I went on a few dozen Tinder dates in 2015 after breaking up with my long term boyfriend. Here's what I learned.
1. Some guys will wear sweatpants on dates, and that's just a reality we all have to live with. If you're a woman, remember this every time you're preparing for a date and fretting about what to wear. It literally doesn't matter. There's a 20% chance he woke up from a nap ten minutes before meeting you. Wear whatever you want.
2. How good or bad the date will go is directly correlated with how sweaty he is. Honestly, the sweatiest guys are usually the most nervous ones--which means he'll inevitably tell you something embarrassing about himself, like that he believes that victims of domestic abuse are TOO protected under the law, or he'll ask you some really awkward question like, "Are you ready to have kids?" Try not to slip on his snail trail of sweat while you run for the hills.
3. If you're inexplicably dreading the date, just cancel. I know, I know, your roommate's friend's sorority sister's coworker was on the brink of cancelling a first date, but she went anyway and met the love of her life. That's not going to happen you. Sorry. Listen, once I went on a date I was dreading, and I ended up tripping on some uneven pavement and breaking my two front teeth. I could have saved so much money and physical pain if I had just told him that some "urgent business" had come up at work, and I had to cancel.
4. Some men are the actual worst. I don't think it comes as any surprise that some men on Tinder are gross about sex stuff, but it's like SHOCKING to witness in real life. I went on a pretty normal brunch date with a really quiet guy. Mere moments after we parted ways, he started sending me explicit messages, which was just so incongruous with how he acted when we were face-to-face. I think some people feel like the distance of a screen gives them the freedom to be more explicit, more daring, more aggressive. It's only a small percentage of the men on Tinder--like under 5% if I had to wager a guess--but it's still jarring.
5. He didn't text you because he didn't want to text you. It's not a mystery; he doesn't want to talk to you because he's not that into you. Don't let your well intentioned friends try to convince you otherwise. Have a glass of water, do a clay mask, take a nap, it's fine.
6. Dating can be kind of tedious. There's a chapter in Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs in which he describes telling the same canned jokes and stories on date after date because he knows that they work towards helping him create this nerdy, Woody Allen-esque persona that he thinks women adore. There were many moments when I found myself doing that on dates, rolling out the "greatest hits" because I knew that they were easy and entertaining, asking the same stupid first date questions just to fill the silence. When a date feels like more of a performance than a conversation, that's when you know it's not a good fit.
7. But dating can also be really fun! I mean, at it's best, a date is just spending some time getting to know a good looking stranger. At its worst, you'll have a really good "worst date ever" story to tell. It's a win-win, in a way.
8. It's OK to be a bad date sometimes. I identify with this Onion article a little too much. There's some behavior that's inexcusable. Like you shouldn't make your date feel unsafe or uncomfortable, and it's not OK to be flat out rude. But every once in awhile, you'll be having a bad day for whatever reason, and you'll find yourself incapable of saying anything charming or interesting, and instead you'll just be like "Do you have any secret suspicions about how you're going to die?" and "When was the last time you cried? I cried at work today." Like whatever, you were a bad date, oh well, move on.
9. Everyone wants someone who's smart, funny, nice, and good looking--but everyone has very specific and conflicting definitions of those words. I don't really connect with the idea of "chemistry" because it feels too vague and indescribable, but I know that I've felt indifferent about many of basically good guys because they weren't smart and funny and handsome in the specific ways I wanted them to be. I'm sure plenty of men would say the same about me. And maybe that's obvious, but it was kind of a groundbreaking revelation for me.
10. Liking someone is almost worse than not liking someone. There's a reason they call it a crush--because it can be crushing. Maybe it's just one of my fatal flaws, but I cannot stand the rush of being in like with someone: wondering if he likes me, feeling my stomach drop every time a text notification pops up on my phone, anxiously over-analyzing everything that he did and said... Ugh, it's the worst.
11. People are weirdly judge-y about Tinder! What the fuck! How is it any different from meeting someone at a bar? At its inception, I think Tinder was truly just a hook up app, and for some, it still is (more power to them, honestly.) But now, everyone's on it. There are certainly some valid criticisms of Tinder and other dating apps. For example, I have friends of other races who have been sexually harassed in a racially-charged way when using the app. I'm not trying to minimize that very real problem. All I'm saying is, maybe don't judge people for how the choose to live their lives!!!