“We met on Tinder!”
“…And now we’re engaged!”
“It’s really not just a hook-up app anymore.”
In recent years, I’d heard testimonials trumpeting Tinder as, “No Longer the One Night Stand Dating App You Used to Love to Hate.” Nevertheless, given that I wasn’t a big fan of dating apps (or, let’s be honest, dating), I’d steered clear.
Two years ago, when I moved to Oregon from New Jersey, I’d been single for two years. Free from marriage, Corporate America, and east coast humidity, I decided it was time to fire up Bumble (a dating app similar to Tinder in its swiping, but where only women have the power to send the first message). Let’s see if the scene is any different now that I live 3,000 miles away from my hometown.
Arguably, it was far worse in my new, small town (as the story linked above will prove). In New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the U.S., you could go weeks without bumping into a familiar face. The likelihood of running into an ex or bad first date in Bend, Oregon, however: 113%. (Give or take.)
I quickly gave up and resumed my usual lifestyle: Friends, food, fur babies.
There was always the nagging thought that perhaps I’d “given up” versus consciously deciding to bow out of the dating scene.
“You’ve gotta put yourself out there!”
“It takes time to meet the right person.”
“Give him a chance!”
Despite honing my gut instinct over the past 38 years, the din of the masses still got to me. Maybe “they” all knew something I didn’t. Maybe everything I thought was right for me was just a way of protecting myself from getting hurt. Maybe I was going to DIE ALONE OH MY GOD I DON’T WANT TO DIE ALONE.
And that’s how I got sucked in -AGAIN- to downloading a dating app on my phone last week. This time, I bit the bullet and chose the infamous Tinder. I swiped right, I swiped left, and I periodically put down my phone to hide under a blanket.
As matches and messages trickled in, my heart raced. Not in the good way. More in the clammy, “it puts the lotion in the basket,” low-level dread kind of way. Okay, Jules. Maybe you’re just talking yourself out of a good thing. Maybe you need to just get a post-COVID date out of the way. Break the seal.
I fired back a couple of overly clever replies to two men. Ugh. No. I can’t do this! I don’t want to meet any of these people! Who knows who they really are?!
I’d been on enough online dates to know that, no matter how many photos and phone calls you exchange before the first meeting, you’re still going on a blind date. And does anyone really want to go on an endless series of blind dates?
Let me put it this way. The best online date pales in comparison to Netflix and pasta. And involves far more prep time.
Within 48 hours, and long before I could exchange more than two short messages with anyone, I deleted my Tinder account. I briefly entertained the fantasy that some of my matches fell to their knees, shaking their fists at the heavens, crying, “WHERE DID SHE GO? WHERE?!?!?!”
A few nights later, I shared drinks with a couple of girlfriends, and the conversation turned to our exes.
“I just got this random Facebook message from my ex’s new girlfriend. Look.”
She showed us her phone, which displayed a long string of messages: “I hope you don’t mind me reaching out. I know you dated [him] a while ago and I just have to know… did you experience anything like this? He’s gotten really emotionally and verbally abusive, accusing me of cheating and calling me all of these names and I just don’t know what to do.”
My friend was too afraid to say much in response for fear that this ex had created a fake account and was in fact the one messaging her. “Oh my god he’s been doing that to me!” the new girlfriend wrote. “Creating fake accounts…stalking me…”
“I still fear for my life from one of my exes,” I chimed in. “Everyone knows who to arrest if I go missing.”
“Yes!” my friend exclaimed. “Every woman I’ve talked to has a story like this!”
A familiar feeling rose in my chest. A mix of nausea, compassion, and curiosity. All of the “scary ex” stories always made me think, “What are we [as a society] doing wrong? This can’t be the result of testosterone overload. If our male counterparts could express hurt, sadness, and fear freely, would any of this happen?”
The very next morning, I woke up to a ‘New Blog Comment’ alert. Someone from Match.com, with whom I went on one date six years ago, had commented on a blog post from 2015. I had written a post about our first (and only) date and… apparently it didn’t land well with him.
I scratched my head. How did he even FIND this? I don’t think I ever mentioned that I had a blog, I always change or omit names, and I try REALLY hard not to say anything seemingly cruel… In fact, I had intentionally framed the post as, “This bizarre thing happened on a first date: what would you do to handle it?” to avoid coming across like I was maligning the man.
(In a nutshell: After our first date, this fella started sending me a cappella karaoke clips he’d recorded on his phone, and some other things I wasn’t quite sure how to react to, like a LinkedIn connection request and an article he’d written many years earlier [which he copied and pasted, in its entirety, into a single text message].)
After rereading the story several times, I definitively concluded that the post was funny – and harmless. Also, half the reason I’ve suffered through dating is for the stories.
Still, I cringed. I’m sure it can’t be fun to stumble on a blog post about you, even if it’s innocuous (…and six years old). More than that, though, I felt that same swirling concern. Why? Why do we exist in a world where hurt and pain (or simply bruised egos) become violence, cruelty, stalking, and aggression?
Here’s a situation where I spent a few hours with someone -a perfect stranger- six years ago, never saw him again, and now I feel unsafe. Perhaps the most disturbing part is that my inner monologue shouts, “Well. You blogged about him. YOU’RE ASKING FOR IT.”
Sigh. If anyone wants a pasta and Season 4 “Breaking Bad” binge, hit me up.
I almost don’t want to ask this, but: Any similar stories or concerns you’d like to share? Or, what do you think we can each do to create a safer, kinder world?
19 thoughts on “I Lasted 48 Hours on Tinder”
I’m sorry, but you’ve made me extremely glad I’m happily married and don’t have to date in the modern world. It sounds like an utter nightmare. Are all men under 60 psychopaths… ? It might be time to hit up the friends you know and trust. Surely one of them has a cousin without sanity issues. As for Uncle Jessie, that video was a hoot! Don’t be surprised if he’s fielding autograph requests in the near future…
Ahh so many bonus points for clicking over, watching that video, and most importantly, complimenting both of us at once. Thank you! Would it surprise you to hear that that was a month of gathering footage? LOL
And also, thank you for appreciating your position in the Non-Dating World. I never had any “grass is greener” moments when I was married, either. I KNEW how lucky I was not to be a part of the dating scene! I’m really grateful that I experienced something OTHER than endless dating or, at this point, I would have zero faith in humanity.
Ew, that’s super creepy about the guy you went on a date with finding your blog a year later and commenting angrily! Why are some people such angry stalkers??
Even worse-it’s from 6 years ago!
Umm total stalker
LOL I do think there should be an expiration date on the ‘angry stalker comment’ window, right?? One that correlates to the number of hours you actually spent together. Four hours = four months? Tops?
Ditto what River said. I’ve been married since before time began so I’ve no experiences that relate to your adventures in online dating. As for creating a kinder world… well, you hold onto that idea. I love that about you, always a dreamer.
Ha! Thank you! That prompt was more than a little selfish. “PLEASE HELP ME SEE THE GOOD IN HUMANITY, PEOPLE!!”
Oh! I’m simultaneously wanting to give you a huge, big sisterly hug and slap the shit out of anyone who would malign you, yet you’ve got me chuckling so hard. And that’s your brilliance. Spinning funny tales out of life’s stuff. I can’t even imagine using a dating app. Yes, I’m old. And I firmly believe in meeting people through people who know me at least a little. And I also believe in having a very clear picture of what red flags I’m absolutely not willing to live with long term. By the time I met my now husband I’d had enough relationships and life experience to have developed a list of deal-breakers. That said, I also believe that before we’re born we make agreements with other souls to have relationships with them: some designed to be short term and others carrying the potential to be life long. And some being potential relationships we might enter into (or are about to enter into) to learn something about ourselves, and when we get it we no longer need the relationship, like with the crazy guys you’ve come across. Your crazy, whack-job detector is highly attuned these days, so you no longer need to go there. I have a feeling with the right guy comes along you’ll know it because it will feel comfortable and easy.
I’m hugging you right back (ahhh so excited for Hugging Days again!)! I completely agree – on everything! This reminds me, I just watched a newish documentary on Amazon Prime called “Superhuman” that you might like! I don’t know how much of it will be new information to you, but it was fun to watch all of the experiments!
Yes. I watched it. Very cool stuff!
I went to read the post just to see if I could see the blast-from-the-past comment, though, honestly, more for the text message article and the a capella clips. I was hoping the guy would post them for everyone’s enjoyment.
As for my personal online dating experience, it may have been one of the weirdest experiences especially considering the date itself (yes, my online dating experience consisted of exactly one date) was a pretty standard date.
The weirdness was all around: I was talked into trying a dating website by two girl friends, (not girlfriends) I’ll call A and B, of which I was hoping to date A and already received and rejected a marriage proposal from B as B was hoping to get a green card with my help. On the website, I met C and arranged a date after the weekend for which I was going away on a camping trip, and on that trip I met another girl, D, that I really liked but didn’t yet start dating, so after the weekend I, as a perfect and weird gentleman, called C and told he I met another girl but would still be willing to go on a non-date date, and C agreed and we went on our non-date. Then I started dating D and we’ve been married 12 years now.
I somehow completely followed all of this, and my #1 takeaway is that I will never meet my own “D” on Tinder. …HA! I’m now rereading that as PG-13 and I think that’s exactly why people go on Tinder…
Oh goodness, Jules, I hear you!! You know… “I feel you” fits too, but that’s just basically what we’re talking about… creepy feels from your gut or creepy feels from that guy. My long-lost first boyfriend found me last year. I was really hoping he would have stayed lost. Since then it’s made me shiver.
Oof, I’m sorry to hear that!! I’m grateful that ‘listening to your gut’ seems to be a more and more accepted adage!
I hear you! It’s a jungle out there on the apps. I loved the Uncle Jesse video! He’s gorgeous! I never knew dogs could be vegan – interesting info and he’s obviously in great shape! (And looks like the best couch buddy and dinner companion!)
Aww thank you so much for watching the video!! I keep trying to swipe right on Uncle Jesse when I pet him, but he’s not getting the message…