How to Escape a Tinder Nightmare
A completely essential guide courtesy our new sex and relationship columnist and genius behind Tinder in Brooklyn.
Welcome to The Coveteur’s brand new series about sex and dating, brought to you with the expertise and humor of our friend Lindsay, of the laughably addictive Tumblr, Tinder in Brooklyn. In her own very DGAF way, she’ll be breaking down the good, the bad and the downright bizarre that is, well, dating in the time of Tinder (and all that other shit we Gen X, Y and Z-ers have to deal with). Check back often, because you know there’s lots to discuss, and let us know what you think on Twitter, @thecoveteur, #TinderinBrooklyn.
It started as a drinking game.
Last fall, my friend Sarah invited me over to her East Village apartment for some shitty wine and not-so-shitty conversation. As the two-buck-chuck started flowing, Sarah confessed she was on Tinder, something I had been DYING to try. I grabbed her phone, began swiping, and within minutes I had found a shirtless fireman. There was no going back.
Before I knew it, I had a Tinder account too, and Sarah and I had created an outstanding new drinking game: swipe right indiscriminately at a rapid fire pace, and whenever you get a match, you drink. I don’t remember much else about that evening, but as I lay in bed the next morning nursing my hangover, I found myself swiping again. ‘Okay, fine,’ I reasoned. I was too old for drinking games, but Tinder was definitely in my wheelhouse.
For those of you who don’t know what Tinder is, well, you’re probably fucking lying. OF COURSE you know what Tinder is. Everyone knows what Tinder is. For Christ’s sakes, I was in Utila, Honduras recently, and the entire island was Tindering away in between siestas. So let’s not play this game, kittens. You know exactly how to land a Tinder date. The real question is, how do you get your ass out of a bad one?
Since I am clearly winning at life, I have spent the last six months becoming somewhat of an expert in this area. Here are a few words of wisdom to help you avoid, um, ending up in my ridiculous shoes.
Pre-Tinder Date: The Screening Process
“Make good choices” is one of my mom’s preferred parental mantras (along with “Don’t get pregnant” and “Give me back my Nars lipstick”). Yet, despite her best efforts, I still make very, very bad decisions. Constantly. Case in point: I’m currently in law school and writing freely about my sex life on the interwebs. What could possibly go wrong!?
When it comes to men, I started making bad decisions young. I mean, my favorite Backstreet Boy was HOWIE. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that 90% of my Tinder nightmares could have been avoided at the outset: the screening process. When deciding if a Tinderperson is worthy of an actual date, keep in mind the following:
Do Your Homework
It goes without saying that the average Tinder profile is less reliable than a Brian Williams’s war report. This means that additional background creeping is essential. Pictures will show your Tinderman in younger, fitter, pre-hairloss (and, in one case, pre-losing a finger in a woodworking accident) form. Frankly, I can’t hate on guys for this. My Tinder profile is basically a carefully curated selection of Valencia-filtered optical illusions… but we’ll unpack my issues another time.
Beyond visual trickery, Tindermen often just blatantly make shit up. I know, I know: I’ll give you a moment to process that tidbit of entirely new information. But seriously, bullshit is rampant on Tinder, so for the love of God, do your research! (One of my more hilarious Tinder dates admitted to shaving five years off his age because he “hadn’t been getting many matches since he hit 40.” Well played, sir.)
BOTTOM LINE: you are being lied to. Fact check that shit.
Don’t Ignore Red Flags
I once went out with a guy who asked me to ‘send him a pic’ before we met up. While I’m certain he was hoping for something more scandalous, I replied with a majestic picture of Hulk Hogan making an orgasm face. Because that, my friends, is how I roll.
Clearly, my Tinderman did not find this as hilarious as I did. That alone should have had me canceling the evening right there. I mean, if you don’t love the Hulk, this is clearly not going to work. Unfortunately, I ignored my instincts, and the universe punished me accordingly. I spent the next 45 minutes sitting across from a humorless asshat sporting a V-neck tee displaying the kind of man-cleavage I had previously known only to exist in Ricky Martin videos. He also asked me if my tits were fake. Lesson learned.
Date Night: Tinderhang or Tinderbang?
Tinder started off as a hookup site, but as most people are aware, hooking up is no longer Tinder’s primary purpose. In fact, I think one of the main reasons Tinder exploded is because it operates as a kind of gateway app. It allows people who think they are too cool for digital dating (i.e. yours truly) to online date without having to answer an awkward E-Harmony questionnaire. As a result, most people who meet on Tinder aren’t expecting to get laid… immediately. But that’s not always the case. So be upfront about what you have in mind. Whether you are interested in sex, a date or finding someone to play videogames with (YAAAASSSS), you should make sure you and your Tinderperson are on the same page before meeting up. Nothing screws up an evening like wildly unbalanced expectations.
Facing the Music: The Escape
Unless you’re my roommate who magically found a boyfriend (a British one at that) on her first Tinder date, you are going to go out with some duds. It’s science. So how exactly should you proceed? I’ll be damned if I know. But here are a few options that have worked for me:
OPTION #1: Just Leave. Seriously. You are a grown-ass woman, and if you want to leave you don’t owe anyone an explanation, let alone Mr. Man-Cleave. However, I realize that’s easier said than done. So if you don’t have the energy to spell-out your disinterest, perhaps you should try
OPTION #2: Scare him. No…. not with pepper spray—with craziness. I suggest trying any the following phrases:
1. ‘I consider my selfie stick an investment piece.’
2. ‘We should go see the new J.Lo movie.’
3. ‘I enjoy masturbating to pictures of Vladimir Putin.’
OPTION #3: Stick it out. This one is my absolute favorite, because honestly, bad dates are fucking hilarious. So okay, you’ve decided you’re never going to see this guy again, right? Cool beans. Now sit tight and stick around for the car crash. Seriously! My first Tinder date involved a man who, to be frank, made me want to run for the exit sign the moment laid eyes on his gloriously misrepresented face. Unfortunately for me, it was leg day at the gym. So running wasn’t really an option at that point in the evening. So I stayed.
Now, if this were a Reese Witherspoon movie I would tell you that, in the end, I had a wonderful time. That I found a great guy and learned a valuable lesson about life, love, and most importantly, how to truly listen to my heart.
Not exactly. As anticipated, my date with the catfisher was a horror show from start to finish. The man smelled like dried shrimp and had a personality that made engaging in small-talk feel like squeezing water from a stone. In fact, the highlight was the moment I realized that our server most definitely thought I was a hooker. I regret nothing.
BOTTOM LINE: Sometimes, you just need to embrace the fuckery. Then go back to step one, revise your screening process accordingly, and try again.
Illustrations by Meghann Stephenson.