Since becoming unexpectedly single after spending all of my post-college adult life in a relationship, I’ve learned that dating as a 20-something is actually wonderful. You don’t have the insecurity of teenage years, the weird expectations associated with whatever a “college lifestyle” is marketed as, and you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission in order to go out. Plus, now we have a million ways to meet people – even if about half of them are online.
While I’m definitely not looking to hop back into a serious relationship, I have been meeting great people. And on Tinder, I kid you not.
Dating apps weren’t around before I met my ex, so when they came onto the scene, I had to live vicariously through my friends as they went off on single-20-something adventures. I heard some horror stories – a guy that lied about his own last name only to be outed by a poorly chosen back tattoo, finding out their date was already in a “committed” relationship, accidentally going out with a Trump supporter… all things I don’t want in my life.
That said, all the apps my friends have suggested are for serious relationship seekers. They’ve been singing praises to Coffee Meets Bagel and Bumble, but I’m burnt out after spending 4 years thinking about someone else’s needs all the time. So what options are out there for the single millennial who just wants to meet new people and experience more of the city?
Despite its reputation, Tinder has been perfect for dates without any expectations whatsoever. That said, since I’m looking to meet interesting people (and, you know, not serial killers), I’ve started following some
fairly arbitrary super legitimate rules:
1. Thou shalt not express interest in anyone with gratuitous “I’d f— me” selfies, be they of blue steel mug shots or washboard abs. Even though I’m not looking for a serious relationship, I don’t want to talk about how really, really ridiculously good looking they know they are.
2. Thou shalt not express interest in those who have nothing to say. Photos are not enough information to go off of. If someone thinks that’s all they need, they probably don’t want to talk much anyway.
3. Thou shalt not converse with those who replace words with emojis. Hey, I said these were arbitrary. Emoji overuse annoys the 💩 out of me. One or two, fine, but your whole online dating profile? 🙅
4. Thou shalt not agree to meet someone who has not genuinely attempted to have a conversation. “Sup” does not count. I actually go so far as having a phone conversation before meeting in person, because who wants to leave their apartment for someone that isn’t fun to talk to?
5. Thou shalt not date those who insert innuendo into the conversation at every opportunity (unless they’re particularly clever). I’m just saving time here – I’m not looking for what they’re looking for.
6. Thou shalt be honest. I’m expecting someone not to be a total dick, so why wouldn’t I extend the same courtesy? Before we even meet, I’ll make it a point to let them know where I am. It’s not sexy, but I will literally tell them that, hey, I’m fresh out of a long-term relationship and don’t want anything serious OR anything physical. It’s only fair, right? Plus, I find that if I’m real with them, they’ll probably feel more comfortable being real with me. And real is way more interesting.
7. Thou shalt not keep it anonymous. This one is so important. Every time I go to meet, let’s face it, a stranger from the internet, I take a screenshot of their contact information and send it to a friend. I include everything. Their full name, photo, phone number, address of the date, and expected time home. Paranoid? Maybe. But I’m not willing to take the risk.
8. Thou shalt have an exit strategy. This is part two of my paranoia. No matter what, even if the person seems like a perfect gentleman, you never know. I’ll either drive or walk to wherever we choose to meet, and even then, I’ll always budget the extra $5-20 for a Lyft home as a backup.
9. Thou shalt not go unarmed. And part three! I never go anywhere without pepper spray. Also, because 911 is worse at geolocation than Uber, I’ve taken the liberty of setting myself up with a Smart911 account. I’ve associated my phone number with my name, and my local police can quickly access crucial information in case there’s some sort of emergency.
10. Thou shalt not put pressure on yourself. Every date I go on is like Whose Line – it’s an experiment, and none of it matters. I’m not looking to meet my soulmate or impress anyone. It’s an internet stranger. Maybe you meet the single most amazing human being in the world, or maybe you don’t get along. Who cares? It’s just one date. Worst-case scenario, you probably never have to see them again.
While I haven’t had chemistry with every date, I have yet to meet a single bad person. Every date I’ve gone on has at least had new conversations and experiences in LA that I otherwise wouldn’t have had (for example, Jenga bars are now a thing). My worst was going to LACMA and captioning the art, so even though the conversation wasn’t stellar, it was still a win.
So either the system works, or Tinder has been grossly misrepresented and is actually filled with decent human beings. If that’s the case, someone should tell their marketing department they can change course.