Tinder Diary #1- On Bailing on Tinder Dates

We love starting and never finishing series of articles. As we probe the world around us, we are going to try another one, this time exploring our generation’s relationship with Tinder.

Remember when you could just approach strangers in the street and tell them they were attractive? Nope, me neither. Tinder is a game-changer in the risky and frisky business of dating.

Tinder is a smartphone app that puts your dating life down to a finger swipe in a certain direction. Somewhere along the line, Tinder picked up a reputation for being hook-up central, and embraced that reputation. In 2014, Tinder HQ reported a billion swipes daily and Tinder has since put a limit on the number of times a user can swipe right, giving them the option of paying for the privilege. Capitalism, how bout dah?

You may recall a short while ago that Josh wrote a little something about Tinder enhancing his journalistic capabilities. Tinder, is a learning curve. Perhaps dating in general is. But Tinder has a way of compressing a lot of life’s big questions into an app: self-development, self-preservation, self-confidence, self-image, selfishness.

One reason for our “Tinder Diaries” is that we want to bring together all of our friends’ experiences on the app and ponder what these experiences say about our generation. No two experiences are the same, and yet each one involves a digital interaction with a human that you find physically attractive. The other motivation is to remove any stigma around online dating. If you have a story, an experience, or just an inkling of a thought about Tinder, please do get in touch about writing a piece for Tinder Diaries. We would, of course, encourage you to use aliases / pseudonyms wherever appropriate, as the following person has done.

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Whilst I am generally busy, I do my best to ensure that plans aren’t double or triple-booked, by rigorously using and abusing a bullet journal style diary. Cancelling is not my forte, partly because I do not enjoy the conversation after. In light of that, I limit cancelling plans to near-death emergency or mucus-related situations. It’s a hard and fast, self-regulated rule, that flies straight out of the window when it comes to Tinder dating.

I found myself bailing on Tinder dates for all sorts of reasons: being mildly tired and/or miffed after a day in the office, not wanting to travel into central London for a date, deliberately booking other things knowing full well I had organised to go on a date at that time on that day. My evenings are sacred, and sometimes I just did not feel like spending them with a stranger, and sometimes I just did not want to enforce my mildly tired and/or miffed self on to anybody else.

The catch was that whenever I cancelled, I always rescheduled. It made the cancelling, and in turn, myself, look less awful. I could not live with the burden of leaving somebody hanging, regardless of whether or not I actually wanted to go out with them. Here are two very opposing examples of how this went down:

The first was a guy who I’ll call Norman to protect his identity. I struggle to say anything particularly positive about Norman, not because he was a bad human being, but just because he was outright boring. I carried a pretty much one-sided conversation on our first date, and yet at the end of the date, some screw came loose in my brain and I said we should do this again another time. I hoped he wouldn’t remember that, but alas, he did, and we did it again three or four more times before I finally told him I had had enough. Those three or four additional times were hard enough to organise because I just kept cancelling or deliberately going to other things that I knew would be more exciting than talking to myself whilst some boy watched me talk to myself from across the table. I hoped he would get the hint the fifth time I cancelled, but he turned out to be impressively resistant / oblivious to the hints, and I always ended up rescheduling out of sheer niceness.

The second example is of Peter, a guy who I actually really liked. Our first date was one of the least awkward I’d ever been on; we basically ignored the arbitrary date filter and talked about everything under the sun. He was, and probably still is, the only guy I met on Tinder who openly admitted to wanting a relationship amidst a world of hooking-up-without-following-up. I liked that he was brave enough to admit that, and perhaps on some level I wanted that too at the time.  As neatly summarised above, however, when I have a long day, I am not particularly pleasant company, and probably much less so on a date. I therefore cancelled our second date for this exact reason, which he was absolutely fine with. I promptly rescheduled, because I am just that predictable. The day of the rescheduled second date came around, and the Gods decided that they wanted to give me the joy of a real life, non-excuse family emergency. Bad timing, but it is probably obvious what I chose to do. I rang Peter, told him about said emergency, and he was incredibly supportive. Emergency sorted, however, he went MIA. Off the radar. I understood that me cancelling a second time had probably flipped a switch, and therefore spent three days apologising over text with no sign of a reply. Eventually when the reply came through, it was accusatory rather than supportive; he thought I was lying about the emergency to get out of seeing him, which was a shock to me since he’d been fine about it before. He said that because of the number of times he’d been lied to and given excuses by girls, he had no patience for the cancelling and rescheduling and all the suspense in between. I can’t decide, to this day, who was right or wrong, but it did undoubtedly change my perspective on cancelling on Tinder dates.

Peter’s reaction was probably such a shock because Norman had been so lax about me cancelling, and therefore had lulled me into a false sense of security that cancelling was not a big deal. I did, of course, forget that I was dealing with two very different people. Granted, I did meet them both from the same app, but the assumption that they would therefore be similar in any way was one that I did not even realise I was making. People on Tinder are not all the same, by any means; not in personality, not in what they are looking for, not in their reactions to last minute cancellations. All they share in common is a platform, which is arguably the same as you and I both being on Facebook.

Peter made me realise that we often approach Tinder, and other online communication, with an air of forgetfulness that we are communicating with another human being. The phenomenon of communicating with people through the waves of the internet, without ever meeting them, makes us complacent. Suddenly, it is acceptable to do things and say things that would not be acceptable to do or to say in person, including flaking on commitments. Catfish, both the original film and the TV show, are perfect examples of people not realising what the repercussions of their online actions can be on other people.

Last week, however, I bailed on a Tinder date for the first time in a long time. ‘6pm, Tottenham Court Road?’, he, Harry, wrote. ‘Okay’, I started writing back, ‘I am absolutely awful but I’ve not been feeling particularly well today so headed home early from work and I’m sure you don’t want a sick [date]. I feel so bad omg I was looking forward to this so much. Are you still around tomorrow evening?’

In my defence, this was entirely truthful. I was indeed not feeling well, so left the office, got myself a matcha latte, and headed home to work from my bed. That said, my illness wasn’t anything more than a cold, and certainly would not have stopped me going for a bevvie at the pub with the girls had they asked.

I did actually stay true to my word and go out with Harry the following day. ‘I was surprised you rescheduled immediately,’ he said, when I apologised for my tardiness. Apparently, or according to Harry at least, there is quite a team of girls floating around on Tinder who make plans and cancel on the day, without sign of rescheduling or without legitimate excuse. Conversely, I have almost never had this experience with guys I have gone out with.

I thought the internet might be able to answer my question on why this was a problem for guys more than it was for girls. Instead, I encountered a bunch of sexist forum threads and guys thinking that they were entitled to and/or owed dates from women, so decided to take a new route to form my hypothesis. Upon further digging, Harry revealed that the number of matches that guys get on Tinder is substantially lower in comparison to girls. Girls therefore have more to ‘play’ with, more wiggle room, than guys do. Consciously or not, when girls come to the realisation that they can be matched with an insane number of guys every day, perhaps they just stop caring a little bit, and perhaps that leads to our bailing and our abrupt stops to conversations. Perhaps it’s that, or perhaps it’s just women not wanting to waste their precious time on dates with guys they see no future with. It’s not my business… *sips tea like Kermit*.

This is, of course, all in my very heterosexual, gender-performance-riled dating bubble; the situation, I hope, is far better in other realms. This is also, of course, relatively bland in comparison to those who neither cancel, nor flake, but get to the day and decide not to turn up at all, without even so much as an apology. That in itself probably warrants a whole new ballgame of investigation into the wacky world of Tinder.