In my late 40s, I never thought I would turn to a “hook-up” app to find love-but I wanted to take romance into my own hands.
The conference made me do it. My friend and I were sharing a hotel room at a weeklong business conference. After a day of dry lectures and an evening of happy hours and conference socializing, we were tired, a bit tipsy, and slightly giddy. As we sipped wine and gazed out at the hotel’s infinity pool and the lights of the city, we talked about how nice it would be have to have a date with us.
Naturally, the topic turned to men and the atmosphere in the room began to resemble a slumber party. So we downloaded the Tinder app. We sat side by side, swiping right and left, exclaiming with glee when we matched with someone.
In my late 40s, I never thought I would turn to a “hook-up” app for romance. However, here I am – a year later, Tindering away. When I joined Tinder, I hadn’t been dating much. I had tried (and still use) other dating applications but the pool of men I had been meeting began to feel limited.
After my marriage of 12 years ended, I spent most of the past decade building a successful career that allowed me the time and flexibility I needed to raise my son and assembling a close-knit circle of friends. Although my ex-husband and I co-parent our now 12-year old son, my son spends 75% of his time at my home. With no relatives nearby to watch my son, my dating life is restricted to Monday nights and alternate weekends. The schedule makes intimacy difficult and the dating (and mating) dance tends to be, well, not very easy. On the one hand, my schedule automatically winnows the dating field – someone must really be interested in getting to know me to date this way. On the other hand, my schedule is also perfect for those who are interested in a casual relationship.
In other words, Tinder is perfect for someone like me
I’ve met men on Tinder interested in both serious and casual relationships. I would love to fall in love again – to once more experience that type of deep intimacy, with all the joy and pain that it entails. However, I am also someone who enjoys dating and believes it’s possible to date and genuinely care about someone without falling madly in love with them.
There is an ego boost to swiping right on someone you find attractive, and learning that they find you attractive as well. Especially for women who are middle-aged and older, it feels nice to be ‘seen’ at a time when society tells you that you are becoming “invisible” unless you look like Jennifer Lopez or Cindy Crawford.
I’ve also learned there are men actually interested in dating. While I’ve had my share of ridiculous, pointless come-ons, I’ve also met men interested in real dating. One, an professor: bright but high maintenance. Our first date was in a left-wing cooperative bookstore and cafe. I drank coffee, he drank green tea, and we talked for hours about politics and change. When he told me that he never read women writers because he couldn’t relate to them, I should have fled then and there. I didn’t and we dated for a few more months but parted ways once we determined we wanted different things from a relationship.
The second man I dated was quite different. We matched on Tinder and he immediately asked me to dinner. Our dinner, at a local restaurant specializing in all kinds of meat, lasted four hours. Then we looked for a place to continue the conversation, gave up, and he brought me home, walked me to the door and gave me a goodnight kiss. He had a wonderful combination of piercing and wide-ranging intelligence, a sense of humor, and a good job – plus he played guitar in a metal band. Unfortunately, as two people with impossibly tight and busy schedules, we weren’t able to (or perhaps were unwilling or frightened) to carve out enough time in our schedules to really give the relationship a chance.
I’ve also been on several first dates that didn’t lead to second dates with other men I’ve met on Tinder.
In the past year, I’ve dated two different men that I met on Tinder
On the flip side, many of the men are there for hook-ups. For every man seeking dating or romance on Tinder, there are probably 10 others seeking to hook-up, or to become friends with benefits. While none of these options interest me, I certainly receive many offers. Many of these offers come from much younger men (I mean, 15, 20, or 25 years younger). I’m not sure if it’s because older women are seen as more interesting or self-assured, or (as I suspect) because men watch too many X-rated films centered on the younger man/older woman trope. I just know I’m not into it.
Another downside is that when I match with someone, we are freed from face-to-face communication, which isn’t always good. Many men act in ways I imagine they would not if they were sitting across from me over dinner. One free online hookup Melbourne man went from asking me about spelunking to suggesting we would make beautiful babies. Needless to say, it was an abrupt shift in our conversation.
Tinder’s strength is that it easily tells you when there is a mutual attraction. The rest, of course, is up to the two of you. My matches and I don’t always chat or meet. They sit in my matches folder like unexplored potential. Maybe we’d like one another. Maybe we’d have great chemistry – if only one of us made the next move. Sometimes I do, but more often I don’t. I’m usually called away by mothering, chores, and paid work.
For me, the benefits of using a dating app far outweigh its drawbacks. And rather than wishing on a star, I will take matters into my own hands, swiping right towards my next romance.