Love Me Tinder

It. Has. Been. Too. Long.

I'm such a slacker! I've neglected my blog, which is silly since writing it is one of my favorite pastimes. It envigorates me, it pleases me, it should be a bigger priority! It just seems as of late that I a) have no free time, and b) the free time that I have managed to muster up has been sucked up by the book challenge I've embarked upon for 2014. I've pledged to read fifty books this year- and to whom did I make this pledge, you ask? I don't know- to the book gods. To Jesus. To my imaginary friend. Who cares? I love big books and I cannot lie. Twenty down, thirty to go.

Tonight though- I am finally going to finish a piece that I started over a month ago. It explores a topic that has come up in conversaton increasingly since I turned 29, that magical age where according to some, I should have begun to hear the ticking of an internal clock that for me personally appears to be broken. It's that thing you see all those commercials for, the thing that people like to hint at you needing to try, that thing I'm personally still very on the fence about...

Online dating.

First of all- I have to say that this stuff is getting specific as all hell. We've all heard of and Eharmony, perhaps you've heard of Christian Mingle or Our Time. That type of specificity seems to sit just fine with me; if you're a good Christian man or woman, I can understand your desire to weed out the druggies, hoochies and other unholy riff raff, just like I totally get that our single senior citizens don't want to consort with the young and the restless twerkers of America whose every other word may or may not be "I can't even."  However thanks to the occasional bouts of insomnia which lead to late-night TV perusal on my part, I have come across some hilarious and in some case ridiculous dating sites of which I question either the legitimacy or ridiculous ad campaign. To name few:
  • Gluten Free Singles- I ask you, do you really need to bond with your mate over your wheat aversion? I have recenlty begun avoiding it myself to alleviate an annoying skin condition, but my scalp issues don't need to rob you of your pasta fix, or rob me of a perfectly fine man just because he likes English muffins or garlic bread.
  • Farmers Only- This commercial features a talking cow, terrible graphics, and a really country voice-over.... yeah.
  • Purrsonals- for people who love, you guessed it, cats. I guess all the cat ladies got together and decided that wanted to stop being the poster children for perpetual singledom?
  • Clown Dating- STOP IT.
  • 7 Or Better- I hope I don't have to explain this one. They require that you send in three pieces of photographic evidence. OMG, knock it off.
 Then there are the dating apps, and I'm using the term "dating" loosely here as several of these apps are quite clearly "down to the the deed if your profile pic is hot" driven more than they aim to help you find that special someone. One that's been recently brought to my attention is Tinder, which to be honest struck me initially as the mobile dating app equivalent of "Hot or Not." You upload your pic to a profile then narrow down a few things: what sex you're interested in, what geographic radius you'd like to search in, and what age range you'd like to include in your search. You can upload a few more photos if you like (the average I saw was five) and include a few sentences about yourself. You set your parmeters , then presto: you are presented with a list of potentials stacked like a deck of cards.

The app will tell you if the person whose profile you're looking at a) shares any Facebook friends with you, and b) shares any of your interests, data also pulled from Facebook (i.e. the pages you like).  If you like what you see, you swipe right on the screen; if you don't, you swipe left to pass. If you swiped right and that individual swiped right for you as well, boom! It's a match. What I do like about the app is that you don't find out whether the person passed on you, per se. If you "choose" the person, they will only show up as one of your matches if they "chose" you in return. In other words, you don't have to face any real rejection; if you choose a person and they want nothing to do with you, there is no nasty pop-up reading "You're kidding, right? Dream on." That individual simply won't show up in your list of matches. As one of my best friends Carlos described it, "it's efficient. Yes/no, chat if mutual. Now if my chat game isn't nonsense, let's get coffee."

I gave this thing a try at the behest of my friend Celina who had some formidable success with it. I explained my initial aversion to this type of stuff to her, at which point she suggested I give it a shot if nothing else as a social experiment. She pointed out the entertainment factor, i.e. the ridiculous things people have to say about themselves in their profiles and/or even more ridiculous selfies people post to entice that right swipe. She also introduced me to something we call the Live Tinder, wherein you narrow the search radius to less than a mile and can literally find people (very) near you in real time. No lie- the "live tinder" is a lil' mucho for me. But I did sign up to be a good sport, and because I am often criticized for not being open to trying new things when it comes to dating. So- I came, I saw, I Tindered. Turns out I suck at Tinder.

It would appear from my Tinder findings that 90% of the bachelors in San Diego have washboard abs, tattoos and spend all of their time snowboarding, surfing and running marathons. Honestly, I find that intimidating. I get it, I do live in America's Finest City and that fact alone is going to heavily shape the types of people I'm going to encounter. I'm not averse to fitness, in fact I love to work up a good sweat- I like hiking, yoga, dance, bootcamp, kicckboxing, etc. I am not however going to be on Sports Illustrated any time soon and am flat out put off by all the men with perfect physiques, megawatt smiles, all kinds of beautiful-hued eyes. You'd think I'd have swiped right repeatedly at the sight of these beautiful specimens, especially since that whole rejection factor is rather elimianted and because I'd be a fool not to feel some attraction....

Not so. I feel nothing for these beautiful people.

I'm trying to work out for myself whether that's normal or not. I'm reminded of something Carlos has told me on more than one occasion, which is that men fall in love with what they see while women fall in love with what they hear. He was referring to attraction more than actual love of course, and I'm beginning to see how right he was, at least from where I'm sitting. If I really sit down and think about it it, it's like there's a spell cast on me wherein I'm blinded/immune to physical attraction until my brain has fallen for a man's brain first (leave it to me to use spells in my analysis). The spell is lifted (or shall we say the blinders are removed) if and only if I've determined a man to be intelligent, kind, funny and, you know, not a douchebag. When that checklist is fulfilled, I suddenly notice that gorgeous set of green eyes that have been staring at me all along, or the beautiful skin tone, or the full lips, etc. Prior to me determing those things about you, you're kind of just a talking lump of clay and I'm a girl which a paper bag over her head.

So: if you are me, an ardent sapiosexual who has a "Talk Nerdy To Me" print hanging on her wall at work and who wants to know what books you've read and liked in the last five years before our conversation can go any further and I can become privy to your attractiveness, will an app like Tinder ever really work? Is it just a black-and-white fact that dating sites/apps don't work for people like me, or do "people like me" need to just be more open-minded, less uptight, more self-confident, etc and thus make dating sites/apps work for them?  This whole time I've justified my aversion to online dating with the assertion that I don't feel a sense or urgency to date or get married. And this holds true for me even now- I'm very much someone who prefers for things to happen to me organically, who subscribes to a kind-of laissez-faire relationsip economics theory wherein I assume that the things that need to happen for me will happen in their own time without too much active intervention on my part.

This predisposition on my part made it very awkward when I read my cousin Alexis in to my experimentaton with the app and showed it to her. I was explaining how it worked when she saw a guy in my feed who she thought might be good for me and swiped right- so of course, he was one of my matches. A whole little fanfare went off on my phone screen, like I'd just advanced to the next level on a video game and I was being congratulated for accomplishing this feat. I engaged in a little back and forth chat but didn't feel the need to take it any further (Sorry Mauricio). The whole thing felt contrived, and I couldn't shake that feeling hard as I tried to do so.

The question then becomes: am I TOO old-fashioned in my approach to romance or just old-fashioned enough? I want to be able to tell my kids that their father and I met when we bumped into each other at a bookstore or at a mutual friend's party, or hell, at a stoplight. For better or worse, I'm not all that enthused about having to tell them we met because my pic was cute and he swiped to the right, or even that my list of traits matched Daddy's set of traits according to an alogorithm on a site measuring 29 dimensiosn of compatibility. Is that old-school but admirable, or am I being a luddite, immovable ostrich with my head resolutely shoved in the sand?

The truth is that I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here because love, attraction and their other related states represent differet things for different people. Try as we may to boil them down to a science, I have the sneeking suspicion that they will continue to rail against out efforts to figure them out completely. We all have different triggers, different soft spots, different predilectons and predispositions; what makes me swoon may make you want to punch a bunny, and what makes you want to vomit may just make my heart flutter. Online dating will work for some and not for others- I'm not sure what category I land in yet. What I do know is that this entire line of inquiry exists because matters of the heart aren't logical.

I think that's my favorite thing about them.

Ever hopeful,