Playing with Matches: Online vs. Offline Dating

I’d been on Tinder for two months and had three dates. Guy 1 was nice and cool enough, but grumpy for some reason. Second guy was also very nice and very cool. We just didn’t click after two dates. Mr. Tres…well, he was the charm. I grew up in an analog world. Achieving any genuine romantic connection through an app, I scoffed, would yield superficial results at best. And Dan Savage has a point:

“When you think about it, you meet somebody for the first time, and they’re not presenting their warts-and-all self to you — they’re presenting their idealized self to you, they’re leading with their best.”

This certainly applies to both offline and online dating worlds. But online, I’m supposed to have just enough blind faith, based on what little hyper-curated information someone has provided, to decide whether they’re someone I would approach at a bar or a friend’s party.

Either way, it’s a meat market. With a lot of online dating, it’s easy enough to tell who’s looking for a random hook-up, who wants someone to nest with, and who’s open to grabbing a drink and seeing if anything progresses without any string-like attachments. The length and breadth of the screening process is entirely within your discretion. Interest piqued when my roommate started to go on numerous Tinder dates. She’d come home with amazing stories, like the guy who assumed her dad was never around because she had opinions about what looked good on the menu. More importantly, she’d get free food and free drinks. I looked over at my Freelancer’s Budget. It looked at me and nodded approvingly. “Go forth,” said Free-B. “Allow a squire to holler at you.”

As soon as we matched, Mr. Tres sent a message and we arranged to meet for a drink. He looked like his photos and his brains were sharp. He was warm and patient. He helped a homeless person. He made eye contact and laughed at my jokes. He said I was “adorable”. This was new. And exciting. I’d actually met someone interesting on an app. This was happening. We soon began a routine of hanging out Friday to Monday. We watched a lot of stuff and discussed it, tried new restaurants, went for hikes, and had some quality beach time. I got along well with his friends, and he met my family. It got comfortable enough for me to uninstall the app.

Online Dating


Count the Ways

Tinder and its ilk have introduced a form of speed dating that I’ve found interesting to play with. I knew within at least a couple of photo swipes whether a potential date looked like someone I could wake up next to. The message component is also cool because I had receipts, should I ever need to speak to the manager at F*ckboys ‘R’ Us.

My screening process for Tinder became as such:

  • Is he good looking?
    • If the answer is yes, read his bio.
      • No bio? Swipe Left. (Mr. Tres was the only exception to this rule.)
      • If he has a bio, can he spell and use correct punctuation? Can he string a sentence together without sounding like an audition? If the answer is no, swipe Left.

Process of elimination for meeting someone in person was:

  • Is he good looking?
    • Does he have brains and a heart? If the answer to either is no, immediately employ exit strategy.
    • If the answer is yes, talk to him.

One saves me a little time. The other kills time, but is supposed to save time by letting me decide whose face I’d want to spend time with.

The numbers just released on The Great Esquire Sex Study are telling. Of the 1,000 men and women surveyed:

  • 73% of women met sexual partners through friends, compared to 58% of men
  • 71% of women use Bumble to find relationships, compared to 48% of men

Of those using Tinder:

  • 63% use it out of boredom
  • 42% use it to find relationships
  • 48% use it for hooking up

Thus raiseth the questions: What works for you? What is your end goal? Is boredom reason enough to try and connect with someone? Which method is the most effective use of your time and energy?

Online Dating


Know Thyself

Seriously, start there. Be comfortable enough in your skin, know your own rhythms and frequencies well, because it’s one of the truest forms of self-respect. Do this, and your sense of what works for you and what doesn’t will be far more attuned. If you’re like me, a sapiosexual, then even the most casual fling must contain an element of the cerebral. I don’t care about your Equinox membership and your nice ride if you haven’t read any Joan Didion, feel me? I jumped on Tinder out of morbid curiosity, to see who was putting themselves out there, see what my options were, and to play an updated variation of the field.

Playing the field means playing by ear, which I was happy to do with Mr. Tres. We became close, but not serious. We had fun, and had great conversations, mostly about movies. And we were hovering around the six-month mark when I noticed it was the only thing that really animated him.

I knew how he felt about Blade Runner, not so much how he felt about me, or about how things were going. It was something I thought we could work on, until the day he announced he needed to go off and figure his life out. All I could do was empathize. Godspeed, Mr. Tres.

Sifting through myriad online profiles was fun and exhausting, and I would do it again. I feel fluent enough in both arenas now that I could comfortably re-join the long and drawn out Uno game of Tinder. Also open to good a old fashioned IRL situation, if it's in the cards.