I have never dated anyone, ever.
A week before I turned 20 I was thinking what stupid thing I should do at this age, and Tinder was the thing I kept coming back into. You see, I had always been fearful of Tinder, believing it was a sign of desperation. I mean, how could you let yourself be exposed to these strangers, and submitting yourself to their judgement? Can you not develop an offline, real relationship?
But I knew I would not have the answer to all these unless I tried it myself, so I decided to download it – even if it means betraying myself.
Swipes, matches, and some “hi” and “hello” here and there. Nothing much. I did this for two days before I finally ran into someone who was very responsive in chats that we finally decided to move to LINE. He was pretty cute and a fun person to talk to. Bonus point: he studies visual design (I am really into people in the creative industry).
The next day, we chatted more, and he was being all fluffy, asking me if I had dinner already, telling me to rest, and sending me a good night’s sleep. All was well until he said something that turned me off immediately. I was asking him for some music recommendation and he gave me a list of his favorites, which includes MacDemarco and Acid Ghost.
“Chill music… wait have you listened to Cigarettes after Sex?” he asked.
“I know my friends do. Alright. That’ll be added to my sleeping playlist then.”
“Lol now I want to go there and sleep with you.”
“…you’re being indecent.”
“…alright. Don’t mind me then. Now you go get some sleep okay?”
I didn’t reply again for some time.
Yes, I should’ve known that Tinder is a hookup website for many, but I didn’t expect people to be this… I don’t know, horny? I mean, relax, dude! We have only known each other for a day and although we seemed comfortable talking to each other, I think it’s a bit early in the game.
Also, I’m plus-size, if you have seen all my pictures, are you sure you still want to say this?
It’s not that sex talks bothers me. Though I was raised in a family with no sex-ed at all, I have educated myself on the matter and I am more than open to exploring more. Still, I believe in holding onto my virginity until marriage.
In hindsight, my Tinder experience may have a lot to do with my insecurities. I lived most of my teenage years believing my body was okay, that there was nothing wrong with it. There had never been big fuss over my plus-size.
But this changed when I entered college, away from home. I found out how hard it is to survive college without a support system. And even with the support all my closest friends, there are nights when I feel alone, wishing I had a special other to grumble about my day.
My physical appearance makes it more complicated. I am no apple to anyone’s eyes. I wear glasses, I’m plus-size, and, as a hijabi, I wear layers of clothing. In college I no longer have faith in my self-image and I have begun to use the word ugly, which I never used before college, to refer to myself.
Every time I like someone, I hesitate to take the first move because I think I’m not worthy of anyone. My low self-esteem gradually takes away the best of me: my cheerfulness, my critical thought and everything else. I have always been a strong believer of equality and I declare myself a feminist, but, apparently, being a feminist does not guarantee that you feel good about your body.
On Tinder, I am afraid that once I meet someone and we decide to meet in real life, they’ll leave me because of how I look. I swipe right a lot, as I realize I can’t impose too high a standard, but I have to think for a solid 10 minutes before chatting up someone I am matched with. When I get unmatched, I furiously explore every possibilities of why it happened. I would rethink my bio, spend hours searching for new pictures to put up, and update my Spotify playlist, all before realizing the futility of all of it. Then I am left with my low self-esteem again.
Having turned 20 now, I ask myself: Will I continue my Tinder journey? For now, I keep the choices open, but we’ll see how that pans out.
Naya is a 2nd year IR student who wishes to bring the world closer to her heart. She indulges in skyline watching, sincere conversations, and questioning all the what-ifs she could possibly think of.