Midnight strikes and you find yourself in bed swiping left and right, biting your lip wondering if you should message that match or wait for him to make the first move. Sound familiar? This happened to me when I followed the new trend in college and made a Tinder account during my freshman year. Some people love the no-strings-attached lifestyle that Tinder provides, while others find real relationships from the app. However, my personal experience as a Tinder user involved nothing but mind games. It led to a lot of meet-ups that mostly taught me about life. Ultimately, after realizing that I swiped right way too many times to the wrong guys, I had to summon the strength to swipe left once and for all to my account with Tinder.
When my month-long winter break began during my freshman year, I found myself unbelievably bored in my childhood Wisconsin bedroom. I couldn’t believe how much free time I had; what could I possibly entertain myself with for a whole month? I soon found my sleep schedule shifting from 4 a.m. to noon, and I had nothing else to do but fiddle with my phone until the late night hours. Out of pure boredom, I decided to make a Tinder account. I found myself swiping left for most local guys, knowing I’d be heading back to Chicago soon for school. That’s when I realized I could expand my search to a 100-mile radius to include both areas.
From there, I became hooked.
I didn’t know exactly what I wanted from Tinder, but it seemed to have it all. I knew I could get a good hookup from it, and I’d heard of people actually finding legitimate relationships with the app and falling in love. Within a few weeks I found myself in a hotel room with a college junior from the area. The whole thing felt so surreal, nothing like my high school relationship. The decision ranked #1 on my list of dumb decisions for so many reasons: he could have lied about his identity, and I knew deep down that a meaningless hookup wasn’t really what I wanted. Although he kept saying that he was genuinely interested in me, I never heard from him again after that day (despite my many attempts to reach out, even just to start a friendship).
During our mini-rendezvous, I found out that his girlfriend had recently dumped him. Same thing happened on my first Tinder experience back at school in January – his relationship had just ended. I soon realized that, if I kept playing this desperation game, I’d always be second-best to whomever these guys couldn’t get over. In short, I ended up near tears every time I visited the app, and I deleted my Tinder account by February.
The fact that I had so much trouble getting rid of the app concerned me. Shouldn’t I be relieved to be rid of Tinder after all the negative experiences I’d had with it? Why couldn’t I let go of all these unreliable guys? I couldn’t understand why I relied so much on this app that, not only failed to make me happy, but also made me feel sad and rejected.
Eventually, the app called to me again like a fallen lover, and I couldn’t help but re-download it and experience its downward spiral once again. I started getting discouraged when it seemed like no one would ever match with me, and even when they did, hardly anyone replied to my messages. I spent another month of lonely nights waiting for strangers to affirm my self-worth, and after realizing I needed a change, I ultimately got rid of the app for good in March.
I don’t have a problem with dating apps in general; in fact, I’ve met a lot of great guys on other apps since I made my left-swipe decision. But I would recommend that anyone planning to take the online dating plunge should research the culture surrounding different apps and websites before getting sucked into the excitement of it all. Some sites specialize in long-term dating, some have options for every kind of meet-up and some, like Tinder, …well, we all know why Tinder exists at the end of the day. There’s nothing wrong with using these apps, so if you’re up for an adventure, go ahead. Swipe right, write that flirty message and enjoy.