The Vagenda

How Men on Tinder React When Your Profile Says You’re Not There to Hook Up

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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I don’t know man. I feel like I didn’t do enough damage to you to cause you to say that.

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And this guy? How would you know if I’m a nerd? Because I used the word “research”?

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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.

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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.

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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


15 thoughts on “How Men on Tinder React When Your Profile Says You’re Not There to Hook Up

  1. Okay, so. I appreciate the social commentary – women are absolutely expected to owe sex to random strangers on Tinder, which is something I encounter a huge amount as a woman in an open relationship, so YES YES YES thank you for that point! However. As far as a social experiment goes… this one’s actually pretty badly designed.
    The point of Tinder is for people to interact with other people – largely to set up sex, yeah, but interaction is literally its only function. To create a profile where both of you said, “I have no interest in interaction” and then only tested the reaction of people who ignored you is just bad science. You didn’t actually prove that people don’t use Tinder to make friends. If you’d created profiles that said, “Hi! I’m not interested in sex, so don’t message me about romance/sex, but am interested in making friends!” those results would actually have, well, resulted in something. What you DID show with this experiment – that people are likely to ignore profiles or the wishes of women, that women are more likely to be approached then men – is socially relevant, don’t get me wrong. But its not what you set out to prove. You forced a self-selection here – people who read your profile and respected your wishes straight up wouldn’t have swiped right, since you had no interest in interacting in anyway. Thus you pretty much set yourself up to ONLY get assholes. Which isn’t a good way to prove that Tinder is full of assholes.
    Annecdotally, I’d say you’re incorrect about the people on Tinder never wanting friends. Many of the women I match with (as a bi girl) are more interested in casual chatting rather than meeting up for a lesbo sex fest. Some of the men are, too – I recently did go on a friend-date set up via Tinder. Granted, my profile is not the best to use as its fairly explicit, saying “I’m interested in casual hook-ups,” but it does happen.
    HOWEVER now that I’ve said all that – the point you make that women are expected to owe sex to men, who get upset or insult the woman they’re speaking to when she does not immediately grant them access to their body, is SO DAMN IMPORTANT. THANK YOU SO MUCH for that. Honestly I’m not sure why that wasn’t the whole point of the article, instead of this pseudo-science “Tinder is lyinggggg” angle you had going.

    • That’s a totally good point — there’s no way to quantify how many “good” people I met since they probably didn’t match me on purpose / unmatched me right away, and I didn’t have time or a way to keep track of the unmatches w/o a message… Anyway, what I was really going for was seeing how much more asshole exposure I got compared to my boyfriend. Undoubtedly, I got more asshole than nice guy exposure, but also, I got way more asshole behavior than my boyfriend did.

      • Right, which is really important. I was really happy / grateful to read about that; I often encounter assholes who feel entitled to my body because I’m out there on a hook-up app, which is SO fucked up and SO needs to be talked about. So that was an excellent point you made. The scientist in me just went, “Aaahhhhh bad experimental design!” and had to get that out. Thanks for responding!

  2. The ‘beat it nerd!!’ one made me laugh, tbh (I read it as tongue-in-cheek, though). You’re minding your own business on a meetup site, and you’re contacted by someone. For a second, you think it’s a potential meetup. Then you read a bizarre profile that says the author isn’t there to meet people and won’t talk to you; they’re not using the site for its intended purpose, but for mysterious ‘research’. Can’t really blame anyone for taking the piss. (Agree with a lot of the article, I just think there are places where it reaches a bit. Doesn’t need to.)

  3. This exemplifies most of why I won’t touch Tinder with a bargepole. Harassment, ‘you owe me something because my precence’ and the terrible spelling

  4. I must agree with Irene and say I really don’t get what yu expected to find.

    Important is the difference between how men and women reacted but yes why not put “I am interested in friendship” not “I am not interested in anything”? It’s like if you go into a room full of people and say “nobody talk to me” very loudly then leave wondering why nobody talked to you apart from people who were either curious as to why you wanted nobody to talk to you, who may or not be well-meaning, or the people who found you maybe obnoxious/ attention seeking for going in and shouting that rather than just staying home and not throwing yourself into a room of people, and hence wanted to confront you in a similarly obnoxious way.

  5. Newsflash: men on hook up site don’t want to talk to girl with boyfriend…I’ll just never understand that crazy male brain.

  6. I agree with the previous commenters – I’m not really sure what you expected to find. The whole point of Tinder is to match and message. Going on it and saying ‘don’t contact me’ almost guarantees that the only messages you receive will be from creepers.

    I don’t think we’ve learned anything from this experiment other than that there are intentionally offensive people on Tinder. But that’s not a problem specific to Tinder, unfortunately! The problem is that there are people out there who feel they have some form of sexual ownership over women, e.g. if you’re on Tinder, they have the immediate right to demand nudes, or if you’re on the street wearing a skirt, they think they have the right to catcall you.

    It would have been far more interesting if you’d set up your profile saying that you were in a committed relationship and were only on Tinder to chat as friends. That would have given the friendly, non-sexually aggressive people a chance to make their presence known. You could still do this, and then compare the numbers on how many people contact you then. It would give a clearer idea of how many people had read your initial profile and respected your request. You could even go a third round and state in your profile that you’re looking for sex, and see what happens then. I imagine the number of sexually explicit messages would go up, but would the number of aggressive message increase as well? Or would they stay the same – showing that the aggressive message writers will contact you no matter what your profile says?

    As a final note, I don’t use Tinder (though I previously had a profile set up out of curiosity), but I do have a friend who used it and was quite open about not wanting to meet up with anyone. She got some of these abusive messages, but also had a lot of fun chatting to people. So it is possible.

  7. As other people have said, I’d be interested in a follow-up to this where you put in your profile that you were in a relationship but were still interested in meeting people platonically. I’ve not used Tinder so I may be misinterpreting, but does swiping people not involve you interacting with them? So you saying you won’t respond becomes even more baffling to them?

    • That’s exactly right – to be able to interact at all the writer of this article has had to swipe right on all of these profiles, thus indicating that she is looking for a match. The experiment is badly designed but I see what the aim was and would be interested to read follow ups where the aims and set up are clearer.

  8. Interesting, but not my experience of this particular dating app at all. I see Tinder as a virtual pub – yes, you’re going to meet plenty of arseholes, but there’s plenty of gems too. If you stood in a bar with a placard saying ‘do not talk to me’ chances are you’d also only be aproached by ignorant types disregarding your wishes – you wouldn’t blame the pub though, right? As for men not reading your profile, presumably all the ones who swiped left did. I’ve met plenty of lovely guys on Tinder anyway – so anyone who isn’t in a committed relationship and just on there to bait wankers shouldn’t despair!

  9. There are creeps and weirdos all over the internet, from FB, Twitter, Gram, comments sections, why would Tinder be any different? I think for a site that was created solely for casual sex, its pretty great that people have found love. This article is pointless.

  10. Agreeing with the above comments – this is very poorly designed. I’ve used tinder for a year whilst in a committed, occasionally open relationship and have had many pleasant conversations with various people (as well as the occasional rude comment). Never met up with anyone but I definitely wouldn’t discount the possibility, even if I weren’t interested in sex or a relationship. It’s a dating app – You’re not supposed to proclaim yourself uninterested in interacting right off the bat.

  11. Okay. I think the estrogen in the room has commented enough of the same point. You gals are beating a dead horse and I’m not sure you even know what killed it in the first place. Yes you’re all right about one thing. This is poorly done. We’ve established that. Don’t say “Don’t respond to me” and not expect a slew of jerks and plenty of people that aren’t going to listen to you. If you’re wearing a toque, expect to cook something. If you’re standing at the bus stop, expect one to pick you up. If you act like a bitch or a dress like a hooker, expect to be treated like one. This brings me to my next point. How many of you consider yourself to be feminists in at least some way? Most if not all, right? But feminism is about equality and empowerment of ones self. To be able to say that you as a woman are clearly able to take care of yourself without the help of a man or a woman. It is not about entitlement. It does not mean “I don’t need the help of a man because I don’t owe men anything.” No one said you did! You ask why men seem to think you owe them conversation. You say you don’t. Well that’s not entirely true yet not entirely false either. It is a dating site, right? Or at least it’s been set up to be one basically. If you have a match, then I think a little conversation should be somewhat owed. How much you say and what you say is entirely up to you. You think it’s such bullshit for guys to catcall you as you walk down the street wearing heels and a skirt. You’re right. Men can be jerks and on behalf of my gender, ladies, I do truly and thoroughly apologize for our impulsive and dick headed ways. But the truth is, the guy DOES in fact have the right to catcall you and the idiot does it because you gave him that power. Believe it or not, it works for some guys. Don’t ask me how. Luckily I was raised to be a little more respectful. But some women dress in a skirt because it’s comfortable and they like it. Some because they know it attracts guys and they’re going out to meet boys at the bar. Others do it because they WANT that catcall. Like I said, you gave us the power, so we have the right to yell out whatever asshole thing we want. Now in the same vain though, you have the right to look back at that guy and tell him to fuck off. You also have the right to not say anything at all. You have the right to react or not react. How you do it is up to. What do you think is the best way to handle the situation? We as men are always trying to get a reaction from you whether it be good or bad. Just getting you to notice us is key. But I don’t know any guy that believes you OWE us anything. “#notallmen (rolling my eyes) were terrible to me.” Rolling your eyes at the good guys? Really? I’m sorry, but I did not find that to be cute or funny or even remotely amusing. Nearly the whole article just seemed to be a slander on the male gender. As far as I’m concerned, all women are bitches and all men are assholes. It’s just a matter of what level of bitch/asshole you are and it appears that you’ve completely downplayed how some guys out there are really trying to NOT be an asshole. I promise you, girls. He still is. But probably not as much as others and he’s probably trying real hard not to be one so much. You also don’t really mention much about that bitchy side of women. As a Tinder user, I’ve noticed that a very wide range of women say on their profile to swipe left if you’re not at least six feet tall. I’m 5’8″. I’m also a firefighter. I’m also a fairly respected musician within my community. I make a decent living doing so. I’ve been raised to be respectful, kind to others, take care of myself, and be a loyal and trusting friend. I have a lot of friends and last I checked, I’m a pretty likable guy. But never mind that. I’m disregarded by so many because I’m not tall enough. Don’t bother talking to me because I didn’t meet your fucking height requirement. I’m judged positively and negatively by so many because of my appearance. Sound familiar? Point is, women act just as harshly as men do. You probably don’t notice it or even agree because you go about it in a completely different way but it hurts all the same. It’s just as hard for a guy to meet a decent person as it is a woman. But it’s mostly because we’re still just trying to get your attention. You mention that guys swipe right far more often then women. The point made after that was even valid. But why does it have to be that way? I say swipe right a little more often, ladies. Give a guy a chance. If he bugs you at 2 A.M. then let him know it. “I’m trying to sleep. Text me tomorrow.” See? How easy was that? And if a guy is saying something rude and inappropriate? Don’t ignore him. You’re not helping the problem. You’re just allowing it to continue. If he doesn’t keep bothering you, he’ll just pick on someone else. Stop him. We as people spend too much time ignoring the problem we have with others socially or getting angry and responding negatively instead of using our words to fix the problem. I mean, isn’t that from preschool? How did we forget that little life lesson? No wonder we’re all so fucked up. “Hey bitch, you wanna come over and bang?” I don’t know. I’m just assuming what kind of things one of these idiots would say. Either way, your response SHOULD be something more along the lines of, “I’m sorry, but I don’t appreciate being spoken to like that. I’m flattered that you find me physically attractive and the feeling is mutual, and if you’d like to have a conversation and see where things go than great! But that is not the way to get me to come over and I would appreciate an apology first before going any further with you. I’m not looking for a jerk. I’m looking for a gentleman. Please be one and your chances of seeing me might increase” Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the idiot won’t respond in kind. Then again, maybe he will. Either way, you won’t find out unless you try. Dating, friendships, life in general. It’s all a game. But you can’t win if you don’t play. So yes, this wasn’t done well. It seems as though you were looking to see how much of an asshole people could be on Tinder and it looks like you got exactly what you asked for. But you didn’t teach us anything. I agree that a follow up (with a few adjustments) would be beneficial to everyone and I would love to see it. But if you do do another research experiment using social media, please look at both sides of the coin and comment equally. You’re supposed to be OBjective not SUBjective. Like I said before, we’re all bitches and assholes. It’s a matter of what level you are. So ask yourself these questions. What level am I? What level do I wanna be? How does me being rude or neglectful to others benefit me or anyone else? My name is Vinnie Sicks. I should be fairly easy to find on Facebook if anyone would care to converse about this subject further in a private message. Or maybe you’d just like to make a new friend. A date perhaps? Just be careful if you message me. I might not respond…

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