by Vicky Truong
“I’ve hit a new low. I’ve finally started using Tinder. I met this nice girl though,”
Even through the Facebook Messenger app I heard the desperation and exhaustion in his conquest for true love. This friend was a reforming fuck boy (excuse my profanity, for lack of better words), and I’ve been trying to make him understand that the physical comfort he looked for in his previous relationships would not quench his true thirst for emotional salvation. He was a funny one, because he seemed to be always chasing the shadow of his first girlfriend. I chattered away and wished him good luck on his most recent conquest, and then hit the hay for the day.
“…Bumble’s like Tinder but for feminists—the girl needs to initiate the conversation, so it’s safer,” tweeted the radio talk show host. At the back of my mind I was going on a tangent analyzing the verity of how much safer this app was.
Where were the stats? But wow, I guess that’s how modern love is. Swipe swipe, jackpot hit!
A little about myself now. I’m 20 years old, East-Asian, 3rd year at UofT Scarborough, currently on my co-op term, have a couple of part-time jobs, and still involved in an extracurricular at school, and also a proud mother of a cat.
Oh, and I’ve never dated anyone.
Too busy? Too manly? Too independent? Already financing my own car? Too proud? Too tall at 5’ 8”? Who knows?
But I sure would like to date someone—not just anyone though. I don’t want to waste my time and energy. I’m a relatively preppy, sort of conservative, mental-purity-ring-wearing girl, so I would never use dating apps. Dating apps? PFFT.
But it sure looks fun and interesting. Maybe just for research.
“What was that Chinese tinder app you used again?”
“LOL Tantan. Woah, Vicky, I’m seeing a whole new side to you. Where did Grandma Vicky go?”
“Girls, let’s DO THIS. VICK VICK’S GONNA GET HERSELF A NICE BOY.”
“ROFL You do you. Anything related to relationships scare me. Besides, I have myself for all my needs.” Said the first (somewhat-experienced) little pig.
“Um, no thank-you. All you’re going to get are dick pics. Be prepared.” Said the second (even-more-experienced) little pig.
“Woah, I’m seeing a whole new side to all of you. :O” Said the third (99.99%-going-to-marry-her-current-partner) little pig.
Okay, this was going to be a lone-woman mission for enlightenment.
The set-up that was supposed to be fast and easy was actually slow and difficult, albeit fun. I was careful to make sure that the pictures I picked represented me well – fun-loving, wholesome, not intimidating, approachable person. There was a little filter for age and I promptly selected anywhere from 3 to 12 years older than me.
Mama always said, older is better, because they’re more dependable.
What should I write for the description so that people would understand that I’m not desperate, and that I’m not looking for a physical relationship, but for something more significant and long-lasting?
[I have a cat, I’m 5’ 8”, and I am interested in making friends ]
When the initial set-up was finished, a random boy’s picture popped up. I slammed the home button. And hid my phone away for the rest of the afternoon.
Okok, so I got the profile set-up. Great progress made!!
I hadn’t even started swiping anyone yet. Just downloading such an app seemed so blasphemous. I did not dare to swipe anyone. Just seeing some stranger’s photo made me flustered, almost like meeting an arranged suitor for the first time. Almost.
That evening, I went to school for my extracurricular and recounted this experience to my clubs pals.
Of course they hijacked my phone and downloaded Tinder, too.
Oh, and they started swiping for me, too, while I helplessly peered in from the other side of the glass door, unable to unlock it without the code.
They had finally let me back in, and at this point I finally braved myself to swipe.
Oh, fuuunn. Oh, looks like a nice boy. Ugh, this one’s too sexy for me. Why does this person think that this is a good photo for a first impression? Wait, I might know this guy?!
Needless to say, I spent the next few hours giggling at potential suitors, and sharing with my mom this entire experience. I highly recommend sharing your dating app experience with your mom, because (assuming she’s chill enough), mom’s always got your back.
And she can brief you on societal expectations of women when it comes to being perceived as virtuous.
And then the boys started messaging me.
This boy I don’t even recall swiping for – my pals are to be credited for that. But he had a nice smile, and he seemed friendly enough. We had a nice conversation, with my girlfriends evaluating him at every turn (since I sent them screenshots of my conquest). Apparently his winky emojis proved his flirtiness. He also questioned why someone of my caliber would swipe on him. I honestly told him that I didn’t, and that my pals were to blame for it, but that I had replied because I thought he had a nice smile. He seemed understanding, but still he tried to gain something more from me.
I just thought he was friendly.
Until he got a little too friendly and started implying that he would like to kiss each other all over. At this point it got too much for me, and I shut him down politely, saying that I didn’t agree. He deleted the conversation almost right after wishing me good luck on finding “whatever the hell I was looking for on Tinder.”
Pleasant. Good way to make me feel totally disillusioned about the world and romance.
I was swiping left at a record-high speed and accidentally super-liked someone (upward motion on Tinder). He messaged me with “Hey, cutie ;) ” but I promptly ignored him. I had a feeling that if I told him it was accidental, it would crush his now-inflated ego. Hopefully he just forgets about my existence altogether, and this never happened.
K, boys on Tinder are too raw. Tantan boys are better, because these Chinese boys tend to be so much more subtle.
It ended up with many matches, but very few replies to my “Hi”s.
I broke the sacred rule of girls not initiating conversation. These boys would match and not even initiate the conversation. This particular conversation went well and I disclosed that I’ve never been in a relationship before and that I’m looking for guys taller than me, and yaddhi yaddha. In retrospect, first of all, I shouldn’t have exposed that I’ve never dated anyone before—like, he didn’t even ask me, I was just being extra for no good reason but verbal diarrhea. I’m surprised this gent put up with my mindless chatter and unnecessary inclusion of personal details without prying for more details to try and take advantage of the situation. Either way, he seemed like a cool guy who was flirty in a very subtle way, yet gutsy enough to initiate and carry the conversation afterwards. Too bad he was an inch shorter than me. I left it off on a good note, telling him to say Hi if he ever sees me, since he’s only 3km away (according to the app). I’d hoped he would have asked for my WeChat, but he didn’t. At the end of the day, only another boy who had many boiling pots.
Alright, Call-Me-Uncle (his username, despite being only 3 years older than me), I guess that’s that.
Matched? This guy isn’t even good looking. Did I swipe him? But it’s Tantan, so it must have been me, since my pals only touched Tinder. K, let’s see what happens.
He was 8 years older. I carried the conversation. I initiated the conversation every day. Sure, we did talk about the chaos theory and other cool physics stuff when we got into it, but I’m a girl. I have societal expectations to meet. My pride would not allow me to continually initiate conversation. My experience with him ended with a sweet nighty-night on WeChat and no other WeChat exchanges since then.
Ability to carry-on intellectually-stimulating conversations? Check. Ability to be chivalrous and at least strike up conversation? Failing grade.
P.S. He had this weird particle he attached to the end of his sentences – “You are such a happy girl hah.” “Hah you are quite knowledgeable about science.” “Good night hah.”I found it almost endearing for some time, but then I was peeved that I always had to initiate the conversation, so it became just another thing he did. All that remains of him today (at least to me) is an inside joke amongst my girlfriends.
This guy I actually saw a chance with. I’d originally made plans to meet with him in real life, which was something I hadn’t done for any of the other gents. 6 years older, had an adorable bear-like dog that seemed to be the centre of his universe, drives, working in finance, seemed like an alright match. He initiated the conversations every day and sent many cute little winky and kissy emojis. He also sent me headshots of himself and his dog, which were cute. I brazenly sent him a selfie back as some sort of you-sent-me-so-many-pictures-of-yourself-here’s-a-picture-of-me. In fact, I spent more time than I’d like to admit trying to get the perfect lighting and angle to appear cute. But in retrospect right from the get-go he seemed to have always hinted at being home alone, at wanting company, at wanting me to visit him, hinting at his place of residence, stuff like that. On Valentine’s Day he wished me a happy Valentine’s Day.
To be honest, he would have earned himself a nice dinner with me (though nothing more) if he had just asked like a normal person – it would have been our first meeting, and I was sort of more open to date requests since it was Valentine’s Day, and I’m a single lady. But nope.
“Want to come over and watch anime?”
This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Again he wants me to go over to his place.
“I think you’ve mistaken. I do not visit people’s homes.” I replied curtly, no smiley emojis, quite uncharacteristically. He sent me a sticker named [Denied]. I waited for his explanation.
8 hours later I decided to cut it off. I wasn’t even going to meet with him anymore. I was disillusioned at this point, because I thought he was a wholesome young man who was also looking for something more significant than a physical relationship, but it was clear now that he really wasn’t who I thought he was. It wasn’t his fault – meeting me on Tantan as a medium was the trigger to how he perceived me. Right from the get-go he wore coloured glasses.
To him, Vicky Truong was always just another girl he would have a shallow relationship with, and he expected these feelings to be reciprocated.
Hi Leonardo. I’ve discovered that this online dating thing really isn’t for me. Sorry for having wasted your time, but I’ve promptly deleted my Tantan account (I conveniently omitted that I had other dating accounts which I’ve also deleted, just to make sure that, at the end of the day, I am still perceived as somewhat virtuous). However, it was nice to have been acquainted with both yourself and Shiseido. Hopefully you would find someone more appropriate for you on Tantan! As for Thursday’s arrangement, please consider it nulled. I believe this to be my loss.
I didn’t speak like that when things were fun, of course, but I felt the need to say what needed to be said in a proper manner in which both of us can walk away without feeling too humiliated or wasted.
“I understand V But please don’t do it so tactfully professionally again. >:(”
We chatted a little more for the night about anime, and then ended on a good note.
He’s not going to say good morning to me anymore.
It’s always nice to wake up to someone greeting you good morning, but that’s the only thing I think I’m missing out on.
At the end of the day, I’ve somewhat matured emotionally. At least there weren’t any inappropriate pictures sent to me. The guys I met were never harsh in tone. I’m sure they’re alright people in real life, too. But dating apps are too inorganic. My idea of romance is that I get to know the person slowly before entering a relationship and then proceed with everything slowly but surely.
Too bad I’m a slow-poke in a fast-paced world.
Everyone’s just trying to read faster, go places faster, read bed-time stories faster, bed people faster, work faster, and do everything faster.
But you can’t expedite love.
I’ve also come to understand that, sure, older gents might be more mature, but they are under no pressure to actually be responsible with you and not take advantage of the situation. For my first relationship I think it might be best to date someone in somewhat of a similar situation as me.
Counter argument though is that no matter the age, boys might only want snu-snu.
*Immature, I know, but I can’t totally shake out the possibility that, though full of complexes, these people might also be snu-snu driven idiots.
Be careful out there, ladies! Be more mindful of being perceived as sex-centric, gents!
Having company is nice, yes, but I’m a busy girl with bigger problems than how to play these romantic mind games. I might contra flirtatious comments with a comment about my cat (out of pure lack of understanding of the underlying social constructs), so obviously flirting is not my forte. But maybe, just maybe, someone would find me and my complexes lovely just the way they are. I might learn someday, but for now that’s enough pseudo-dating for me. I’ll let things run its course, and not touch Tinder/Bumble/Tantan/EastMeetsEast again.
Besides, that reforming fuck boy friend of mine made me realize something, too. The reason he seeked for physical comfort was because he never had the emotional comfort. He was just as complex as everyone else, and not just some shallow, savage specimen. Actually, his complexes spurred him on for seemingly quick and easy fixes for long-enduring and complex (for lack of better words) complexes and insecurities.
Everyone has insecurities, and it seemed to me that, perhaps, people on these dating apps are the most insecure of them all, despite having the bravado to approach women/men straightforwardly for physical comfort. They reach for the most easily accessible when what they really need is a unique solution to themselves.
All the clumsy encounters and approaches everyone has to deal with potential mates are but precipitates of their own complexes.
I’ve often tried to understand why people do what they do, and I’ve come to only one conclusion for now.
What you seek for in others is what you feel would soothe your insecurities and to help you better understand your own complexities.
At the end of the day, we are all bundles of lovely complexes.