Tinder didn’t work for me—until I started Tindering with my besties

I’m very happily single. I date when I want to date, I nap when I want to nap, I hang out with my friends and visit with my parents and pet my dogs and generally live my life without worrying about where or when my next great romance will come from. It hasn’t always been like this. In fact I’ve spent most, or at least a very large portion of my life, wrapped up in all consuming crushes and hopeful flirtmances, or else stressing about why I wasn’t meeting anyone and why I wasn’t dating someone and what exactly was wrong with me. Even when I was with someone, I was still stressing, convinced they were going to leave me for someone smarter or prettier or funnier or else just get bored and decide I wasn’t worth the effort anymore.

It was all very toxic and dissatisfying, this endless loop of what if’s and how come’s and when will’s, and it wasn’t until I got dumped (hard) and took to the Internet for solace that I finally accepted without caveats or exceptions, that I was enough by myself. Just me, unattached and unclaimed, complete and happy and fine.

I first downloaded Tinder mostly for validation and revenge if I’m being completely honest with myself. I wanted to flirt with as many guys as I could and prove to myself and to my ex (not that he was watching or really cared) that I was attractive and funny and worthy of attention and love. This experiment didn’t go so well. Still being heartsore and raw I took every slight personally and my attempt at reclaiming my love life via a bitter Tinder quest was basically just a romcom montage of me angrily throwing my phone down and listening to sad Taylor Swift songs. So I deleted the app.

Fast forward a year and I’m living in a house with four female roommates, and it’s just a constant slumber party of giggling and eating and feelings. At this point I’ve had a few flings and half relationships but nothing substantial enough to dissuade all of those yucky feelings we were talking about earlier. So my roommates and I decided, after a little liquor and a little Netflix, that we’re all going to download Tinder together, and we’re going to make a game of it. Actually game is the wrong word, it was more of a challenge. We were all single and a little bored with dating so we resolved to just have fun and be silly and approach it all with a breeziness that isn’t usually associated with romantic endeavors, digital or otherwise. Basically, we decided to be ourselves, without all of the rules and conditions and weird insecurities that pop up when you’re trying to impress someone.

We messaged first, we posted goofy moments, we texted what we actually wanted to say instead of what we thought the boys wanted to hear, and we did it all without worrying about whether or not they’d like us back. Because it wasn’t about that, it was about us. It was about getting to know each other and ourselves in a space where the consequences for honesty and bravery were low, and the rewards were high enough to keep us interested.

We went on a lot of dates, some very good and some very terrible, and then we’d come home and sit on the couch and laugh and share and debrief about everything that we were feeling and everything that had happened. When people were rude, we unmatched them. It was all very cut and dry, if you’re mean you don’t deserve a place in my heart or in my life. It’s a distinction I’d always struggled to make in my own dating life, knowing when to cut people off and when to walk away from a bad situation. It’s a lot easier to believe you deserve better when you’re watching your friends going through the same things and seeing the hurt in your own heart reflected in their faces. It’s a lot easier to be yourself and be happy when you have expectations and limits in place on how you’re going to be treated. Text me back, be honest, don’t string me along. It all seems so simple when you’re telling your friends to raise their standards for care and affection, and eventually you have to start taking your own advice.

After two months of swiping, messaging, and dating, I came away better understanding what I needed from a relationship and what I wanted from myself in the meantime. I finally understood after so much time and so much frustration that I was never going to meet my person by trying to mold myself into what I thought they wanted or by subduing my enthusiasm to better comply with the “play it cool” dating rules. I am who I am. I use ketchup as a salad dressing, dress my dogs in plaid sweaters, and watch a lot of Nora Ephron movies, and thanks to a bunch of random Tinder users and a couple really good girlfriends I’m finally okay with it. I’m going to find someone who gets me eventually, who wants to take on the crazy and the weirdness for all that it is and all that I am, and until then I’m just going to have fun and be myself and laugh with my friends. I’ve deleted Tinder again because I’m not trying to find my other half anymore, I found it, it was in me all along.

(Feature image by CBS)


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