Friday, February 28, 2014
“How did you meet?” I used to try to avoid this question like the plague when talking to people in regards to me and my girlfriend. People seemingly always put a lot of importance in the validity of a relationship based on how it began. Sure, I admit that even I was guilty of this for a while. I would have preferred some epic chance first encounter like I stopped to help her change a flat tire on the side of a busy highway, or returned her missing cell phone to her and left my number inside, but the reality of today’s modern and mobile world is that leaving meeting someone of substance up to chance encounters leads to a life of loneliness and longing. Even in Austin’s vibrant nightlife and bar scene, working up the courage to talk to someone you find physically attractive is intimidating, and it’s hard to truly get to know someone over club music and stiff drinks.
“We met on Tinder.” It’s not glamorous, it isn’t how you imagine your favorite Nichols Sparks’ novel beginning, and it is typically met with a shocking laugh or uneasy smile. But it is how I met my girlfriend and now roommate. For those not familiar with the so-called “dating” app Tinder, it is a mobile app based on a simple concept of “Hot or Not.” Pulling photos users get to choose from their Facebook profiles, Tinder gives people the chance to be as shallow as they want in trying to “connect” with people on the site. You can set a radius of up to 100 miles from your current location, and set parameters for the age range you’d like to see potential matches within. With a simple swipe to the left or right, you decide if the person you are viewing is attractive enough to try to potentially establish a connection with, or if they are better off being sent back to the depths of anonymity. You are only given the opportunity to converse via message with someone if you both give each other the positive swipe or “like.” Which to a lot of people can seemingly mean “like, I would totally do you.” From there, it is up to your own pick-up lines to get you past the potential cat-fishing, virtual relationship stage and into the real, scary world of face-to-face interaction. What did I go with you ask? “You look really familiar, do we know each other?” Don’t worry, I’ll post another entry sometime soon titled “Pick-Up Lines 101.”
Tinder can be a lot of things, depending on what you’re looking for and how you go about using it. A lot of people assume that everyone on it is simply looking to “hook-up.” Now I don’t necessarily believe that everyone using it could potentially meet their future spouse, but I have known many people who legitimately try to use the app for its so-called intended purpose: dating. Tinder provides a way to meet people in a world that is obsessed with their iPhones and instant gratification. The “You have a New Match” message you receive whenever someone whose photo you gave a positive swipe to reciprocates that “like” is an undoubtable ego-boost. Couple that with the fact that meeting someone randomly is nearly impossible in the go, go, go fast-paced atmosphere and environment a lot of people (especially in a city like Austin) live in these days, and you’ve got a perfect match… pun intended.
When explaining how I met my girlfriend to people who are unfamiliar with the app, I try to break it down in simpler terms. If you are single (and not even necessarily unhappily so), whenever you go to a bar, or even Whole Foods, a yoga class, the dog park, etc., you typically are not going to strike up a conversation with someone of the opposite sex unless you find them aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Now, this may sound shallow or unfriendly, but I am a realist and reality is that the first thing people who are either consciously or subconsciously looking for a mate are going to judge is appearance. This is a primal thing. So the fact that the first conversation I ever had with her was following an alert on my phone telling me that she had deemed me attractive, allowed me to come from a place of confidence. Similarly, a female accepting my offer to buy her a drink could have the same effect. The primary difference being that when I sent her that amazing pick-up line of “you look really familiar,” it was coming at a time where we were both at our own homes, completely sober, with very little distractions. So in a way, meeting her on Tinder provided a much easier, safer, and “real” environment to begin to get to know each other than if it had started by me trying to grind up on her at the club. Tinder opened the door, the rest was up to her and I.
A little bit of Facebook creeping, a lot of text message wittiness, and a Snapchat scavenger hunt later, and we were no longer just a virtual fling, but a real life item. Despite having since lessened our social media carbon footprint by deleting most of the aforementioned apps, I honestly believe our relationship would not and could not have begun in any other way. The accessibility of each other’s friends lists, photos, and instant communication all these provided allowed us to get a sense of what the other was like before we ever met, and essentially helped expedite the process that neither one of us even knew we were on or looking for. 9 months later, and we have been happily living together for months, with the rare fights usually stemming from what else but jealousy caused from social media and virtual communication. It’s a slippery slope at times, but I can say with full honesty and confidence that Tinder changed my life. With one swipe, I found the woman I want to marry. And if and when that day I propose comes, and she says yes, you better believe I will be posting about it on social media and sending my story into Tinder so that they can publish our story (and pay for our honeymoon).