You heard about it, felt superior to and mildly disgusted by it but then, after a very slight nudge of peer pressure (and 3 pints of Narraganset), you downloaded it. I mean, it’s morbidly intriguing. And free. For christ sake, Tinder is as close as straight singles have ever gotten to Grindr. Finally, we can get a taste of the geo-located action.
As soon as that location pin starts blinking, you’re strapped into Tinder’s emotional rollercoaster. A little bit of butterflies and just as much misery—very quickly, a pattern presents itself.
These emotions boil down to six stages in Tinder’s cycle of emotions. And like any good rabbit hole, it’s the inquisitive mind that starts the descent into the void:
Once Tinder’s done installing, your long-dormant lust for easy, location-based hook-ups shoots through your fingertips, opening the little app like it’s a gift-wrapped cat meowing on Christmas morning.
Affronted with the faces of other people, you start to question the anonymity (and actual safety) of this thing. Rightfully so. The internet is creepy. But after “Nope”-ing a few meatheads without instantaneously being murdered, that well-conditioned hesitation fades away. Curiosity has a habit of suspending healthy disbelief.
Who’s in the next picture?, it whispers.
You’ll never know until you reject (or accept) this one.
Thumb Game: Reasonably wary
You trip the Power switch in your brain the very instant you bestow trust in Tinder’s veil of anonymity. Your long hampered judgment runs rampant, unrestrained by public decorum or fear of starting a bar fight. With so little to lose, you swipe too fast to really judge much, you just feel like you find better.
There’s a girl in your picture? NOPE. You’re wearing a blue striped Midtown Button-down? NOPE. Your picture takes more than 1 second to load? NOPE. By the time you reach the guy with an upside down arrow shaved into his bare (bear?) chest, you know must be the single hottest Tinder-er within your chosen search distance, if not everywhere.
Thumb Game: To the left, to the left, to the le..ah, wait he was kinda cute!
3. Sudden Self-Doubt
While you’re furiously swiping, your brain keeps cranking out the curiosity, making connections, impressions about what this app and all of its users are about. All of its fellow users.
Suddenly you remember: these are your potential bedfellows. And your ego abruptly deflates.
Your judgment starts to reflect off those little profile pictures back onto you, bouncing your insecurities onto you. Your swipes slow to a labored crawl. Even the cute ones lose their luster, tainted with preemptive disapproval. Every “Like” granted comes with a weighty anticipation.
“Why didn’t we match?! He NOPE’d me. I know it! I’m pathetic, he can tell. What does my tagline even say? Oh god…”
A muted existential panic crawls up your spine.
Thumb Game: Stalled
4. Indignant Hopelessness
A visceral revulsion runs down your arm as that Groucho Marx quote rings in your head.
No, no, no I WILL NOT BE PART OF THIS CLUB.
Originally self-directed, a pervasive despair spreads from dating-related to universal in just a few jumps in logic:
a. If this slambook is the last way to meet people, I’m gonna die alone.
b. If this is how our generation meets people, what is the future of serious relationships?
c. How will we procreate without serious relationships?
d. Why should we create more people on this fucked planet that people totally fucked.
“ENOUGH” your hand screams and drops the phone.
Thumb game: OVER IT
5. Actual Promise
Some hours (minutes?) pass. You’ve refreshed Instagram/Twitter/Facebook enough times to erase the aforementioned anguish from your pint-sized memory.
Oh shit! In your brief absence, the matches you’ve already forgotten have started reaching out.
The headshot speaks! And piques your interest.
Sometimes this promise lasts past the initial message. Either the match’s sheer hotness, their witty take on your cryptic tagline or, in the best cases, a little bit of both, spark a conversation.
Sometimes the momentum of witty repartee crescendos, never stalling out on the “what do you do?”, “where do you live?”, “how did you get into copywriting?” etc.
*cue number exchange*
“Not trying to be too forward, but this app sucks”.
Fewer times, an IRL encounter occurs. If you hit it off and date happily-ever-after congrats, you just beat Tinder. For everyone else, somewhere along the line, something unsavory happens. Apparently no real love/lust connection was made. Promise shattered.
Thumb Game: Typing instead of swiping
6. Ultimate Dissatisfaction
Most of the time, the conversation just gets stale and both parties move on to the next disposable 1-D approximation of an actual human being. But there are much more inflammatory ways to reach your Tinder breaking point.
It could happen when the cute guy spontaneously stops responding to your failed one-liners. It could happen when the 37th “Hey there” just doesn’t get you as giddy as it once had. Or it could happen when you click that blinking blue bubble and your latest match’s first message reads:
“CAN I SMELL IT?”
Regardless of how you come to it, your mind, heart and sexual organs make the decision that you just aren’t going there. But you need to transfer all that unused sexual energy somewhere.
Thumb Game: Hey, who’s the new guy?