Dating apps. They seem to be on everyone’s radar these days, especially Tinder.
But is it really what it’s cracked up to be, and, if so, could it be the best friend of a gal who travels?
My Intro to Tinder
To be honest, I hadn’t heard of dating apps until a year ago. It was during a conversation one night with friends whilst working in a small town on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.
My friends were discussing the merits of using Tinder and their success rates with it when I, with a startled expression akin to Bambi in headlights, inquired as to what they were talking about. Cue my introduction to all things Tinder.
I have to admit, whilst confused at first as to how it all worked, I was intrigued. After some back-and-forth banter about how my friends all used the app in different ways — one male friend said he always waited for the girl to initiate conversation, a female friend said she always waited for the guy to — and being reassured it was not just about sex, they urged me to try it.
A month later I was back home in Australia. I often find when I return home that, like many people, I feel the post-travel blues set in. It’s easy to lose your sense of adventure and those anything-can-happen moments when you’re not traveling. On top of that, as a young woman who travels and works overseas frequently, I found that my pool of contacts at home had dwindled over the years.
Seeking a bit of adventure, I decided one night whilst bored to download the Tinder app and give it a go. After being single for almost four years and with few dates over that time, I had nothing to lose!
For the uninitiated, Tinder is a simple dating app or speed-dating game where you can say yes or no to chatting to a person based on their appearance. The app connects you to your Facebook account, so your first name, age, and photographs are taken from there, but nothing else is shared.
If you like the look of someone’s profile — their photos and a small blurb they’ve added — you swipe right on their photo to ‘like’ the person. If that person also swipes right on your profile, you will come up with a ‘match’ and will be able to message each other via the app.
If you swipe left on someone’s profile, they will not come up as a match for you and vice versa.
If you start chatting to someone, and they begin to seem creepy or send you messages you feel uncomfortable with, you can simply block them, and they will not be able to find you again.
One thing that I love about the app is that you cannot send pictures to people — hence, no unsolicited dick pics.
The interface of the messaging section of the app is quite similar to that of many phones, so any nosey rosey looking over your shoulder won’t know straightaway that you are on a dating app. Ten points to the design team for that decision!
Tinder has claimed that the app processes 1 billion left/right swipes every single day, matching more than 12 million people a day. Just let that sink in for a moment.
To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for Tinder. As an app based on appearances, I assumed I would get very few ‘matches,’ as I have no bikini photos or extremely glamorous pics. In fact, all of the photos I found to use were from the last year or living overseas, when I happened to be covered from neck to ankle.
Nonetheless, I signed up and started swiping left and right. A few hours later my phone began buzzing unrelentingly as matches popped up. It was crazy! And a bit of an ego boost, to be honest.
As shallow as the app might seem, I actually enjoyed using it, although it should come with a warning: It can become quite addictive.
I met up and had dates with a handful of guys over the last year and met with a few more than once.
Connecting with new people who I would not otherwise have met was really fun and felt a little like I was traveling again.
As much as I had anticipated that Tinder would be all about ‘hooking up,’ in my experience the guys that I chatted with didn’t have that as their only agenda for using the app.
How to Stay Safe When Using Tinder
If you want to give Tinder a go, either at home or overseas, keep safety in mind. As when traveling, always use common sense, and listen to your instincts.
Here are some simple tips:
- Some people like to get their match’s Facebook account info so they can add each other before meeting. This way, you can get to know a little more about the person you’re meeting.
- Chat with your match over a period of time to gauge a bit more about what they are like as a person.
- Make sure both parties have been clear about their intentions from the start. Be sure there is no confusion as to what you are meeting up for.
- If you arrange to meet with someone, meet in a public place, at least the first time.
- Tell a friend that you’re meeting up with a Tinder match, so someone knows where you are.
- Always make sure that you have your own transport to and from the meeting place. Having a complete stranger pick you up from your house is not a good idea.
Some people legitimately use the app as a way to meet people for sex; others simply want to meet new people and make new friends.
As with any situation, if it feels wrong, it is most probably wrong.
Personally, I have used Tinder multiple times, both at home and whilst overseas. Shallow as the app may seem, I have met some really interesting and nice guys that I would not have normally met.
Some people are embarrassed or shy to admit that they use Tinder and other dating apps, but I don’t see the point of that. It’s hard to meet people these days, especially when you are not in one place for very long. As a young woman who travels a lot, I find the app has helped me to meet new people and even go on a few dates to end my dating drought.