December 11, 2015

Stop the Online Dating Shaming.

couple travel adventure

There seem to be just as many strong opinions around online dating as there are on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign—either completely for it, or completely disgusted whenever the topic comes up.

I’ve heard other girls or guys shame one another by saying things like, “They met on Tinder? I bet he/she is trashy.” Or, “What?! You are on Tinder!? Why?”

I myself was the victim of such stigmatized retorts after telling my friends that I was on Tinder.

Before I get to my personal experience, let me say I understand why someone might say these things. Online dating definitely has its cons:

There is still stigma.

As much as I wish it were true, simply writing this blog won’t eliminate the stigma our society bestows on those who create an online dating account. People judge. Simple as that.

You see people you know. 

A co-worker, an ex, a cousin—swiping through Tinder can become a little awkward at times.

The fear of starting a relationship from Tinder.

Fear and shame can become debilitating emotions. “What if I end up having to tell people I was on Tinder because I start dating someone I met from the app?” (Never gets Tinder.)

The anxiety around gender roles.

I often hear, mostly from girls, that Tinder is frustrating because they have to wait for someone they matched with to start the conversation, because girls who start the conversations sound “desperate.” (I will challenge this later.)

Potentially matching with a creeper.

While a picture on a dating site is worth a thousand words, there are no “anti-creeper” alerts. Unwanted crude messages can happen, but there is a simple solution: Block.

But, these cons lost their significance when I first moved to Nashville for school. It was really difficult to meet new people in such a touristy city. It seemed as if 85 percent of the people I met were tourists and 90 percent of those tourists were in town for a bachelor or bachelorette party.

Let’s just say downtown became very old very quickly. I began to think of what the pros could be for signing up for Tinder:

You see people you know.

What if I come across someone who lived in Nashville I didn’t know lived here? Or what if someone comes up whom I’ve always thought was cute but never had the chance to talk to?

Swipes are confidential.

No feelings are hurt. I can swipe left or right without letting the other person know and vice versa. Also, last names aren’t displayed, so it helps maintain my privacy.

Ability to chat with those you match.

I can chat it up with a match as long I want to on the app until I feel comfortable enough to exchange numbers or become Facebook friends. And yes, I am a girl, and yes, I did start conversations first. If I want to talk to people, I talk to them! That by no means means I’m “desperate.” If anything, people who believe that are delusional. No shame in my game.

The possibility of starting a relationship.

At the end of the day, I decided I couldn’t let fear keep me from the possibility of starting a relationship. I knew I had to put myself out there one way or another (other than Honky Tonk). And heck, if all it takes is signing up for an online dating site, so be it.

So I did what seemed like a logical solution. I signed up for Tinder.

A few conversations led to a few dates, but no one really seemed to spark my interest. I remember coming back feeling bummed after one date in particular, and I frustratedly told my roommate that I was going to delete Tinder once and for all.

I sat on my bed and did my final scan of everyone I had matched with—and then I saw him.

I remember I matched with him the first day I signed up for Tinder and hoped he would message me, but still nothing. But what did I have to lose now? So I messaged him first saying, “Hey, what are you up to tonight?” We ended up chatting for a few weeks, and then he took me out to get pizza for our first date (a man after my own heart).

The rest is history.

When I first starting dating my now-partner, I was scared (literally afraid) to tell my friends, family and anyone about how we met. We made up intricate stories to hide the fact that a simple swipe to the right brought us into each other’s lives.

I was always fearful of the dreaded question, “So, how did y’all meet?”

At first, I had two choices on how to respond:

1) The Honest Response.

Me: “We met on Tinder?” (I remember I said this with an inflection, my nerves getting the best of me.)

Other Person: “Oh, (awkward pause)… I wasn’t expecting that.”

2) The Lie.

Me: “Through a mutual friend. She goes to school with me and introduced us.”

Other Person: “Awwww! That is so cute. Tell me more! Do you have a picture?”

I quickly learned that telling the truth only lead to someone thinking our relationship was lesser, while the lie brought on curiosity, interest and positive affirmation. So naturally, I lied my a** off.

But soon, lying became exhausting, and I felt gross about myself. I was frequently thinking, “Why did we have to meet on Tinder? Why couldn’t we go back in time and run into each other in the library or coffee shop?”

And then I stumbled across this quote by Dr. Seuss:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

It seemed too simple, but trusting it as truth was the most freeing experience. Now, the honest response is my only option and I’m not afraid of the dreaded question, because if someone is uncomfortable with how we met, that is their problem to deal with, not mine.

This relationship has made me the happiest and healthiest version of myself, and I am thankful everyday that a simple swipe to the right brought us together. We have been dating for the past year and a half, and I really can’t imagine my life without him.

My intention in this post is not to have everyone running to sign up for Tinder (that is a personal choice), but rather to encourage reflection on how we respond to one another.

Be kind. Be thoughtful. And if we love ourselves first, being ourselves won’t seem so scary.


Relephant Tinder Reads:

By Going on Tinder, I Found Something Better than Love.

How an Exchange with a Guy from Tinder Helped Me Uncover My Limiting Beliefs about Men and Love.


Author: Laura Little

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Tord Sollie/Unsplash // Ondrej Supitar/Unsplash


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