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    As I’ve established before, dating in a city like Louisville can be a nightmare. When Tinder hit the app store, it offered everyone with a smart phone (over 10 million active users!) the potential to completely change the dating game. The dating scene on Tinder is a microcosm of the Louisville dating scene.

    For those of you who have not felt either the desperation or laissez-faire needed to actually join Tinder, here’s a breakdown: you set up a profile that connects to your Facebook, linking your name, age, photos, interests and friends list. You then choose the profile of people you are interested in. From there, Tinder gives you a selection of people who fit the bill, which changes according to where you are in the city and who’s closest to you. The app shows you these people profile-by-profile, and you can either swipe left for no or right for yes. If you both swipe yes, it notifies you both of a match. If you do not both swipe yes, nothing happens. Once matched, you both have the ability to message one another through the app.

    For a long time, I rejected suggestions to join Tinder. I feared the salacious wolves on the app would devour me like the tender, innocent lamb that I am. I wasn’t necessarily desperate for a relationship or questioning why I was single – I know why I’m single: it’s my overt snarkiness and resting bitch face. But I was curious. I wanted to see what it would really be like to try Tinder in a city like Louisville.

    Here is the profile I made:

    There were rules to my Tinder experiment. I would swipe right only on guys I was actually interested in, but since I’d be writing about the experience, I could not initiate any messages, and would respond to them as myself – no catfishing here. I wouldn’t try to trap a guy into a date if I wasn’t really interested in giving him a chance.

    I joined Tinder at 2 p.m. on a Friday, at my office in downtown Louisville. It was a matter of minutes before I got my first match. His name was Justin and, while I ultimately ended up un-matching him, he still holds a special place in my heart.

    By the time I got home from work the first day, I had five pretty attractive matches. To say that this was a boost to my ego would be an understatement.

    I mean, check these guys out:

    But by the end of the weekend, I had many more matches and…no messages.  

    It was, in fact, three weeks before I got my first message. Maybe this was because Tinder is based around immediate attraction: it’s very image driven, so there’s not much to show someone’s personality. Call me shallow, but I only matched with traditionally attractive guys, and I didn’t message any of them first. Maybe these guys had more outgoing girls filling up their inboxes. Maybe (since most of my matches were guys downtown in their late 20’s) these guys all had careers and social lives that made Tinder an afterthought. While I did try the app out at the bar on the weekend, I realized that it was a lot of work. It doesn’t make sense to try to prowl for men online while you’re also prowling for men in real life.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t need actual interaction for Tinder to introduce drama into my life. I knew when I signed up for this I would inevitably run into people I know in my real life. It didn’t take long for familiar faces to start showing up: some guy who interned at my old job (left), an obnoxious guy I once had class with (left), a guy who I briefly thought was my friend’s current boyfriend (he wasn’t: left), and a guy I had once worked with who was using a fake name (left).

    Then, a few days into my experiment, a very familiar face popped onto my screen. It was a guy with whom I had recently shared a friendship/romance/rejection. (if that sounds confusing for you, imagine how confusing it was for me). The leftover emotions were less like a heartbreak and more like a hangover: what had I been thinking? Why did this bother me so much? Why had I ever thought this was a good idea? Seeing his face on my phone was like seeing a shot of tequila after a bender: it kind of looked good, but it also kind of made me feel gross.

    I sat for several minutes frantically debating whether I should swipe left or right. The need to know what he swiped was too tempting. Then, in a moment of rationality, I realized that it didn’t matter what I swiped. If I said no, then the choose-your-own-adventure would end there. If I swiped right… there would be a possibility that we would be matched, and it would be equally awkward for both of us. I swiped right.

    We matched.

    The next morning, probably while hung over, the guy unmatched me. We never talked about it and, in fact, have not spoken since long before our match. This experience weirdly reflected our relationship in real life – a show of interest and then a changing of minds with no explanation. I guess, like art, Tinder imitates life.

    Ultimately, it took 19 days for a match to message me, but let me tell you, it was worth the wait. Here’s the message I got from Craig (NOTE: The text is kind of explicit):

    Note that, even though I’ve been courteous enough to protect this dude’s identity, what you put on Tinder is totally public and can be shared at any time.

    Obviously, Craig here was not serious (but if he was, let’s hope he eventually matches up with a good counselor). He was totally trolling, but I happened to think that it was hilarious. Unfortunately, I was busy studying at the time that I received this message and didn’t reply until two nights later. “That was beautiful,” I said. I have yet to hear back.

    A few days later, I got my first real, non-trolling message. His name was Mike and even though he messaged me at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, he seemed nice enough.

    I’m not sure that Mike appreciated my sense of humor, as this is the last I’ve heard from him. I’ve received a few more messages, like the gem you can find below, but most of them haven’t been noteworthy.

    I find myself at the end of my Tinder experiment with a few matches, a few messages, and a big question. Should I keep going?

    In a city like Louisville, where everyone knows everyone and everyone has dated everyone, is the potential humiliation worth the slim possibility that I’ll find love on Tinder? It’s certainly a boost to my self-esteem to be matched with handsome guys; it’s even fun to reject guys in a way that doesn’t allow them to retaliate. The weird interconnectivity that sets Louisville apart makes Tinder incredibly hard to use anonymously, but there is always that real, tiny, exhilarating chance that it will lead to something beautiful and life-changing, or at least something hot and exciting.

    So often, we meet people or see people across a bar that we don’t think are accessible to us because they’re attractive, or very social, or very drunk, or whatever reason it is keeping us from approaching them. Tinder offers a kind of shield that allows you to connect with people you may not have otherwise. It’s a good way to put things in perspective and realize that we have more going on for us than maybe we thought we did.

    Or maybe you’re just looking to hook up. It’s good for that, too.

    Michelle Eigenheer's picture

    About Michelle Eigenheer

    A Louisville transplant beginning to appreciate all the city's small things.

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