By: Nicole Bates Instagram: @nicolebates_
I have a pretty tumultuous relationship with Tinder.
I first downloaded the app on a whim in high school one night while hanging out with friends. We swiped away until we could swipe no more, giggling girlishly at every familiar face we came across. Then, at the end of the night, I deleted my account, because I of course was not using Tinder seriously to try to meet someone.
Then I continued on with my pretty boring and uninteresting love life, refusing to give in and accept help from the Internet dating app, because in my heart I still had hope for romance. Though I present a cynical exterior at times, inside I am a romantic. I love playing imaginary scenarios in my head, where me and the imaginary boy I had been friends with for years finally realize we love each other and then go on to have a beautiful little love story. Or I would imagine meeting a boy when we both go to see the same movie alone and end up sitting together and falling in love. I watch movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, La La Land, Call Me By Your Name or even Twilight (so bad, it’s good), and I long for these grand, poetic romances; but frankly, I don’t think they really happen all that often in real life.
So, this brings me back to Tinder.
At the end of my second semester at UMass, when the famous “Swipe-Off for Cardi B” took place, I re-downloaded Tinder so I could do my part to contribute to the competition as a UMass student.
During this period, I probably changed my Tinder an embarrassing amount of times. First, I created a real account fully-equipped with my most flattering photos, but with “only for Cardi B” in my bio, just to show people even though I’m on here showing off my best self, I don’t want to be bothered (but if you’re really cute and do message me I might respond). Then I decided this was stupid, so I deleted all my photos and put up one picture of Cardi B, just so there would be absolutely no confusion.
Since then I have created and deleted several Tinder accounts, put myself on “pause,” swiped away, matched and messaged, but never have I actually met someone from the app.
And through all this time I have remained single with a relatively dull love life. So, what does this mean? I suck. I’m unattractive, uninteresting and un-dateable… or maybe I’ve just fallen victim to a bigger societal problem in the world of dating.
According to journalist Kate Julian, who wrote Why are young people having so little sex? for The Atlantic’s December 2018 issue, we have entered a “sex recession.” She cites several reasons as to why we are seeing a decline in rates of sexual activity among young people, but a big one I found to be super relatable as a college student is social media. The platforms that are supposed to bring people closer together are actually pushing people further into isolation.
You sit alone in the dining hall or you take an elevator ride with a stranger and you go on your phone. Our phones are now like crutches that give us a socially acceptable way to avoid social interaction. The windows of opportunity to “meet people” are dwindling when the norm is becoming to always be on our phones when we are out of our comfort zone. So, we turn to online dating apps, because it is easier than having to face the scariest thing of all-
Talking to a stranger and not knowing what might happen.
In her article, Julian acknowledges that in this sexual awakening where people are liberated to freely practice whatever kind of sex they want, these apps are helping people in niche sexual groups find each other. So she states this sex recession may be a mostly heteronormative one.
However, the bigger problem of losing our ability to socialize affects everyone. I personally believe that sexuality is a spectrum, and if we allowed ourselves to be open to new people and new connections more often we might have better luck finding fulfilling romantic and sexual relationships.
Another problem in finding sexual and romantic relationships is that in a “#metoo” age, the stakes for a man flirting with a woman are higher than ever before, because his actions could quickly be spun into sexual harassment. No man wants that. Similar to Kate Julian, I would definitely consider myself a feminist: I support women sharing their stories, and I believe women always deserve respect from men, but a part of me empathizes with these men. I can imagine how stressful it must be not knowing how to flirt anymore because you don’t know where the “line” is.
Girls dream of men stumbling into their arms in some magical, romantic way at a coffee shop or on the bus or even maybe in the library, but how is this ever going to happen if every time a man flirts with a woman it is interpreted as creepy.
There is a fine line between what is acceptable flirting and what is not, but eliminating it all together can make for a lot of lonely people, who may be able to find companionship in one another but never will because they are too scared of what might happen.
With this mass crucifixion of straight males, nobody wants to be the next one to be ousted for mistreating a girl, but that doesn’t mean talking to girls in person (NOT on the internet) has to be out of the question.
There’s no harm in striking up a conversation with someone who you find intriguing and finding out what things you may have in common. And if the conversation progresses to something more, you begin to hang out, you try to figure out if it’s a “date” or not, this can be one of the most exciting parts of dating!
The most important thing to remember is just to ask for permission before doing anything sexual to make sure you are both on the same page, and you can have a mutually pleasurable sexual experience ( which if you read Julian’s full article, you’ll see is rare these days!)
Sex is fun! And humans are unique in that we have sex our entire lives just for recreation! Even in situations that couldn’t possibly lead to reproduction, we still have sex just to have sex! Sex is good for your happiness, and it does not and should not be tossed to the sidelines just because it is too complicated to navigate in the modern world. Go read Julian’s full article and figure your sex life out, because it is important for your health and well-being!