiety that drove him to do it.
posted by liminal_shadows at 6:34 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]

I met my wife on Tinder in February, 2019 so miracles do happen. On date one she said, "The death of love is inevitable." She has changed her mind on that for now.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:04 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]

"A few weeks later he emailed a profile I had that was several years old that I thought I'd deleted."

Yeah, OKC and POF (perhaps others) don't always delete profiles when you go through all the steps to delete them. It's a way of artificially inflating the size of the dating pool, making it seem that there are more members than there actually are. This means, of course, that you may be messaging a lot of zombie profiles.

Dating apps are particularly insidious, gaming its own customers in so many ways.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:35 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]

your workplace tends to be where you spend most of your waking hours and will most frequently encounter new people who stay in your life for more than just a few seconds.


Thanks for the laugh... for decades at least, if you were a cishet male - in IT/tech - and wanted to date a member of the opposite gender, it was nearly impossible due to the dearth of female co-workers. Perhaps things have gotten better.

Personally - I blame romcoms and media for inflated expectations - many many many people are conditioned to feel entitled to perfection, be that physical/sexual, romantic, monetary, social/societal class, religious background, culture, education, humour levels, etc. Of course a relationship needs a compatible combination of those - but, not every single category has to be "perfect - some people need a "reality check" - as that famous parody video dating service from the early 90's... "Lowered Expectations"...

Myself - my first real relationship was from one of those classified ad-in-the-back-of-a-physical-newspaper combined with telephone voicemail service in mid-90's - which resulted in a horrible marriage that lasted far too long.

After that ended, I landed in another country entirely - signed-up for their dating services, but ended-up fending off and ever increasing number of catfishers. So - I gave up on those services - however, did find someone via a social group dinner/activity 'thing' on Meetup.com - which actually was a very good experience, because everyone met in a group and then, if you liked someone you exchanged numbers in-person.

My current partner and I have been together for 8-years - we met on PoF/OKC - however, I think the key to our success was that we texted and talked for months before we met in-person due to scheduling conflicts and life getting in the way. Then when we finally met, there was chemistry.

Personally, if I had to do dating again - entering my 50's, I would be looking at an app/service that was a combination of just text/voicemail messages - no swiping on photo's...
posted by rozcakj at 12:44 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]

I did the online dating thing for several years in a major way after getting divorced five years ago. As an older, hetero male I my experience was very different from those described in the article and on here.

If you're a man over 40 in a large metropolitan area, and you've got something to offer -- e.g., you're respectful, reasonably good looking, in good shape, educated, financially stable, and have enough emotional/social intelligence to connect in a meaningful but fun way -- then oh boy, the dating world is your oyster! At this age, there are many wonderful single women who have all or most of those things, but apparently (from what they've told me) there are not a whole lot of single men who do. So for men in my position, the competition is super weak, and ratio of available, desirable woman to equally desirable men is very high.

Over a three-year period, I literally went on hundreds of dates. I met (mostly hetero) women from every kind of background -- women from ages 29 to 60, of all races/ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, educational levels, you name it. Everyone from a powerful partner at a big law firm in charge of multibillion dollar litigation, to professors, doctors, therapists, musicians, artists, realtors, all the way down to unemployed folks with no degrees or formal education, and everyone in between. Women who had 5 kids, or never had any kids, or who never even had a long term partner, and everyone in between.

I went into it with the goal of meeting someone for a long term, permanent/committed relationship. I had hundreds of first dates, dozens of second/third/fourth dates, and several longer (3+ months) relationships that involved extended stays at each others' homes, meeting friends/family and so forth. In the end, I finally met someone with whom everything clicked, and we've been together two years now with plans to marry and spend the rest of our lives together. A couple of the women also became long-term platonic friends with whom I till have frequent contact.

The diversity and richness of backgrounds, stories, and personalities in all the women I met made it an extremely educational and valuable experience for me. It was not only fun and interesting, I learned an enormous amount about women, relationships, psychology, romance, sex, and hardly least of all, I learned an enormous amount about myself.

I have a deep gratitude for the vast majority of women I met and for what they taught or gave to me, and I wish them all well in their own searches.
posted by mikeand1 at 2:19 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]

Glad for you.
Surprised "how to read a room" wasn't covered in the hundreds-of-dates curriculum.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:01 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]

I can read a room just fine, I just don't feel obliged to conform to it.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:10 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]

BTW, IMO there's waaayyyy too much negativity on MeFi, as a general matter, so I often make an effort not to go along with it if I have something positive to add.

And to make it relevant to the thread, I think having a positive attitude towards the dating app experience gave me much better chances as well. When I went on a date, I made it clear I *wanted* to be on that date. I showed up happy and excited to meet someone new, and I did whatever I could to make it fun and enjoyable for them. I always offered to spring for lunch or dinner at a nice restaurant (yes, I understand not everyone here can afford that), and I made it clear I was actually interested in meeting and learning about the other person. I brought as much positive energy in the form of friendliness, humor/wit, and interesting/engaging conversation as I could without going overboard.

The vast majority of women told they me enjoyed it too, even if it didn't lead to another date 90% of the time--at least we had fun meeting someone and hearing their stories. And on the rare occasions when the other person did/said something negative or unkind, I just let it go and respectfully wished them well afterwards. I felt no obligation to take on someone else's bad attitude.

Yes, the experience can be soul-crushing for a lot of people, but JFC, why feed into that??
posted by mikeand1 at 7:56 PM on August 4 [9 favorites]

I found my girlfriend on OKCupid, and we've been dating for almost three years now. I took her to a pickup D&D game at a local hobby shop as a first date, which she apparently enjoyed very much!
posted by fnerg at 9:07 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]

I tried a few dating sites early on, but it just felt like too much work for too little reward. And there are things wrong with me that I just didn’t feel good about either glossing over or putting out there. I met a couple of nice enough people, but in the end I decided the probability of not dating at all was a fair trade off for not putting all that energy into trying to “sell” myself. Until the last few years, I had an active social life with friends and activities that was pretty fulfilling.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:05 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]

This means, of course, that you may be messaging a lot of zombie profiles.

Dislikes: Ragtag groups of survivors hiding in boarded-up farmhouses

Likes: Braaaaains
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:11 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]

I don't want to provoke a fight, but I can't help but want to describe my experiences of interacting with cis women on tinder, because I have seen reams of misinformation on this site.

I no longer have much sympathy for anyone claiming "men don't read profiles, they just swipe like it's a game". I have had multiple cis women shocked and horrified by my being trans, despite it being in my bio and blatantly obvious in my photos.
They're not paying any more attention than cis men are! As a group, they might be more discriminatory in who they choose to message, but they're definitely not all giving careful consideration to every profile, lol.

Cis women are totally capable of being freaky chasers, of reducing people to their expected sexual performance, of being totally utilitarian in their expectations. This site told me this was a sign of a predator, that it was a masculine trait to treat other people like meat. I don't interact with cis men much, but for what it's worth, cis women have been far more demanding of explicit content and made me feel more fetishised than cis men have.

I put it down to normalisation. A half-decent cis man knows that it's rude to ask for nudes straight up. But a lot of cis women have been told that they are spiritually protected from doing harassment by their gender, and they can do what they want.
posted by Audreynachrome at 6:45 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]

Obviously broadly across all society this does not hold true, patriarchy is the real problem, but I'm talking about my experiences, not a universal constant.
posted by Audreynachrome at 6:55 AM on August 7

Another Bumble date last night, another rejection waiting for me first thing this morning.

I don't have the strength anymore. I deleted the app.

In deleting the app, I discovered that Bumble had two subscriptions running on me, my current one, and one from the last time I deleted the app. So now I feel like even more of a dupe. (I try to keep watch over negative billings and automatic renewals, but they're designed to be obscure.)

Anyway, I'm out. Again. Maybe I'll rejoin in the fall, but right now -- I can't keep doing this. A stream of rejections becomes a means of self-harm.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:00 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]

I agree. After awhile you just can't keep taking more no's. It's why I quit job apps for years.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:20 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]

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