At the suggestion of a good friend who was desperately trying to give my life some much-needed structure, I decided to go on Tinder several months ago. The idea was to see if an over 45 but still babe-ish woman, could function in what was essentially a computer game of swipe and reject. Would I match? Would I go insane viewing all those Middle Aged Men in Lycra. How young would I go? How far (geographically) would I set my sights? And why did all Englishmen over a certain age look like thugs?
1. Left, Left, Left…Right
Having done reasonably well out of the analogue world to the tune of one cohabitee, one husband and at least four great lovers, plus the ones who names or faces I don’t remember, I generally consider the online dating scene as a cut-price, reject marketplace for people who can’t get laid.
But then it begins to nag you. It wasn’t that I hadn’t ventured into online dating: it was that every time I had I didn’t even seem to get close to the velvet rope, let alone get past it. Dating sites just seemed to offer endless parades of dull and wounded men. Men who said they wanted ‘an honest and loving woman’ a phrase which immediately signalled they had been chucked for their best friend. At the other end of the scale, far away from the ones who wanted a night in with a DVD (Now that’s an offer surely) and long country walks, were the ones who announced themselves with their cock forgetting this was a necessity, not an added extra that only they had.
Plus tough times call for tough measures. I’d always been good at tripping over men in the street, on beaches, in restaurants but now I was freelance, locked away at home working or fretting about not working and in no mood to go out. “So go on Tinder,” said Suzanne who was not one for embellishing her advice.
“But it’s only for kids,” I said. “Older people don’t go on there.”
“Who wants men your own age?” She practiced what she preached. At 53 her boyfriend was in his mid-30s.
“Plus it’s perfect for you right now. You need a roster of men.”
I’d spent three odd years in a situation that wasn’t really a relationship, with a hedge fund guy. He was intelligent and great fun in bed but his emotional disconnection had worn me out. I had invested far too much in it and so, when the walls came tumbling down, my friends were suitably unsympathetic and said I should have known better. I really felt I did not have the resilience to cope with the ups and downs of being interested in one man. “Exactly what I was thinking,” said my mother announcing her lack of faith in monogamy. “You need to go out with a few of them at once for now or else you’ll like the wrong one.”
I didn’t want to think about that too much so I took it as a blessing.
Tinder used Facebook profiles so all I had to do was make sure pictures were in the order I wanted them to be, write a couple of sentences and I was done.
“What are you going to write,” asked Suzanne.
“Well…see I’ve thought about it and I know I don’t want guys who say things like “So, how are you finding Tinder?”
“Come on, what are you really thinking?”
“Well what I really don’t want is to get inundated with guys who think because I’m on here they can say “Hey, I’d like to come over and cum on your face. What is it with guys and shaking all over your face? They think they are giving you a gift you should treasure, like a bloody cat waving a headless mouse.”
“Hmm, yes I can understand why you want to exclude them. But maybe be a bit gentler to start.
So I just made up some clever line about the percentage of men I expected to actually meet. I happened to have had photos taken professionally 3 weeks earlier. This meant that unlike the men I was to view on Tinder, the only person in the pictures was me.
Tinder is a shop window and it stands to reason you might want to put your best merchandise in if you want the magical swipe right. But reason and men are worlds apart here. Thus we have
· Men in groups of three so you’re sure he’s the fat/bald one
· Men intertwined with random drunk women
· Men hugging tigers.
· Men by the sea in front of nets full of fish (a fertility thing?)
· Men in lycra, standing astride bikes so light they could probably balance them on their cocks which have disappeared under folds of middle aged fat swaddled in lycra.
· The above but atop a mountain with thumbs up
· More thumbs up standing in the middle of random sports ovals
· Thumbs up outside monuments on city breaks to Rome or Paris.
And then my favourite. The ones with their kids. Listen up guys, six pictures of you with your kids does not leave much room for a drink with me. You might think you’re saying “Loving, caring, kind human being, my kids always come first” but all I’m seeing is wounded guy who has not recovered from separation and cannot bear to tear himself away from his kids and start anything new. As much as I think kids are cute and accept they often come with the man, I do not need it shoved in my face to remind me how unimportant I will always be because your kids are your life and the only good thing from your car crash marriage.
And then there are the men with no pictures. Just a silhouette. No words either. And a name that is probably made up. So let’s look at that again. No picture. No description. And a fake name. This is not a good start on the most visual of dating sites. These men are married and somehow they think that a woman will get tired of looking at actual pictures of men and decide “Oh you know what, this dating business isn’t random enough for me. I’m going to pick a picture of someone who has no picture and no write up. Soeone who tells me nothing about themselves. That’ll make things even more exciting. Wow they must be mysterious. Just think , just knowing what was in their heads.” I assure you, this does not happen.Even when you’re drunk.
The beauty of Tinder is that unless someone you have liked (well ok you swiped since you don’t know if you like them, you only like the LOOK of them), has also liked you, you do not need to see them. It is less work than a computer game and, like Call of Duty, would have grave consequences were it to be attempted in real life.
Even with all my misgivings the computer game nature of Tinder was addictive. I began swiping about 7pm. There were no rights and a lot of wrongs. I wasn’t too sure about Tinder’s geographic capabilities. I had the GPS thingy on the phone but I still kept seeing guys who were 280 kilometres away. The process of using it is even more disconnected than a computer game since there is little to draw you in. But Tinder does draw you in and I am at a loss to explain how it does except to say that I was still there at 11pm and I had managed to swipe right. My message screen indicated eight matches aged between 34 and 52. I would not meet up or even message all of this. I applied a Tinder discount of 50% for attrition and then figured 3 might message and I might meet one or two.