For so many of my single friends, Tinder has become a necessary evil. Yes, it’s full of complete assholes begging for nudes from the get-go, but you know, a girl will still hold out for the right person amid a slushpile of grunted boob requests.
Since I’ve been in a serious relationship with my boyfriend Doug for nearly two years now, Tinder has never been necessary to me. Still, I’ve always found it curious how the app has the tagline “It’s How People Meet,” so different from other dating apps, which put the focus on love and connection and building relationships. In contrast, Tinder seems so casual, and the way Tinder tries endlessly to market itself as wholesome and friendly makes it appear as though you could go on there to find friends just as much as you could to find hookups.
I called bullshit. I didn’t believe the Tinder dating pool would respect a girl who went on the site for any reason other than to meet people to date/hookup with. Of course, here’s the obligatory #notallmen – sure, there will be some guys on there who are respectful of a girl using the app however she wishes – but for the most part, I assumed most men on there would not be receptive to someone like me.
How would men on Tinder treat someone who told them upfront she had a boyfriend? How would they treat a girl who asked to be left alone? And would it be different than how women would treat a boy saying the exact same things? Doug and I decided to set up Tinder profiles to see.
We were not trying to trap people or be dishonest; really, I just wanted to see if girls are ever able to exist on a place like Tinder without being harassed. Not too much to ask from a site that’s created for meeting new people, right?
Since you have to “Like” people, or swipe right, to get any chance of interaction, Doug and I both swiped right on 100 people (no rejections, or left swipes) to start things off.
Before I had even finished my swipes, I’d already matched with a guy who immediately called me a cunt and then blocked me, another dude who so eloquently complimented me with “Nice research beeyotch,” and about five other men who just sent a “Hey,” meaning they really didn’t look at anything on my profile besides the pouty-lipped, blonde photo of me.
Poor Doug. Out of the 100 guys I swiped right on, I immediately matched with almost a quarter. Doug, on the other hand, had three matches. No messages.
Oh man, that first night we were on Tinder, I was over at Doug’s place and my phone was just going off. Guys were messaging me (“hey” more than anything) telling me I was beautiful, asking about my research, more. It made him feel a little bad, I think, seeing that if we ever broke up and had to use this app for real, I’d get way more immediate action than he could expect. I’m convinced this has way less to do with a disparity in our levels of attractiveness than the fact that, as I later found out, men have a tendency to swipe right three times more than women. It totally makes sense – more options, even if they’re not all 100% what you want, equal more hookup opportunities for guys, while for girls, fewer matches mean fewer creeps texting you at 2 a.m.
In order to get more results, and maybe a message for Doug, we kept our profiles going for a month, each day swiping right on another 20 people.
At the end of it all, I ended up with 298 matches. Doug had 112. It’s not a super significant number – and really, I had almost three times as many matches, which is totally what should have happened according to those Times statistics – but it gets bad when you look at the messages. Doug ended up with seven. I ended with 125. More than 40% of my matches messaged me despite my asking them not to, while only 6% of Doug’s matches reached out to him.
I don’t want to start our look through the messages on a totally negative note. Seriously, #notallmen (rolling my eyes, you can too) on Tinder were terrible to me. Some were really nice and supportive of me being on the site for unnamed research. Some even allowed me to exist on a social space without talking to them!
A lot were not completely the worst, I guess. Out of the 125 messages I received, about 40 asked me what my research was about. This meant two things: 1) One third of the men who messaged me had read all of my profile, including the part in which I said I would not respond to them, and 2) they felt that, since they had read my profile, they were better than average and I owed them a conversation about what I was doing. I’m a firm believer that probably 90% of the time, girls do not owe guys shit. This is a perfect example of the way girls get treated almost anywhere on the internet – no matter what we say, guys expect us to owe them conversation. Whatever. Nothing new from an internet comments section.
There were guys, though, that took my being on Tinder yet not available to them very personally.
I don’t know man. I feel like I didn’t do enough damage to you to cause you to say that.
And this guy? How would you know if I’m a nerd? Because I used the word “research”?
Some guys were just pure enjoyable. Like this guy that hated/wanted me so much, he just couldn’t let it go (if you look closely, you’ll see these messages were sent over several days). And then he decided that I was a slut for not answering him. I was a “silly” girl for doing research. These people exist on Tinder, ladies. Just a warning.
Oh, and of course, there are men that don’t read your profile and just want pictures of your tits. Just in case you hadn’t realised.
From the very first message, guys I am hoping did not read my profile invited me over to chill out, watch a movie and let them completely dominate me. Guys started the conversation asking if I was into ass play. Someone wondered if I was into spanking and hair-pulling. It was totally disturbing – about 12% of the men who messaged me started out aggressively sexual like this.
And what kind of messages did my boyfriend get? Four out of his seven messages were simply girls saying “hey” – meaning they also did not read his profile. He had one girl say she read his profile and was curious what my research was about – totally acknowledging I existed! And then, he got two messages from sex workers using the platform to find clients.
What did we learn? I suppose just that Tinder really isn’t a place to connect and make new friends. Nobody ever messaged Doug or me saying anything along the lines of “Hey, I read your profile, respect that you are in a relationship and would love to hand out and hear more with you in a friendship way!” Or even something not half that dorky. Friendship never was brought up with any of his or my matches.
Tinder also isn’t a place for committed people. I know, it should be obvious. But the way Tinder markets itself as a space for everyone to meet new people made us think that hey, maybe we both won’t get people offering to have sex with us since we said we weren’t interested. Not the case – I’d say nine times out of ten, the people offering/asking for sex did not even glance at anything further than our pictures. And that other 10% – guys that read my profile and were still sexual aggressive – were the absolute worst of all.
TL;DR: Tinder is for singles only. Ladies on Tinder, be prepared to “owe” guys conversation on yet another social space, no matter what.
- Kati Heng is a writer living in Chicago. She’s written for XoJane, The Fanzine, Weird Sister and The Newer York and started the anti-street-harassment blog “But What Was She Wearing?” Kati has been surviving off of pizza, glitter and glam rock since 1991. Follow her on Twitter @katiheng