How Did You Two Meet?
Why does this question trigger uncomfortable hesitancy and anxious fidgeting from a new couple when the simple answer is “we met on Tinder”? Have we not moved past the reputation established around Tinder’s inception that the app’s sole purpose was to bump uglies with geographically convenient strangers as the threat of last call florescent lights lingered dangerously close? Why do we still attach a stigma to meeting our significant others online, as if it’s somehow inferior to those “traditional” couples who experienced a meet-cute at a grocery store, or an airplane, or a nephew’s bar mitzvah fighting over the last piece of challah?
As single people we are all doing it, aren’t we? Deciding what apps are best catered to our personalities and dating style, selecting our best-lit photos in which we don’t look too fat, or too drunk, or too loose, or too boring, or too desperate, and swiping away as we scrutinize potential matches’ hairlines and imagine what our kids might look like. Even in a populous city like Los Angeles, it’s inevitable that all of my single male friends and coworkers will pop up in my feed sooner or later.
If you’re single in LA, you’re on Bumble (+ Raya, or Coffee Meets Bagel, or Tinder, or Hinge, or any combination of the aforementioned pocket dating services). Isn’t it our collective goal to find someone we actually want to be in a relationship with? It’s why we endure the awkward first date moments ‘do we shake hands or hug’, the deafening silences of a loss of intrigue, a polite offer to help with the bill. Sure some, including myself on a horny week, just want to hook up, but if you’re single in your thirties and you meet someone through one of these torture platforms who you actually want to include in an Instagram post isn’t that worth celebrating aloud for all to hear?
Last weekend I am slightly embarrassed to admit, I participated in a Beer Olympics event in downtown Los Angeles with a group of 20 and 30 somethings. In college I approached a similar event with fervor, but having aged a decade I was apprehensive and judging myself just a little for slathering paint on my face and preparing my stomach for gallons of cheap beer.
As I chugged a beer that mostly dribbled down my ‘Team USA’ shirt, I wondered what I was doing with my life.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, as I chugged a beer at a dive bar in downtown Los Angeles that mostly dribbled down the front of my ‘Team USA’ tee shirt, I wondered what I was doing with my life. I justified the day’s activity as an opportunity to see old friends. One in particular literally picked me up amidst a lengthy bear hug and then proudly introduced me to his girlfriend. They oozed of new-couple bliss – I could practically see the twinkling heart-shaped emojis in their eyes. A benevolent and outgoing guy, I always found him borderline obnoxious. His girlfriend seemed normal, laughed at his jokes, and was attractive.
My next question seemed natural enough, but it was met with a puzzling exchange of glances, an uncomfortably long pause, and some tall tale about helping orphans in Africa that trailed off until the girlfriend offered a brusque admission, “ugh fuck it, we met on Tinder.”
“Hey, that’s fantastic! Good for you guys,” I exclaimed, trying to diffuse the tension suddenly surrounding the conversation. My response was sincere but they didn’t seem to buy it. They spent the next five minutes profusely defending the validity of their relationship and when they finally let me get a word in edge wise I attempted to assuage their anxiety from being outed. For who better to relate to their modern fairy tale than I?
“At any given time I’m on at least two apps,” I assured them, “unless it’s the month following a horrible first date, in which case I’m on none.” I shared the news of a friend’s recent engagement who met her fiancé on Hinge. Another friend just moved in with her boyfriend in Brooklyn; the fateful app? Coffee Meets Bagel.
Once they fully understood my position on the subject their shoulders relaxed and they cautiously agreed that this is how most couples, especially in a city like LA, meet their mates these days. It’s happening all around us and yet we still don’t honor it with the same prestige as an organic encounter. We’d honestly prefer meeting a drunk stranger at a bar than admit we were on dating apps and actually, gasp, went on dates through them?
This got me thinking. It’s not the first time I encountered this reaction when faced with a couple forced to divulge the details of how they met in a post-dating app society. Personally I think we should do away with the stigma attached to meeting your significant other on a dating app, and instead focus our energy on celebrating the success of these people who managed to clear the seemingly endless modern dating hurdles. For these people waded through layers upon layers of shit: the small talk app convo, the phone number exchange, the agonizing first date, the “will he or won’t he ask me out again” anxiety (that is if you even like him). They managed to make it to a 4th, 5th, and 9th date, had the balls to discuss monogamy, and ultimately decided that they needn’t bother with the 1,843 bachelors waiting in their Bumble queue because this person is special.
The ongoing mystery to me is defining special. I only ask ‘how did you meet’ to get to the meat of the real perplexity. I want to know what it was about that person that made you realize you didn’t want to see other people. What was the moment that clarified a potential for longevity? What made them different from all the other one-off dates, the meh dates, the fizzles, the duds?
Perhaps it’s particularly difficult for me to comprehend this considering I haven’t experienced it yet. I tend to lose interest half way through the first date because he eats like a farm animal or reveals he’s an aspiring actor or hasn’t heard of LCD Soundsystem. If I do manage to make it to a 2nd or 3rd date I’m not inclined to turn off my dating apps and put all my fertile eggs in his beach cruiser basket. Any uncertainty at this point, and I let it fizzle out while I move on to the next date. It’s not enough to simply not see anything wrong with him. There’s got to be SOMETHING that makes me want to see him again. SOMETHING that sparks some intrigue. I can’t even make it to The Situationship:
With all this emotional uncertainty, I commend my friends who’ve managed to meet their person on a dating app. I’m going to share that sentiment more often with the hope that my enthusiasm for digital dating success catches on. In these weird times the odds are tough and we’ve got to shift the way we think about falling in love with someone we happened to meet online. It’s a big fucking deal to emerge from the dating rubble intact and with a solid partner.
Oh and in case you were wondering, my team came in last place at the beer Olympics, both of the attractive guys on my team were in relationships, and I spent $45 on my Uber home. I walked away with a free PBR sweatband though, so it wasn't a total loss.
I’ll be the girl riding home solo in an Uber wearing this.