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Tinder: More Than Just a Hook-up App. (Who Knew?!)

Swipe right if you hate dating- but love connecting with real people, dance parties, sweating (at the gym), burgers, fries, and fun.
~My Tinder Profile

Every fiber of my being was both excited and terrified on exactly this day two years ago.  You see, it was deeply ingrained in me not to talk to strangers (thanks Mom!) – especially ones I’d met on the internet.  I thought to myself, ‘well, at least I know his cousin!  That means he’s probably not a serial killer…’.  And, ‘I’ll meet him in a public place- that way I’ll be safer.  I’ll carry my knife- I’ve been training for a situation like this if anything weird happens…’

After grappling with all the possible scenarios for about a week, the evening finally came.  It was crisp and cool, with fall slowly creeping in to edge out the lethargy of summer. I finished with a long, anxious day at work and found myself in the break-room paralyzed with fear and already late for my meeting with him.

I mentally recapped the conversations we’d had thus far: all the evidence pointed toward normalcy, I reasoned.  I had only been on Tinder (a Facebook dating application where you can chat with potential matches) for a week and there had been all sorts of interesting conversations- some forced and creepy and others more polite and engaging. My conversations with him were natural from the beginning: we seemed to communicate on the same wavelength, he asked great questions and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to share.  All the evidence pointed to him being a ‘normal- not going to harvest my skin for his lampshade’ type of guy.  When he suggested we set up a time to meet I didn’t even hesitate to agree. 

While I stalled in the break-room that evening I thought about my outfit- was it the right choice? What does one even wear on a first date?  My roommate had chosen my navy shimmery leather skinny jeans, and a flowy orange and cerulean patterned top, with nude wedge heels. It felt like me- and it was comfortable…and more importantly I didn’t have time to go home to change.  I sat in the break room with my good friend Tammy, talking in circles about dousing myself in grounding oil (a Young Living essential oil blend that helps your head to stop spinning and plants your feet back on the ground, which I clearly needed), and asked her,

‘what if he doesn’t like the smell of grounding oil?!’ I felt myself becoming increasingly ridiculous in my stress-brain.  Tammy responded, ‘does it matter?’ I stopped. It didn’t. She was right. Why would I try to be something I’m not?

I proceeded to bathe my wrists and neck in the oil blend and the scent of white fir, spruce, ylang ylang, pine, and cedarwood hugged my nostrils.  I took a long, slow inhale… I had mustered up the courage to step out the door.

As I left work I texted him to tell him I was running late.  He responded as I was maneuvering my way to West End that he was already waiting at the bar.  I speedily parked my car in the nearby underground parking garage and power-walked to the Yard House.  This was good!  Although I wasn’t thrilled about setting a first impression of being late, I had no extra time to spin my thoughts into a crazy web of worry.   

I grasped the metal handle of the heavy swing hinged door, tossed my long, chestnut hair over my shoulders, and pushed my way inside.  The room was large and oblong, with high ceilings and brass fixtures.  The bar was oval in the center surrounded by tall leather booths lining the outer walls of the windowed room.  There was a smattering of people at the bar and I told the prompt, young hostesses that I was meeting someone.

My heart was jumping up out of my throat as I scanned the room and finally made eye contact.  His brilliant blue eyes locked with mine and a nervous smile flitted across my face. ‘Who looks better than their pictures?’-  I wondered.  I slowly approached and shook his hand. ‘Stephanie? Hi, I’m Connor,’ he said with an easy smile.  I couldn’t help but notice how put together he seemed, his perfectly groomed stubble accentuated his strong bone structure, full shapely eyebrows framed his big blue eyes.  He oozed with interest and confidence- and for some reason, my anxiety promptly melted away.

I made the decision at that moment to let go of the outcome of the evening- I wasn’t going to overanalyze my behavior and his; the only way I could be there and be comfortable was to decide to be present and authentic. While I had certainly gotten a feel for his personality with our online chatting, there’s really no substitute for experiencing a person face to face. I didn’t want to worry about whether or not he liked me- and I reminded myself of something I had been working diligently on believing,

just be perfectly you, that is always enough’.

The conversation progressed in ways I never could have planned for.  I could tell he wasn’t a stranger to first dates- he seemed very comfortable with the game.  Thank God he asked a lot of questions because as far as dating went, I was a beginner… ‘So, you hate dating? What’s that about?’ he asked with curiosity and a hint of a smirk in his smile.  I responded nervously, ‘YES! Dating- it sounds so serious.  I’d rather call it hanging out.

‘Oh!’ he replied, relaxing his muscular frame against the tall back of the booth, ‘well, if we’re just hanging out, I’ve been holding a fart since you got here,’ he broke into a playful smile.  I just about died laughing and relaxed into my skin a little further exclaiming: ‘ME TOO!’  Our sense of humor was clearly very compatible.  I watched in awe and admiration as he painted colorful pictures of his childhood and travel adventures; with every minute passing I felt more and more at ease. 

As the hours ticked by, I caught myself marveling over the fact that I’d met this guy in cyberspace… I still wasn’t sure if it was going anywhere but I was having a fantastic time.  It felt so easy with him.  Like I could just be- which is something I hadn’t ever felt before in the presence of a man I was interested in.

When the night came to a close, he walked me to my car and said goodnight. We never held hands, there was no hug- I’ll admit it was very confusing.  ‘Did I just get friend-zoned?,’ I mused. I wondered if we would see each other again. Why hadn’t we talked about when we’d see each other again?  I knew what I felt (if I was being honest)-

I could ‘hang out’ with this guy forever.  

Perplexed by the mixed signals, I pointed my car in the direction of the freeway and spotted him sauntering slowly to his car – his head held high and his lips spread in a huge Cheshire-cat grin. 

I floated home, and as I parked in the driveway I received a text message I would never forget.  It read,

I had a wonderful time and I find you absolutely enchanting. If you would like to ‘hang out’ again I would love that. 

My whole world shifted… and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

While there are plenty of creeps on the internet (especially on dating sites like Tinder), everyone is primarily looking for what human beings crave most: connection.  We all want to be seen. 

When we’re ready to be seen as we truly are we open ourselves up to the experience of acceptance and love for being uniquely and beautifully ourselves. 

When I was able to let go of the worry about ‘how’ he would see me and just allow myself to be, we connected on a very real, terrifying, and exciting level. Tinder was an unexpected success- and here we are, two years later, still living, loving, and connecting.