I’m on Tinder. In fact, I’ve been on Tinder a lot — like 600-matches-in-the-past-three-years a lot. Despite this absurd number of matches, I have only been on a select few Tinder dates.
Sure, part of this is due to the whole process of establishing a connection between two people. It begins with a one-sided attraction, which is then confirmed as a mutual attraction. Then you move into the conversation stage, from the anxieties centering on the first message to the process of maintaining a conversation on an app that crashes all the time.
Then comes the weird part. Sometimes I’ll be asked out for coffee within the first five minutes of the conversation, and some dates have waited over a month to ask me out. I usually freak and stall the conversation.* My habit of freaking out comes from a combination of factors.
First, there’s the worry of my safety, which I recognize sounds dramatic but is a legitimate concern. When you have not met a person face-to-face, it is hard to pick up on certain cues or their overall “vibe.” When someone sparks up a conversation with you in line at Starbucks, you can get a general sense of whether they are acting genuinely or if something is off. When you are texting, you lose access to tone of voice, facial expressions, body movements and their overall energy. When you have only been talking to the person for five minutes, you have no way to tell if they are safe people to be around other than a genuine sense of optimism.
Some of you may be thinking to yourselves that that is what the date is for, to feel the other person out — metaphorically that is. But a date is a setting dependent on a mutual agreement of commitment, however minimal that commitment may be, from dinner to Netflix & Chill. This environment isn’t one conducive to making yourself vulnerable to someone you’re seeing in person for the first time ever, one whom you’ve barely talked to before. That said, I am in no way saying that most of the men I have matched with, talked to or met have put me in any danger or conducted themselves with malice. All I am pointing out that there is a sense of worry, and that is why I don’t usually agree to a date right away.
Aside from my own psychological baggage, the other main reason as to why I usually end up not going on any dates with these matches is Stanford. On a superficial level, I am either too busy or too tired to go out on any dates and try to make an effort with someone that I do not see much happening with. Going deeper, however, I realize that it is often because the other person is not from Stanford. This reasoning is similar to the reasoning behind most long-distance relationship break-ups. It’s hard to relate to a person who does not share the same lifestyle that you do. As many of us here recognize, the Stanford lifestyle is a very particular one, and it is hard to describe, but it s in the 50 emails a day and the inevitable breakdown in the middle of Lake Lag or absurd prices of Late Night or the unique exhaustion of Week Eight Fall Quarter. As much as the bubble exists, Stanford seems to create this barrier of conversation between its constituents and those on the outside that makes me less than enthusiastic to go on Tinder dates.
But recently, I joined Bumble, an app aimed at giving women the power, which I am all for. Except I did not enjoy it at all. On Bumble, you swipe on other people until you match, same as Tinder. But once you match, the woman has 24 hours to message the man. If she does, he has another 24 hours to respond; if she does not message him or he does not respond to her, the match disappears. Under this time crunch, I would quickly message the majority of my matches, but only two of them responded. I finally got a taste of my own medicine. It sucks to be ignored when you think there’s a possibility there with someone. But it is not wrong for someone to stop responding. People do not owe their dating app matches anything, especially after one message that reads “hey :).” I do not blame these guys for not responding, and I hope some guys don’t blame me.
The idea central to dating apps is that every person is exploring their options, and sometimes that exploration means realizing that you were not as into the other person as you initially thought you would be. But for every ignored message there is one less person in the way of finding whatever it is you want to find. You do not want someone that does not want you, and that is often a hard pill to swallow.
With that out of the way, I am here to tell you do not be afraid of dating apps. Do not feel ashamed in pursuing companionship of varying degrees. Do not let fear hold you back from talking to people on Grindr, Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, etc. Do not be afraid to go on dates, but do be cautious.
*But listen, I do not ghost. Ghosting implies disappearing after establishing some level of affection or intimacy. When I have been talking to someone for a while and decide that I am no longer interested, or if I have gone on a date with someone I did not feel it with, I properly break it off with them. Do not go on a date and just never talk to the person again.
Contact Arianna Lombard at ariannal ‘at’ stanford.edu.