Everything I know about Tinder I learned from my gay friends who mastered the art of Grindr years before we straight people started using apps to date in the ADHD era. Grindr, after all, is the original Tinder, and Tinder is really just Grindr for straights. Tinder haters like to accuse the app of simply being a virtual meat market. But one person’s accusatory words are clearly another person’s praises, amirite friends?
Sure, Tinder can – like any actual bar at 2am – be a place people go with the intent of getting their freak on with sexy strangers. The laundromat can be like that too, so don’t let anyone discourage you from believing that Tinder – like the grocery store, the Starbucks line, or Medieval Times on half-priced night – can be anything you want it to be. Look, if a GPS can make getting to where you need to be easier, imagine what the internet era can do for your love life.
The fairly new dating app might not have OKCupid or Match.com’s long history of happy marriage testimonials, but it will one day soon because Tinder is about gut feeling. After all, my roommate and his awesome boyfriend met on Grindr a year ago and I know a handful of straights who are now exclusive with their one-time Tinder first date. If that’s not a sign true love can come from a right swipe I don’t know what it is… especially since it’s easier than ever to avoid commitment by going back to the drawing board.
But getting what you want out of Tinder is an art in and of itself. And since I don’t like to talk love without doing extensive first-hand research myself, I went on back-to-back Tinder dates this week to test out my skills and decide once and for all what the major Tinder First Date Don’ts are. Here are my new and improved Tinder First Date Don’ts for summer 2014, y’all…
Tinder First Date Don’t #1: Don’t Keep Your Phone On The Table
I got called out for this on my second Tinder first date this week, and rightly so. Sure, I’m the girl in the situation, but my Tinder date still had no problem telling me that I was breaking one of his top Tinder etiquette rules by leaving my phone out in the open like I might have better things to do or other people to talk to who weren’t physically there. I tried to pull the whole but-I’m-female-and-you’re-a-stranger card, but it was noon and we were in a bustling cafe on King Street – plus I’ve put myself in riskier situations via Kijiji and Craigslist just buying furniture. He was right, I was wrong. So I admitted it and put my phone away. It only went downhill much later than that.
Tinder First Date Don’t #2: Don’t Over-Share Or Under-Share Regarding Your True Identity
Maybe you’re like me and you have a past that you’d like to clear with potential suitors before even the first date is over. I like people to know that I’m over two years sober, have been to rehab, and don’t drink but am comfortable around moderate drinkers. That’s a heavy back-story to unload but one I’d rather put on the table right away… once the table is an actual coffee shop one where my cuteness and charm will make the Cole’s Notes of my past seem less scary than if I simply wrote it in a text bubble, see?
Sure, I scared one of my Tinder dates this week by just mentioning rehab, but j’accepte. My back-story isn’t for everyone, and I’d rather avoid date No. 2 if it’s going to be an issue. Another Tinder date this week said, however, my back-story made me more interesting as a person and showed real strength of character. Score 1 #TeamHonesty! I didn’t get into the nitty-gritty details of my downfall and recovery, but I believe in scaring off the ones who’d be upset by major things about me.
Divorced with kids? Have a vasectomy you don’t plan on reversing? Travel most of the year for work? Have three wives already? Why wait til date three to surprise someone with the truth? Date three should be reserved for nothin’ but good times with a person who likes all those true things about you and wants to know more.
Tinder Don’t No. 3: Don’t Hold Back On Bad Jokes
Tinder gets a lot of smack talk from people who think it’s superficial simply because it’s a first impression app based purely on two-dimensional physical attraction… not to mention geographical proximity. You’re hot and 3km away? Sign me up! Truth be told, I’ve only gone on Tinder dates with people who’ve impressed me with their wit, charm, and conversational charisma in chat messages prior to setting a first date.
That said, it’s intimidating to meet up in person for the first time because suddenly those witty one-liners – both yours and your date’s – suddenly have a voice and a pie-hole attached to them. It’s easy to want to hold back on your humour now that things just got real and you feel less confident unleashing your best comedic comebacks – but that’s exactly when you should let it all out. Sure, Tinder doesn’t have other dating sites’ extensive “profile” or “about me” sections, but that’s exactly why people like me love Tinder… and I write for living.
I don’t want to meet someone with a bio so carefully crafted and edited that I’m expecting Al Gore meets Leonardo DiCaprio, and then I get stuck with Macaulay Culkin circa now. Rarely do people live up to the stories they compose about themselves, but they often live up to their chat bubble skills. You didn’t just score your date because of your six photos; you clearly impressed with your ability to follow my Tinder Conversation Starters. You’re welcome.
Tinder Don’t #4: Don’t Make A Date Without A Pre-Planned Time Cap
I’m not going to tell you not to go to someone’s apartment right off the bat or any of that annoying after-school special variety nonsense. If you grew up in the 80s and 90s and you’re still around today after speeding down roads whilst sitting in the back of a pickup truck (so 80s, right?) and taking treks into the wilderness in the pre-cell phone era to find a pet cemetery (so 90s!), that’s because you’ve got luck and/or smarts on your side.
Meet wherever you feel comfortable meeting, but just make sure you’ve got a way to get out of your date after 45 minutes because no one needs to waste time with someone you never plan on seeing again. I like to meet Tinder dates for walks and coffees in parks and even establish fun 45 minute caps for our dates together before we even meet. Consider messaging your date something like, “Let’s meet for 45 minutes exactly, part ways like we’ve got to get out of the Tinder boardroom, and we can text each other about whether we should meet up again at home later.” It might sound immature, but it’s actually refreshing and puts your date at ease because he or she is probably worried about the same things as you. Immature is spending $150 on a dinner you didn’t want to have. It also potentially saves one of two Tinder daters the embarrassment of rejection in person, and 21st century Facebook era hearts don’t deal well with face-to-face emotional distress, right? Chances are, if you both like each other, you’ll feel it and you’ll both call off the cap and laugh about your plans to ditch each other now that you clearly have chemistry.
Now where’s that hourly motel? Kidding!
Tinder Don’t #5: Don’t Do Back-To-Back Tinder Dates
Sure, it’s easy to line ’em up when Tinder suddenly awakens you to the idea that not only are there plenty of fish in the sea, it turns out the city isn’t a sea after all but a cement playground full of sexy singletons lookin’ for love and/or good times just as much as you are. And when “fishing” for love interests is as easy as swiping right, it turns out even the shiest of us modern folk suddenly have mad game in the pickup department. Thanks, 21st century, for solving the confidence conundrum that fueled plotlines of 80s teen movies when “does he/she love me or love me not?” was an issue we couldn’t use technology to obliterate.
That said, just because it’s suddenly easy for even the most insecure of us to land date after date, that doesn’t mean you want to start interviewing potential partners or even casual lovers like you’re an HR department with positions to fill. Keep it classy. Trust me, there’s no real thrill in the risk of running into an earlier date while you’re at your two o’clock Tinder appointment with date No. 3 of the day. The beauty of Tinder is that it makes all of us who’ve grown used to staying in touch with even our family over Facebook suddenly start meeting up with new people in the real world and in-person once again. It’s… I don’t know… human? So act like a decent individual (note to self), and treat others like they’re worthy of your time… even if you’re desperately waiting for the 45-minute date to wrap up.
What are some of your Tinder do’s and don’ts? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.