Among the creepy chat up lines and horror dates, Giselle Storm talks about what it’s really like to embrace Tinder as a dating platform, and why we’re so reluctant to do so…
It took me a long, hard year to come to terms with Tinder. I’d listened to horror stories, read the articles declaring the absence of romance in our doomed generation and heard the love stories blooming from what is effectively a glorified blind date. The founder of this here site met her boyfriend a year ago after drunkenly creating a profile and what she likes to call ‘the best thing she’s ever done with her index finger’ (swiping people, swiping). But nonetheless I was a hardcore Tinder sceptic. What happened to romance, I’d ask myself? What happened to dropping an intellectual yet interesting book on the bus, having a handsome stranger stoop to pick it up, accidentally brushing hands and have a happily ever after emerge from this meet-cute? It took a while, but like most singles that I know, I finally was a convert. A drunken night in a pub, a phone hijacking, and before I knew it I had a shiny new Tinder profile promising to find me the love of my life (I can only assume this always happens when drunk because that’s the only time you have the cajones to write the type of profile that actually might make someone chuckle).
Tinder is now a bit of a social institution, even a cliché. Everyone has it, everyone’s on it, everyone’s emerging with new bizarre dating stories that quite honestly deserve an entire book dedicated to them. Actually, I think there are a few. Admittedly I’ve only ever been on two actual Tinder dates and surprisingly both have been pretty successful. But why is that surprising? Dating is dating and how often do you go into a first date knowing that the suitor won’t be a complete maniac? I’ve yet to see the dark side of Tinder, the weird men lurking in the depths of the app dating world, aside from the occasional ‘I want to tie you to my bed and use you like a doll’ message. But I ask, after all these years of Tinder acceptance, why is there still a stigma attached? Even those lucky few (like my lovely editor) who have met someone, who took the jump and swiped on that special one who claimed to share their love of Bacon (the Kevin variety, not the edible kind), even these people still seem a bit embarrassed by it all.
All two of the dates I’ve been on have resulted in further dates and there is always the inevitable question of ‘so, how did you two meet?’ I’ve always met this question with the slight guilty smile which I’ve perfected, the averted eyes and the mutter of ‘oh, Tinder’. I don’t know why I’m embarrassed. Surely most people at this point, if not using it themselves, have come to terms with the fact that Tinder is now a widely accepted part of our society, for better or worse? I worked in a pub for a while and took great delight in watching people tentatively approach each other and ask ‘are you Emily?’ The bar staff would smile at each other, nod and whisper ‘Tinder date!’ like we’d just caught a rare glimpse of some wild animal in its natural habitat. We would then proceed to watch with huge interest and try and guess what was being said and how it was going. They were so frequent, there was at least one a night, but each time we were completely fascinated by them. There is, if not a stigma, still something distinctly odd about the prospect of a Tinder date.
Potentially it’s the internet dating thing as a whole. Our generation has had it beaten into us from a young age, ‘don’t talk to strangers on the internet’, even more so ‘never meet strangers you’ve met on the internet’ and it has gone without saying ‘do not get piss drunk in Hackney with a stranger you met on the internet!’ Yet this is what people are doing, every night. We’ve had it drummed into us that internet dating is not okay, it’s ‘naughty’, it’s exactly what our parents and teachers warned us against. But maybe that’s part of the draw; it seems like it’s still taboo and that we are breaking some rule by doing it. We relish the weirdness, the anonymity, the fact that we’re up to something no good. After all, there’s a bit of a thrill from meeting a stranger at a bar with no idea what they’re really like. The vague fear that their profile has all been an elaborate lie and Dave, who is definitely not 23 and definitely not an architect, will steal you away in the night. It’s all part of the fun and the risk.
Alternatively it may be a feeling of guilt and inadequacy which continues the stigma. We’ve heard those wonderful stories of how our grandparents generation met, eyes locked across a crowded dancehall, your grandfather whispering to his buddy ‘I’m going to marry that girl’. Internet love is reserved for 60-year-old divorcees who have failed to find someone in their Golf club. All the guys who chat me up at bars are inevitably a touch on the creepy side, the smell of an eighth Stella on their breath not quite enticing me to lean into their come-ons. It could be a result of a loss in any faith in love at first sight, a feeling that I’m becoming an old maid at 22 and that Tinder presents to me a last resort. A blind stab at the dating world, judged on the two seconds you linger on a blurry photo in the hope that he or she might be alright. No wonder we feel this odd guilt over Tinder, the feeling that we weren’t good enough for the real world so have had to turn to the internet.
Maybe it’s the loss of romance that we feel embarrassed about. Tinder is the dating equivalent of ordering a takeaway. In a society where pretty much anything your heart desires is at your fingertips it seems almost gratuitous to place your love life on the same level as a chicken tikka masala. From endless rom-coms we’ve been made to believe that love and relationships are special, they’re ‘different’ and should be treated as such. Would The Notebook have had the same emotional value if, instead of hanging off a Ferris wheel, Noah had simply swiped right? Probably not. We yearn for romance, for the perfect meet-cute book-drop to tell our children and grandchildren.
But maybe I need to chill, maybe I’m over-focusing on the beginning, the Big Bang theory of dating, and am overlooking all the romance that can come after this. It seems almost sad that there will be a generation of wedding speeches starting with ‘well, when I saw her profile, I just knew I had to match with her…’ No matter how wonderful and loving a relationship is, there might always be that knowledge lurking in the back of your minds, ‘but we met on the internet’. But by the time the big white dress comes on and the bestman is being sick over your grandma, will how you met even be relevant? You will have shared so much together that the good bits will be the things that define your relationship and the awkward first ‘Are you Emily’ a distant memory. That swipe will be reduced to the ‘best thing you’ve ever done with your index finger’.
So, ask me where I met the boy I’m dating. I dare you.
Follow Giselle on Instagram: @gisellestorms