I LET MY FRIENDS CONTROLL MY TINDER
I downloaded Tinder for the first time in March of this year. Up until then, I had believed that my Prince Charming would find me at a gym class , or scouring the new fiction section at the library. But to no avail. I decided that it was time to take fate into my own hands, and go looking for love myself.
The thing no one told me about Tinder was that Tinder gets boring real fast. After scrolling through a gross amount of “Can I eat you out” and “You trynna fuck” messages (and yes, these are sadly messages I received more than once), I thought that maybe it was time to let someone else do the swiping for me. Clearly, I was having no luck, and maybe my friends would be better at determining some potential mates.
So at a graduation party, I proceeded to turn my phone over to my girls to let them do some damage. I tried not to listen in as they passed my phone around, discussing their options. I wanted it to be a surprise. After a 10 minute Uber ride, my phone was given back to me and I pushed the thought of love away as I danced with my friends for the rest of the night.
The next morning, when I excitedly opened my phone to see my new matches I was....surprised to say the least. My settings had been expanded, the age range was wider and the distance farther. The biggest surprise was this : I hadn’t expected my friends to swipe on anyone other than my usual type: athletic Black men. But, there were men of different races, heights, weights, from all over the country now in my messages.
It perplexed me. I hadn’t realized that by sticking to such a specific type, I had eliminated so many people from my pool. After taking the time to talk to a few of them, I saw that many of these new options were incredibly smart, kind, charming men I would have never came across in the first place. I felt guilty for finding such great pleasure in people I hadn’t even wanted to give a chance to, all based on their looks. I had swiped left on anyone who didn’t fit my ideal with a cruel swiftness, and now I was regretting it. It challenged me to reassess what I was looking for.
There’s no rule saying that a person can’t have a preference. But discovering where those preferences come from can point you to some problematic thinking you may not have realized you had. And that those preferences, that can often turn into downright rules, are damaging to those who are not included. That dives into deeper issues regarding desirability politics, colorism, fatphobia and a slew of other issues I would never want to align myself with. Just because dating apps makes exclusionary behavior easier because of the lack of face to face interaction, doesn’t make it any less wrong. The dating politics/politics I share on Twitter should also reflect the types of people that are in my Tinder messages. I believe in being open minded and giving opportunity to people of all orientations. These conversations are happening publicly because it’s clear that we don’t demonstrate them in our private lives. They are meant to call us out, and how could I say I agree without actually adopting these practices into my own life?This experiment called attention to problematic behavior that I was indulging in because I could do so on the privacy on my phone. But that doesn’t make it right, and it’s a habit I actively worked towards changing.
Since this experiment ended, I’ve become much more open with what I’m looking for on Tinder. I look for people that fit my preferences and people who don’t. Sometimes, I even read their bios. As long as they can make me laugh and talk to me about Solange, I’m open to giving them a chance. I say all of this to say, that if you swipe with more awareness, maybe you’ll actually find love.
P.S : If you happen to find me on Tinder, I make an awesome brunch date.