Written by Casey Mitchell
Image by Allison Merchant
When my dad asked me how I met my boyfriend, I made up an elaborate ruse about how we were introduced via friends of friends. When my boyfriend’s mom asked him how we met, he made up a story about us meeting at a concert. However, the truth is even more romantic: we matched on Tinder about a year and a half ago.
Given that we’re from different cities and a few years apart in age, it’s not uncommon for people to wonder how we got together. I usually don’t lie about it, but questioning from adults usually leads to me improvising an unconvincingly vague anecdote to avoid their confusion and judgment. When I give the real story to people my age, I’m sometimes met with surprise but increasingly they’ll offer their own anecdote about knowing someone who met their significant other on Tinder.
To be honest, I didn’t have any expectations when I downloaded the app. It was a fun way to pass the time and I got some laughs out of swiping through profiles with my friends. Cruel, I know. My boyfriend, on the other hand, later admitted that for him the app was a contest among his friends to see who could get the most matches with hot girls.
But as I started to chat with some of these matches I found that very few people would directly ask to “hook up,” or even meet up at all for that matter. It seemed that everyone was just on the app, wandering aimlessly, looking to chat with a few cool people to break up the monotony of everyday work or school life. Not to mention that Tinder can act as a pretty huge ego-booster.
The progression from Tinder matches to real life relationship went as such for me: 1. Exchanging Tinder messages 2. Exchanging phone numbers and texting 3. Weekly Skype calls and finally, 4. Meeting in person. After about a month and a half, he took the train to my town for us to meet in person for the first time.
I honestly wasn’t too nervous to meet him face-to-face but I imagined seeing him would be like when you see a celebrity in real life for the first time. It doesn’t quite feel real, like they’re still just a face on a screen. But it wasn’t like that at all, it just felt natural, like we had hung out a week before. And so these weekly train visits continued for a couple months until we made it official, and the visits have continued for over a year now.
On my hunt to find others who met their significant other on Tinder, I was surprised as to how much my story mirrored others. Alyssa Ralston, a Temple student, who also met her boyfriend of a year and a half on Tinder, had a very similar experience:
“He started using the app because he and his friend just wanted to know how many matches they could get while I was just curious to see what might happen,” she said. “We ended up matching and hitting it off pretty well. I was in my senior year of high school and he was a freshman at Temple. So being, rebellious, I walked all the way to the train station without telling anyone where I was going to meet him. It was pretty scary but we had been talking for months at that point. It was the first really rebellious thing I had ever done in my life.”
Another girl I spoke to, who wishes to remain anonymous, probably had the most successful Tinder and dating experience I’ve ever heard.
“When we finally met, I’m not going to lie, it was love at first sight,” she said. “I really didn’t expect to find the love of my life on that app. We’re actually going to get married. It’s crazy. People talk about how Tinder is only for finding people to hook up with and stuff like that, but that’s not what I used it for. It was more of a distraction to get over my ex by looking at a bunch of cute guys, so I never thought I’d find someone as amazing as him on there.”
Despite talking with multiple people who had met their boyfriends or girlfriends on Tinder, they didn’t all have positive reviews of the app or my own luck of avoiding the creeps. Ryan McGrath met his boyfriend, Michael Miller, a Temple Student, on the app.
“We all know that Tinder has this weird stigma where people mainly use it to mess around or hook up with each other and aren’t actually looking for anything real or serious,” he said. “I can tell you, with one-hundred percent honesty, that this assumption is true. Most people on the app aren’t actually looking for a relationship or even anyone to be interested in. It’s honestly the truth. If you really want to meet people that you might find a relationship with, your best bet is to just go out into the world and meet them the old fashioned way.”
Alyssa Klauder, another Temple student, who used the app for a couple weeks, recalls being bombarded with borderline harassment pickup lines.
“There’s no in-between with these guys, it ranges from ‘Did it hurt when you fell?’ and ‘There’s something wrong with my phone, it doesn’t have your number in it,’ all the way to ‘f*** one, marry one, kill one. Me, Bin Laden and Hitler,’” Klauder said. “Half the time I was like ‘how do I even respond to this?’”
A lot of people will be quick to define the dating of our generation as “hook up culture,” in which going on dates and holding steady relationships is replaced by casual sex with as many people in as short a time as possible. With the way it’s set up, Tinder would be an efficient medium to accomplish this goal. Hearing these stories and analyzing my own experiences with dating made me think more closely about this assumption of our generation, which I had previously thought to be pretty accurate.
In fact, the statistics aren’t in our favor when it comes to sexual partners. In a study done at San Diego State University it was found that Millennials are projected to have about eight different partners in their lifetime, while baby boomers average in at 12.
Perhaps this label of “hook up culture” is only applied to us because of the rise of technology and social media. Just because our parents couldn’t find someone to hook up with on an app, doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening. Yes, gross, but probably true. Also, you have to weigh social norms into the equation. Today, it’s much more acceptable to talk about sex and sexual experiences than it was in the past. Not to mention how it’s ubiquitous in media and advertising.
So, are we failing at hookup culture? Have we earned a title we don’t deserve? Of course, it comes down to the individual. The beauty of it all is, you have the option to participate in it or not. And if you want to try it out all you have to do is download an app. You could be left cringing, feeling great about yourself or you might even join the ranks of the now one-third of U.S. marriages that started online. Choose your own adventure.