Everybody F*cking Hates Tinder And We Are All Going To Die Alone

A couple of weeks ago, we — Brittani, Cara, Grace and I — received a terrifying demand from the Powers That Be (otherwise known as a polite email from Laneia) requesting single members of the team who might be interested in a unique challenge. We, the few, the proud, the unspoken-for, would boldly sign up for Tinder, the hot new dating app that all the kids were using, and learn about what such an app was like through a queer lens. I’d known a few straight women who swore by it, but from their stories it had always seemed sort of shallow — like a heterosexual version of Grindr, but without the oomph. I can’t say any of us were thrilled to sign up, but we knew what we had to do: we had to sign up for a dating app and prepare to meet a lot of ladies… for science.


Stef’s Story

Stef (Music Editor), 30, Los Angeles, CA

The others agreed to be a part of this Tinder project out of the goodness of their hearts, but for me it actually seemed to be a logical thing to do. I’d just moved to Los Angeles from New York City a few days prior, and I was brand new in a huge city filled with potential babes. I’ve been single for a couple of years, but I’m no stranger to online dating. I’ve met some really great people on OkCupid and was curious about what Tinder might look and feel like.

I learned the answer very quickly: Tinder feels shallow and ephemeral. Once you sign in, you’re swept into a veritable ocean of total strangers. The app attaches itself to your Facebook account and gathers profiles of people who presumably fall within your desired search parameters (mostly age and location). Although I had my app set to search for only women, a large percentage of my results were male, and I wasn’t sure if many of the women Tinder presented me with were actually interested in dating girls. When a profile comes up, you see only the picture, name and age of your potential match. You can swipe right to “like,” swipe left to reject, or if you’d like more information, you can click on the photo to view a brief profile. Each profile contains a short bio, any shared friends or interests you might have (based off your Facebook information), and usually a couple of extra photos. If you both “like” each other, you have the option to send a message, and what happens next is up to you.

There’s not much information to work with, so most of your reaction is based upon that one initial photo – and once you reject someone, there’s no way to reverse it. At times, I felt like I got trigger-happy clicking “nope” on so many faces, and I’d start to feel bad about myself. I found myself “liking” profiles of people who just seemed nice, purely out of solidarity. Instead of helping me meet interesting people and figure out my new west coast life, Tinder placed me in a downward spiral of Jewish guilt.

Although I date guys from time to time, I wasn’t super interested in meeting any off this app – but Tinder had other ideas, and continued to suggest them. After a couple of days, the only people I’d matched with were men I felt lukewarm about, and I was starting to doubt my ability to function in queer circles in Los Angeles. I tried changing my pictures around to photos where I was playing instruments or doing something that might spark a conversation with a cute new girl. Often after I’d clicked through just a few profiles, the app would inform me that there was nobody around, that I was all alone in this world, that I was going to die alone and I’d better get used to it.  Sometimes this would happen while I was sitting right next to Grace or Brittani, which was really confusing. I expanded my search parameters to include Brittani and Grace’s age range, but never found them (probably because we’re all Facebook friends). Grace even tried deleting me off Facebook, which didn’t help us find each other on Tinder, but did hurt my feelings.

And there never will be, sorry.

 


Learning the culture of a new city is always challenging, and I wondered how different Tinder might be if I could search for people with similar interests. When you walk into a room full of new people, it’s rare that you’ll meet even one person you share tons of common interests with, and Tinder was like an infinite room of totally random strangers. It could be days before I’d find a girl with an elaborate sleeve tattoo, or one who listened to Depeche Mode, or one who read the same kinds of morbid Russian novels I liked. The only way I could find these people was by rejecting dozens of others, and even though none of those people would ever know I’d placed an orange “NOPE” stamp across their foreheads, the action still took a toll on my heart every time. The one common interest I did seem to have with a lot of girls on Tinder was JWoww from Jersey Shore, and (while I unapologetically adore JWoww) that didn’t seem particularly encouraging as the basis for any kind of relationship.

At various times, all four of us encountered the insidious Tinder bot disguising itself as Zosia Mamet from HBO’S Girls, enthusiastically endorsing her own interview on Glamour Magazine’s website. I’d pay good money to have been a fly on the wall at whatever board meeting decided that Tinder was an appropriate social media marketing tool, and lament that Zosia and I will never meet and fall in love and feed each other rugelach by candlelight. The Zosia bot seemed like a rite of passage among the four of us, and none of us felt truly a part of the Tinder Project until each of us had been subjected to her wrath.

At long last, nearly a week into this experiment, I finally matched with an icy-looking blonde girl whose profile offered absolutely zero personal information. By this point, I was happy to match with a real live human being who wasn’t a robot or a bearded dude. She sent me a poorly spelled message, and when I didn’t respond immediately, she sent another, asking how my day was. This was my first actual correspondence with a girl on Tinder, and as I weighed my options, I received a notification that she’d sent a third message. By the time I’d opened the app to read it, she’d apparently swiped left and deleted herself from my matches. I’m not sure what the third message said, but it was very clear I’d been dumped by someone I had never communicated with in my whole life.

This is what Tinder feels like

The next day, I struck veritable Tinder gold – I matched up with a guy who actually worked for Tinder. The engineer declined to let me use his name for this interview, but did answer some of my questions. Namely, I was concerned with why so many men and straight women were showing up in my search for only women interested in women – in fact, why had he showed up in the first place?  My new Tinder boyfriend’s answers did little to comfort me. He insisted that the legions of straight girls must have listed themselves as also seeking women, and that perhaps they just couldn’t read the profile settings properly.

As for the men, he explained that personally he’d been messing with his settings to test out a technical change, but theorized that the men showing up in my search had listed themselves as women seeking women in order to meet some crrraaaazy open-minded bisexual chicks such as myself. I can’t say I was convinced (that seemed awfully discouraging), but that (gross) explanation might have some merit. To test his hypothesis,  I changed my settings to male seeking male. I found one woman in maybe sixty men. My Tinder employee seemed to be right, and this realization made me feel especially icky about any of the other guys I’d matched with. For the first time in a long time, I found myself aching for that brilliant OKCupid setting that blocks straight people from viewing your profile.


Next: Cara

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Avatar of Stef

Stef Schwartz is the Music Editor at Autostraddle.com. She's a rock'n'roll jack-of-all-trades, vegan crusader and legit professional weirdo. She lives with her cat Scully in the wilds of Los Angeles, where she writes terrible dance music, drinks quality bourbon and misses New York City. Follow her on twitter.

Stef has written 101 articles for us.

75 Comments

  1. Thumb up 7

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    I started using Tinder like a week ago. I am completely squicked out by how many guys are popping up in my feed. I’ve been giving a little more leeway to girls I can tell are queer or if we have 20+ interests in common. Anyway, I have my first actual Tinder date tonight, and I was supposed to have one a few days ago but she had to reschedule, so this is timely. Fingers crossed that she will be as cool as she seems.

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      Me too! I’m having the worst time finding other queer people in Houston. By the way, what is the best way to get Dattch to open up here? I’ve been trying to sign up for it to indicate interest, but do we also have to email them as well?

      • Thumb up 2

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        Apparently we have to actually email them, and once they get a certain number of emails then they’ll roll it out to the new city.

        But if you’re in Houston we should totally hang out! I’m having such a hard time meeting anyone from the queer community here too, especially since The Usual closed.

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          Ah, I see. Well they’re definitely receiving an email from me!

          And yeah, let’s! I would be so down for meeting another AS reader.

        • Thumb up 3

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          This is a truth! The dattch founder was at the Lesbians Who Tech Summit and she confirmed that when they get enough emails in a city, they put it on their rollout list.

  2. Thumb up 7

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    Brittani you just described me exactly:

    “I like to follow the rules. What constitutes a rule to me is seemingly arbitrary but when me and my secular moralism feel like something is WRONG, it makes me very uncomfortable to even consider it.”

  3. Thumb up 32

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    My straight friends LOVE tinder.

    I have found it to be full of annoying guys and straight girls, and when I’m matched with a girl who actually likes girls we both wait for the other one to make the first move. So basically it’s a great online replica of living as a queer person in a straight world – well done technology!

  4. Thumb up 11

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    All four of your stories were insightful and brilliant (not too long). I’ve been using tinder for a couple weeks now and my status thus far is I’ve been catfished once. Rejected 4 times. But have met three incredible girls. I think that’s not bad, right? However my intentions for this app is not for dating, but only meeting cool chicks. I’m “new”ish to LA as well and just wanted to hang out with other cool chicks, who ironically are new to la as well. And yes although it does make me feel shallow a bit, it makes you really challenge your judge of character. And for the record. I swiped yes for you Brittani. I laughed at the mustache pic. I suppose I’m still waiting for a match?

  5. Thumb up 10

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    I used Tinder for a hot minute (three days) over the weekend before I uninstalled it for all of the reasons here + the apparent dearth of ANY gay girls in the DC area using it. I can get hit on by cis-guys and wonder where the girls are at anytime without a superficial app. It’s called “walking down the street”.

  6. Thumb up 8

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    I want a gay lady dating app, dammit! Gay guys get Grindr, Scruff, and other various knock offs. We get NOTHING. Not even bothering with this Tinder mess, because I don’t feel like wading through a pile of straight men to find the one queer lady who I MIGHT have a thing or two in common with. /end rant

    • Thumb up 8

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      God, that was the exact reason I deactivated my OkCupid account. A friend I had a crush on forever during high school popped up on my matches, and she ended up messaging me propositioning me for a threesome with her and her boyfriend. I turned her down, and then proceeded to stress eat Ben and Jerry’s while freaking out about having rejected someone I had been lusting after since my pimply, frizzy-hair baby-gay days.

  7. Thumb up 2

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    I never tried Tinder because I’ve only heard straight people talk about it so I assumed it was a straight people app, but this review was funny and also depressing obvs.

    I have used an app called Brenda before, it’s 100% girls only and the results were mixed, don’t you guys have it in the US? I know the UK has it as well.

  8. Thumb up 4

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    I downloaded Tinder recently, and I always open it up full of hope. By about the third person, it’s turned into a queer or straight guessing game. I forget entirely about whether I’m interested or not, and start trying to spot undercuts and combat boots. Combined, of course, with the occasional round of butch or dude. Luckily, I’ll be in the Dattch zone soon, so I’ll be able to give up Tinder entirely. Also, this Tinder/Timber remix may be predictable, but it cracks me up, so enjoy:

    http://www.tv3.co.nz/JONO-AND-BEN-AT-TEN-Music-Video—TINDER/tabid/3692/articleID/98206/MCat/3159/Default.aspx

  9. Thumb up 3

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    I love that you all did this for us, thanks! My straight friends all seem to love Tinder so I was getting curious as to how it would work for non-straight people. Answer seems to be, not very well! Also, Brittani I totally agree about always falling for people you aren’t attracted to when you first meet them. I’m so clueless.

  10. Thumb up 6

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    The problem with tinder is there is no option for other in the gender category and for a person who identifies as a genderqueer trans woman it becomes a grey area. I tried women into women section for a hot minute, and I am sure in fact all the people who tired it in LA may have had me pop up(Im pre-op partially in the closet). But, the fact I put down I am genderqueer, and am a fan of Autostraddle(and a few other queer/lesbian publications should a give away for something. I still get some transphobic/transmisogynistic comments. I also got mistaken for a trans man. When I choose straight, straight women don’t get what genderqueer is. Though I did see a few straight women who have autostraddle down in their likes.

  11. Thumb up 29

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    legitimately disappointed that cara’s account makes no mention of the fact that a complete stranger almost immediately invited her over to share a bathtub. it was one of the highlights of this project for sure.

  12. Thumb up 1

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    Allllll of my straight friends use Tinder, and it really kind of freaks me out, I think because it’s a little too close to Grindr? *shudder* It’s also kind of hella creepy and I guess because I live in a too-small town you basically already know everyone and then it gets awkward.
    Then again, I’m all about an alternative to Okcupid.
    I’m just going to thank the fates I’m in a long term relationship, I think.

  13. Thumb up 2

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    The one time I tried Tinder, the ONLY matches I received were a bunch of bros.

    Also, has anyone tried Wing Ma’am yet? I was so excited about an app designed for the queer women community, but I can not get it to work on my iphone : ( Does it work for anyone else? Have any of you had any luck meeting people off it?

    • Thumb up 1

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      Wing Ma’am should be coming out to Android this or next month from what I remember reading on tumblr. So, once that comes out the number of people should double. That and I think more people need to spread the word about the app. Specially among the queer, and non-binary women and gentle-beings.

  14. Thumb up 8

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    Oh I haven’t even read the whole article yet but it’s hilarious so far.

    This statement.

    “Often after I’d clicked through just a few profiles, the app would inform me that there was nobody around, that I was all alone in this world, that I was going to die alone and I’d better get used to it.”

    Basically my experience of online dating thus far!

  15. Thumb up 0

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    My only experience with Tinder has been hanging out with straight friends while they messed around on Tinder. They didn’t seem to take it too seriously, granted they were drunk, but still.
    Also, they all expanded their criteria to include men and women in the area. So, that’s one more issue for queer users, straight people drunkenly joking around about having their first gay experience. I was uncomfortable.

    It reminded me of that dating show from MTV a few years ago, Next(?) I think, where they could immediately reject dates as soon as they stepped off of the bus.

  16. Thumb up 5

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    Thank you ladies for doing this, because I don’t have the guts with something like Tinder.

    Gotta say though, what would you deem worse? Seeing someone you knew from high school on a dating app, or running into a person who sent you a message OKC that you never replied to at Trader Joe’s while she rang you up in awkward silence?

    • Thumb up 20

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      there used to be a guy who worked at the salad place near my work and we had both viewed each other on okcupid and never sent messages so many times and never done anything and he’d just ring up my salads and we’d avoid eye contact and it was super weird. then one time we met outside a bar and we had to pretend we sorta recognized each other because of salad?
      i don’t know why i told you that story.
      the internet is strange.

      • Thumb up 4

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        That’s actually kinda cute though, so thanks for sharing, Stef.

        I had a similar experience in that this lady kept looking at my profile but never said anything. Her profile was empty, so I decided to not pursue it. Then one night of bar hopping, my friend and I went to grab a bite to eat and as I walked in, she was there. She had this “deer caught in headlights” look on her face and she wouldn’t stop looking at me. She then left. The next time I logged in back to OKC it said that she looked at my profile at 3:15am that night.

        I mean, isn’t technology suppose to facilitate communication, not make it more complicated? (see: texting). Ah, well….

  17. Thumb up 1

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    I hate where I live. I have had Tinder for over a week and I get more boys than girls (I don’t have have boys checked so either they are being creepy or this app sucks). Time to move. Also, can at least one of the recommended gay lady apps come to Android!?

  18. Thumb up 0

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    I have been debating on whether or not to use Tinder. Looks like I have my answer….obviously YES ;) Thanks for saving me time ladies, and loved hearing your stories. Sorry things didn’t turn out so well though, bummer.

  19. Thumb up 2

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    A lot of my straight friends are like:

    “It’s going down, I’m yelling *tinder*”

    I’m like:

    “I know you’re tired of loving, of loving with nobody to love, nobody!”

    Uh-huh honey.

    *sighs*

  20. Thumb up 1

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    I joined Tinder (again) partially because I figured more gay women would surely be members now. That said, in the few days I’ve been on it, I have enough matches that my self esteem is a little bit better but I’m not exactly sure what it means. How many are actually looking for a woman? How many accidentally swiped right? How many just want a friend to go hiking up to Runyon with? (<<also, not me, as it turns out, ha) Tinder isn't queer friendly and it's maybe even causing more problems than it's trying to solve? Idk.. we each have our battles, I suppose :D

  21. Thumb up 0

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    “I don’t think it’d be fair to involve anyone in whatever the fuck it is I have going on because I don’t really feel like a whole person capable of believing in love and fairytales and such.”

    This seems like a) a fairly good description of why I won’t let anyone get close to me right now and b) a little bit sad because I so want to to believe in all that it’s just hard. Life.

  22. Thumb up 0

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    I met a total dreamboat on Tinder when I was on a layover from Hell in Toronto three weeks ago. They are flying to Winnipeg this weekend so we can meet in person for the first time.
    It’s a little soon, but srsly. Into them.
    THANKS TINDER!
    #modernqueerlove

  23. Thumb up 0

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    I know this thread is old-ish already, but I wanted to come back and tell all of you that I’ve been chatting with a recent match who just revealed to me that’s she a straight lady. Totally heterosexual and only using Tinder to make friends. Which is fine, I guess. But I think now I’m going to only swipe “Like” if I see Autostraddle as a common interest. Or maybe I’ll delete it. Oy vey.

  24. Thumb up 0

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    Since I’m not necessarily out to each of my Facebook friends, any of whom could see my Tinder, it’s hard to signify queer without plastering on a rainbow emoji or whatever. Liking Autostraddle helps a little bit, but still, it’s exhausting. I did match with an Autostraddle-loving Tegan Quin lookalike, but she was 200+ miles away. :(

    Also, the last Tinder date I went on ended with me sobbing, half-naked, and stoned out of my mind in a stranger’s bed. So there’s that.

  25. Thumb up 0

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    I don’t get online dating. I just don’t. Online dating is an experience of low self esteem wrapped in a cocoon of self-loathing and doubt. We don’t talk to each other in real life when we know the other is gay. All a glass of wine and the anonymity of your apartment and pajamas gives you is psudeo balls to send a completely irrelevant, inarticulate blurb to someone we don’t expect to respond. My point? Can we not encourage more seclusion and introvertedness with the next lesbian geared dating app(daatch) and encourage us to actually talk to each other for reals?

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