I’ve been told – nay, warned – by my veteran Tinder mates that the day will come that I will delete the app. It won’t be because I have found someone I actually want to date (because Tinder is the place where optimism goes to die) – it’ll be because I have become so irritated by the averageness of the whole ordeal that I will eradicate the app entirely. Well, my friends, that day has come.
Let me break this down: in the past 9 months, I (and my drunk friends who swipe my phone) have matched with probably 300 people. I’ve spoken to roughly 150, had proper conversations with about 40 and planned dates with 12. Now, I only did general maths at high school, but even I can tell that those numbers drop quite considerably. It continues…
Physical dates: 7
Physical contact beyond hugs: 4
Second dates: 3
Third dates: 1
It is clear from the above stats that there is a natural selection-like process to the Tinder game, where the date-worthy specimens begin to die off until only the strongest survive.
Welcome to the life cycle of a Tinder match. (*Read in David Attenborough voice*)
This stage is like picking a show to watch on Netflix. At first everything looks interesting. I read the synopsis (bio), watch the trailer (stalked their Instagram), get a credible review (screen shot their profile to a mate), but after a while, it’s like, “Oh dear God, just pick something!” Every specimen starts to look the same and I find myself mindlessly swiping. Of course, there are instant ‘no’s’ – ie. ‘lads’ photos, Bintang singlets, mirror/gym selfies and sedated tigers - but pretty much everyone else, it’s like, “Yeah sure, why not?”
The lights, the sounds, the opportunity, the addiction and the instant gratification of a match lure me back to swiping. I see these wonderful cells multiplying and evolving, suddenly I'll have 35 matches with 17 “Heyyy!” wave emojis and I’m not really sure how I got there. There is a high number of unwanted specimens growing in my DMs, ones I don’t even recognise or have accidentally super liked. On average, I'll reply to about 3 “Heyyy!” wave emoji messages per swipe session.
The following sentences I will most likely not respond to:
Hey how are you?
Hey how are you going?
Good morning beautiful
How’s your week so far?
How’s your weekend so far?
Hand up / Pick me emoji
Want to hear a joke?
I don’t normally message first, but I really love your smile/eyes/you seem really nice
There’s nothing inherently offensive about these openers. But I liken them to the self-serve line at Woolworths. Sure, it gets the job done, but lacks any kind of human connection. I know we’re all talking to multiple people on multiple apps, but be better than copy / paste.
The specimens that survive stage 3 and move to stage 4 are the ones who reference something in my photos or bio. This indicates not only that they themselves are a living, breathing organism, it also shows that they believe that I am too. Good banter is a fine line - when done well it is flirtatious, interesting and dare I say it, at times it’s a little bit sexy. That said, the ones that perish at stage 4 are the ones who spend too much time on banter. When the conversation does not evolve or mature, boredom is to blame for its eventual demise.
I have initial chats, banter and let slip the best 7% of my personality. The only shrivelled up specimens of stage 5 are the ones who ask this moronic question: “So… tell me, what are you looking for on Tinder?” I have come to realise that this is the specimen’s thinly veiled attempt to conduct its own experiment: testing whether I am looking for long-term monogamy (a rare disease). The small minority looking for long-term monogamy want to know if they’re wasting their time. Fair. However, the majority of Tinder specimens are actually asking, “Are you DTF?” Also fair, but also I’m not a prostitute.
They slither through proper chats and I feel like I know them a little better than my local BWS employee. I try to move to ‘meet ups’ pretty early as I find texting a lot of admin. Specimens culled at this stage are the ones who possess the regressive gene as opposed to progressive: that is, treating dates less like a person and more like a “woman”. They'll say things like, “Just tell me a night and I’ll do the rest” or “I want to show you a good time.” Calm down, Mr Darcy, it's a first date – let’s just drink wine near one of our places of work. Chill.
I'll feel pretty solid at this stage having poured over the stats, discussed them at length with my lab partners and concluded that the odds of a positive first date are definitely in my favour. Then… Massive sigh. Unfortunately, I know within the first 30 seconds if it’s going to be a good date or not. How were my stats so wrong? I'll spend the majority of the night looking for a saving grace that could, miraculously, make the date a success. But I never find it. He'll order the first drink. I'll get the second. The goodbye is either an awkward chat while parting, a kiss on the cheek work-function-style or a “Fuck it, let’s just make out”.
The first attempt hasn't gleaned the results I was hoping for, but after a solid couple of weeks invested in this specimen, I’m not ready to start from scratch just yet. I'll go on a second date if I don't have an awful time on the first. It's not that the first date was good - it’s that it wasn’t bad. On a second date I'll either make out again, or maybe do more than that because it is a second date and fuck it, why not throw in a little something extra?
The day after a first or second date I'll lay in bed thinking, “I should really should text them but I kind of don’t want to”. They were lovely. I didn’t have a horrible time. They weren’t a terrible kisser. It was just kind of… meh. I can't convince myself to pick up my phone that I am already on to text them. It’s just an average non-spark thing. Caught up in my haze of averageness, I'll open Tinder and start swiping again. While surveying another round of specimens, my optimism levels begin to rise and… I find myself at the beginning of the cycle all over again.
Where the universe aligns, you make out in the rain and stare into each other’s eyes with such intensity it’s as if you’ve never really understood yourself until this very moment.