Updated: Feb 15
In the first moments of 2023, a dear family friend wished me a “special someone” this new year.
Yes, my dating life is only known amongst my family and friends as lackluster, to say the least. And while I would love to sit around, condemning the pandemic for my abysmal prospects, my minuscule dating pool was small long before 2020.
But first, why do I think in-person interactions have failed me? Well, like most things, let’s start by blaming my alma mater, The Nightingale Bamford School.
I attended Nightingale for 13 years of my life (21-13= the majority of the time I’ve been alive), and while I am unaware of the current gender-inclusive terms, during my time there, it was an all-girls school. Heretofore, the school just didn’t have what I deemed bachelors, or really any men at all. And for the sake of inclusivity and clarity, the men I am currently talking about have been assigned male at birth.
But I must acknowledge that some of my peers did date in high school. However, I found that my classmates applied a “reuse, reuse, recycle” policy when contemplating new mates. And I wasn’t too fond of the idea that the same five boys from Collegiate and Browning (two all-boy schools) had these ~connections~ with my classmates. While this was less than ideal, hearing about each girl’s story made the concept even less appetizing.
So you can imagine my excitement––and ultimate disappointment––when I arrived at Clark. This disappointment deepens when I flashforward to my last semester as an undergraduate student, and I have discovered that eligible bachelors are few and far between on Clark’s campus. I have divided Clark students who identify as men into three categories: men not interested in women, incels, and “bachelors?!…oh wait; rumor has it they have multiple Title IX cases against them.”
You might be wondering, what is an incel? What does it mean to have multiple Title IX cases against someone? Well, they are two very disturbing terms, yet Clark’s campus seems to have a surplus. Short for “involuntary celibate,” incels can be defined as online community members (usually men) who see themselves as unable to attract women. This failure breeds hate, misogyny, and white supremacy in the online community. Call me crazy, but as a woman of color, I prefer to keep men with these traits out of my dating pool.
Title IX is the federal policy that denounces sex-based discrimination, from stalking to violent sex crimes. Clark believes that, “[The] University is committed to providing a campus environment where all students, staff, and faculty are safe from sexual violence, harassment, and discrimination.” This so-called commitment is as flimsy as my dating life, since many Clark men have Title IX cases against them. This is, of course, scuttlebutt, as Title IX cases are confidential. While Clark staff members aren’t allowed to speak on these issues, this rule does not apply to the accused or the accusor. And often times, when an attractive Clark bachelor walks by a group I am in, my friends often retell episodes of Law & Order SVU: Clarkie Edition. And while gossip can often be unreliable, I don’t feel the need to find the truth on my own.
With that, in honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s enter the world of dating apps.
Over the years, the romantic-comedy genre has led me to believe that humans, quite like myself, connect in person; this is called a “meet cute.” The story goes something like this. Boy meets Girl. Boy spills orange juice on Girl. Boy inappropriately touches Girl as he tries to clean up the juice he spilled on her. Boy and Girl fall for each other, but can’t admit it. Boy and Girl break up. Boy and Girl make a grand romantic gesture. Boy and Girl end up together!
But apparently, life isn’t at all like Notting Hill. And it is a little more like, You’ve Got Mail. In 1995, Match.com became the first online dating website, and for better or worse, it changed the dating world forever.
The ripple effect of dating apps resulted in a growth in interracial marriages. (Take that White Supremacy!) And in 2009, Grindr, a dating app for gay men, was marked as a “sexual revolution.” To the point that now 70% of same-sex relationships begin on dating apps.
However, personally, the general diversity in dating is really the only positive. The apps continue the sexualization of young women. In 2018, the New York Times reported that women’s online desirability peaks at age 18. In turn, men are at their most desirable at age 50.
These apps allow men of all ages to sexualize and fetishize young 18-year-old girls. But it kind of makes sense; men are at their most desirable when they are full-fledged adults, as they can understand how to take care of themselves. But at the same time, do men ever really grow up? And can they ever really take care of themselves?
Anyhow, back to the depressing cesspool of young adults on dating apps. According to Google, Bumble, Hinge, and Tinder are some of the top dating apps. I consider Tinder to be the basic rubric of all dating apps. While the app itself is visually pleasing, the men…not so much.
For those lucky enough never to grace dating apps with your presence, here’s how it works. After the app is opened, the profile center automatically appears, and the user’s possible matches materialize. A profile usually consists of 1-9 photos and/or videos, a bio, five interests, “basic information” ranging from details like zodiac signs to love languages, and a user's lifestyle (pets to sleeping habits.)
Users also have the option to use job titles, the company they work for, schools, and their city. They can connect their accounts to Instagram and Spotify. Since they are sharing everything else, they might as well share their social security number.
While some apps, like Tinder and Bumble, offer this information, none is required. And some profiles are composed of a random letter with a black screen. But, Hinge goes a little further, requiring a minimum of three verbal prompts and six profile pictures. Users can include a white border to photos with little phrases like, “get someone who looks at you like…” or “me during Fashion week.” Hinge members also have the opportunity to have written, audio, and video prompts as well as polls.
While I talk about the positive attributes of Hinge, as it is focused on dating rather than hookup culture. It is my least favorite app, as I often have the less matches and likes, at least compared to Tinder and Bumble. Hinge allows you to see who likes you and which photo or prompt they commented, liked, or rosed (think of a rose as a highlighted like, as users get one free rose per week.) And part of it is my fault, as I am visually not attracted to the guys who like me. So, I often quickly discard the profiles of men who like me on the app.
And the few men I swipe on rarely match; I have told myself that my confidence scares them away as Hinge men often seem more timid compared to Tinder and Bumble users. But please do not worry; I have also forced my friends to agree with this conclusion.
This synopsis also only shows men because I, disappointedly, only find the more unfortunate gender attractive. My queer friends often have success with matches and the occasional date with women from Hinge.
While Hinge is the dating app “designed to be deleted” because you have found someone, Tinder is the dirt underneath your fingernails; it never really goes away. Tinder users range from scum-sucking bottom dwellers, average joes who think they are hotter than they are, guys that are fine, and the occasional gentleman who may even ask you out on a date.
But when I asked my friends how they would describe Tinder, they quickly replied with:
A fun little mobile game to boost straight women’s self-confidence and validation while simultaneously destroying it.
My response to this was: Stop targeting me like that.
A goldmine for the most horrible pickup lines ever.
These “winners” really put dad jokes out to pasture.
I also suggest not having a word as a name, as 90% of all puns will be based on this word/name (not actually statistics).
Guy’s easy access for hookups and Snapchat streaks.
From the horror stories, I have just started lying about having Snapchat. This has reduced my number of unsolicited dick pics to practically none.
Bumble personally seems like the unhappy medium between the three. I say unhappy because no one is happy to be here. The users equally land on a dating spectrum, from f*ckboys and men looking for relationships. But my favorite feature is how, in a heterosexual dynamic, women message the men first. And this is perfect for my aforementioned confidence. You only have 24 hours to message someone, or the match will disappear. So, I have 24 hours to message a guy, and he has 24 hours to respond, or the match will disappear, never to be seen again…until one or both of you delete your accounts and the game restarts.
Now, you must be wondering, what fun little internet moments do you have to share? Well my favorite is the Sawyer Saga. No, it is not the pre-prequel to Star Wars, but it may as well be equally repetitive and unnecessary.
Having been at school for weeks this semester, I have seen and matched with Sawyer countless times, and every time I message, he never responds. I got to the point where I was no longer interested in him but curious as to why he kept deleting his account and rematching with me but never responding. So, the last time we matched, I called his behavior out. He responded instantaneously. This led to a very dull conversation. Until I turned to my friend Aan. Bored of Sawyer’s conversational skills, we hopped on her Bumble, and the first profile showed was of poor Sawyer. I snatched her phone away, and swiped right, liking him. The words “you got a match” popped up on the screen. Like adults, we rolled around on the floor, laughing at the absurdity of this man. We both began texting Sawyer simultaneously. And mere moments later, when the boredom of Saywer’s conversational skills sunk in again, we decided to send him selfies of each other.
He blocked me.
He continued to talk to Aan…who blocked him in solitary. We, of course, continued to laugh on the floor, bonded to this moment. So while Bumble has failed both Aan and me on all dating prospects, the app has fortified our friendship. Although our similar snark and continuous sarcasm had already done that.
If I may be so bold, I have some advice for many young users. If you have a son, nephew, or family friend you think may be on dating apps, I have some advice. For my benefit and the benefit of potential suitors, please have them remove all fishing adventures from their profile.
While I chose to believe that men clinging onto the mouth of fish for a photo-op is a national problem surrounding the dating world, it could just be New England. And to the millions on dating apps highlighting their fishing expertise, please stop. It’s not macho, hot, or sexy; it’s disturbing and just gives me another reason to swipe no. I have friends who screenshot every fish/man duo to later post it on their private Instagram; you become the laughing stock amongst their friends.
My goal with dating apps was to expand my dating pool, and I guess it has technically it has expanded. But someone’s virtual presence isn’t who someone is in real life. It’s hard to understand your connection with someone if you are just typing back and forth. Chemistry levels are muted during these online adventures, allowing time to be spent on people you’d never speak to for more than five minutes at a bar.
But it does allow you to meet people you would never find otherwise. I have teachers, friends, and foes who have all met their significant others on these dating apps. So maybe one day it will pan out, but today is not that day.
Alright, back to my favorite/least favorite mobile game.