How a Cynical Romantic Got a Tinder and Why She’s Kept It

A friend got drunk and made me a Tinder. That’s what I tell them. It’s passive, casual. I’m not the desperate one; my friends are just being friends. We’re all more normal and the problem of who’s to blame or who’s desperate for love or who wants to hook up is solved, or left purposely ambiguous.

It is technically how I got one. But that doesn’t explain why I let her nor why I have yet to delete said Tinder account. Often it’s the why not the how that’s so much more interesting, because the why is where it doesn’t make sense.

After all, the cynic in me says wtf are you doing. The cynic in me says love is just a superficial emotion based on the seductively deceptive belief that beauty is goodness. That beauty is love. The cynic in me says Tinder is just a way to perpetuate that superficiality by making uninformed decisions based on six or less photographs and a generic bio of “I like music and working out.” You would think that the entire male population in America likes music and working out and that’s all folks. Music, work out, sleep, repeat.

The romantic in me says WTF ARE YOU DOING in all caps. The romantic in me says THE WHOLE POINT OF YOU KNOWING LOVE IS SUPERFICIAL IS THAT YOU CAN BE ABOVE ALL THAT YOU DUMBBUTT. GET OFF TINDER, DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT, it demands. Romance can be found in hopeless places. You can have a real connection with real people off of a screen. Someone will come along and love you for who you are without you having to sell your soul to a dating app. It’s pleading now, begging me to stop. And when I don’t, the romantic in me sighs, laments, weeps.

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I have to admit swiping right on cute guys can be fun at first. Matching with cute guys? Even better. Until you’ve accumulated 50 matches and you’re feeling kind of dead inside. What’s the purpose of this? So many fish in the sea and they’ll all swipe right so it seems. So many fish in the sea but none of them are really for me. I suddenly have mixed feelings about it, mostly negative feelings. I don’t feel special, I just feel like another face on Tinder. I feel predated on, part of some sexist community of boys who see women as conquests. Most of all, I’m disgusted with myself. Why am I still doing this? Why do I keep coming back to the app like some unhealthy relationship? I’m suddenly tied to this sick, self-validating cycle of swiping right and seeing how many matches I can collect. Why am I talking to strange men? Is it to make myself feel better after years and years and years of sitting around waiting, thinking ‘what is wrong with me’ as other boys dated other girls and I just somehow always was forgotten? Lizzie’s so pretty. I’m going to ask Yasmin to prom next week. And then, oh yeah, there’s Francie. She’s alright, I guess.

It’s easy – so easy – to fall prey to loneliness. Part of why I’m still on Tinder is self-validation. I’m floored and flabbergasted and somewhat flattered that someone could find me remotely attractive. After rejection, crush after crush of going nowhere, four high school years with no first boyfriend, no first date, not even a first kiss, it’s hard to believe that I’d ever be noticed. It’s a twisted way for me to confirm my self-worth. As a romantic, it’s a desire to be romanticized as much as I romanticize others. I see the world through a lens of literary tragedy; I see everyone as a storybook character. It makes the world that much more beautiful. Subconsciously, I think it’s my turn. I want to be seen as someone’s protagonist, someone’s love interest, someone’s romantic hero. A girl with sad brown eyes who listens to Matchbox 20 and goes to arboretums – what a gem, what a catch. I just want to feel unique; I just want to feel like art.

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Then again, part of why I’m still on Tinder is wishful thinking. That’s also my old pal, the romantic in me. I want a purpose from all this, as if there is one.  I want that cute guy in my human geo class that I matched with to whip around one day as he’s heading out the door and ask “So why’d you swipe right?” And then I’d mysteriously answer “curiosity” before leaving in a sexual tension-charged blaze of glory, the perfect start of a beautifully intellectual relationship.

And another part of why I’m still on Tinder is the overestimation of my ability to flirt and not be awkward. Like I could ever answer a question about love confidently. I can barely wink. But something in me says that if the stars align and I play my cards right, I can flirt my way into true love.

These are misconceptions about myself and about love. I’m inexperienced, innocent, and way too young to be flirting with college graduates. I’m a girl who stays up until 2 AM writing blog posts about unrequited love. I’m not a hookup girl, I’m just a sad romantic. Sad romantics belong on Tumblr, not Tinder.

Yet I’d be lying if I said that I deleted my Tinder account. Maybe it’s my Stockholm syndrome speaking, but maybe the curiosity isn’t such a terrible thing. Maybe I keep coming back because I’m still trying to figure out why I keep coming back. I’m still trying to figure out who I am and what I want in a relationship. And maybe, hopefully, somebody will jerk me back to my senses and make me realize why I don’t need a Tinder account and have never needed one. And maybe, hopefully, that somebody is me.

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