Amidst the great ‘rona pandemic, people far and wide have been encouraged to practice “social distancing,” that is; avoiding large crowds and limiting physical contact with others so that the disease can be easier to contain. For some, this has been an easy transition with little bumps.
For others, social distancing has proven much harder, as extreme extroverts teeter over the edge of mundane boredom into a void of loneliness.
How are people combating these ever rising feelings of solitude during this national emergency?
Some are turning to their childhood hobbies, others are Facetiming their friends and family members to stay connected, and still others have chosen to venture out into the world of online dating.
This sudden desire to meet new people and potentially find an exciting partner (or two!) to accompany them during these weeks off school and work is evident in many of the bios that I’ve seen on Tinder in the past couple of days.
“Corona and chill?” “If corona won’t take me out, will you?” “Quarantine has forced me on here,” and many more.
Ah, Tinder, a huge billion dollar platform where singles can meet other singles and hopeful couples can become a thruple. There’s someone for everyone out there, it seems.
I joined Tinder, a day after I heard that my school, like many others in my district, would be shut down for two weeks. It was March 13, 2020. I thought, Oh, what the hell.
It wasn’t my first time on Tinder. Driven by a curiosity of “what’s out there,” and a period of stagnation in my own love life, I joined Tinder once before in 2019 and used the app for a little over a week before eventually deleting my profile.
During that time, my account was set to view both men and women profiles. However, just to switch things up a bit, this time, I set up Tinder to show me only female identifying participants. I wondered if there would be anything different between my experience now and that of my previous one, and granted - there were.
Although there were a few notable changes that I do believe correlate with an all female setting, take all that I’m about to say with a grain of salt, as this is by no means an accurately conducted study. There are a lot of varying factors between my Tinder trial now and then, that would prevent this account from being anywhere close to a controlled experiment, which I will get to later on.
Also keep in mind that I don’t remember every single detail from when I used Tinder in the past, nor do I have screenshots of the occasion to confirm without a doubt any solid conclusions.
However, here are the results and my speculations.
Time frame: Friday, March 13. 2020 to the following Friday, March 20. 2020
Results : 177 matches
38 matches messaged me first.
I messaged 19 matches first. (Yikes, does this make me a bad feminist, in the name of equality?)
This means that out of the 177 matches, only a third (57) was “engaged” or interacted with me in some way. The other 120 girls? Lost potential - truly tragic.
I’m quite positive that the ratio between the number of matches and said engagement was way closer when I joined Tinder in 2019, because of… well, the guys.
According to “Tinder Revenue and Usage Statistics (2018)” on Business of Apps, in the U.S, there are twice as many men on Tinder than women. This becomes very clear in practice when you have to swipe through at least a dozen guys before you are shown a female.
The norm also remains that the guy is ‘supposed’ to text first, and to be completely honest, I don’t think I’ve ever messaged a guy first on Tinder before. I simply did not see the need. This was the first major difference - although I always knew that guys disproportionately text first, it was still a little surprising to see the amount of girls who did not attempt to start conversation at all.
I’m no exception to this little phenomena either. Despite being pretty intent on messaging every single match first, the motivation to do so literally lasted about a day before I got tired of copying pasting, “How’s your Friday the 13th going?” From there on out, I didn’t message any new matches first unless they stood out to me in some way.
I also got lazy with matching sometimes, as there was definitely a few days over the week where I wasn’t on the app at all. Does this prove anything about females and males, and how driven each respective gender is in finding a partner? Perhaps, or perhaps not.
Next: The content, i.e how the conversations started. Out of the 38 females who messaged me first:
6 people complimented me on my short hair (This suggests short hair is more favorable in the gay community. It's also worth noting when I matched with guys in 2019 I never/rarely got a compliment on my long hair.)
2 people commented on my music (though music was almost always brought up later with practically everyone I spoke to)
10 people with any compliment unrelated to hair and music
17 with a simple “hey” or “how are you”
3 which I’ve categorized as ‘other’ because they don’t fit into the above four types of messages. These usually just responded to my bio, which sue me, was not exactly oozing in creativity either.
Again, to contrast with my 2019 Tinder experience, this supports my belief that when females are interested, they show it by having more specificity with their comments or compliments, and these typically have a greater variety than the compliments that guys use.
Business of Apps reports that a typical first message from a female on Tinder is on average, 122 characters, while for men, their first message is a slightly less substantial 12 characters.
At the same time, guys generally use pick up lines more often as a first message, and I distinctly remember this because my friends (who started using Tinder around the same time) and I would laugh when we received the same messages from the same guys. Does this prove anything about women and men and their originality when conversing with a potential partner? Maybe, or maybe not.
My third theory on the matter is that LGBT women, in general, tend to make the first move more often than a straight girl would, at least in the case of online dating.
This may be again, due to the societal norms assigned to men and women. Girls who are attracted to other girls may feel more comfortable reaching out because they can relate to one another more and they have equal footing with one another in society's eyes.
Supply and demand has a greater impact on this trend though. Being hetereosexual means you are in the majority, and you have more “fish in the sea” to choose from, so to speak. This brings down the necessity for a heterosexual female to actively seek out a heterosexual male partner, simply because of availability.
Business of Apps supports the idea that straight female Tinder users have the best chances of success when it comes to matching, as researchers who used a female Tinder profile and randomly liked all male profiles soon got 200 matches in an hour - whereas male Tinder profiles only received 100 matches using this same method. Using this logic, you can see why guys might feel the need to text first in order to maximize their chances of success with a match.
Likewise, because the pool of fish is smaller within the LGBT community, in order to make it easier for a homosexual female to find a girlfriend, it would be beneficial to be more outgoing and make the first move more often.
Obviously there are exceptions to all of this and it boils down to an individual’s personality, but my bisexual friends support me on these basic observations.
“Girls most often do not message first,” one said. But at the same time, “Girls have real conversations. Boys… they don’t know how to communicate,” another astutely pointed out.
My objective throughout this experiment was really to make a few new friends, so looks were obviously not a huge consideration. This isn’t to say I swiped right for every single person, but I definitely swiped right way more often than in 2019, as I did not find many of the guys on Tinder very appealing.
As a general rule of thumb this time, I always swiped right if I thought I recognized the person from social media, or from school or anywhere else. Half the time, I ended up being matched with that person and I would message them if I so dared - for shits and giggles. Whereas others have told me they try to actively avoid people they recognize on Tinder by swiping Left, I think it’s sort of amusing, like, wow, you’re here too? What’s up?
Because I did not use Tinder Plus/Gold, I ran into the “right swipe limit” quite often, after some twenty minutes of vigilant swiping whenever I felt like it. Tinder introduced this feature in 2015, in which the app caps the number of right swipes you can do in a twelve hour time period and gives you the option to upgrade to Tinder Plus/Gold to avoid this limit. (First of all… no.)
I don’t remember running into this limit in 2019, because again, I did not swipe right nearly as often in the twelve hour frame when my account was also set to view male profiles. This week was pretty revealing in terms of my bias towards females and my tendency to be friendlier with them, so from now on I will try my best not to play into these double standards.
The bottom line with Tinder goes without saying: it is still extremely superficial, even with the use of “bios” and having your music linked. The average person takes just a few seconds before they decide if they “like” you enough to say hi. Yes, I was guilty of this as well. I noticed that I didn’t make a conscious effort to stop and think, “Why not give this person a shot?” swiping became just a matter of who visually appealed to me.
Overall though, my experience on Tinder has been… fun? I had a few conversations that made me laugh and met a few potential texting buddies through the app but that's about it for now. One’s mindset truly plays a huge role in this sort of thing. Tinder is what you make it. If I had started out very optimistic and went in there with a burning determination to find somebody with the sole purpose of uhh, copulating, I’d probably be successful - just judging off the amount of people on there who are willing to do just that.
One girl, when asked how successful she has been in using Tinder in the context of hookups, reported, “Sometimes. Maybe two times in the past two years.”
Hey, that’s something. What are the odds? Hookups or otherwise, Tinder or not, quarantine or not, I highly encourage everyone out there to just be open to making new memories with people outside of their 9 to 5. Finding that special one doesn't have to be your main focus - it is only the cherry on top of one short lived “ human experience.”
I also encourage women, especially my gay women, to text first! Be bold!
With that being said, I shall patiently wait.