When I visited my sister Lisa in Los Angeles last summer, little did I know, my life would be forever changed. And Tinder had something to do with it.
While I was in LA, I decided to snoop around on the app some nights. I mean, it was already on my phone and, to state the obvious, there are some Very Attractive men and women out here. I met up with this guy Jerry through the app, and we hung out twice during my fleeting summer visit. We kept each others’ numbers.
To my surprise, we stayed in touch. A lot. We were, in fact, almost smitten with one another, each having this fantasy version of the other. Both of us had recently gotten out of disappointing relationships. We would talk on the phone for hours, discussing everything from our childhoods to our hobbies to our exes to our leftist ideologies. We even watched a movie “together,” pausing it when one of us would take a bathroom break, and texted throughout it.
I was certain of one thing: I had to leave Ohio, and I had been meaning to for some time. I desperately sought change and a chance to realistically pursue my creative endeavors. What better place than LA, where it’s almost impossible to avoid the movie/music/fashion/whathaveyou industry? I told Jerry LA was the right next move for me, but I was nervous. Jerry took this nervousness as me never actually planning on moving, so he gave me a push — in the form of a plane ticket.
He assured me I could stay with him and it’d be easier to apply to jobs that way; that he’d help me in the process. He coaxed me toward something I already knew I wanted. With his encouragement, my sister awaiting me, and a chance to do more creatively than I could in my hometown, I packed my bags, seemingly on a whim. One minute I was texting my digital dream boy, and the next, I was about to move in with him.
When I got off the plane, what I didn’t expect was showing up in uncharted territory: a dirty, smelly, laundry-scattered AC-less man cave. Throughout the next few days, his large hair-shedding dog chewed through not only several pairs of my underwear, but also my favorite jeans and my airplane neck pillow. Stuffing. Was. Everywhere. And so were the beer bottles. Jerry had an affinity for drinking I wasn’t quite aware of, nor was I fond of.
I thought we had a lot in common with our similar leftist ideologies. Turns out, he was a total brocialist. He’s one of those “Bernie Bros” who has low-key sexist tendencies, perhaps without even realizing it, putting socialist ideology before feminism. When he asked me to fold his laundry, I told him, “I’m not your mother.” When he said he’d PAY me to fold his laundry, I told him, “Um…I’m not your maid.”
Staying with a long-distance romantic interest seemed exciting at first, but it wasn’t the brightest idea. Going from zero to a hundred, as in meeting twice to living together, is probably the definition of “rushing it.” After just two weeks, we realized we just weren’t meant to be. I like my own space. I am a minimalist who detests messes. Jerry’s lifestyle wasn’t at all similar to mine. The world is my oyster. But what was I going to do?
While I was a little scared and confused, this was the spark I needed.
And Tinder, the app that brought me to this crossroads to begin with, also helped me transition to the next stage. When you’re new to a city and in between relationships, a social app like Tinder really helps you learn more about the people around you, the places around you, and, most importantly, about yourself. It’s an existential thing, really, and a social app brings all of us suffering young adults together to cushion the blow of these difficult life transitions.
Through matches, I’ve met people who have shown me so much of what this city has to offer. They’ve taken me to late night diners, music venues, old school skate rinks, independent movie theaters, the perfect hiking spots, and obscure beaches.
And what about Jerry, who brought me nearly 2,000 miles across the country? Who I lived with for two weeks and then very quickly fled from? Who hadn’t done his laundry for months before I got there? Surprisingly, we remain friends to this day. We’re even collaborating on a project. One of the things I respected about Jerry was his love of cameras, his extensive knowledge of the world of filming, and his ability to shoot almost anything and make it professional quality.
We recently started shooting an independent web series together. It was then that it really went full circle for me. I came out to LA on a whim, unsure of what to expect, but realized I had in fact stayed for the right reasons. I don’t have everything figured out, but I’m glad to be here and to connect with all sorts of creatives who’ve traveled here from around the world. While it’s always a smart idea to really get to know someone, and not just digitally and online, before committing to anything, sometimes it’s the unexpected that pushes you out of your comfort zone.
Fifty three percent of people say they’re looking for friendship, not hookups or even dating, on Tinder, according to a 2016 survey. And even relationships gone awry can turn into surprisingly pleasant friendships. Little did I know, when I used the app last summer, I wasn’t swiping for love or anything crazy like that — I was swiping for change. And since then, I’ve been able to broaden my horizons by connecting with people I never thought I’d get to meet, in a city I didn’t think I’d be in.