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As an app-loving 21st-century single on social media, there’s nothing quite like the sweet dopamine hit of a match on Tinder. Oh sure, scoring a three-figure like tally on Instagram is a rush, but it can’t touch the feeling of knowing that someone within a 15-mile geographic radius thinks you look sexy enough to date. Locking down a match is only the beginning of the story, though—it’s getting from right swipe to first date that’s often an existential roller coaster. There are LOLs to navigate, and, of course, emojis—not to mention the interpretive between-the-lines reading comprehension that, in some cases, can feel like a full-blown dissertation defense. From matching up to meeting up, here is a step-by-step look into what goes through the mind of an average guy as he navigates his way through the Tinder experience.
1. In the beginning: Swipe left, swipe left, swipe left, what is this, the DMV database? Come on! Swipe left, swipe left, SWIPE RIGHT! Yes, finally.
2. Bingo! A match! Obviously, I mean, who could resist?
3. Making the first move: Alright, time to initiate. Hopefully she responds to this with something funny and clever. Outgoing text: “Hi, beach or mountains?”
4. She wrote back! Incoming text: “Hi. Beach.”
5. Hm. Sigh.
6. The charm offensive: OK, gotta bring the A-game comeback here, although this one might make me sound like an asshole. I could add an emoji to make sure she knows I’m joking, but then I’m the “guy who uses emojis.” Is it better to risk looking like an asshole or like the “guy who uses emojis?” Asshole, definitely asshole.
7. Will she or won’t she? Yes! Nailed it.
8. Chit chat: Ugh, small talk with her is like pulling teeth. But she is really hot, so…
9. The click: Wait, she likes baseball? Damn, this girl is amazing.
10. Hm. OK, her response to that was super flirty. Or possibly racist. I’m pretty horny though so I’m sticking with flirty.
11. Don’t hate the player: Gotta play it cool. Won’t respond to this text until later tonight. Don’t want her to think I’m some lonely obsessed weirdo.
12. …Hate the game: (One hour later) Has it been long enough or too long? Will she think I’m not interested if I don’t respond now? Or too interested if I do? That last text didn’t even really require a response and I don’t want her to think I’m obsessing. I mean, I’m not obsessing. I’m totally not obsessing. I’m strategizing. I’m “playing the game.” But what if my game sucks? No, my game is good. I got good game. But what if it isn’t? It might not be. What if I’m really bad at this and I never end up with anyone. What if I scare off every eligible woman there is and end up dying alone? I’m going to die alone. I am totally going to die alone! Hell with it, why don’t I just move to a cabin in the woods and get it over with already? Why is this all so difficult? It’s not like there’s some sort of blue print, I’m flying blind here. We should totally go back to arranged marriages, this is too much work. Damn this girl, why does she have to torture me like this. This really isn’t worth it. Screw it, I’m over it. I’m not even going to respond. I’m just going to nut up and die alone… I need a drink.
13. Drank: (Five drunken hours later) “Hol on, hol on, I gotta text this girl on Tinder that I met on Tinder today cuz she s’really hot.” Outgoing text: “hi this song on playing the radio makes me want 2 get it on wear you at? ps Im might be drunk.”
14. Ruh roh: (The next morning) Welp, that’s the end of that.
15. But wait! (A bit later that morning) Incoming text: “Hi! How was your night LOL?” Huh. I’ll be damned. Outgoing text: “A little rough (gritting teeth emoji). Want to grab a drink sometime?”
16. Can you hear me now? (10 minutes later) No response. She’s probably busy at work. No need to hit the panic button. (One hour later) It’s cool. She’ll probably text me on her lunch break.
(4:00 PM) What’s going on here? Was it the emoji? Am I being ghosted? Why hasn’t she responded?
17. Woot! (7:30 PM) MOTHERFU… Incoming text: Yes! How about Thursday?
18. NBD. Cool. I totally knew she’d respond.
19. The first date: (Thursday, 7:00 PM, at home standing in front of mirror) Is this blazer too dressy? I don’t want to be too dressy. Yeah, it’s too dressy. Is it too dressy? It’s a first date, I don’t want to look too dressy. It’s too dressy. Is it too dressy? (Googles “what to wear on a first date”).
(Thursday, 8:01 PM, at the bar) I wonder if we’ll have sex tonight? We could totally end up having sex tonight. I really hope she looks like her picture because, damn.
(Thursday, 8:06 PM) Oh come on, seriously? (Scrolling through phone) we said 8 right, where is she? I feel like an idiot sitting here by myself. So awkward. What if she doesn’t show? How long do I sit here looking like an idiot? I should slouch back in my seat so I look cool, like nothing can bother me. That way people will know I’m a badass even if she doesn’t show. No that’s too slouchy, I look stupid. Oh well, time to pull the phone out and pretend I’m texting someone.
(Thursday 8:09 PM) Oh thank God, she’s here! Huh… Doesn’t really look like her picture.