Some say dating can feel like a full-time job. We think it’s a lot more fun than most jobs, but like real work, it’s better when shared with friends and colleagues. In this series, Tinder users give us VIP access to one week of their swipes, first lines, and in-person meetings. You’re in good company, don’t you think?
Sunday, 4:31 p.m.
Sunday night seems like the best time to consider your to-do list. I make sure I’ve prepared for my Monday classes, done at least some laundry, and made a concerted effort to find true love a date for the upcoming week. Things are looking good thanks to Nick*, a sweet film student who is down to meet up.
Nick* mentions the Brooklyn Zoo (not an actual zoo), home of the ninja warrior class, and suggests we go. The prospect of spending our first date in workout clothes trying to leap over tall obstacles is…unexpected, but I’ve vowed to be more game to try new things in 2019, so I agree. I’m hoping that getting through first-date small talk while leaping over things will be a good place for us to start. He’s really into exclamation marks, which I find endearing. I think a lot of people are afraid to seem overly enthusiastic on dating apps, but he’s not afraid to show when he’s into something. Now I have a few days to find workout clothes that are at least semi-cute.
Monday 7:50 p.m.
The last day of a long weekend plus record wind chill means baking and checking Tinder. After an exchange with Tom*, I almost want to email my sixth grade English teacher to tell her that while I absolutely hated every frostbitten line of “To Build a Fire,” it did help me connect with someone 16 years later. I can only hope that I someday use every seemingly useless bit of my middle-school education in my dating life.
Plus I like that we are of the same mind when it comes to battling the cold. It makes an empty apartment seem slightly less empty.
Tuesday, 4:15 p.m.
I receive a response from Adam*, a cute musician/bartender whose message makes me rethink my admittedly bland go-to opener: “How’s your week going?” I really can’t criticize his entirely accurate response (“It’s going”), but it makes me feel less flirty and more like we’re two old men sitting on the porch in a Western movie. I decide to workshop possible conversation starters. Maybe something that would really make them think, like “Why are we all here?” or “Which came first, the chicken or that egg that’s getting so many likes on Instagram?” Either way, our conversations stalls when he doesn’t message me back after an innocuous question about what he studied at school.
Wednesday, 12:00 p.m.
Definitely time for a new hello. Three messages asking my matches about their week and three identical echoing silences. At least there’s the ninja date to look forward to.
Thursday, 11:00 a.m.
I always feel a little nervous using Tinder on the subway. Two distinct fears bubble up to the surface as I angle my phone away from my seatmates and try to keep the movement of my thumb as subtle as possible: that someone, realizing how often I’m Noping, will loudly ask who I think I am to dismiss so many potential suitors. The other, even less realistic but infinitely more terrifying option is that I Nope, look to my left, and realize the person I’ve just virtually rejected is sitting next to me and sees what I’ve done.
Still, you have to fit in the promise of a love life somewhere. This is the great tradeoff of public transit. It might break down, it might be crowded, but it gives you the opportunity to get things done during your commute. Like read a book. Or make a date. I get a few matches and one message that seems less like an introduction and more like an evaluation. “Cute,” accompanied by a heart emoji.
Friday, 7:00 p.m.
“Netflix and chill” as a phrase, I think, is still open to interpretation. Yes, it can mean inviting someone over under the guise of watching the Fyre Festival documentary, which will quickly devolve into a hookup before Ja Rule even makes his first appearance. But it can also mean staying in with your roommate, watching “Grace and Frankie,” and flipping through Tinder at a leisurely pace.
Saturday, 10:55 p.m.
While walking home after seeing a show with some friends (specifically, friends who are a long-term couple), I get a message from Sam*, a match I have no recollection of Liking. Of course, I unoriginally asked him how his weekend was going (a riff off my usual, at least). He replies, “Great! We should video chat tonight.”
I try to keep an open mind. I try to imagine a person who hates small talk so much that he needs to ditch messaging for a face-to-face conversation as soon as possible. I imagine a person who’s just finished reading Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes” and is determined to always go after exactly what he wants, as soon as possible. My imagining is ineffective. I don’t message Sam back. My friends assure me that in my perpetual spinsterhood, I’ll always have a room in their future home.
Sunday, 3:00 p.m.
I let my friend, David, take the wheel on my Tinder. Despite my attempts to backseat drive and remind him that we do not have the same taste in many things, including romantic partners and the outfits they might be wearing in their profile pictures, he continues to Like guys he finds attractive — jocks, finance bros, and others who are leaps and bounds away from my type, which could best be described as anyone who seems like they know their way around a library and probably doesn’t know their way around any louder places. David cheers every time I get a match, though it’s hard not to think of them as his matches. It makes me think dating might be easier, though, if you could tag in other people who have different strengths to help out. Maybe I’m not the best at starting conversations, so I let someone else play Cyrano until things get past the pleasantries?
Sunday, 8:00 p.m.
“Rent Live” is not quite live, and the nostalgia isn’t enough to keep my full attention. But the memory of high-school me swooning over every love song is enough to get me to open Tinder. I have more matches than normal after David’s takeover. I try not to read too much into that. Instead, I ask for his evaluation on Matt*, what convinced him that guy had potential, and he shrugs, as if his appeal is obvious. I decide not to message him. And in the future, I think I’ll stop dating by committee.
Monday, 10:00 a.m.
Tinder has officially become a part of my morning routine. I haven’t seen it on one of those morning habits of successful people round-ups, but hey, maybe I can change that. A match named Jack* asks me whether I like nudes and explains it’s for a poll he’s supposedly doing.
I actually do not hate him, as I think it’s a fair question to ask on a dating app and much better than sending said nudes before an inquiry. It’s the poll charade that’s annoying, or actually the lack of effort he’s put into the charade. I have nothing against cover stories to mask bashfulness and help you be more bold, but they better be well thought out.
Tuesday. 4:00 p.m.
I am the worst of all Tinder types. After making plans, I am breaking them, within two hours of said date, and only after Nick texts to confirm. I should tell him that I’m exhausted and that I had genuinely been looking forward to meeting him because of his smile and his easy, friendly way of messaging, but today I have lugged a backpack and a violin case from Queens to Chelsea to Brooklyn to midtown, and the thought of going to Brooklyn again to take a parkour class makes me want to cry. I suggest meeting in Manhattan to get frozen yogurt hoping he’ll balk, but he’s down for it, complete with trademark exclamation points. Even this new plan is too much, and I message him to cancel without explanation and offer a half-assed apology. I hope Tinder karma isn’t real, or if it is, that it at least takes my remorse into consideration.
I feel terrible, both for the last-minute cancel and the fact that I’m letting an overwhelming feeling of awkwardness stop me from explaining myself in a way that might at least let Nick know it is definitely me and not him. For now, all I can do is vow to do better and plan better. Oh, and maybe leave the violin at home on days when I have a date.