Tinder: An Unexpected Realization

I’m 30 years old and single.  This is my doing.  I’ve had plenty of opportunities for girlfriends in the past couple of years.  I’ve traditionally been against relationships altogether, but as I’ve softened to the idea, I’ve discovered that I’m extremely picky and am quick to develop an exit strategy as soon as I sense a girl wants to be exclusive.  There’s some background.

I joined this new dating app called Tinder.  Simple format: each profile has an age, tagline, and five pictures.  You basically scroll through and either like or don’t like the person. It’s just shy of being 100% based solely on looks.  The app is linked to your Facebook account, so it does list mutual friends and interests, but again, it’s what’s in the pictures.  The twist is that you only know if someone likes you if he or she likes you back, and vice versa.  It’s pretty anonymous in that sense.

I was confident when I started this thing.  I got the tip from a coworker.  A “hot or not” app?! Shit, let me mop this thing up!

More background…

“Let me mop this thing up” comes from years of experience.  Let’s get this straight.  I’m not some self-delusional lame-o who sees something different in the mirror than what everybody else sees.  Looks are not something I worry about.  This will sound cocky, but it’s truth.  Please forgive me.  I know I’m a good looking guy at this point.  I’ve probably gotten that I’m “hot,” “handsome,” “attractive,” “beautiful,” “fine,” “good-looking,” “easy on the eyes,” “sexy,” “cute,” and “pretty” over 1,000 times in the past 15 years— from 1,000 different people, literally.  I’m not cocky about it.  I don’t really care.  It hasn’t gotten me anywhere.  I don’t make much money and I’m single, and I pride myself on other things.  And at 30 years old, I know that looks fade and don’t mean shit in the big picture.  I’m honestly just relaying what I’ve experienced.  These compliments have come from everywhere.  Girls my age telling me I’m hot; my little sister notifying me that her friends think I’m cute; old ladies telling me I’m handsome; guys telling me that I must get all the girls; gay guys telling me it’d be on if I swung that way.  I get it from store clerks, servers, classmates, coworkers, friend’s parents, random people—black, white, brown.  I think you get the point.

The reason I set up the aforementioned over-the-top, overblown level of narcissism, conceit and self-aggrandizement is for the contrast that follows.  After being on Tinder for well over a month… I’ve gotten two matches—two matches!! What the hell?!  How could that be?

Now, before we go any further, a few variables need to be discussed.  A number of things can contribute to why someone might not get many matches on Tinder.  A few big ones I see are bad pictures, a stupid or immature tagline, not “liking” anyone yourself, or the reality that matches themselves are rare.  The problem is that I cover these bases.  My pictures are pretty normal.  I have mostly smiling face shots, one running picture, and one group-of-friends picture—nothing crazy.  My tagline ranges from “Hi” to “It’s Hammer Time”—again, nothing crazy (or at least nothing “disqualifying”).  I’d estimate that I’ve liked over 50 girls on there (and possibly more)—not the issue.  And as far as matches themselves being rare, I know they aren’t.  I’ve read Tinder experimentation articles where getting matches was never mentioned as a problem (maybe after the match happens, but that’s a different issue).  And a few guys I know (who are far from Brad Pitt look-alikes) have gotten a bunch of matches, so again, what’s gives?

This boils down to one thing: race.  It is the only thing that makes sense.  Now listen, I’m not pulling some kind of Reverend Al Sharpton yelling racism! card—far from it.  I’m simply making an observation about reality.  I’m not mad, vindictive, or blaming anyone.  I’m commenting about human nature.

This is my take: Even though interracial relationships are now totally acceptable, and it’s common for white girls to find black guys attractive, most white girls still prefer white guys.  That statement could get slapped with the obvious duh! tag, but I think there’s nuance there that matters.  It’s not as simple as saying “some white girls like black guys and some don’t.”  That is obvious. But I think this Tinder experiment allows that to be taken a little further.  Tinder allows the dichotomy to come front and center.  That dichotomy being: why would a girl think a guy is hot but immediately pass on him as a potential partner?  Unless there’s some kind of technological cognitive dissonance going on, I’m not sure how someone can be attractive in real life but not online (especially if he is often called photogenic). So I think it’s safe to assume that I should be an attractive guy online too.

My thoughts are that when random people, out and about in society, call someone attractive, it’s noncommittal.  It’s almost more of an impersonal compliment. “You’re a very handsome guy.” “Hey, thanks, appreciate that.” That’s it.  There’s no follow up necessary.  What Tinder (or dating sites in general) does is encourage a follow up.  The ultimate goal of these sites is to find a partner (or at least with using Tinder as a “hot or not” app, you still have incentive to like people to know if they like you back).  As a girl looks at my profile, there’s a good chance she thinks I’m attractive.  But that’s not enough.  The follow up is: if I “like” him, we might match.  If we match, he’ll talk to me.  Fast forward: can I see this guy as my boyfriend?  “Umm… I kind of saw myself with a white guy.”  I guarantee that’s what’s happening.  It’s the only thing that can explain why I feel like a damn model walking around in real life but get zero action on Tinder.  I forgot to mention that probably 98% of the girls I’ve seen on Tinder are white.

But the reason I’m not mad about this realization is that I know it’s simply human nature.  Turn the tables.  How many white guys think Beyonce is hot?  I bet more do than don’t.  But how many white guys can see themselves with a black girl?  I rarely see it.  The same phenomenon is at play.  I guarantee most white guys who call Beyonce beautiful would not choose her over Kate Upton.  Just like most white girls that call Lenny Kravitz hot would not choose him over Brad Pitt or Ryan Gosling.  That’s just how it is.

Through Tinder I have a better understanding of how this works.  Before I joined the app, I thought race was completely irrelevant in dating, especially in Denver in 2013.  It didn’t even occur to me that maybe some white girls were off limits to me as girlfriends or wives based on my skin color.   This isn’t to say that all of the girls who thought I was attractive, but passed, wouldn’t talk to a black guy.  It’s not necessarily that deep.  Bumping into people in real life, and getting to know someone through more natural situations, leads to all kinds of relationships people couldn’t have predicted.  But in a quiet, anonymous arena, true biases and preferences surface.

Update: Since lowering my standards to basically liking every single girl in the months following this article, I’ve received over 40 matches.  I think the logic of this article still applies, however.

My Life, Philosophy

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