The Laws of Tinder

We live in an age of digital everything and full-on smartphone addiction. There are many great apps that help make travel easier, such as Skyscanner, Tripadvisor, Hostelbookers and XE currency convertor.

Then there’s tinder.

via Headlines & Heroes @ flickr
via Headlines & Heroes @ flickr

I first downloaded this app on the insistence of a girlfriend that it is funny and entertaining. I’d never used online dating sites before – when you’re travelling full-time it’s hardly difficult to meet people. Thus I made my first tinder swipe whilst back home, in an English country town where the chances of meeting an attractive and eligible suitor are slim to none. I soon became enthralled by the vapidity of this judge-on-appearance way of choosing men – especially as I’m usually not particularly shallow about looks.

Although I only went on three dates in a total of six months of tindering, I had one bad and two fantastic experiences. So either the app has genuine value or I just possess excellent swiping skills. I didn’t even consider using tinder whilst I was travelling full-time again, so I deleted it and carried on meeting people the ‘normal’ way. But upon arriving in my old resident city of Melbourne, I had a lot of time on my hands so I decided to whack tinder on my phone again. I’m not exaggerating when I say that almost EVERY  male or female under the age of 40 and single (or sometimes not) seems to be using this app. But proceed with caution – tinder is not for kids, kids.

It’s fair to say I’m pretty familiar with using this app by now, whether at home or overseas. Here’s my guide to how tinder works, wherever you are in the world:

You may meet your potential girlfriend/boyfriend/soulmate on tinder

Yes, really. People that met on tinder have gone on to get married, just like on any other dating site. Although more lighthearted than, say,, there are tinder users who are looking for that ‘someone special’ rather than just ‘someone for tonight’. Speaking from personal experience, my second ever tinder date definitely had long-term potential. That was, until he moved to the other side of the world a month later (not in response to meeting me, I may add). Take it from me, guys and girls – there are some gems on tinder if you swipe long enough to find them.

You may see someone you know

That awkward moment when you find your ex on tinder... via Alex Schweigert @ flickr
That awkward moment when you find your ex on tinder… via Alex Schweigert @ flickr

As previously stated, it seems that EVERYONE single is on tinder right now. The app is linked to Facebook and will helpfully inform you if you have mutual friends with a potential swipee (I totally just coined a new term). It’s not that uncommon for someone you already know to pop up unexpectedly. Of course, this has happened to me. The manager from my new bar job appeared on tinder one night. I swiped no, of course – if I wanted to date him I didn’t need tinder to do so (I didn’t want to date him). A couple of nights later in the pub after work, my manager piped up: “Guess who popped up on my tinder the other day (wink wink, nudge nudge)?!” Oh, no. “Really?” I feigned ignorance. “You definitely haven’t come up on mine…” Awkward. In my rural English hometown things became extra awkward when my brother informed me I’d come up on his tinder search. This prompted me to delete the app for the remainder of my time in the UK – that was just too close to home. I know I’m from Lincolnshire… but still.

You may have a really bad date

The problem with tinder dates are that you have no idea beforehand if you will have chemistry with the person in question, which can lead to a negative or underwhelming experience. My first ever tinder date was decidedly un-extraordinary. The lucky boy, despite having expressed an interest in travel, was obviously bored by my tales from life on the road – even to the point of playing on his phone while I was talking. That’s just rude. A friend of mine had a far worse experience, though – 15 minutes into their first meeting, her tinder match informed her that his grandmother had just died and proceeded to show her a photo of said grandmother. Let me be clear here – not a picture of his grandmother, a picture of his dead grandmother. Now that is a bad date.

You may have a really awesome date

Warning: not all tinder dates will look like this. via Tamaki Sono @ flickr
Warning: not all tinder dates will look like this. via Tamaki Sono @ flickr

You have to take the rough tindering with the smooth, and the smooth can be a lot of fun. I’ve been on some great dates with guys I found on tinder. To name a few: one Kiwi guy took me on a picnic, then to a rooftop bar, then out for dinner; an Aussie treated me to a Sunday afternoon bar crawl around one of the coolest suburbs of Melbourne; another first date lasted seven hours and involved non-stop talking over pints in warm country pubs in the middle of winter. As they say in Indonesia – never try, never know.

 You may get free stuff

Now, hear me out before you label me a gold-digger. As a girl on tinder (and especially a travelling girl), it can be awesome to get a few drinks or dinner provided for you by a willing male. Admittedly, boys on tinder don’t really have this perk to look forward to. Meeting up with locals from tinder when you are in a new place can lead to access to some good local knowledge, maybe a ride to the airport, or even a free place to stay. I’m not at all saying you should be on tinder to use people – but there’s no harm in accepting a few freebies from a potential partner if you’re down on money or a bit lost in a new location.

You may match with someone who is DTF*

This will almost certainly happen to you. If you’re also DTF – hurray! Full steam ahead. It’s great if matches are honest about their intentions as otherwise you both could be wasting your time. Some people will ask that kind of annoying question: “So, what are you looking for on tinder?” to which you should give as truthful an answer as possible. I’ve more than once been confronted by a tinder profile which consists of photos of the swipee’s genitalia – and only photos of this. That’s pretty much the definition of DTF in tinder-land.

You may experience an ego boost or a confidence knock

Got 100 matches on tinder - totally winning at life. via aidan_jones @ flickr
Got 100 matches on tinder – totally winning at life. via aidan_jones @ flickr

Tinder can be such a double-edged sword. On the one hand, getting matches with cute people on tinder can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Then again, if you aren’t matching with people you can start to question your level of attractiveness – “I thought boys swiped right on EVERYBODY”; “I was lowering my standards a bit when I swiped right for him – how on earth are we not a match?!” The worst confidence knock comes when you accidentally swipe ‘yes’ to someone you actually find unattractive – and it isn’t a match. You’ll never feel more tragic.

You may be shocked or amused by what you find on tinder

Once my friend matched with a young man on tinder and he immediately started messaging her. After two minutes he had revealed a rather unusual fetish and wanted to know if she was keen to be part of it. You see, this boy “absolutely loves it when girls fart”. Indeed, he wanted to find a beau who would be willing to fart for him, on demand. And they say romance is dead. Other tinder profiles that appear (some far too often) include: men holding fish they’ve caught, as if that’s supposed to be impressive; couples looking for participants for a threesome; the aforementioned genitalia pics and general nakedness; people that admit to being married/in a relationship. Tinder is not for the faint-hearted. Some tinder users are actually genuinely funny people with witty profile bios and decent chat – you just have to sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

You may have a lot of fun

I’ll end by saying something I maybe should have stated at the beginning: tinder is not meant to be taken seriously, folks. That’s what and (if it doesn’t exist yet I’m sure someone is working on it) are for. If you’re not enjoying using tinder, then stop. Life’s too short to feel bad about yourself. As long as you keep a laid-back and lighthearted approach to your swiping, tinder can offer you a lot of fun and you can meet some awesome people. I know I have. There are other ways to meet people (apparently some couples met in bars and stuff), so if tinder isn’t doing it for you simply deactivate it and press delete.

*If you don’t know what ‘DTF’ means you probably shouldn’t be using tinder at all

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