According to a study quoted by Marie Claire UK, 50 million people use Tinder; they check the application at least 11 times a day and spend an average of 90 minutes every day using it. Impressive figures that deserve a deeper study of the phenomenon...
I dare to take on the role of the adorable Kate Hudson in ‘How to Lose a Guy for 10 Days’, but instead of exploring which traits men find the most disgusting in a woman, I will test empirically what is so intriguing about going on Tinder dates. I have never been on a blind date until now and if it was not for work-related reasons, I would not even download the application. I do not feel comfortable telling the story of my life to complete strangers who see me as the next item on the shelf with available women.
When I was teenager, my favorite pastime was to laugh at the ads in the ‘Lonely Heart’ section of the newspaper: “Penka, 58 years old, clean and tidy, looking for the man of her life, if possible not unemployed and from Sliven and the area.” Isn’t Tinder something like that, but in a glossy packaging... Or have I been depriving myself of a whole new world of interesting and exciting dates? I decide to check by going to 5 Tinder dates on which I can base my research.
Date #1– the compatriot
I'm based in London, which means that on Tinder I can meet people from all over the world. But I come across Svetoslav, whose name makes me think that he is also from Bulgaria. I turn out to be right - Svetlio is an IT and works for a big software company. We meet at London Bridge - perhaps the worst place to meet someone in London as it is not clear shall we meet on the bridge, before or after the bridge, or by the tube station... After looking for a long time, we finally see each other - fortunately, Svetlio is the same as on his Tinder photos. Unfortunately, before I see him, I can sense the smell of sweat that significantly precedes him. I decide that this is not a valid reason to put an end to the meeting and we head towards a wine bar nearby.
Svetlio is firmly determined to tell me about every challenge facing the IT industry today, and after about an hour of talking about codes, scripts, hardware, and software, half of which I missed due to incomprehensible terminology, I fall asleep. Svetlio wakes me up and I decide it's time to go. The gentleman offers to give me a lift and when I ask him where his car is parked he informs me that he has left his bike ‘only half an hour's walk from here’. I kindly thank him and head to the subway, determined that the second encounter will be more successful.
Date #2 – the tall guy
After scrolling for a long time, I find Athanasios - a nice Greek with highly mysterious photographs of his face, which is semi-covered by a hand holding a cigarette. I decide to give a chance to the mysterious young man whose description in the app says ‘Tall. Deep. Real’. Inspired by his promise, I add to my 176 cm height another 12 cm of heels and wait for Athanasios at my favorite Mayfair bar. My legs are already in blisters but even though the date is for the purposes of research, I cannot afford to look bad in front of such a gentleman. I notice a tiny, bent young man, who is awkwardly walking towards me and I cannot believe this is him. But then I hear my phone ring; he gives me a witty smile and waves his hand.
Since I find it extremely hard to move in my high heels, I give up on the thought of running away. He tries to say hello in broken English and explains to me that he has only been in London for 2 months and doesn’t speak the language yet. I ask him how does he manage to chat with me on Tinder and he shows me a picture of his 13 year old brother, who is his Cyrano de Bergerac and it turns out that I have been chatting with him the whole time.
As if it is not enough that Athanasios doesn’t speak any English and is up to my waist, he also stammers, which reinforces my decision to put an end to this farce as soon as possible. The weather is surprisingly nice and I suggest (by using the language of gestures) to have a walk instead of sitting somewhere for a drink. I am not sure if he has understood what I meant, but I lead him directly towards the tube station, which is about 5 minutes away, after which I say that I have an urgent meeting and I start to run as fast as I can down the escalator until I disappear from his eyesight.
Date #3 – the married guy
When communicating with people on a dating application, the question of whether they are married seems to be unnecessary. It turns out I was wrong. I meet Mark, an Englishman, about 40, who invites me for dinner at a restaurant with a wonderful view. The manners of Mark are impeccable, and although I do not fancy him visually, I quickly conclude that some normal people use Tinder too. Mark is an investment banker and we quickly find common topics for conversation. Everything goes really well until Mark asks the strange question, ‘You are so young, are you married?’.
I can’t fully understand his question and I say that obviously not, considering I am on a date, but he is quick to correct me: ‘Well, I'm married, I would not even mention it because I want to get a divorce but my son wants to live with his mother and that's why we are together...’. I am so shocked that I don’t know what to say when Mark manages to mutter: ‘But you know, you are so beautiful, I want to go somewhere on a vacation with you, just choose a destination, my wife only stays in London ...’. I can’t hear the rest of the great offer because I'm busy ordering a taxi. I leave the restaurant being more and more desperate about modern men.
Date #4 – the indoorsy guy
Marco is an Italian based in Camden. He suggests meeting there, and although I live in the complete opposite part of the city, I accept assuming that he knows the area well and we will go to some interesting restaurant or a bar in the neighborhood famous for its delicious food outlets.
From his Tinder picture I understand that Marco's height is 189 cm, and his biceps - as wide as my leg. When I look around for this Hercules at the agreed address, which is at a dark street in the middle of nowhere, I notice a slim silhouette approaching me. Marco is certainly much shorter than me, which means under 176 cm, and unfortunately my leg is twice as big as his biceps. But the more striking fact is that Marco is in pajamas and slippers. I ask him what the plan is – shall we go to a restaurant or a bar? Marco looks genuinely surprised, points towards the nearest balcony and asks me go upstairs quickly with him because his lasagna is going to burn. Although I adore Italian food, the only thing Marco gets from me is a slap, followed by a not very friendly farewell.
Marco decides to win me back by running after me, screaming as loud as he can that if I do not fancy lasagna, he can treat me with ecstasy or cocaine - whatever I prefer, the best quality on the market. I throw myself into the first taxi I see, accompanied by the shouts of the temperamental Italian.
It is time for a fifth meeting. I hesitate between a Russian lawyer who tells me he loves Russian dolls; a German who informs me that he has about an hour and 19 minutes for a date, and a poet who begins the conversation with the words: ‘You might think I'm crazy, but I'll jump off the Millennium bridge if you do not come on a date with me tomorrow. You are a goddess!!!’. Every woman loves compliments, but coming from mentally unstable random individuals, they suddenly lose their charm. I decide that I have completed my task prematurely and it is time to terminate the experiment. I conclude that the universe has another plan for me which I should not ruin with unfortunate meetings and mobile apps.