If I am not otherwise addled by my confusing feelings for a crush and my inability to make any sort of move, my day after working usually consists of saving memes to my meme folder and watching Vine compilations until 4 in the morning. I can’t do much in terms of confronting my feelings so I usually simmer in them until nothing can happen and then move on to the next.
While it’s relatively easy for me to harmlessly talk to people I find mildly attractive and consider distractions, I’ve still widely regarded myself as quite the shy type. Sweaty palms and rehearsing what I want to say next are all things I deal with daily–even trying to figure out what nickname to call my dog causes me to overthink (legit).
It’s hard having a crush on a 10 when you’re a shaky 4 with the right lighting and angle coupled with embarrassingly low self-esteem. Top that with an awkwardness massive enough to inhabit the planet Jupiter and you’ve got quite the challenge.
So, two birds, one stone. A move out of my comfort zone: A shy girl like me tries out dating apps for a week. And this is what happened and what I learned. (And I am totally using Stranger Things-esque title cards because this was a very strange thing to me.)
Day 1: The Dread of Downloading
It took me about two hours to convince myself that downloading the apps wouldn’t cause my phone to explode.
Tinder and Bumble were the two apps I was told to consider and, because I’m me, I did extensive research on both. Bumble was explained to be a “feminist” dating app where girls were the ones to chat up a match first. Tinder was equal opportunity. And because I’m a progressive, strong, independent young lady who’s also iyakin (a crybaby), I downloaded Bumble first.
After initial set-up, it didn’t take me long to bump into an awkward high school acquaintance. We sort of knew each other because he had a crush on a friend of a friend and… you know, high school stuff. Didn’t think it’d be fun for either of us to say “hey, remember [obscure high school event/dance/get-together]?” so I swiped left and immediately felt guilty.
While simmering in my guilt I got Tinder, too. I swiped away. There were plenty of interesting people on both apps with witty one-liner bios that would sometimes make me think twice about the left-swipe. I like humor, it’s a weakness. On Bumble, one particular bio stood out: “Nice to be on the receiving end of a cheesy pick-up line for once.” I found it charming and pretty representative of the nature of the app. It’s kind of like an elevator pitch, people aren’t going to spend more than maybe 5 seconds before their thumb swipes one way or another.
While looking through profiles, I saw someone I met indirectly at an event. They were nice enough for the 10 seconds we were speaking to each other and in my reminiscing, my hands and my brain disconnected for a second, leading me to swipe right by accident. Mortified, I turned off my phone and went to bed.
Day 2: Matches Made
When I opened the apps on day 2, I saw that matches were made and it made me nervous. I put down my phone, did some work, laughed at a meme, and then turned it back on.
I was initially intimidated, especially on Bumble. But as I scrolled through the people I matched with, I recognized a good college friend. I messaged enthusiastically and explained what was going on. He just laughed and supported my endeavors. Very kind. 10/10 friend.
I think the first match you ever get is kind of thrilling in a way. So when I checked Tinder and saw I’d matched with someone, I was pretty shocked, because the entire online dating sphere was pretty fascinating to me at this point. And, just as I was appreciating how interesting it actually was, first match messaged something pretty creepy. Bubble burst. Safe to say I turned off my phone for a few hours.
After a while, I noticed another good college friend matched with me and he was asking me what in the world I was doing on there. “BA’T KA NANDITO? (WHY ARE YOU HERE?)” He asked me with multiple “haha”s and I explained myself again. He supported me like the kuya (older brother) figure he’s always been. I made a good number of matches, half genuinely interested in my day (I think) and the other half ghostlike with unresponsiveness.
While swiping, I encountered two Kermit the frogs. I decided to call it a night.
Day 3: Swipe Right Sadness
Day 3 proved to be pretty interesting. The onslaught of strangers with faces I’d never encountered before began to slow and I saw one or two more familiar faces–some of whom made me slightly uncomfortable. A quick swipe left, however, and they were off my mind. Interesting how the app sometimes felt like it was 0 to 100 and back again.
One particular encounter felt like it was amped up all the way to 1000. I found myself staring at the screen, looking at the name and face of an old crush. It was an awful experience and it made my throat dry up. I debated for hours trying to decide which direction to swipe in. It’s not as if I didn’t like him but I also didn’t want it to seem like I was eager to show him just how much I did (do?).
After internally debating, I decided to swipe right. It wasn’t as if he’d ever know I did anyway, it didn’t matter. Swiped right. The screen darkens slightly. “It’s a match!” I am mortified and confused at the same time. Now he knows I swiped right. I cried for a good ten minutes and neither of us messaged ever.
Answering messages was also pretty intimidating, mostly because of that first match encounter. But a lot of people were pretty easygoing and just liked to talk about their day-to-day. Sprinkle on an inappropriate comment or question every now and then and the patterns begin to take shape. And while I’m often on the fence and repeating that mantra about not talking to strangers to myself, it was some sort of quiet agreement that everything’s relatively relaxed and casual.
I also bumped into a Darth Vader. Was too afraid to swipe right so I swiped left immediately, in case he used the force to get me to swipe otherwise. A stranger and I also discussed the joy of Disneyland and how, if we got married, that would be our honeymoon destination.
Day 4: The Rule of Thumb
By Day 4 I felt a little more relaxed. I found a college friend who eased my nerves by remembering our classes together, my kuya figure from day 2 continued supporting me, and I saw a familiar face from some of my extracurriculars. I also encountered someone as passionate as I am about spicy chickenjoy which is always something to approve of.
I realized at this point that I developed a rule of thumb: If there’s only one photo, I swipe left. If there’s no bio, I swipe left. If there were references to memes or jokes I found funny, I always paused first before deciding. These guidelines of sorts were there just to, you know, avoid the possibility of serial killers. Or catfishes. As someone who binges true crime shows and keeps my TV perpetually locked on Crime and Investigation, it just felt natural.
Just as I was figuring out my rules and preferences, my thumb froze as it pressed down on the glass. A guy I knew from college was on the screen. I had an intense crush on him before I graduated and I started laughing and crying simultaneously. I swiped left with the intensity of a thousand suns all while screaming “I’m over you!” I was proud of myself for a hot minute. I then told some of my college friends about how I’d swiped left. None of them believed me.
Day 5: Crawl to Comfortable
Day 5 felt the most natural out of all of them. After working and writing, I spent some time on the apps. The more I explored, the more fascinating people I found. People traveling, writing novels, creating things, working on their PhDs, etc. Some were, of course, just looking for casual things and didn’t reveal much about themselves on their bios but they were few and far in between.
A charming bio I saw was “ready to lie about how we met?” which I found cute and funny. Only one photo, though, and he was turned away. Sticking to my rule of thumb, I swiped left (I say this with Crime and Investigation on in the background).
I also grew less guilty about not replying to messages. Especially when a lot of people would message “Where are you?” which I was never comfortable answering. But to people who seemed genuine or intelligent, I was a little less nervous in terms of response.
Late in the evening, I matched with someone who enjoyed talking about religion and spirituality. And we had a pretty fascinating conversation. He then asked: “Where are you?” I hesitated, briefly uncomfortable. I stopped responding for a bit to think. I was genuinely enjoying our talk, though. So I just answered: “I’m at home, working” This was maybe an hour later. He responded with: “Oh, cause I’m leaving tomorrow.” We both just thanked each other for each other’s time.
Day 6: The Quiet End
Day 6 was like the downward slope. This was when I knew the week was on its way out and I was pretty excited to get back to my life of appreciating memes and laughing at videos late at night. Things quieted down, especially in terms of messages. Many people never answered the last thing I sent and vice versa. Sometimes I lost the drive to respond to someone and the conversation would become dry.
What I noticed also is that plenty of people tend to match but not speak. Maybe it has something to do with how matching is kind of a confidence booster and talking is kind of extra steps to take for some people. It’s definitely a great big ego boost to see that someone has swiped right on you so I can see why people open up the app with no intentions of conversing.
I appreciated the growing number of memes I saw integrated into profiles and they quickly became topics of conversations that would later fizzle out when they’d ask very invasive questions. I elected to ignore them, putting my foot down and finally unmatching with people who made me uncomfortable. Points for me! I’m strong and independent!
Day 6 was the day I learned to cull the toxic. It’s 2018, you know. New year, new me!
Day 7: Finish Line
Yes, we’ve finally made it. Out of the entire 7 days and the many profiles and people I encountered and spoke to, only one or two people stood out for me. They were genuine and charming and I liked that they really tried to talk first. I understand the nature of the apps–I’m not naive–I just prefer getting to know people more.
I decided, before deleting the apps, I’d try to go through a few more profiles. I did and saw more people I knew personally and decided nah. I walked away with an overall enlightening experience and a tick on a bucket list item I didn’t know existed until now.
I learned that the act of swiping itself is actually pretty fun! I see why people enjoy doing it. One of my closest friends is on Tinder and she always tells me it’s just fun seeing people and swiping. I can also see why a lot of people use dating apps just for a good ol’ ego boost. It definitely feels good to match with someone. Like a stranger is validating you.
As much as I had pretty big takeaways from this little experiment, I don’t think the dating app scene is for me. It’s enjoyable and a great platform to meet loads of new people but it didn’t resonate with me so much. And it might be the Black Mirror binge I went on just this week talking but I think I could do without it. So much power to you if you’re into it, though! It’s great fun and getting to know people is always interesting.
As for me, I’m going back to laughing at nonsense at 4 in the morning. It just fits me better. Swipe right to that.
Have you ever used dating apps? What was your experience like? Let us know!