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Sex & Love Dear Tinder

Feb. 11, 2020
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Up until I moved in, I thought I’d find my one great love in college and be happy forever. I saw college as a time of sexual awakening, enlightenment, and finding myself—whatever the hell that means. One semester in, and I’m not so sure about that. While everyone (including my bizarre, bug-obsessed suitemate whose boyfriend sleeps over every damn night) seems to be finding significant others, I remain alone. 

So, I did what most people in my situation tend to do: downloaded Tinder. I never thought of myself as the type of girl who needs Tinder to meet people and get some self-gratification, but there I was, picking pictures for my profile and swiping on guys at night with my friends. To date, I’ve never actually messaged any of my matches. It’s just been a way to have a bit of fun and feel kind of like I’m wanted. Seems depressing, I know. Most of my friends see Tinder in a similar light—I’d never meet up with anyone I matched with on Tinder. It’s just for fun. I want to see if that guy in my bio discussion would swipe right on me too. My boyfriend won’t care! He knows it doesn’t mean anything.

Tinder and other dating apps seem to go against what people preach about not judging people solely based on looks. It’s all about a quick glance and swipe; when my friends and I swipe on each other’s accounts, we barely even make it through all of someone’s photos before swiping. Apps have further taken personality out of sex and helped make it easier to find someone just for the night. Tinder plays on our instinctual attraction and flattens people into the simple question of would I have sex with him or not? 

My friends and I sometimes sit at dinner and mindlessly swipe on Tinder as a way to pass time if we’re exhausted from studying and can’t think of conversation. We’ll occasionally pipe up and say, “Why can’t I have a meet-cute? I want a When Harry Met Sally-type romance.” Then, we’ll talk about Tinder versus Bumble for a second and ruminate on how Bumble yields better boys and more relationship prospects than Tinder, which is more of a quick-fix situation. Someone will mention how unlikely it seems to find an actual relationship, we’ll all concur, and then we’ll go back to eating our dinner. 

Where the hell does one find this elusive thing called a college relationship, then, if the very apps designed to take care of it are no help? I’m no expert. I haven’t had a locking-eyes-across-the-coffee-shop, exchanging-numbers, talking-endlessly experience (yet—fingers crossed). No one has slid into my DMs, or left me love notes. Am I that undesirable? 

I’ve come to terms with the fact that the kind of love you see in Meg Ryan movies died a while ago. Or maybe I’m just telling myself that to stop myself from shoveling two pints of peanut butter ice cream in my face and crying over You’ve Got Mail. But anyways, things like Tinder have taken the personal touch out of dating and made it harder and harder to just find someone you like and spark a human connection without some prerequisite like hooking up at a party or being set up by your friends. 

I go to the same college that my parents met at as undergrads around thirty-odd years ago. Everyone’s told me how I’m bound to meet my significant other in college, and how it’s “written in the stars.” Well, I’m going to go ahead and call total BS on that. And honestly, I’m pretty glad that I experienced my first semester in college without lovesickness, a messy breakup, or the ins and outs of managing a relationship. I made my own way through it, with a healthy teaspoon of boy drama and a bunch of good friends. And maybe you aren’t meant to meet your soulmate in college. People change, people grow, and people evolve beyond the people they are in the bubble of a college campus. I’m thankful that Tinder has failed because, as cheesy as it sounds, I’d like to say that I met someone for real and not just for some sort of transactional twin-XL bed sex. Nothing wrong with Tinder nights, but I don’t think they’re even close to a Band-Aid solution to loneliness in college. 

So, Tinder, thank you for your service. I’ve explored the guys you had to offer, considered meeting up with a few, and then decided I wanted something that you couldn’t give me. It’s not your fault, but your technological nature lacks the human connection I’m looking for—so I’m going to be trying other things as I move forward in college and beyond. Although I’ll probably keep you downloaded on my phone and swipe every so often, I’ve realized Tinder can’t fill the gap I wanted it to; that’s something I have to work on myself. I’m not alone in feeling alone.