WSN’s Features Desk is running a new series we’re calling “I Tried…” Each piece will feature a member of our staff who’s added something new, weird or a little crazy to their lives. In this installment, contributing writer Camille Larkins dives headfirst into the world of Tinder trying to find her soulmate.
I am a hopeless romantic. I make eye contact with people on the street, hoping to find someone I may have loved in a past life. I don’t wear headphones on public transportation so I appear approachable and inviting. I wake up every day ready to fall in love. I have faith that someone is out there waiting to meet me too, but until the right person comes along, I have decided to take matters into my own hands. Last week, I tried to go on a Tinder date with a different person every night.
Let me begin by saying that I do not like meeting new people. It’s hard, often embarrassing and I avoid it at all costs. I’ve had a Tinder for an embarrassingly long time, but I have never actually gone on a date. I use it as both an ego boost and a game in which I can people-watch in my bed at one in the morning. The translation from the app to real life is the most difficult part of the process and the reason why Tinder matches very rarely meet or gain traction — they are perpetually stuck in the “hey/what’s up/nm u?/nothin really haha” conversation loop. I decided that during this week I would not engage in any conversation on the app besides my first question: “Do you want to hang out later?”
Surprisingly, I did not have to message first as much as I expected. I changed my bio in the beginning, saying that I was doing an article on Tinder and going on a date every night for a week. To my surprise, people responded really well to this. I immediately began to get tons of messages from people asking if I would meet them so they could be part of my project. In my experience, I’ve found that most people don’t want to be stuck on Tinder forever; they really do want to meet people and try to make meaningful connections, but may need a push in the right direction.
The quality of the dates varied greatly. Some that I thought would be terrible were good, and some were a lot worse than I had expected based on the person’s profile. I was stood up once early into the week, which probably shouldn’t have surprised me, but still did.
I had high expectations for Saturday, even though my date’s profile gave very little information and we had barely texted all day. Even so, I had faith that we would get along really well and I was excited. This outlook changed as I sat in Fontana’s basement bar for an hour after our designated meeting time, fearing that I looked overtly sadn a room full of groups. When Saturday finally arrived, we didn’t have much to talk about. Struggling to hold up my end of the conversation, I accidentally asked her where she was from twice; to make things worse, she is named after her hometown. I had planned to meet my date at my boss’s rock show which was taking place at the bar that night, convincing myself that it wouldn’t be the most awkward thing ever to see my coworkers with a Tinder date.
The situation may have been something we could laugh about if Saturday and I had real chemistry and more to talk about, but it just seems cringe-worthy to look back on now. She may have felt the same way, because we decided to leave early and parted ways quickly upon going outside. Saturday won’t warrant a second date, but at least I could cross someone off my list of potential soulmates.
My Tuesday date was definitely the cutest. We met at The Belfry on 14th Street after his acting classes ended, and I was immediately enamoured by his constant smile and curly hair. He was more than happy to talk about himself — as aspiring actors usually are — but it wasn’t annoying. We laughed and I genuinely had a great time. If you’re reading this, Tuesday, we should hang out this weekend.
Monday was the most tiring. I met the recent Gallatin grad at a nearly-empty lounge in SoHo, where hard rock blared but not loudly enough to make extended silences less awkward. I asked question after question, but he contributed less and less to the conversation as the night went on. While he was nice enough, he seemed uninterested and sat uncomfortably far away from me. Ultimately, it felt more like an interview than a first date, and I haven’t heard a peep from him since.
My first night, which was a Wednesday, was actually one unexpectedly one of the best of the week. I came home from work with terrible allergies, dreading the thought of a date later that night. I thought of a few excuses I could tell my Wednesday date and almost texted him to cancel, but somehow mustered the energy and courage to meet him at Bar Botanica on Houston St. I was late and didn’t have any cash, so the first thing I had to tell my date was that I had no money and I had already forgotten his name.
Wednesday, however, was a gentleman: he told me to sit down, brought me a drink and repeated his name, helping me to remember by explaining that it rhymes with “nipple.” It worked. Not once did I want to leave the date early and I only went to the bathroom to blow my runny nose, rather than to escape from social interaction. Wednesday, a Stern MBA student and recitation leader, was interesting and our conversation flowed naturally, which made me feel much more confident.
More than anything, the week was difficult. First dates are mentally exhausting, and by the middle of the week they seemed almost formulaic. However, it was productive: I met new people, got some free drinks and now have a few stories to tell. I would challenge single people to be open-minded and give Tinder a try — not just for swiping when you’re bored, but to actually meet someone you could connect with. You may be happily surprised, but by the same token, you never have to see the person again if it’s terrible. That being said, give the process time. Real life is not “When Harry Met Sally.” It takes more than an awkward three-hour introduction to hit it off with someone. Though the week had its low points, I’m proud of myself for meeting as many people as I did. I may not have found love yet, but I think I might have worked up the confidence for a second date or two — and that’s a step.
Email Camille Larkins at [email protected]