March 23, 2015
Love and Heartbreak in the Time of Tinder

Digital courtship is not for the faint of heart. This one survives a Tinder heartbreak.

by Wulan
Issues // Relationship
Digital Courtship Thumbnail, Magdalene
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Nomad. Global traveler. Ambition to change the world. Wrote a book.

Swipe right.

Ping!

It’s a match.

That’s how a millennial love story starts – at least my story.



I heard the fuss, Tinder, and I knew that in a society that lives and breathes in the Internet realm, it’s only natural that we end up with digital courtship. What Tinder does is simply pull profile from its sibling, Facebook, then the user chooses some presentable pictures from their profile, writes an appealing short bio, and off she or he goes, sending the possibilities of romance in in the air, floating between right and left swipes. Swipe right if you are interested, left if you don’t. The catch: you can only chat with ones who also swipe right – a ‘match’.

I gave it a go one fine Friday out of boredom and curiosity – or the hope of a chance to find my true love, if I am honest. Being a single 30-something years old and doing my PhD while working, my chance of actually meeting new people is pretty slim. So there I was, picking pictures. A black-and-white candid one of me, another up close picture of me sipping mojito in a black dress to show that I am fun. And, yeah, why not, add that picture of me skydiving to show that I am free-spirited adventurous girl. 

Within a few minutes my matches increased. I was surprised to find that I inclined to swipe right for guys with scuba-diving pictures, and left for guys playing golf. I didn’t know I had that preference, so that was new. I swipe left and right without actually thinking, judging only from looks. As shallow as that sounds, that’s how it is played.

In a couple of days I had 20 to 30 matches and talked to some of them. As expected, some were plain creepy. A guy sent me his selfie and asked me to send my picture, without clothes on.

Deleted in a second.

And then his profile showed up. His appearance was not what interested me at first; he was photographed from the left side in a moving car. I read his bio, and it looked interesting.

Swipe right.

Match.

“Tell me about your book (smiley face),” my opening line. I was really curious about his book. Long story short, we had a great conversation. I was actually smitten with this guy, giggling while texting. It was insane.

On our first meeting he brought me his book and signed the cover. I found that he was shy, a rare quality I never saw in any of my previous boyfriends. He is also smart. I was hooked. We spent the next several days texting while I was out of town for work.

It went well. Too good, even.

And then it stopped.

He canceled our second date, because he was occupied with organizing a big annual press conference. I didn’t mind at all. He works as a human right activist, which I found sexy.

When we finally met again, the conversation was great, just what I’ve always wanted from a partner, but it didn’t end well. The night before our second date I found out that he was going to leave the country in a couple of weeks, and he didn’t know yet when he would be coming back. After all, he did say in his profile that he is a nomad. I was sad. He asked if I would wish him to stay? I said, not if he didn’t want to stay. He said we should talk about it the next day.  

In our date I briefly mentioned it, and he said he never intended to stay. He was always on a  move. It was 9.30 p.m. and we had met for 3.5 hours. I thought we had it good, and then he wanted to go home. We hugged and I hopped on my taxi, he on his. That was the last time I saw him.

In the taxi, on the spur of the moment,  I texted him to say I liked him. He said he was honored to hear it. I asked, again, if he liked me. It took him 12 hours to reply that he didn’t know how much yet. I was crushed, but I tried to play it cool. I said I didn’t expect anything, I liked him and that’s that. Take it as a compliment.

I had stopped using Tinder when I met him, and in my disappointment I started  again. I wasn’t drunk when I texted him later that I had 39 matches and none of them interested me. None of them was as smart as him. I’m a sapiosexual. I told him my life would’ve been a whole lot simpler if I could get turned on easily by a guy with a six-pack abs. He said that’s because it was easy to find guys like that. I told him I wished I never met him.

Things fell apart since then. He left. I knew he would, and I knew it would hurt, but when it actually happened I wasn’t quite prepared. I often heard about the bad tinder date experience. Now I have one myself. The worst tinder date ever is the one where you actually fall hard for the guy.

I guess Tinder is just not for me. Falling in love with an awesome guy who never intended to have anything more than few weeks of hook-up is such a mental havoc. I should either play it lightly with the next Tinder guy – being shallow and fun as its creator intended it to be – or just give up on it altogether.

An app that sells physical attractiveness, it isn’t the right tool for someone who prefers a good conversation with some degree of intellectualism. Yes, I’m a pretentious sapiosexual, so judge me not. 

Wulan is a trained scientist with ADHD mind. When she is bored with her statistic model, she likes to sit in a cafe and people watch, pretending to write while her mind makes up imaginary biography of random strangers.