Why My Tinder Game Is the Best

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I will run with the theory that the grand majority of things that we bring into our lives stem from an initial visual stimulation. Food, brands, friends, intimate relationships and the material things we buy. This isn't the end all be all, sometimes we let less-than-eye-candy-worthy things creep in, but if we’re all being honest, we can admit that initial visual connection plays a part in what we connect with everyday.

Being single, in my 30’s and surrounded by a good number of people walking the same walk, dating (or the lack thereof) is always a topic of interest and conversation. Dates and their epic failures, who’s getting married, who you did(n't) go home with last night, why dating in (fill in your city here) is THE WORST.

For me, dating is like jagerbombs: something to be avoided like the plague.

I have never been good at or interested in the rules of dating. It gives me quite a bit of anxiety; 10 out of 10 times I’d rather chew glass than follow steps of a first date. Typically I bypass first-date awkwardness, courtship and contemplation of what every engagement means and dive right into relationships, just feeling it in my gut and going with it.

Around this time last year, I took a trip to California with a girlfriend where I found myself bored, newly single and longing to connect with locals who could give the download on what to do with an extra bonus if they wanted to explore with me. This is how I first began breaking all the rules of online dating and abusing Tinder to my advantage with no remorse.

Still heartbroken and fragile from what’s-his-name that I ended things with too soon back, I just wanted to engage in this cutthroat world of 2015 where connections start digitally, with humans who are more than just a shirtless gym selfie that would agree to (although we met on a dating app) commit to a “non-date,” because I don’t date.

Personally, I see dating apps as a viable social media platform through which you might be able to link with people who are in search of connection as well (hence why people use Tinder) with the bonus of narrowing your match down by interests and visual, because honestly, we all want to be in company of attractive people. If you say you don’t, you’re only lying to yourself.

This has been a bit of work with many unsure of my “hey do you want to be activities buddies” approach; responding with a “This is Tinder” “Good luck with that” “You’re not on Tinder looking for a booty call?” or “You’re in for a rude awakening.”

But through matches and fails, I’ve found consistency and honesty has led me to find just what I was looking for: mates to explore areas and activities without the expectation of exchanging bodily fluids to seal the deal.

I’d be a liar if I said I haven’t had a match here or there that was equally as good with a board as he was with his lips, but that goes back to my heart over head reaction to attraction.

With friends in serious careers or relationships, I’ve committed to meeting new people who are free to do what I want without scheduling and traveling solo, which has lead me to free diving in open waters, hiking new trails, camping in the wild, whitewater rafting murky rivers, surfing California waves, and sharing tasty treats and conversation with strangers in cities across America.

I’ve become a counselor, best friend, tour guide, job connector, photographer and potential match for a best friend, all to guys I met on Tinder.

Out of my 120+ matches that I’ve made over the past year, I’ve met up with a handful. Some of these, I’ve met and hung out with only once. With others, I’ve made good friends who check in with me to see where I am and what I am doing, share advice, and lend a ear when they need someone to listen, and with whom I encourage and challenge their daily life choices and in a few cases, take trips or explore new hobbies.

Tinder has taught me that what people are really seeking is connection.

My persistence to stay true to my dating methods has lead to pushing outside of a black-and-white comfort zone that put things into boxes previously defined, only utilizing resources for their literal purpose.

The take away of this is, if you let down your expectations and expand the walls of the boxes you’ve built, you can be visually attracted to someone without the need to pursue the basics of dating, which creates more fulfilling connections, based off of something other than just sex.