Is Tinder Ruining Ireland’s Men?
Rosemary Mac Cabe investigates.
If you’re under 30 and single, chances are you’ve dipped a toe in the murky world of Tinder – in fact, research suggests that one in 10 Irish people has a Tinder profile, with it being most popular among under-25s. As well as that, according to Tinder CEO Sean Rad, Ireland is a “highly engaged” market – meaning that, when we download the app, we actually use it.
What’s it like for those on the ground, looking for dates and swiping right furiously, in the hopes that they’ll make a match and find their happy ending? Don’t roll your eyes at the romanticism, either; Rad claims that 80 percent of Tinder users are on the app actively looking for a relationship.
Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests otherwise; every second user has a story of Tinder hell – unanswered messages, unrequited affections, unfollowed-up dates…
Niamh, 34, a PR executive, first joined Tinder in early 2015. Just back from travelling around southeast Asia and a lot of her friends were in relationships. “It just seemed like it was getting harder and harder to meet someone,” she recalls. “I’d go out on nights out, and guys would just be after a one-night thing… And, I mean, I’m not against casual sex. I just felt like I’d had my share of it.”
Niamh saw Tinder as just another way to meet someone – with the hopes that they might hit it off and start something. “And look,” she confesses. “I’m 34. I want to get married, I want to have kids – I guess I’m at the point now where I feel like I have to meet someone soon.”
At first, she says, Tinder was a great laugh – and a good confidence boost. “You’d see loads of cute guys – and loads of not-so-cute guys – and I used to get loads of matches. At one point I think I had over 100!” she laughs. She was understandably optimistic.
But when it came to the real-life interaction… “I was really surprised,” she declares. “Nine times out of 10, messages would come to nothing – and that’s even if we got to the messaging part!” She says that she ended up having conversations with a handful of guys – “maximum 15” – and that even fewer seemed to want to go on dates.
“A couple of times, I ended up going, ‘er, so, are we going to go on a date or what?’” she reveals. “One guy, who I’d been messaging for three weeks, wrote back and said, ‘oh you’re keen’. Three weeks! What did he think I was after?!”
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Laura, 32, a secondary school teacher from Dublin, has been on Tinder twice, each time for “two to three months,” she says. “I’d go on it for a while, then come off it because it made me so angry. It’s vile – you flick through men like you’re going through a catalogue. It didn’t make me feel good about myself.”
It wasn’t just the swiping that got Laura’s goat; she went on four dates, with four different men, all of which, she says, “went well enough.”
“I can’t really remember the guys that well – I mean, I could tell you their names, or where they’re from. So I don’t think there was a particularly amazing vibe or connection with any of them, but I would’ve gone on a second date…” But she never heard back from any of them. “Not a sausage!” she laughs. “Like I said, I wasn’t that keen, so I wasn’t upset… But I started to think there was something really wrong with me, or that I was coming across terribly.” She pauses, then shakes her head. “But no – you know what? I think it’s the catalogue thing; it’s like, if you don’t meet someone you’re 100 percent totally and utterly mad about, you just go back and keep swiping until you find someone else.”
30-year-old dental nurse Ava was on Tinder for about five months. “I’d been going out with someone for six years, and I found myself suddenly single, and I used it as a distraction… and a way to get back on the dating scene,” she admits.
Unlike Laura and Niamh, Ava found Tinder “pretty authentic – but you know what? This was two and a half years ago… It was relatively new, and people were still figuring it out. My friends now who are on it tell me terrible stories, of guys who just obviously and blatantly want one thing, of matches who never message back, dates they never hear from…”
Laura went on three dates, “with three different guys – my current boyfriend was the third, which is why I didn’t go on more!” she laughs. “I went on two dates each with the first two guys, and there was just no spark; it was very half-hearted from each of us, I think.”
Sam is 28; she’s been on Tinder “a couple of times,” she says – with varying degrees of success. “I’ve gone on two dates, I think – one guy, I slept with. He was really cute and I thought we got on… but I think that was all he was after, in hindsight!” She’s not upset about it: “I think that’s what Tinder is for now… When it started out, it was a lot of older people, who might have used online dating to meet someone, looking for a relationship. Now, it just seems like the way people hook up.”
So what do you do if you’re still looking? It turns out all is not lost. “I’ve moved on to an app called Once,” says Sam. “It gives you one match a day, based on your preferences… and you have 24 hours to decide whether or not to message that person. You just have this one person, and this short window – so it’s not like you have hundreds of matches to choose from.”
As for Niamh, she’s still single, and “still looking – but not on Tinder”, while Laura is on date number four with a man she met “in the real world!” she says incredulously. “That’s proof that it still happens!”
Would she recommend Tinder? She hesitates. “You know, I’d say, don’t go into it with any serious expectations – but it’s good to experience. When I’m 90, I can say, ‘I was on that when it started.’ I kind of like that idea.”
This article first appeared in the July issue of the mag. The September issue is on shelves now!
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