Perhaps I should start out by saying I do not have an especially good track record with flirting. Maybe that doesn’t advertise my dating qualities very well to Tom in Milwaukee who may be reading this, but I must be honest. It is just not one of my strengths and falls into the same category as long division and basket weaving. Below is a list of things I find romantic and sexy, so, Tom from Milwaukee—this one’s for you. Feel free to use any of the following tactics to ensure sex and intimate emotion with the partner of your choice.
Things I Find Romantic That Are a Sure Catalyst for Sexy Times:
1. Going to a Civil War Reenactment together and then getting frozen yogurt afterwards. My interest in Ulysses S. Grant and the boys in blue may cause a rift between us, you Southern flower, but it will surely be countered by lots of heavy petting in this Yogurtland at the mall.
2. Watching Frasier together—except we’re naked.
3. Shouting “cowabunga!” as you cannonball into a public pool. We make eye contact as you touch down. I am perched poolside, and the splash zone is so huge that my copy of The Help gets sopping wet. Afterwards, we go to Barnes & Noble and you agree to buy me as many books as I want. One of them is Gone Girl. You become a bit worried, but I assure you, nothing is wrong—yet.
4. Going halvesies on a down payment for our restored haunted sanatorium-turned-quaint family home.
5. Singing “Come to My Window” by Melissa Etheridge with me at a karaoke venue.
As you may imagine, high school was fraught with unrequited crushes, impressively low self-esteem, and a lot of chip-eating. My mind was constantly barraged with thoughts like, “What’s wrong with me?”; “What am I doing wrong here?”’ and “Is it me?” Looking back, it wasn’t me that was the problem. Nothing was “the problem,” really—it was high school, and we were all in a sea of awkwardness and hormones and, since this was in New York City, a constant need to emulate the movie Kids. None of us knew what we were doing, and we were all trying to figure everything out while also worrying about college applications and SAT test scores.
I was pretty shy until my senior year, which was when I finally realized that nothing mattered. Being me was a good thing, and I wish I had realized that earlier in my adolescence. I even hysterically laughed to the point of tears while giving a presentation about Frida Kahlo because IDGAF, which is a story for another time. I figured I’d eventually have a boyfriend, and that someone would eventually like me, and like me enough to want to be in a real deal relationship with me.
Fast forward to college. I was originally encouraged to get a Tinder account after I had sighed enough and said, “Woe is me, darling,” while wearing sunglasses and fanning myself with an ornate, imaginary fan. For a long time, I self-righteously bashed Tinder, saying things like, “Swiping on a whole person is just wrong! That’s their personality!” and, “What if I get murdered?”
And then a thought occurred to me: Was I ready to defy everything that I stood for and go against my morals by feeding into our shallow, appearance-based culture just so I could kiss a guy, receive affirmation and validation, and perhaps relieve some physical stress along the way?
In a pinch, yes.
Once I finally got the hang of the app, I started swiping like there was no tomorrow—Noah, a boy with brown hair from a nearby, highly-regarded university? Swipe right. Oliver, another boy with brown hair from a nearby, highly-regarded university who also had a funny joke in his bio? Swipe right. Owen, a guy whose profile was just pictures of cars? Swipe left. (Side note: Why do so many men on Tinder feel the need to post pictures of themselves on what seems to be an exciting family fishing trip? While it is nice to know that you spend time with your family and care deeply for your mother, why do I need to see you hold a dead salmon betwixt your hands, smiling gaily at the camera as if to say, “I’ve never felt the warm embrace of true love but I have been to a Spencer’s Gifts and that is nearly the same thing”?)
I never expected anything to happen with any of these Tinder “matches”—and nothing ever did, really. I had a few conversations that followed a near perfect formula, which are exemplified below:
Man: [pick-up line of varying degree of cheesiness]
Me: [sarcastic response that probably could have been nicer]
Me: [more hard-hitting wit]
Man: [more lol]
Instead, I preferred the window shopping aspect of it, and the fact that I “matched” with all these guys who found me cute, at least on a surface level, and lived blessedly far away. It felt safe—I would never have to see them face-to-face if I didn’t want to. I would never have to confront the possibility of feelings and every other emotion that would come with that revelation.
This was when I knew that it was time to deactivate the app.
Everybody’s different. For some, apps like Tinder are really useful for whatever they want it to be—whether it be for hooking up purposes, finding a significant other, or just talking to people. I completely understand that. We are all discombobulated meat puppets that yearn for connection and intimacy, and we go to great and sometimes convoluted lengths to get it.
However, I do not think that finding someone via the internet or a phone app is in the cards for me right now. It doesn’t feel right at this moment in time, and I’ve come to realize that that’s OK.
In the interim, what are some ways that I could meet someone in real life? Perhaps at a Civil War reenactment, a public pool, a karaoke bar, or even while hunting for haunted and abandoned hospitals to gut and remodel. Who truly knows.