When I read about Tinder late last year, I sulked. (Admittedly dramatic.) Another app where the hook-up culture finds willing participants in its game. Tinder isn’t made for me, I thought. I projected how I felt about myself as a dater unto the reputation of the app and decided I was, once again, left out of the party.
But after downloading the app and using it for four months, it’s been the best dating tool I’ve used, even in looking for a long-term mate. Here’s why.
1. Tinder uses the “paradox of choice” to its advantage. Ever read Barry Schwartz’s book of the same name? Essentially – the more choices we’ve got (15 pairs of jeans staring back at us on the racks – boot-cut, skinny, dark denim, etc), the more paralyzed we are when it comes to making a decision. For potential matches, Tinder gives you a few pictures of the person, the distance of that potential match, a list of shared interests and maybe a few shared Facebook friends. And then the app needs an answer. It’s a gut decision, that swipe.
Compare this with perusing a match.com profile and you’ll see how it’s easy to read into every sentence in the profile of someone you’re interested in and decide he’s a soul mate. And then there’s the dreaded reverse of it all: that around the match.com corner, there will always be someone prettier, smarter, funner, etc. Traditional online-dating platforms disappoint their patrons when they (perhaps unwittingly) intimate that someone better is just another click away…
2. Tinder’s use of gamification takes the pressure off single guys. While I’ve been online dating (with the intention of finding a serious relationship) for 8 years, some people (arguably “not-sure” single guys) aren’t comfortable with putting themselves out there. Along with putting up the dough for the monthly subscription. That’s just what guys don’t want – they want fun, casual and organic with a girl without feeling like they’ve lost their masculinity. There’s a difference between telling your buddies you’re trolling OkCupid and swiping on Tinder.
3. Location, location, location. I’ll go ahead and mention it again – I’m marriage-minded. As a result of the geographical settings for matches in my Tinder profile settings, I get to see where the kind of people I’m looking for seem to live. Turns out, it’s not really where I am. It’s actually prompted me to make a move I had long suspected would put me in a better position to find a long-term partner.
4. Tinder lets you set the pace. Maybe it’s the monetary aspect, but traditional platforms infuse you – the dater – with a sense of urgency. Tinder has forced me to slow down. To realize how important it is to make a friend first. With online-dating, the hardest part is dealing with the fact that you are meeting a solitary person out-of-context. If he decides not to see you again, that’s it. If you meet someone through friends IRL, you have a chance to get to know someone you might otherwise dismiss. Tinder opens up your real-world possibilities because your expectations are different.
5. Tinder is mobile. Online dating has for so long been a sit-down, deliberate thing, but Tinder is what we do waiting for a taxi or lounging on our couch at night. This feeling of bringing something into your life is the best way (New Age, I know) to realize that your life is already full. The people you meet on Tinder are the ones who can put the frosting on top.
6. It’s a confidence booster. You won’t end up talking to the majority of people you’re matched with on Tinder. But knowing that there are actually that many people who swipe right for you is surprising, and makes you wonder how many people you run into during the day are similarly attracted.
Tinder is online-dating 2.0. We’ve outgrown Match. Christians are best for eHarmony. OkCupid is for the urban dwellers (and it’s capitalized on the Tinder swipe approach lately too).
Yes, you’ll run into rude profiles, co-workers also on Tinder and people looking for one thing. Just be honest and upfront about what you’re looking for. Tinder really is what you make of it. Don’t let its sexy marketing scare you off.