You Need Help: I’ve Matched With the Same Person Three Times on Tinder

Q:

I need HELP with overcoming/owning a bit of an awkward Tinder situation.

Basically the backstory is I matched with this girl on tinder roughly 4 years ago, we started chatting, and it was going well until she abruptly stopped replying. I let it go as a “she’s probably just not interested.” Fast forward a year or two, we match again, hit it off well again with a brief chat, but then she pretty quickly stopped replying again… Never mind, I moved on and was sort of talking to someone else. Now fast forward another couple of years, and we’ve matched on tinder AGAIN. At this point I’m just confused as to why she keeps matching with me if she doesn’t want to continue conversation. But the awkward part of this all is that we’ve actually also been Facebook friends for 12+ years! I think we drunkenly met at a queer bar and added each other, and we’ve never communicated via Facebook or at all since but we have occasionally throughout the years liked a post of each others here and there. I feel like I know her really well because I’ve basically seen the last 12 years of her life through Facebook. I’ve always found her super attractive and we have a lot of common interests based on our FB posts, but because she keeps ghosting me on Tinder I’ve never really pursued anything. Now that we’ve matched on Tinder a third time, I want to reach out to her somehow but in a way that might woo her a bit more than our regular Tinder chat that hasn’t seemed to keep her interest in the past. Her Tinder is pretty explicit that she’s looking for a partner rather than anything more casual. Seeking ideas and advice on how to really own this and not make it more awkward than it already is!

A:

This situation is indeed kind of awkward, and the fact that the two of you have basically been circling each other for over a decade sounds like something out of a romantic comedy. But unfortunately, this is real life, and I think you have to let go of this person for good. Her recurring appearance in your life is strange, but it’s not necessarily meaningful. Exploring more meaningful connections and relationships will make your romantic life much more satisfying!

If she were interested in dating you, there have been so many opportunities for her to follow through on pursuing that. Online dating isn’t new anymore, and yet it’s still hard to lock down what certain things mean when it comes to people’s behaviors on apps. Basically, everyone uses apps differently! It’s possible this person just swipes pretty casually. A match in and of itself does not mean a commitment to anything more. Recurring matching seems like it should mean something, but it might not at all. I want you to have a happy, fulfilling dating life, and I think you might be getting in your own way by focusing so much on this person. Even though she states she’s looking for a partner on Tinder, that also doesn’t really change the situation here. All the matching and then disappearing is hard to read, but she has a right to use Tinder however she wants. And I honestly don’t think it’s worth the effort to analyze and interpret the intentions of a stranger who has interacted with you somewhat inconsistently.

I know some people might disagree with me, but I don’t really think it’s “ghosting” if you haven’t met up/taken the connection beyond the app. You said yourself that the conversation ended pretty quickly in both instances. There are a million possible reasons she stopped replying. Some people are on multiple apps or also meeting people IRL. Some people just ebb and flow in the time and energy they give to Tinder. Sometimes, people’s capacity for online dating/chatting just changes. Ultimately, she doesn’t owe you an explanation. And ultimately, it’s a futile mission to try to read her mind. In fact, I’m avoiding any definitive statements about what her behavior means, because I think it could be any number of things, but more importantly, I think it doesn’t even really matter when it comes to you and your life. I really, truly think you’re better off letting go of her. Her pattern likely has to do with her own stuff and nothing to do with you.

You say you want help overcoming/owning an awkward situation, but there’s nothing really to own here. No one has done anything wrong. As for the overcoming part, you shouldn’t consider this situation a rejection. I think you should shift away from thinking your past conversations haven’t effectively wooed her into thinking this is just not the right person for you. You shouldn’t have to fight to keep someone’s interest ever in a relationship, but especially at the beginning.

I get she doesn’t feel like a stranger. You’ve talked. You’ve seen her life unfold on Facebook. I think those details coupled with her recurring appearance on the app have maybe intensified the way you feel toward her. This happens a lot! It’s easy to project onto people we barely know and romanticize our connection with them. It’s easy to fantasize about the potential of someone and the potential of a relationship. But this person isn’t the one that got away. Again, that concept is just rom-com fantasy. Social media and dating apps don’t paint a full picture of a person, and at the end of the day, what do you really know about her after a couple brief chats? I understand you want a chance to get to know her better, but if she wanted the same, it likely would have happened already. I think you should focus your energy on talking to people who want to talk to you. There are other people out there who will be thrilled to keep the conversation going.


You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.


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kaylakumari

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Miami. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 321 articles for us.

11 Comments

  1. Like — I agree with the above advice. But also, first thing’s first, right? If you want to meet up with her, ASK HER OUT. Ask her to meet up irl.

    Does she ghost? Does she flake? Does she go for it? It sounds like neither party has made any *real* move to do anything about this connection, and feels like a real, “well, I was waiting for them to ask first, and then they never did!” Like, there’s a huge trope about queers not able to make first moves, and then discounting the possibility of getting to know someone / someone else’s interest — but NObody is making any move???

    Yeah. So do that first.

  2. I’d just be bold. She’s so peripheral I feel like there isn’t much to lose but there could be a pretty cool gain!

    There’s so much uncertainty about connections online that I feel like to make your wants clear you just have to lay them out. I’d just say something like “third time’s the charm? Want to grab a drink?” Otherwise you’ll never know, you know?

  3. 100% agree. And they could even acknowledge that they’ve been circling each other in the first message and get that out of the way if it feels weird to them. “Hey fancy meeting you here. We’ve matched a couple of times and I remember being intrigued by you. I think it’d be really cool to meet up in person and [do whatever activity]”. And THEN let that shit go, you know.

  4. Yeah don’t ask her out, she’s def not interested. I’ve been in this situation many times and in my experience these people only want the ego boost of knowing you’re around and into them but they don’t actually want to do anything about it. They just like the fact that you would.

  5. Brutal advice, but maybe a different perspective on this can help.

    I had a situation like this with an old university friend. Granted we didn’t match on Tinder but I definitely experienced the ghosting / coming back / ghosting / coming back trilogy. In fact, it went on for years. Which massively tugged on my heart strings and put me in disarray when she would renounce herself in my life after months/years of nothing.

    A lot of healing happened when I realised that maybe this ghoster wasn’t playing tricks on me for an ego boost, but perhaps wasn’t playing with a full deck. In no world is it normal to be that unaware of one’s self that you keep coming in and out of someone’s life like a busboy at a restaurant and not take a moment to realize how weird it is to keep doing that.

    Make a definite choice: Ask her out once and for all for a drink, or cut her loose and stop matching with her on Tinder. But please don’t claim you know everything about a person just because you’ve seen social media photos. You’ll be amazed at how much goes on with a person behind closed doors that you’ll never hear about (both good and bad).

  6. Advice seems spot on in many ways – this person is a stranger and you do not know them because you have seen their FB; people swipe right for all sorts of reasons, and it’s not necessarily to indicate romantic interest (maybe they swipe right on everyone?); it would likely result in more success/happiness to not put your eggs in this random basket as it sounds like you are, and to focus on messaging other people and making less random connections.

    But then the advice is a little contradictory in others, and in ways a lot of dating advice seems contradictory – letter-writer is not supposed to analyze or interpret people’s behavior or intents, because they cannot read minds, but they ARE supposed to assume the person isn’t interested and “isn’t the one for them”? Hmm. Seems like some interpreting/analyzing behavior has occurred.

    It’s a matter of degree and specificity, I suppose.

    And ultimately whether letter-writer chooses to just ask this girl out also seems to be a matter of some flexibility. There is evidence she is not interested – if she hadn’t matched a third time, which we’ve already concluded could mean absolutely nothing, would letter-writer have persisted in asking out someone who stopped responding to their messages? Probably not. But does a third match allow some degree of social acceptance to a third chance at being more direct? Probably yes…? Because most people don’t swipe right on everyone on Tinder, there’s always plausible denial. Seems like it’s up to the letter-writer if they want to take the opportunity to practice being direct as well as practice a graceful acceptance of whatever the response is…be it a direct yes, no, or just more inconclusive conversation…

  7. I agree with Kayla that it’s best to not message this person, move on, and talk to other people instead. As someone who hasn’t always been self-reflective, I’ve definitely had phases where I’ve swiped on people not because I’m interested in them but because I want to see whether they swipe right on me and to get an ego boost if they do, or some kind of feeling of connection/attention. (I have stopped doing this because I eventually realised it wasn’t nice so please don’t come for me lol.) Same with chatting to people.

    A similar thing could be going on with this person. I don’t know what’s going in her mind, but I honestly think that just matching with you and initially replying to your messages doesn’t (unfortunately) indicate enough interest in you for you to initiate things for the third time. I don’t think there’s any move or opening message that would change that.

    I would unmatch her (and maybe unfriend her on FB?) also, just to remove the temptation! And then go on to talking to other people: you are a fish in a sea of babes.

  8. I may be in the minority on this (i don’t have a ton of dating app experience), but I have definitely swiped positively on someone I know but am not interested in, because it somehow feels rude to be like “NOPE” on someone in my extended social circle. Like, it is more an acknowledgment that I see them, if that makes sense? I live in a small town though, so might be more sensitive to the insular social dynamics at play here. All that to say, I’ve matched with a lot of people where there’s an implicit understanding that we won’t go on a date but that we’re on the same apps. Maybe that’s what’s going on here?

    • I do/have done this before… which is why I think I find this question-and-answer particularly interesting and divisive in my brain haha.

      Like, there was this one time that someone I knew did in fact hit on me – because why would there be an “implicit” understanding we weren’t gonna date? – and yeah, like the girl of advice-seeker’s internet dream’s, I just let the convo drop. But would I match with them twice? And then A THIRD TIME? What kind of sadist would that make me if I did that? Honestly, I would never do that. But for the sake of argument in the letter-writer’s case…supposing I was totally just committed to swiping repeatedly on a person I wasn’t interested in or swiping on everyone or whatever I’m doing that could result in this honestly fairly uncommon scenario…would I be taken aback or creeped out or otherwise upset if the person, ya know, asked me out? On a dating app? That I was matching with them on? Of course I wouldn’t. If I was a decent person, I’d probably tell them what was up in a nice/succinct way – “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m not interested in a date. I just swipe right on everyone/on people I know/blahblah insert excuse.” But at the very least, I couldn’t sit around blaming them for crossing my boundaries or something.

      So I think whatever way it plays out – it’s honestly also possible the girl is actually interested in advice-seeker, we don’t know, I don’t know – it seems reasonable for this person to do what they obviously wanna do, which is make a more definitive move. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t…nobody’s really lost anything.

      Of course, this is all just how I would feel in each person’s shoes. It’s really fascinating to sort of hear that some other people are not really in the same boat, and why.

  9. I say ask her out. You’ve got nothing to lose. And as someone with ADHD who really struggles with responding to dating app messages, I’d be thrilled if someone I swiped yes on messaged me to ask me out when I’d forgotten to hold up my end of the conversation. She’s matched with you three times, she’s clearly attracted to you

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