WHY ARE YOU ON TINDER?: EXPECTATIONS, ASSUMPTIONS, AND DATING IN THE DIGITAL AGE

By Sophia Rosenthal ‘17

Sex Columnist

“May I ask you some personal questions?”

“Oh goodness, here we go,” I thought.

I’d gotten this question on Tinder before, and I was already anticipating what I expected would be a plea for naughty photos, a threesome request, or — because some people are apparently still 12-years-old — the infamous “what’s your bra size.” But being the kind (and curious) person I am, I gave him the go ahead with an invisible eye roll.

A few hours later he replied with his question: “When was your last long term relationship?”

Okay — not what I was expecting.

I told him I’d never really had a “long term” relationship, and, after a few messages back and forth justifying my perpetual singleness, he said, “So you’re just on tinder to get around then? Youcan’t possibly be looking for a relationship.” I asked him why, in his view, I “can’t possibly be looking

for a relationship,” and his answer was “Because you’re a good looking girl, you should be able to

find something out in the real world.”

Anyone who has swiped through Tinder or Bumble (or even a friend’s Tinder) has seen the classic “willing to say we met through a friend,” “let’s say we met at WalMart,” or even “we both know why we’re on here” tacked onto the end of a bio. My conversation with this anonymous Tinder fellow (who turned out to be very nice, by the way) got me thinking about the ways in which apps like Tinder are characterized as “hook up apps,” and the assumptions that follow about who uses online dating, why they’re using them, and what it means.

The idea that a “good looking girl” should be able to “find someone” in the “real world,” is both interesting and problematic on several levels. First of all, regardless of the fact that “good-looking” is an enormously subjective descriptor, it is safe to say that dating and everything that goes along with it is difficult for everyone, regardless of physical appearance; these apps’ popularity alone suggests that plenty of people aren’t finding whatever they’re looking for in “the real world.” But even beyond that, the notion that the “real world” has a higher degree of legitimacy than the virtual world is one that does not necessarily hold true. It’s a notion that carries over from the stigma attached to non-monogamous/casual encounters (the modern “bar meet up”), and an assumption that any meeting that is deliberately sought out or planned is somehow less valid and desperate (the modern “speed dating”).

This is is not to say that any of these things are or are not true, it is simply to suggest that a connection is a connection — and if a connectio n is good, why devalue it because of how it happens to manifest? Whether it is casual or long-term, a serendipitous meeting or one that’s been planned for months, whether you meet in a class, on aplane...or on Tinder — if it’s good, why judge it?And if it feels real, then maybe it is still the “real world.”