As I sat at the bar for nearly half an hour trying to occupy myself with my smartphone, I became increasingly embarrassed – and not because I was the only one there playing Candy Crush. For the first time in my life, I was stood up. Not only that, but I was inevitably catfished. Throwing my common sense and all the knowledge I had learned from MTV’s Catfish out the window, I allowed myself to quickly be wooed on Grindr by somebody who discretely claimed to be an E-list celebrity. The thought of a soap opera star and former actor in a Disney Channel movie wanting to hang out with me is ridiculous now, but I’ve put myself in crazier situations and he seemed to have a legitimate reason for visiting a random, small town in Ohio for the week. Even though he did not want to give me his phone number and his age, height, and weight listed on his profile did not match up to the information I found on the internet about him, I gave him the benefit of the doubt because we seemed to have similar interests, he was hot, and I wanted to get myself an invitation to the Daytime Emmy’s. Thankfully the bar was only a two minute walk from my house and I had only wasted a grand total of two days talking to the imposter.
I laugh about my stupidity now and how I ended up spending that night watching a Disney movie with my dog instead of drinking with a Disney actor, but I was annoyed and frustrated at the time. Whether somebody had a personal vendetta against me or just has a sick sense of humor, I did not care. I lost faith in humanity for a fleeting moment and began to agree with the many people who claim that Grindr is only a place for creeps, perverts, and drunken hookups. I’ve always believed though that there is more good than evil – or creepy – in this world, so I couldn’t let this one experience change my entire attitude. After all, Grindr, often portrayed as the most skeezy app on the market, is responsible for many incredible experiences I’ve had and some of the dearest friends I’ve made. As ridiculous as it might sound, I guess you can say that Grindr changed my life.
It would be nice to say that my European romance story started by accidentally bumping into somebody on the streets of Paris or the moment after I threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, but let’s be real; it began on Grindr. Tired of being with my American group day in and day out at classes, work, and the Geneva clubs, I wanted to meet local friends. Initially lacking the courage to go out on my own, I resorted to Grindr and was soon in the company of Alexander*. After talking for several days, he generously agreed to show me the ins and outs of the city. Well, he was even more beautiful in person and his tour ended up lasting seven consecutive days. Each evening after work we would walk around the city, have a picnic by Lake Geneva, sing “Call Me Maybe,” and make fun of each other’s accents. He introduced me to his friends, who quickly became mine. Little did I know how strong of a support system those friends would be for me when I returned to Switzerland half a year later to be an au pair for a miserable family. Against my will, I found myself like Alexander as more than just a friend, and reciting Carly Rae Jepsen quickly evolved into making out by the Jet d’Eau.
Two and a half weeks later, he needed to leave the city to return to his studies and his family’s house in the south of France. He actually asked me to road trip through Southern France with him to meet his family, see the beaches, and party with his friends at home. I agreed to go, and I have never had a better excuse to skip class to this day. Those four days flew by and before I knew it, the time had come for Alexander to drop me off at his town’s train station so I could return to Geneva. I’ll always look back on that experience fondly and have a special place for him in my heart. It’s nice to know that somewhere in this world there is somebody who I can connect with on such a deep level, despite the language barrier and having to speak at half my normal pace. Thanks for that one, Grindr.
Later that semester, I met Kurt*, a Canadian au pair, on Grindr. I never considered being a manny abroad until I met him and heard his hilarious and adorable stories about the girl he looked after. As a result, I’ve been able to travel back to the country twice and have my own crazy stories about European kids. Those return trips have both changed my life in many ways, but would they have happened if I never met Kurt on Grindr?
Kurt was incredible at driving stick – in more ways than one – but his car might have broken down the first time we were together, so his friend Sofi needed to drive and go with us to the bar. He ended up leaving for Canada far sooner than expected, but Sofi remains a dear friend, my trusted au pair adviser, and one of my favorite Snapchat buddies.
Then there was Tim*, an Australian visiting Washington D.C. when I spent a semester there. We met in the pouring rain the night before his flight because we seemed to click too well on Grindr to let the opportunity pass – and I wanted to hear his accent. We still talk casually, and I hope one day to take him up on his offer of letting me crash at his place when I visit the Land Down Under.
Matteo*, my Italian friend that I met on Grindr, showed me the best gelato in Italy and the best view in Florence. He even helped me carry my luggage to the train station at 5am because I was too wasted.
Speaking of luggage, after one of the most entertaining and enjoyable lunches I’ve ever had with a guy, Pat* from Grindr let me keep my bags in his office so I could explore New York City without having to drag them around with me before my flight to Cleveland.
One time I even met a prince from Grindr when I was in Europe. Yes, a real prince. I had absolutely no idea of his royal status for the longest time though because he was too modest and I was completely ignorant about his country. I won’t tell you anything more about him, but I am one of the few people that he actually follows on his verified Twitter.
My intention in sharing some of these adventures from my diary is not to be a spokesperson for Grindr – though I would probably take that job if it was ever offered to me. My experiences just go to show that one bad apple most definitely does not spoil the whole bunch and fabulous people can be found in seemingly sketchy places. Sure, I got totally played by the imposter celebrity, but I won’t allow one bad incident to discount the excitement, happiness, romance, and friendship that I gained.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.